Review by Fred Meyer & Justin Bell
   Pics by Fred Meyer

Target Exclusive: Cobra HISS Tank with vehicle driver

  Review by Fred Meyer & Justin Bell
   Pics by Fred Meyer


In the world of toy collecting, the GIJoe 25 th Anniversary line is a hot property. Featuring all-new sculpts and a new style of articulation, the popularity of the line caught Hasbro completely off guard and what was originally intended to be a pair of five packs quickly exploded into a full-fledged toy line. Figures hit the shelves in wave after wave and, in many cases, sold out just as soon as they hit the pegs. However, a key component of the original GIJoe: A Real American Hero toy line was the abundance of vehicles and accessories that took the play value of the figures and multiplied it by a factor of a thousand! Target, ever the retailer that supports GIJoe, took the lead and now three classic vehicles are getting a face lift and are being released in this anniversary line. It only seems fitting that the HISS Tank, the signature vehicle of Cobra and the final resting place of countless rounds of GIJoe ammunition should see a release in the anniversary line. Yet, getting a classic vehicle to work with the new taller figures wasn’t an easy fit and so a few changes had to be made.

Cobra Driver:

It’s time to just come out and say it—I’m really sick of seeing the Cobra Trooper remolded and re-released time and time again. I haven’t even cracked open my TRU “Night Watch” five-pack and I’m already tired of the figures. As such, it’s going to be hard to find anything new to say about this latest re-release of the Cobra Trooper/Officer body. Of course, I willing to bet that there isn’t a collector out there who is buying this set solely for the vehicle driver. This figure is 100% the Cobra Officer figure and harness combination in a new color scheme. The upper torso is rendered in a blue gray hue that is different from that of the previously released Stinger Driver and the lower body is painted in a black and gray camouflage pattern. The figure’s gloves are painted black as is the scarf covering the figure’s face. The helmet is molded in black plastic with a gray officer’s emblem on the crown. Oddly enough, whereas Crankcase who shares the same legs came equipped with the standard Cobra “ice pick” knife, the Cobra Driver figure is equipped with bupkis. No figure stand or knife was found in the package nor was the knife included in the leg sheath on the left thigh. If I sound completely apathetic about this figure it’s because I am. It’s not that this is a bad figure or that I feel that I wasted money on this purchase in any way. I’m as tired of this mold as I am of the 25A Storm Shadow and the ARAH Firefly molds. Sure, they produced great figures the first half-dozen times but now I just find myself not caring one way or the other anymore. So, for an included figure he’s not bad but there’s no way I would have bought this figure as a single-carded offering. Perhaps Justin’s opinion of the figure is a bit more light-hearted than my own.

Well, I don’t know if “light hearted” is the right term, though I don’t necessarily have any love for this mold or the figure altogether, COBRA has a lot of troops, so it makes a certain amount of sense to use the tooling whenever they can. But I do have to admit it’s getting a bit old…it would be nice to see a “new take” on the blueshirt figure with the new sculpting and tooling they’re doing these days. As for this figure itself, it’s tough for me to call this guy “HISS Driver” just because he’s not, but I can appreciate what Hasbro is going for here to a certain extent. First of all, using the gray torso really ties this guy in nicely to the Stinger Drivers, which is a pretty cool homage, I have to say. But where the tie ins get even better is with the camouflage on his legs. Sure it’s a white and black camo pattern, which doesn’t necessarily fit the HISS, but it ties this guy directly into the COBRA “Night Watch” set. Now, if you take those Night Watch figures with the blue and black camouflage and compare them to the HISS, it’s like they were meant to go together. Being able to use this guy as the vehicle operator, and the Night Watch figures as support troops is simply a terrific combination and gives you a nice cohesive “HISS Unit”. Of course, once Wave 3 hits, each of these blue HISSes will be getting manned by true HISS Drivers, then the vehicle operators will go in the turret, and a pair of Night Watch troopers will man the back footpegs and act as support troops. It all works out.

Unlike Scarface and the 3-Pack COBRA Troopers, these guys don’t have the painted on hair, and their helmets fit a bit oddly, slipping around on that bald dome a bit too much for my liking. That’s a minor quibble. The intricate camouflage paint applications, the tie ins to both the Stinger Driver and the Night Watch Troopers, though, make this figure a pretty cool one to have, even if he doesn’t fit the HISS as well as he could. Like Fred, I’m growing a bit tired of this tooling being used all over the place, but considering how many Troopers are in COBRA’s ranks, I can see it to a certain degree.

