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Steel Crusher w/ Nitro-Viper

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

Usually in a movie toyline, any vehicles you get are fanciful creations that have nothing to do with what's seen on-screen. The Rise of Cobra line, however, is mostly bucking that trend, with crazy vehicles that may not match exactly what was in the movie, but are really darn close.

The Steel Crusher Armor Plated Vehicle (A.P.V.) tears through the Paris streets on a mission of destruction: to release the nanomite weapon and destroy the Eiffel Tower! The Nitro-Viper blasts through traffic at top speed and smashes past obstacles in his way, but he can't shake the GI Joe team that's determined to stop him!

This one we knew about before the movie came out: it was hard to miss the giant armored truck rampaging through city streets in all the ads. But what we didn't know was how many of the play features were taken straight from the film, as well.

The Steel Crusher is a Hummer - an actual, licensed model, not just an STBLDF knockoff. There's a logo on the back and everything. This probably has something to do with Hasbro & GM's Transformers movie licensing deal; it may have opened the door for the H2's offical appearance here, as well.

The truck is 10" long, 5½" wide and 5" tall, which means the proportions are slightly off from the real thing (it should be 11¼" long and 4½" wide in the Joes' modern 4" scale), but not so much that it looks weird. Who knows, maybe Destro had MARS modify it in more ways than just the obvious. The wheels roll, the tires are rubber, and there are lots of sculpted details, from the vents on the hood to the gas cap at the back. Really, when we say it's an accurate model, we mean it. The front doors open and the interior - seats, dashboard, center console - is detailed just like the real thing.

Some of the aftermarket modifications include the (removable) cowcatcher/battering ram on the front, flip-down rocket launchers in the rear doors, a sliding armored panel on the roof, flip-down armor to cover the windshield, and a pop-up gun turret in the back. Fun stuff, and I can't tell you how much I'd like even a little bit of that stuff when I have to go somewhere. The rockets and ram - which is identified as the "Iron Plow™" on the box, for some indecipherable reason - are straight from the movie, while the pop-up gun and sliding roof are new inventions. Still cool, though. [wrong: the gun is in the movie, briefly --ed.]

The rear-mounted rocket launcher fires big red projectiles, which actually have built-in storage space in the trunk. When the armor is lowered in front of the windshield, a gunner's port is revealed on the roof, allowing the passenger to stand up and fire at enemies. There's a circular socket up there, as well, suggesting plans for a plug-in weapon, but nothing's included with the final set. Still, all those Stupid Giant Guns the movie toys come with will at last not look out-of-place somewhere. The door missiles can be removed, too, but they're not spring-loaded. Overall, the Steel Crusher has room for eight figures: seven passengers and the driver.

Cobra Nitro-Vipers drive the high-tech vehicles in the Cobra fleet. They're fast, aggressive operators who can expertly navigate narrow city streets and rough dirt roads with equal skill and a total disregard for anything in their path.

Nitro-Viper, eh? Interesting choice. This is only the second time a Nitro-Viper toy has ever been made, and the first, in 1993, wasn't exactly a fan-favorite... or even particularly well-known. He was just a complete repaint of an earlier figure, and is probably most famous (in a "hey, what an obcure piece of trivia" way) for being the only GI Joe figure ever released without an accompanying filecard. This version does have a filecard (as evidenced by the paragraph up above), and even some new parts, so he's already got an edge on his Generation 1 counterpart.

The movie Nitro-Viper is built from the Viper legs and the HISS Driver torso, covered in a new vest. There are sculpted hoses running over his shoulers and under his right arm, connecting to a technological junction on the small of the back. The entire suit is done in shades of blue, matching the movie aesthetic - if this was meant to be a Real American Hero G3 figure, he'd be a lot more vibrant. There's a silver Cobra logo on his chest. There are no accessories, but who needs a gun when you have a car like this?

In addition to the vest, the Nitro-Viper gets a new head. It's not a great look, honestly: he's wearing a huge helmet with a transparent eyeshield, and from a distance it doesn't look too bad; but when you flip up the visor and really look at the head, it gets goofy. The entire head is a single molded piece, so no taking the helmet off, either. The vest is the only thing keeping him from looking like a bobblehead. This is clearly meant to be an homage to the 1986 Motor-Viper, rather than the actual Nitro-Viper, but that helmet worked better as a solid.

It'll take more than an identity-confused driver to bring down this set. The figure is merely okay, but the Steel Crusher vehicle itself is a lot of fun and has a great design. It works well in both "civilian" and full-on assault modes, and looks great with any Cobras you have. A worthwhile purchase, even at normal retail prices.

-- 09/18/09

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