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Wolf Hound w/ White Out

GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra
by yo go re

It has to be annoying for a toy company to lose the rights to a name that's become closely associated with one of their products. They may make up a replacement name, but everyone still thinks of it as the old thing. For instance, the "Wolf Hound" - or, as you're more likely to know it, the Snow Cat.

The Wolf Hound vehicle combines the stamina of a tank with the handling of an off-road vehicle. The result is a machine that makes its own road over tough terrain to reach the Cobra geothermal base. Rear HT-3X high-traction treads cruise over snow and ice as the heavy-duty 1600GT engine flexes its muscles and growls over impassable ground. The Slider missile system launches four anti-armor missiles in quick succession.

The original Snow Cat was released in 1985, the high-point of GI Joe's popularity. Since it was all over the cartoon, it's one of those ones that even casual fans recognize. But for whatever reason (possibly because of the real-world Snowcats), Hasbro's changed the name. Doesn't mean it's not still the same thing.

In fact, it is almost 100% the same thing. Unlike some G3 vehicles, this isn't a new sculpt based on the old toy, it's just the old toy. The footpegs have been changed, but that's (nearly) all. On the plus side, the original had a lot of detail, so the toy still looks good today. Like the HISS v.5, the Snow Cat Wolf Hound has to be assembled once you get it out of the box, a bit of fun that's been mostly forgotten today.

Unlike previous Snow Cats, the upper body of the Wolf Hound isn't pure white. The plastic is marbelized, with black flecks swirled all throughout. Early leaked prototypes showed it mixed with brown, but the black works much better. The hubcaps on the rear wheels are white, rather than unpainted black, and all the "glass" on the vehicle is a smoky grey. The missiles are all yellow, and there's a sheet of decals to be applied - including, amusingly, the blood-spitting cat head that gave the original vehicle its name. Shouldn't they have changed that to a dog?

The canopy hinges up, and the windshield wiper moves. A ski-mounted "snowpedo" is housed on each side above the half-track, and there's a rocket launcher that pivots and raises. For the first time ever, the launcher actually launches: all the previous releases have just had the missiles tucked under an overhang, and you pulled them out yourself; this one is solid, though, and a slider across the top fires the missiles as it goes past them. Fun! And super-powerful. I just shot a rocket about six and a half feet across the room.

White Out is a cold weather specialist for the GI Joe team and experienced in polar combat mobility. He equips the team with the gear, tools and tactics necessary for a successful mission against the enemy and the elements when the team infiltrates the Cobra geothermal base.

White Out is a highly unexpected choice to be the driver in this set. The original wheel man was Frostbite, who ended up with quite a few toys over the years. Meanwhile, Whiteout's unknown even to some of the most die-hard Joe fans, having only ever had one figure prior to this. Whiteout (one word) was released in 2000 as part of the Real American Hero Collection, the Toys Я Us-exclusive series that kept GI Joe alive until Generation 2 started. His file name, Leonard J. Lee III, is a reference to the founder of Lee's Toy Review, the toy magazine you may have seen on the shelf when you went to grab the newest ToyFare.

A decade ago, Whiteout was just a repaint of Snow Job, but this figure changes that up a little bit. His torso comes from Snow Job, but the arms and legs are Arctic Snake-Eyes'. It's a smart choice, because it makes him look different from both of those guys. As far as I know (and admittedly, sometimes it's hard to tell) the head is a new sculpt. While the only hair visible on the old Whiteout was his big brown beard, this one is clean shaven and has lighter hair.

White Out's only accessories are a hood and goggles, both carried over from Snow Job. He has a black camo pattern on his jacket, and it's funny to see the armchair commandos complain about how "inaccurate" that is. Guys, real-world snow camo is a lot more than just a plain white coat; it's broken up with - gasp! - black splotches, because unless you're crossing a pure white snowfield, there are still going to be rocks, bark and shadows to hide you (if you are crossing a pure white snowfield, not even being white will conceal your approach).

If there's one flaw with this set, it's that the lower edge of Whiteout's coat prevents his legs from raising as far forward as they should, so getting him to sit in the driver's seat of the Wolf Hound is tough. But yeah, that's all. The vehicle is the best version of the Snow Cat ever released, and Whiteout's not bad himself. Even those of you who want '80s throwbacks over movie stuff should enjoy this one.

-- 07/23/10


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