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H.I.S.S. tank w/ Cobra Driver

GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

Now that Hasbro's GI Joe 25th Anniversary Collection is a verified success, they're finally breaking the seal on what we all knew was coming: infuriating store exclusives. Yes, Hasbro is a company that loves its exclusive toys, and the TFAC line has its first three with the Target-exclusive "Attack on Cobra Island" series.

One of the earliest contributions from the Destro-owned MARS organization to Cobra Command, the Cobra HISS is an inexpensive and effective specialty tank. Utilizing modular technology which allows damaged parts to be quickly removed and repaired, this fast-attack vehicle is a feared part of the Cobra arsenal. Synonymous with the terrorist organization, Cobra HISS tanks are operable in a pinch by nearly every troop and are highly adaptable force to be reckoned with.

The HISS (High Speed Sentry) tank is the single most iconic vehicle in the Cobra ranks. Hell, it might just be the most recognizable GI Joe vehicle, period. It was one of the first vehicles to add a bit of sci-fi flavor to real world designs, which made it stand out - and since it came near the beginning of the line, it was a fixture in every form of GI Joe media. Cartoons? Check. Comics? Of course. Trading cards? Sure. Coloring books? You bet. Breakfast cereal, hemorrhoid cushions, toothpaste? There was no escaping the HISS tank.

Unless you were a GI Joe and one of them was chasing you, and then escaping them was easier than ditching the cops in Grand Theft Auto.

Anyway, this HISS uses the same mold as the original, so it has the look you remember. Hasbro tried "updating" the HISS a few times, but it never worked. It just ended up looking busy. This is the same simple design we've known for the past 25 years, with the triangular tank treads, the rotating gunner's station on the top, and the one-man cockpit hovering over the open air in front of the treads. The body is a nice "Cobra blue," as opposed to the original's black - Hasbro will be releasing a black HISS sometime later in 2008.

The tank measures a little more than 9¼" long, 6" tall and 4" wide, and has real rolling wheels concealed behind its molded tank treads. The clear canopy opens, the guns raise and the turret can be turned freely. The pegs on the step in the back have been remolded, to match the smaller holes on the G3 figures. While the original toy came unassembled in the box, this one is put together when you buy it - you just need to put on the various decals.

The HISS may be operable by pretty much anyone with a Cobra logo on their clothes, but there are still guys specifically tasked with driving them. While the classic HISS Driver will be updated with the later release, this exclusive includes a brand-new creation, the Cobra Driver.

Cobra drivers are selected from the best and most evil of the Cobra organization's yearly recruits. Each one is chosen for his physical strength and total dedication to destruction and mayhem. Cobra drivers are graduates of: Cobra Battle School, Advanced Weapons Systems Training. Qualified Experts: all Cobra ground vehicles; knowledge of all advanced weapons.

The Cobra Driver is the first all-new character in the G3 line. The Cobra Air Trooper may have had a new name, but his design was based on an old figure - ditto for the gray-suited "Cobra Vehicle Driver," which was an update of the figure that came with the Stinger jeep in 1984 (who, by the way, Hasbro seemed to confuse with the HISS Driver for a while, so there's almost a connection). But forget that! This guy is an original.

The figure is the same mold as the Cobra Officer, with a new paint scheme. The outfit itself is an update of the classic Cobra uniform, though the webgear is a removable piece rather than sculpted on. But instead of the normal blue, he's wearing a gray shirt and black and gray camouflage pants. There's a small red Cobra symbol on his chest, and his face mask and helmet are black - so's the web gear, except for the silver buckles.

Since he's part of a set (and would just be sitting on his butt all day), the Cobra Driver doesn't get any accessories - not even the Cobra logo display stand. His helmet is removable, of course, and he's bald underneath, but he doesn't even get the benefit of a dagger to put in the clips on his left leg. Aww, so sad!

Articulation is both good and plentiful. We get balljointed ankles, hips, elbows, torso, shoulders and neck, swivel wrists and double hinged knees. Some people have complained that the TFAC/G3 figures don't have the range of motion necessary to sit properly in the old vehicles, but this set obviously disproves that. The Cobra Driver looks nice sitting in the cockpit and ferrying other Cobras around the battlefield, or standing behind the guns to blast his enemies.

Amazingly, this set will only set you back $10. Yes, ten bucks for a full-sized vehicle and a figure. Considering that the single-carded Joes can run up to $7, this is a hell of a deal. When the original HISS was released in 1983, it cost between six and seven dollars, so a three-dollar markup over a 25-year period is nothing to be annoyed by. If you're a fan of the Generation 3 figures, then this exclusive HISS tank is worth getting.


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