HISS Tank:

Let’s be honest—this is the real reason to buy this particular exclusive and, given the even case packs I’ve seen at Target, this will be the first of their exclusives to sell out. Last released in the classic blue back in the ARAHC line, this is the original model of HISS Tank, molded in lighter shade of blue. As with all of the other Target exclusives, the decals have been applied to the visible aspect of the vehicle only but a full decal sheet and instructions are included. Placing this HISS alongside the ARAHC version brings the color difference into sharp contrast; this particular tank is several shades lighter in tone. The color walks a fine line of almost being “too bright” to be realistic but never fully steps over into “OMG- It’s a TOY” territory. To accommodate the taller anniversary figures, Hasbro had to make a few alterations to the original tooling and thus the driver of the tank has lost his padded chair. Instead, the molded “seat” has been removed and replaced with a cross-hatched section of molding that is set as far back in the cockpit as the mold will allow. This extra 1/8” of space proves vital when trying to place one of the taller 25A figures inside. The included driver fits—but has little room to spare as the canopy comes perilously close to pressing him even further down in his seat. Hopefully the forthcoming HISS Driver and Rip-It figures are slightly shorter than the Cobra Trooper molds and this space issue won’t be so readily apparent. Still, I have to give Hasbro credit for trying to make the figures fit. After all, this figure body was only ever designed to be used in one of two five packs and was never intended to work with the classic vehicles. I’m sure Justin has additional commentary that he’d like to add—unless he’s busy playing HALO 3 on Xbox LIVE again!

Ever since this version of the HISS first got revealed, I’ve heard the inevitable comparisons to the old Toys “R” Us HISS III that we got back in 2001. I have a few comments on that… first of all, those flew off the shelves and ended up being almost impossible to find at retail. Up until 6 months ago, if you wanted one, you had to be prepared to drop $25-30 on eBay. These sell for a third of that price, and honestly the colors on these are night and day compared to the older models.

Where the HISS III was a dull grayish-blue, these are a pretty lively blue color, really standing out next to the Toys “R” Us version. Also removing the dirt paint wipes on the treads makes a world of difference and also helps these vehicles stand out even moreso. Side by side the vehicles look similar, I’ll grant you, but they’re far from the same.

This new HISS also gives you retooled running boards with smaller footpegs for the newer Troopers, and a somewhat deeper, differently detailed cockpit that fits the Anniversary figures VERY well. This is actually a pleasant surprise as one of the downfalls of early figures was their inability to fit into their vehicles. The fact that Hasbro went through the retooling process enough to fit this COBRA Trooper is a perfect example of their dedication to this line. I’m very glad they did it.

Like the Night Spectre and the AWE Striker, the HISS comes with some of it’s stickers on (the display half, naturally). This is a perfect compromise in that the vehicle as a nice deco for the shoppers to see, but the fan also has the pleasure of putting stickers on themselves as well. Very cool. I’ll be brutally honest here, though…putting stickers on isn’t nearly the joy for me that it is for many other fans…to me, it’s another step, and another 15 minutes that I could use doing other things…Hasbro could put all the stickers on and it wouldn’t bug me one bit, but I know a lot of fans dig that, so more power to ya.

All in all, his version of the HISS is a great follow up to what we’ve gotten in the past, and is an almost perfect upgrade from the HISS III. It retains a similar color scheme, but it’s cheaper at this point, cleaner, and to me, the blue color here is a lot nicer on the eyes. Buy lots!

Let’s be perfectly honest here— people are going to buy this HISS Tank reissue no matter what Justin or I say. Fans have been clamoring for vehicles in the anniversary line since the product first hit shelves last year. The debut of vehicles such as the VAMP, Armadillo, RAM, and Flight Pod at Toy Fair in 2008 made a tsunami-esque splash in the collecting world and Hasbro could already hear the sound of fans dropping their hard-earned cash into the company coffers in exchange for those plastic modes of transportation. These exclusives are the appetizer—the hint of what is to come in the months that round out calendar year 2008 and lead up to the film’s release in 2009. Releasing a 25A compatible HISS at $10.00 as a retail exclusive was a stroke of genius that will benefit Target as well as chum the waters for the arrival of the rest of the vehicles later this year. So, what are you waiting for—Justin to stand up and sing his rendition of “Am I Blue?” again? Get out to Target and snag these while you can as the evenly-packed cases of vehicles all but ensure that this HISS Tanks will be the first to sell out.

Price point, price point, price point. That’s all I really need to say. Try buying any other HISS tanks on eBay for $10.00. You won’t find ‘em. Ten bucks for an awesome blue HISS with a fairly cool Anniversary driver is an absolute no-brainer. I have a feeling these will be absolutely SOARING off of Target shelves and endcaps, so get ‘em while the gettings good. You won’t regret it!




Copyright 2003