Review and photos by Patrick Robinson
The Trouble Bubble Flight Pod is a faithful update to the original, with very few but very critical improvements. The often-broken cannon has been replaced with a much sturdier one, complete with two hydraulic hoses (one of which I found floating loose in the package, so make sure you have two), and the slot connection that originally held the jets onto the vehicle have been replaced with a two-peg system that seems to be much more solid. Having had trouble keeping the original jets on the original Trouble Bubble myself, that's a nice change. Additionally, the back peg that originally held figures in the cockpit has been replaced with a seat clip that's a little less awkward when placing the figure, and that's a good thing. Rounding out the vehicle are two missiles, one on either side, just like the original. The cannon and steering console tilt well forward, and the canopy flips all the way back making figure placement even easier. The only shortcoming I can see is that when the figure is inside, the vehicle won't sit flat, as shown in the pictures.
The Tele-Viper is a bit of a step backward from all the other 25th Anniversary figures, though. I like the head sculpt, the outer vest is nicely done, but there are two distractions that really take away from the appeal of the figure for me. First, the scanner and backpack that were the signature of the cartoon Tele-Vipers and the original figure are nowhere to be found, meaning if he gets shot down in the Trouble Bubble, he'd better be a good hand-to-hand combatant. Problem with that is, his hands and forearms are sculpted to hold onto the Trouble Bubble handlebars and not much else. The wrists are not articulated like many of the other drivers in this series, and the forearm articulation just below the elbow limits the poseability of the figure. I want to like this figure, as it's very well detailed, but out of the Trouble Bubble it just doesn't look quite right.
Opposing the Trouble Bubble in this two-pack is the RAM Cycle with Breaker. The RAM maintains many of its original features and has some very nice new ones to help it stand out and increase play and display value. The addition of handlebars is critical to the look and functionality of the cycle, and as a result it's very easy to place Breaker on the cycle without breaking his wrists. The headlight and taillight are now translucent plastic, and the saddlebags are now functional, with carry handles and space inside to store weapons, as seen in the accompanying photos. Rounding out the improvements is the gatling gun sidecar, which now has a knob in the back to simulate the spinning cannon barrel. The bike's only slightly disappointing feature is the kickstand, which was easily broken on the original Ram. Otherwise, the dual colors used in the plastic to differentiate the seats, rims, and exhaust from the rest of the bike provide for an overall nice-looking design.
Breaker has good articulation for riding, but be careful how you place the hands on the handlebars, because the wrist joints seemed a little weak. You can see the small separation in the wrist in the closeup picture below. The harness includes a hip holster for his pistol, and his helmet actually fits quite nicely. Like the Tele-Viper, though, Breaker seems to have lost his communications equipment somewhere. He's also gotten a shave but still carries a bit of stubble. Let's hope he doesn't have inspection today! The hands are capable of carrying the saddlebags, but the left hand appears to stretch just a little too much and as a result, can't grip the pistol as tightly as I'd like.
That said, though, with the minor issues aside, it is a good pairing of two popular vehicles.
RAM Cycle vs. Flight Pod
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More action shots:
Additional Image from the collection of: Phillip Donnelly
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