Cobra Firebat with A.V.A.C.
Review by Justin Bell
While so many people have been ranting and raving about the COBRA Rattler, this is what I've been waiting for. Don't get me wrong, the Rattler has its place and time and is, without a doubt, the most famous COBRA aircraft in the sky. But knowing that the A-10 is a fairly slow and cumbersome piece of equipment and it's hard to picture it as a quick attack strike jet, and the Firebat fills that niche perfectly.
While G.I. Joe was unleashing the Conquest on COBRA forces, with its dramatic windswept wings and state of the art design, COBRA was fighting back with the Firebat, a perfect foil to the Conquest in my mind. To me those two planes were the true arch rivals, not the Night Raven as many people seem to prefer. Part of the problem is that the original Firebat was only available with the Terror Drome, so I can imagine not many kids at these at home back then. I was fortunate enough to get a Terror Drome for Christmas in 1986 (or 87, I can't really remember which) and I almost loved the Firebat more than the 'Drome itself! It was a nice, small vehicle with a very sleek design and a cool as heck pilot. How can you go wrong?
But knowing how much the original Firebat got right, how does this new version match up? Fairly well, I think.
Obviously there is a striking difference, and that's with the color scheme. The original Firebat was a deep, dark maroon red, while this new version is a much brighter color, almost an exact match to the Hasbro (and Hasbro Canada) mailaway version that so many of us were lucky to stumble onto about ten years back. While I definitely prefer the darker red color, this lighter Firebat isn't so bad either, and the red definitely matches a color you'd picture COBRA coloring their planes in.
From a tooling standpoint, things appear pretty close to identical to the original. Similar texture on the seating, similar panels, detailing, weapons and landing gear...everything, on the surface, appears to match almost exactly. It's a bit curious, actually, because there is a "date stamp" on the bottom of the Firebat, and the year is 2006. Now this vehicle was never released in 2006, although something that's a bit interesting is that the Operation: Flaming MOTH sets were in production during that time frame (with the final set being released in 2007), and there were rumors of a small scale vehicle being produced for that line. Not only that, but rumors persisted that it was some sort of airborne vehicle. Looking at the decal on the canopy as well, there seems to be some match with the box patterns on the MOTH boxes, too.
Of course this is all unfounded rumor, so take this with a grain of salt. Just my own random hypothesis.
Regardless of those hypothesis, though, the vintage Firebat remains one of my favorite COBRA vehicles of all time, and this new version pretty much hits on all of the same levels. I love both planes, even though I like the older color scheme a bit better.
Along with the Firebat vehicle, Hasbro also included the immortal Firebat pilot, A.V.A.C.
I find it really interesting that A.V.A.C. is as popular as he is, considering how strange he kind of looks. From that cone head helmet to the bright silver and red paint scheme, A.V.A.C. is one strange figure. But I also find it extremely appealing. From the unrealistic helmet to the oversized bulky, metal boots, bright silver chest pad and vibrant red uniform underneath, something about the A.V.A.C. concept is fantastic, and this Anniversary figure manages to capture the essence of the vintage version.
The only new part here is his head. The torso/waist, arms, and legs are all ones we've seen before, yet Hasbro manages to pay a nice homage to the vintage version, and give us a very identifiable version of the COBRA Firebat pilot. Very nicely done.
The Firebat is great, the A.V.A.C. is great, and the price is right. You can keep your thirty dollar Rattlers that come with a Wild Weasel figure we got 6 months ago. I'll build myself a little squad of Firebats and A.V.A.C.'s thank you very much. ;)
More action shots:
Images from the collection of: Justin Bell
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