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GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra
by yo go re

How many times can you improve a thing before you just can't improve it any more?

Low-Light is the GI Joe team's night operations expert, specializing in image intensification techniques and reduced-light combat tactics. As a child, he was afraid of the dark, until he got lost in the woods and was found three weeks later with a flashlight and compass, skillfully finding his way home. In the dark Cobra warehouse, he positions himself to take Destro and the Shock Troopers by surprise.

Okay, now that's interesting - not only does this card tell you something about Low-Light's history (answering our recent complaint), it's also the first time a filecard has referenced other characters the way Transformers often do. Since the IDW comics aren't focusing on these characters, this may be the only bit of fiction they ever get - if you buy them all (or at least read their filecards) you'll get a complete story.

Low-Light is a great looking figure. He uses a lot of existing bodyparts, but still looks unique. The torso and legs are from POC Beachhead, and the upper arms are from the Jungle-Viper. Below the neck, the only new parts are the forearms - they've got thick black pads inspired by the original 1986 figure. His vest is a new piece, and it hides the reused torso; it's highly detailed, from the clasps on the front to the mesh on the back. There's a big red pad over the right shoulder (another reference to the original Low-Light) and two grenades hanging from a strap on the left. It's great work all over, even if it is very specific to Low-Light and won't have a lot of future re-use potential.

The figure's head is new, and it really does look very impressive. Cooper MacBride was never the most handsome guy in the Joe ranks, but this figure still has a good sculpt. He's got a sour look on his face, and curly hair jammed under his watch cap. If you push his red goggles up onto his forehead, you'll find a pair of beady, close-set eyes. He's not homely, but nor is he a pretty boy.

The accessories are, to put it succinctly, superb. It may seem like we keep repeating the same things with these Pursuit of Cobra reviews, but every new release is just as impressive as the one before it. Consider Marvel Legends: the first series was revolutionary, but by the end, we were used to them, yeah? Pursuit of Cobra continues to impress, which means that they're continually upping their game.

In addition to the vest and goggles, Low-Light includes a tactical ballistic computer (the thing that looks like a PDA), a field radio with removable handset and antenna, a spotter's scope with a removable tripod, a box of bullets, a knife, an UZI and a multi-part rifle.

The rifle is a CheyTac M-200, complete with sliding stock. There's a removable bipod, scope and even a silencer that fits over the tip of the barrel. Broken down, the rifle and scope can fit in the included carrying case, but the scope can also plug onto the figure's left leg. Why on earth can it be stored in two places? That seems like a wasted opportunity.

Not that the other accessories have to lay around unattended, mind you. The knife sheathes on his right leg, and he has a large backpack that can hold everything else. This isn't a case like Snake-Eyes, where you have to cheat, either: the scope, phone, bullets and UZI all fit inside the backpack, the radio plugs onto one side, and the silencer tucks under the straps on top.

Both the backpack and the rifle case has pegs to plug into the figure's back, but the case also has a hole on the opposite side: so plug the case into Low-Light's back, plug the backpack into the case, and hang the bipod between them. And obviously, he could hold the case in his hand, if you want. Just be aware, if you put everything on his back, he'll tend to fall over - even with two footpegs on the display stand, he tries to tip back.

Now, if you'll allow us to backtrack a bit, we've saved the best for last. There was some question why Lola's bullets were named "Best Accessory" in the 2009 ToY Awards, but the answer is simple: they were better than you'd expect from a figure of that size and pricepoint. It's crazy to see individual bullets on something that's not a high-end military replica, right? Well, Lola was 1:6 scale; it's even crazier to see that on a 1:18 scale. Yes, one of the bullets in Low-Light's ammo box is removable. Now, obviously the only reason they could do this is that the M-200 takes such large cartridges, but the fact remains that this is an in-scale bullet for a 4" figure. It's never been done. The real-life CheyTac bullet is 4.307" (109.4 mm) long, and the toy version is just a hair over 6mm - perfect! The bullet is easy to lose and hard to find again, so be careful!

Low-Light is one of the mid-tier GI Joe characters: popular enough among the major fans, but not that recognizable to casual audiences. Even if you have no clue who he is, this is a great toy. The filecard is fully informative, the sculpt is very good, and the accessories are just incredible. Low-Light has raised the bar for what a GI Joe figure can be.

-- 03/04/11

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