Cobra Rattler with Wild Weasel: Target Exclusive
Review by Terry Dizard
So here it is - the Cobra Rattler. I have a lot of fond memories as a kid "flying" my original Rattler around the back yard, dog fighting and dive bombing those Joe outposts hidden in mom's flower beds. I have this funny feeling that I'm just one of thousands - if not millions - who have those same memories of this icon of Cobra air superiority.
The Rattler was the work-horse of the Cobra air force, first featured (although an early concept) in the 1983 mini-series, The MASS Device, and later (and finished) in the second mini-series, The Revenge of Cobra; not to mention a starring role in the Marvel comic book (attacking General Flagg's funeral and the best dogfight to-date!).
The Rattler itself has seen several changes over the years, first, of course we have the original version 1, followed nearly five years later by the Tiger Force Tiger Rat, then the 1997 Toys R Us exclusive A-10 Thunderbolt, and until now, the last use was for the 2002 Toys R Us exclusive Sound Attack Rattler. For the most part, the vehicle has remained the same - barring that copper monstrosity from 2002, of which the less said about it, the better - with only color alterations or slight tooling adjustments, but no matter how many times it was repainted and resold, it was never as good as the original.
But even the original Rattler had its flaws such as extremely fragile landing gear assembly and cockpit tabs that broke if you sneezed nearby. And trust me, if you have a 24 year old Rattler in excellent condition, you are afraid of touching that aging and brittle ABS plastic - I know I am.
So that brings me to today and the point of this review (besides a long winded history lesson). Finally, after 24 years, three failed repaints we - the G.I.Joe community - FINALLY have our beloved Rattler back!
Thanks to the folks at Target and the amazing minds at Hasbro, we finally have an aircraft worthy of the title, Cobra Rattler.
So how does this new, 2008 Rattler stand up against the original?
First of all, the color of the jet itself is very, VERY similar to the original…but not quite. We have that typical dark "Cobra Blue" but it is in more of a purple hue this time around. I'll just say the color is close, but not exact. Also, tear the box apart, the blue "damaged" fuselage panels are there.
As for tooling changes, there are definitely some; a few are good and a few are a bit perplexing. To start, the landing gear, a subject most serious to us collectors, has been modified, but is not very obvious to the naked eye. The landing gear support posts have been thickened and the tabs that lock them into place are much sturdier as compared to the original. Combine these improvements with a softer, less-brittle plastic and you finally have a Rattler that can sit on its landing gear - something that most of my Rattlers can't do!
Also, the cockpit and gunner's turret canopies are slightly different with thicker tabs and a darker tinted look. It's definitely a nice improvement. Both seats have also been retooled to accommodate the larger 25th Anniversary figure format - honestly, it's still rather hard to get a figure in the cockpit, but with a little finesse you can get 'em seated just perfectly. I'm impressed.
More perplexing, the bombs and missiles have, oddly, been retooled. The small clustered bombs and two large bombs have lost their nose cone detail, and the pointy tips on the four black missiles have been turned into a rounded end - why? Some newfangled overly stringent child safety requirements, I'm sure. It's a minor detail, but seems rather silly to me.
I do have one major gripe. Decals. Seriously, why Hasbro? Every vehicle in this line has had superior decals to their vintage counterparts. But these? They literally feel like scotch tape with graphics printed on them, and they will not stay in place on curved surfaces like bombs, missiles, etc. If you have access to replacement decals, this might be an instance where you apply those and just forget the ones in the box.
And what would a Rattler be without a suitable pilot? Well, here we have Wild Weasel, the ONLY pilot worthy of flying this formidable tank killer. Basically, Wild Weasel remains unchanged from his Issue #115 comic pack version, but with a brighter blue collar and tighter, more accurately applied paint masks to his belt. He still has the tinted removable visor and pistol with working holster, which adds some complicating factors to getting Wild Weasel in his cockpit. Really, there isn't much more you could ask from the figure, even if he still uses a recycled Snow Job v3 body. Oh, and don't bother searching the box, there's no figure stand.
A final question remains; who should I put in the turret? Honestly, I'm waiting for the upcoming red-masked Cobra Trooper, but until then I think that a Cobra Trooper v8 (from the Cobra Legions figure set) works well. Why? The original 1984 box artwork for the Rattler shows a red masked Trooper, a figure that was never produced during the vintage line and somehow it seems to fit the 25th Anniversary motif, in my opinion. Though, feel free to use any figure you feel is appropriate (perhaps that spare Wild Weasel or Cobra Air Trooper).
So, to wrap this little review up, what's my opinion of the Target exclusive Cobra Rattler? If you don't have an original, you NEED this - NOW. But I also wish you good luck. This aircraft is always sold out and easily goes for double its MSRP on online auction sites. If you want one, get to Target when they open and walk fast - and to that guy I out-ran last Saturday, I'm sorry, but that only Rattler in the store went to a good home.
Get a Rattler any way you can, have fun, and when no one's looking, dive bomb a MOBAT!
Wild Weasel (v6)
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More action shots:
Images from the collection of: Phillip Donnelly
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