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    Attack on Cobra Island

    A Target-exclusive release featuring the A.W.E. Striker, H.I.S.S., and Night Specter

    Release Date: April 2008
    Price: $9.99 each
    Exclusive to Target Stores

    The vehicles are back! The vehicles are back! Yes, folks, after a drought of nearly two years, G.I. Joe vehicles are hitting toy shelves again. But how do they hold up? Are they worthy entries for the G.I. Joe line? Do the newer, larger figures fit at all? Well sir, I'm here to find out just that. So let's take a look, shall we?

    The Vehicles:


    Cheaper than cab fare.

    The A.W.E. Striker, that familiar buggy which first saw release in 1985. Comes with the driver, Crankcase (v2).

    Back in an olive drab green, this vehicle looks nearly exactly like the original one. Instead of black plastic for the dashboard and susension we have gray, and the foot pegs have been retooled to accommodate the smaller holes in the new figures' feet.

    The Cobra H.I.S.S., another standby vehicle that has long dominated Cobra's motor pool. Comes with Cobra Driver.

    The H.I.S.S. takes its color scheme from the H.I.S.S. III from 2000. I know many complained back then of the painted-on mud on the tracks. Well, here we finally have the clean version.


    I'm blue, da bu dee aye boo die...

    How can he see where he's going when he's always looking down?

    The Night Specter, a new vehicle repainted from 1984's S.H.A.R.C. Comes with Grand Slam (v5).

    With the new name, this vehicle joins a fine, long-standing tradition of giving this sucker a different name in every release: S.H.A.R.C., Night Shade, Sky SHARC, Wave Crusher. Does no one care about consistency? I don't know why they didn't just call it the "Night Shade" again, unless someone at Hasbro realized how ridiculous this name really was. How can you have shade… at night?? (I know it's possible, folks, but it still sounds kinda stupid.)

    I have the original HISS, but not the original AWE Striker or SHARC. I do have the 2001 release of the AWE Striker and the 2001 Wave Crusher though, so this isn't my first go-round with these molds. Both the A.W.E. Striker and H.I.S.S. are closer to rereleases than newer versions, though. The Night Specter features a dark gray and silver deco, setting it apart from its earlier incarnations.
    The vehicles are nicely displayed inside the box. One one side there is the art for the vehicle, while on the other the art for the figure. Each box also features unique background art.
    Gotta catch 'em all!

    Look, ma! I maded the puzzle!
    I was hoping each background could connect to a larger picture, but sadly this was not the case. It's nice for what it is, though. Curiously, the H.I.S.S. tanks painted on the interior packaging look to be a cross between the original H.I.S.S. mold and the DTC release.
    For each vehicle, some of the decals come pre-applied, but most are on a decal sheet for you to apply yourself. This is a mixed bag for me, though. I know there are those who love to apply the decals themselves, but I've got what the Robot Devil's old music teacher calls "stupid fingers."

    It's a serious condition
    Try as I might, I always end up putting a few stickers on crooked.
    Why do you hate me Hasbro, WHY??
    That's why I tend to favor pre-applied stickers. Of course, some of the factory workers seems to be as talented as I in this regard, so keep an eye out when making your purchase.
    This is why you don't get your painting done by uncertified general contractors.
    One thing I found was that some of the vehicles benefited from fewer decals. The A.W.E. Striker, in particular, I feel suffers from an overabundance of stickers. The clean body of the vehicle in the package seems cluttered once everything is applied, especially on the hood. And just as with my 2001 A.W.E. Striker, I see the "Watch Head" stickers on the roll bar just can't stay completely on the roll bar. We'd probably have been better off with stickers that wrapped around and back onto itself.

    Just three more sponsors and he'll be ready for NASCAR!

    Why won't you stay in place? It's your home!
    Are you too good for your home??
    On Instructions: All you have is a small sheet telling you where to apply the rest of the decals. Since the vehicles come pre-assembled, there's not much else needed. That's a bit of a downer, though. I remember the fun I had trying to assemble my 2001 A.W.E. Striker and wondering what the devil I was doing in the middle of it. Hmm… On second thought, maybe it's a good idea they're already put together.

