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Gung Ho vs. Copperhead

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

As part of the Rise of Cobra toyline, Wal*Mart had a series of three two-packs featuring new Joes and Cobras. Well, not entirely new - they were all "movie" versions of existing RAH characters, and all made from repainted parts. But still, new to the movieverse.

Gung Ho is a Marine and a member of the elite GI Joe team. He'll take on any battle with his bare fists and brings his fearsome fighting skills to support the team as they battle criminal forces that control deadly nanomite weapon technology.

There were hints that Gung Ho would be in the movie, but that turned out not to be the case. But Gung Ho is one of the most popular and recognizable Joes, so there was no way they could leave him out forever. However, they didn't just go for his classic "open vest, tattooed chest" look - this isn't a case of dropping a G1 design into the movieverse. Rather, like City Strike Snake-Eyes, it's an appropriation of the Resolute look. No, really; check it out.

Gung Ho is made entirely from reused pieces - no surprise there. Clever mixing and matching of parts has been one of the strengths of Generation 3, but in this case, it doesn't work as well as it should. He uses Dusty's legs, Snake-Eyes' torso and Flint's arms. It's a decent combo, right? Well, sure, but Gung Ho is supposed to be a big guy, and this kitbashed figure is very slender. Has he been sick? It won't be noticeable in a diorama or displayed in a crowd on your shelf, but it's odd.

In Resolute, Gung Ho still wore a vest, but he wore it closed, and had a shirt beneath it. Appropriately, this figure uses the vest from the Resolute Cobra Trooper, though it's been repainted a lighter blue, matching his hat. The head comes from where you'd expect, and may be the least "Resolutey" thing about him: the animated Gung Ho has a full horseshoe mustache, while this one just has a little lip fuzz. Hey, you can always draw one on yourself.

The Cobra Trooper's backpack gets recycled here, as well, and he's armed with a black grenade launcher that looks like an inverted Milkor MGL and a complex assault rifle, which is an HK G36 with an AG36 grenade launcher mounted under the barrel. Neither of those are guns he used in the cartoon, but since this isn't an official Resolute release, who really cares?

Copperhead pilots watercraft for Cobra and can escape from anyone with a combination of speed, skill and sheer bravado. He helps disperse nanomite weapons in different locations to prevent the GI Joe team from reacquiring them.

Ah, Copperhead - you just can't get a good version of this guy! The original, "classic colors" version, was available only in a Comic Pack with a re-release of Shipwreck in an off-model shirt. Then Hasbro decided to release the old Water Moccasin (under the name "Sting Raider"), and since the normal version was already out, they painted him in the Python Patrol colors. So if you wanted a G1-accurate driver and vehicle combo, you had to buy two sets and end up with two figures you didn't want.

Copperhead is made from Roadblock's arms and torso, since he's a big, beefy guy. The legs are his own, since no one else has need of those ribbed panels on the insides of the legs or the odd buckled flap on the outsides. He has a non-working holster on his chest, and an usual leather belt. The colorscheme is new - amazingly, for once something isn't an obscure '80s reference! It actually doesn't look too bad, a mix of olive drab and red/maroon with black to set it all off. Copperhead did appear in the Resolute universe, but he didn't look like this.

As far as I know, there's never been an explanation of Copperhead's weird helmet. The guy drives a boat - from inside a covered cockpit. What's he need a helmet for? Sure, speedboat pilots would wear one, but the Water Maccasin is no speedboat. It might look less ridiculous if there were a whole squadron of Copperheads the way there are AVACs, but it's just him. The ridge over his head, the ear vents... it's goofy, when you really look at it.

Copperhead is armed with a M249 SAW (paratrooper version) that mounts on a tripod and has a removable ammo belt. An appropriate choice, since he uses Roadblock's arms, and this was originally Roadblock's gun. There's also a black version of the Viper's rifle, which isn't quite as exotic, but isn't unwelcome, either. He's got a nice knife that fits in the sheath on his right leg, and a backpack taken from Hawk.

Each of these two-packs includes a Joe and Cobra logo sticker, as well as an Arashikage hexagram temporary tattoo. They also each follow the time-tested pattern of "one interesting character, one lame character." Although, to be honest, Copperhead really isn't terrible, if you don't have any previous versions. This set, in particular, is going to retain its popularity a bit: Hasbro just announced the lineups for the two Resolute seven-packs that are coming this year, and Gung-Ho got excluded; buying this set is the only way to get him, and Resolute fans are going to want that.

-- 02/19/10

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