It's 2004 and a time for a new theme for GIJoe: A Real American Hero. Last year we had 'SpyTroops'- a line where almost everyone was going undercover as someone else. This year its "Valor vs. Venom": Cobra is using a new process to splice human and animal DNA in an effort to create the ultimate warriors! Regardless of how you may feel about the concept, the resulting products this year have all been pretty great-- vehicles included!
[Editor's Note: The Valor vs. Venom Bravo Assortment consists of two vehicles- the Night Adder jet and the Piranha Attack Boat .]
Sleek. Fast. Deadly. These are all words that could be used to describe the Night Adder. It's obvious that Hasbro is going for a more 'science fiction' look for Cobra this year and on this jet, it looks good. With it's elongated nose, large engines, and diminutive wings this jet is more reminiscent of the Colonial Vipers from 'Battlestar Galactica' than it is of a modern fighter jet. Yet the design is still appealing; in fact, this jet blends in well with the whole 'animal gene' theme of Valor vs. Venom.
I'm a big fan of realism when it comes to Joe. That said, I love this jet. Yes it tosses all sense of realism right out the window by that's where 'willful suspension of disbelief' kicks in. First off, I love the snakeskin texture of the fusilage. In many ways it reminds me of the old 'Python Patrol' subset of Cobra. The use of the scales on this jet just makes it a stealth plane for me. Secondly, this plane is full of contradiction. The body design suggests high speed and high altitude and yet the turret looks like something lifted from a World War 2 era plane. Perhaps its this anachronism that makes the design work for me.
The status of this jet as a super-sonic fighter is reinforced with the retractable wings. Simply fold the wings in, press the carefully concealed button on the back of the right engine to activate the engine sounds and the jet is on its way to another stealth mission. The button is so well concealed that I actually missed it while shooting the pics. The engine sound kept going off and I was having a devil of a time figuring out what was triggering it! (What, me read directions? NEVER!)
Like all vehicles in the Joe line, this one features 'action attack'. In the case of the Night Adder, the bottom of the fusilage unfolds into a handle. Simply hold the jet by the handle and pull the trigger to rotate the gun turret back and forth 90 degrees and to activate the lights in the gun ports. The fast the trigger is pulled the faster the turret rotates. While not terribly intrusive, this feature does limit the jet in two ways. One, there is no real landing gear-- instead the handle doubles as the gear. Secondly, the turret mechanism limits the movement of the turret somewhat. Instead of turning freely the turret clicks from preset position to preset position. Also, the turret boasts no real latch so the gunner can be unceremoniously jettisoned by either inverting the plane or squeezing the trigger rapidly.
The Adder also comes with four plastic-sheathed missiles that fit into the gun ports on the sides of the cockpit. When the action attack is activated, the translucent housings reflect the light-up feature. The missiles themselves are removeable and can be placed in a spring-loaded launcher in the nose. To fire, press a separate button just aft of the 'eyes'. The spring is pretty strong and the missiles have some decent range.
Another nice bit of detail on the Night Adder is the design of the cockpit. The pilot sits on a contoured couch and manuevers the fighter with two separate control sticks. Pilot, you say? There's a pilot included with this jet? Oh yes, True Believer, and what a pilot it is!
I haven't met many people who were happy with the Wild Weasel figure that came with the Rattler reissue. Between his tiny head and the the Neo-viper body he just wasn't getting the treatment befitting Cobra's most imfamous flying ace. This new version, however, is almost reason alone to buy the Night Adder. First off, he's detailed; his mold includes a flight harness, Cobra logos on his boots and shoulders, and a web belt. Secondly, his design is a great update while still retaining elements of the original. This is THE Wild Weasel as far as I'm concerned. I even like the switch of his primary color from red to black; the color scheme blends well with his primarily red jet.
Is this jet worth picking up? Absolutely-- I only had to hold the thing in my hands to be 100% satisfied with my purchase. The design, the features, and the pilot all come together in what I feel is a great bargain for its price point. If this is any indication of what Hasbro has planned for Cobra this year I say "Bring it on!!"