    On Blueprints: There are none. Cost-cutting measure, oversight, or conspiracy to destroy the line? Only wise old Mr. Owl knows for sure.

    Rest assured that features found in the earlier versions of the vehicles are still here. Springy suspension on the A.W.E. Striker? Check. Slide up guns on the Night Specter? Check. Elevating guns on the H.I.S.S.? That's a big check. You can still pull out the motor from the back of the A.W.E. Striker, so those of you with a Mobile Command Center can still play "swap the engine and charge me an arm and a leg for repairs" with the crane. Sadly, the current backpack pegs are too small for the Night Specter to carry figures on its underside, though it still works with vintage figures.


    Sure the parts cost looks cheap, but the labor costs will really nail you!

    I never quite got why hanging from a peg from the bottom of a plane was a good thing.
    This does lead to a small problem, though. Is the Night Specter also a sub? We can see images of it flying in one of the backgrounds, but nothing on the packaging overty acknolwedges its ability to dive under the water as well. A minor question, with an answer that really depends on what you want to make of it.

    The Drivers:

    The A.W.E. Striker is once again driven by Crankcase, after flirtations with the Eco-Warriors, Pathfinder, and Dial-Tone. Heck, even Kurt Russell joined in the fun!


    It's like looking into a 23-year-old mirror.

    Richard Dean Anderson was funnier anyway.
    Crankcase's figure is an update of his original figure from 1985. While all three figures in this wave reuse existing parts, he's the only figure that's not a straight repaint. Using Shipwreck's upper body and Cobra Trooper's legs, we have a figure that fairly approximates his earlier iteration. This does mean that he has a closed fist for a right hand. Let's hope he never has to drive in the rain! Unfortunately, Crankcase's head reuses the head from Breaker, so we've got yet another rare case of that deadly disease Dr. Hibbert knows all too well…

    Good lord, Gigantism!
    And for some reason, Hasbro decided to give Crankcase a beard. I'm not quite sure why, and frankly, it looks a little silly on this mold. Sure, Breaker had stubble, but here it looks like the thin beard of a teenager trying to show off his facial hair.

    They'll cut you, man! They'll cut you!

    The Cobra Driver is a straight repaint of the Cobra Officer, and looks to be a figure halfway between the Cobra Vehicle Driver and the Night Watch Officer. And he didn't come with a knife, for some reason. Guess I finally have a use for the one the Baroness came with.

    Grand Slam is a complete repaint of Flash. I would have liked to see a new head sculpt here, but it works for what the figure is. He sports his silver pad look, much like his recent convention iteration. I sort of like the original color scheme myself, but I can see how the silver pads makes him a bit more dynamic in the color scheme and differentiate him from Flash. He also comes in a darker shade of green than the rest of his remade brethren. It's a nice acknowledgement to the old figure, recognizing a color difference that Rock 'n Roll's update did not receive. Of course, this means that if you were like me and hoping to do some simple part-swapping to get an orange pads Grand Slam, you're gonna have to break out the paint brush.


    I used to be really ugly. Thank you Botox!
    No foot stands. Oh well.

    Last Thoughts:

    So what's the final verdict? For me, I find I like the A.W.E. Striker best, but if you already have the 1985 version, there's not much this new one brings to the table. The same can be said of the H.I.S.S. So if you're looking for something new to add, then the Night Specter is what you're looking for. Of course, at only $10 apiece for these, it doesn't hurt the pocketbook so much to get all three!

    Reviewed by Phillip Donnelly, whose views on most items can best be summed up by:
    Buddy, you don't know the half of it!

    Archive Entries:

    Figures:

    Crankcase (v2)
    Cobra Driver
    Grand Slam (v5)

    Vehicles:

    A.W.E. Striker
    H.I.S.S.
    Night Specter

    Images from the collection of: Phillip Donnelly
    All-Terrain Cruiser from the collection of: J. Yingling



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