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R.A.M. Cycle vs. Cobra Flight Pod

GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

Most of the GI Joe G3 vehicle packs follow the same set-up: one vehicle, one driver. A few break that mold, however, because if the vehicles are small, there's room to double them up.

Cobra Flight Pod air vehicles swoop down to attack GI Joe forces riding RAM cycles. Small in size but big in trouble, Cobra Flight Pods send a barrage of firepower raining down on the RAM cycles then the RAM cycle drivers fire back full-force with their side-mounted gatling guns!

The first G3 vehicles were Target exclusives released under the "Attack on Cobra Island" header, and the new ones seem to carry that forward, even without any direct reference: the packaging continues to show the Cobra Island backdrops, and it certainly seems like there's a battle going on.

These lightning-fast, rapid-fire motorcycles have gatling guns mounted on their sidecars for ground attacks that are swift and serious. A turbo-charged engine gives them their incredible speed, and they have ultra-quick response time, so it takes a highly experienced and really daring driver to operate them at top speed in the middle of a chaotic battle. SSgt. Rock 'N Roll used a RAM cycle to attack Cobra Island to rescue kidnapped scientist Dr. Burkhart, and they are often deployed to defend GI Joe base perimeters.

Why yes, Rock 'N Roll did use a RAM to rescue a Dr. Adele Burkhart in the first issue of the Marvel Comic, but it wasn't on Cobra Island. And although Rock 'n Roll was often seen driving the RAM, he doesn't come with this set, so why mention him anyway?

The RAM (which stands for "Rapid Fire Motorcycle," logically) is 5¼" long and 3" tall. The tires roll freely, and turning the handlebars actually makes the front wheel pivot. The "sidecar" is actually just a gun on wheels - or "wheel," actually - not somewhere someone could ride. It's meant to spin, like the real thing, but the assembly is too tight. You can turn the barrel, but only with some effort, and not by the knob on the back.

There are two saddlebags on the sides of the RAM, which can open to store... things. There's a grey pistol in one, so if you hear rattling when you pick this set up, don't worry. The technological detailing on the engine and other parts may not be 100% accurate, but it's close enough to pass for those of us who aren't intimately familiar with motorcycle assembly. Perhaps most surprisingly, the RAM is an entirely new sculpt.

While Rock 'N Roll isn't included with this set, we do still get a driver. Unfortunately, that driver is Breaker.

Cpl. Breaker is the GI Joe team's communications expert, making him the crucial link between the battlefield and headquarters. He's familiar with battlefield technology that helps the team monitor Cobra activity. Cpl. Breaker is familiar with all NATO and Warsaw Pact communications gear as well as most world export devices. Specialized Education: Signal School; Covert Electronics; Project Gamma. Qualified Expert: M-16; M-1911A1; MAC-10 (Ingram). Classified: Speaks seven languages.

Now, it's not like there's anything wrong with Breaker. Other than his giant head. It's just that we already got Breaker, and this one doesn't even have as many accessories. He's got a helmet, solid black web gear, and a black pistol; nothing else. Go for more information, go read our review of the other Breaker, and know he's pretty much the same. Why's he in this set? Because he (or someone like him) was shown riding the RAM on the 1982 release's box art. Moving on!

Cobra Flight Pods are small, jet-propelled aircraft that can be flown by Cobra pilots or operated as unmanned reconnaissance drones. Each Cobra Flight Pod has two laser-seeking anti-tank missiles and a mini-cannon for air-to-ground assault. Nicknamed "Trouble Bubbles" by the GI Joe team because of the clear dome canopy, Cobra Flight Pods were used by Cobra to attack the Oktober Guard and steal a new laser weapon. In battle, they buzz around like annoying hornets before blasting targets with their powerful "stingers."

Actually, they were called "Trubble Bubbles," proving it wasn't just the Joe team with problems spelling. And that stuff about the Oktober Guard is a reference to GI Joe Yearbook #2. These things were a mainstay on the cartoon, with pretty much every Cobra (and even a few Joes) seen piloting one at one point or another, so it's definitely a well-known vehicle, however you spell it.

The flight pod is 4" tall and about 5" long. Though the majority of the sculpt is reused from the 1985 version, the seat has been slightly retooled to better fit the larger G3 figures. There's a C-ring to hold the pilot in place, and the adjustable control console attaches lower. The front cannon is new, and there are hoses connecting it to the body of the pod. We get two removable missiles, but not the "aerial mine" of the original. No great loss.

The decorations on these vehicles are all accomplished by decals, some of which are applied by the factory. For the most part, that's fine, but there's one that's particularly irksome: the large Cobra sigil on the center of the dome. I don't think I've seen a single sample that's had that sticker applied anywhere near the center, and the logistics of putting a flat decal on a curved surface mean it ends up wrinkled and uneven. It really would have been better if they'd tampographed the logo, instead.

Like the RAM above, the Trubble Bubble's pilot is based on the old toy's box art, and that means we get our first updated Tele-Viper.

Tele-Viper troops are electronic communications specialists using headgea outfitted with transceivers, receivers, GPS units, signal jamming devices, encryption modules and more. They are deployed with Cobra Flight Pod vehicles to use their electronic gadgets to monitor and disrupt the GI Joe team's communications. When all else fails, they can simply blast the team with missiles, mines and other firepower. All high-end Cobra command personnel have a Tele-Viper trooper assigned to them as their link to headquarters and as bodyguards.

You can tell that's a new bio, not one recycled from G1. Why? Because they didn't have GPS in 1985. Well, it was underway, but not completed, and certainly not something the average person would have been aware of; it didn't reach operational capacity until a decade later.

The Tele-Viper shares the bulk of his sculpt with the recent Viper, which is a good thing - we said before that the Viper was one of the best figures released in the anniversary line, and that still holds true. The "Tele-" version gets a new purple vest to help differentiate him, but the body beneath is still the same good sculpt. Yes, he's still got the "crooked" arms that many fans seem to hate so much, but the paint on them is much better than it was on the Viper, and they're perfectly angled to hold the Trubble Bubble's handlebars.

The original Tele-Viper toy had a technological backpack which, it could be assumed, contained all his communications equipment. This figure doesn't have any accessories, but it's okay: it's been nearly 25 years since the T-V was introduced, and technology has marched on - they can probably carry more tech in their distinctive helmets today than they could in a backpack then. The T-V is wearing the familiar silver goggles, but sadly the set doesn't include any stickers to flash backwards messages across the lenses, one of the more comical features of the old cartoon.

This is an interesting pairing that really showcases what GI Joe is all about: one one hand, you've got a completely average bike, like you might see in the real world; on the other, you've got a flying salon hairdryer with a gun on the front. It's a sublime mixture of the mundane and the borderline idiotic, and that's why we love it so.

-- 01/16/09

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