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Mantis Attack Craft w/ Aqua-Viper Officer

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

The Steel Crusher isn't the only Rise of Cobra vehicle based directly on the movie - and no, we're not talking about the Mole Pod, either.

Mantis Attack Craft submarines prowl the waters around the Arctic-based M.A.R.S. Industries research facility and conduct criminal operations for Cobra. They are deployed to battle the GI Joe team, which attacks the base to retrieve nanomite weapon prototypes. These one-man subs are equipped with high-explosive torpedoes and can reach depths of 2,700 feet.

Okay, maybe it's a stretch to say these come straight from the movie. Aye, there were in fact mantis-shaped subs patrolling the MARS base, but this mold actually comes from the "Valor vs. Venom" line a few years back. If not for the 2004 copyright on the bottom, you may never have known that.

The design is sleek - it really is designed to look like a sting/manta/devil/whatever ray, with rounded "wings" forming the main shape of the body, which then tapers back to a thin tail. It's 10" long and 8½" wide... as long as the wings are in their "at rest" position. You can either fold up the tips, which would obviously make it narrower, or pull the wings out to the sides, which makes it wider.

Pulling the wings out reveals two missile launchers. There are holes in the wings that almost like up with the launchers, but not enough to let you actually fire or load through them. There are two small rear-facing guns mounted under the tail, to warn off pursuers, and pressing a button on the front makes the red "grabber claw" snap shut. The propeller turbines can swivel 90°, and the blades themselves spin freely if you can reach in there to give them a poke.

Open the large canopy, and the one-seater cockpit is waiting for you. There's a movable stick and all sorts of sculpted detail, but there's a problem: the cockpit isn't quite roomy enough for the pilot. Yes, that's been a complaint from G1 fanboys since the 25th Anniversary Collection came out three years ago, but this is the first time it's actually been true. Of course, it has nothing to do with the minor size discrepency, and more to do with poor planning.

Aqua-Viper Officers lead platoons of aqua-viper troopers on ocean-based attacks and raids. Their physical abilities have been enhanced with nanomite technology, enabling them to withstand extreme ocean depths.

This is another AVAC situation: this is the Aqua-Viper Officer, but there are no such things as Aqua-Vipers. [Wrong! The Aqua-Vipers show up as Combat Heroes. --ed] Maybe it's meant to suggest you have to be an officer before they let you in the water? No enlisted men at the controls of the submarines, eh? That seems unfair. The Aqua-Viper Officer is basically the RoC version of a the RAH Lamprey - in fact, below the neck, this is the same mold as the Lamprey included in the Defense of Cobra Island box set, which means he's bulky, but not unreasonably so, and he has a really neat diving vest, rather than a life preserver.

Notice we said "below the neck": while the Lamprey had a non-removable helmet with a pop-out faceplate, the Aqua-Viper Officer has a separate helmet with a fully sculpted head underneath. A head, incidentally, that looks rather like Harrison Ford. A rejected Indiana Jones sculpt, perhaps? He's certainly more avuncular than you'd expect a Cobra to be. If you have trouble getting the helmet on, try slipping the front under his chin, then squeezing the helmet back over his hair.

In addition to the removable helmet, the AVO has a small backpack with tubes that plug into the back of the dome. He has a holster on his right leg, but no gun to put into it - why? The figure comes with a black submachine gun, but not a pistol. That's bad planning, Hasbro.

Particularly since the now-useless holster is part of what keeps the officer from sitting properly in the cockpit. It prevents his leg from fitting down into the seat, so he's perpetually leaning to the side. That, coupled with the way his backpack makes him sit forward, means his head is too high to allow the canopy to close. You can fix that by bending his knees slightly, but it realy would have been better if they'd left the holster off.

The one thing about this vehicle that really messes with my mind is the name: why's it called the "Mantis Attack Craft?" A mantis is an insect, while this thing is clearly based on a manta ray. Manta, not mantis. There was actually a Mantis sub in 2002, but the name didn't make any sense then, either. It's possible another company has "Manta" trademarked as a name for subs, but it really seems out of place. Still, a toy is more than its name, and this is a really nice toy. It has its problems, sure, but none that should scare you off if you're interested.

-- 01/22/10


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