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Eel (Underwater Trooper)

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

Cobra Eels are combat specialists trained to fight in any marine environment and experts with advanced underwater weapons. They defend a M.A.R.S. Industries base in the Arctic that comes under attack by the GI Joe team.

The Eels are, like the Elite-Vipers, another of those designs that did actually appear in the movie, though you'd have to be sharp-eyed (or have a quick finger on the pause button) to notice them. Mostly, they piloted the Mantis Attack Craft or paddled around outside the Arctic base, but sure enough, they were there. Rise of Cobra took some flack from diehard Joe fans for only having one kind of enemy, but they really had more than you think.

Cobra's Eels have been around since 1985, and are one of the most common types of Cobra soldiers - no surprise, then, that they made it into the film. This figure, like nearly every other G3 underwater trooper, uses the Torpedo body, and boy is that getting old. Still, the important thing is the swim vest, which is a new and highly complicated sculpt. The vest clasps on both sides, but they're somewhat camouflaged by the weights sculpted around his waist. There are two sculpted grenades, a pistol in a holster, and all sorts of straps running over the chest and shoulders. It's quite ornate, and really sets this use of the body apart from all the ones that have come before.

The Eel's helmet is the only part of the sculpt that's actually new. Its design is closer to the Elite-Viper than the usual Neo-Viper helmet, with a single horizontal visor rather than separate lenses. The mouth area has thin sculpted lines that give it a rather vicious and inhuman look. A hole in the back of the head allows you to plug in the hose from his airtank: yes, he apparently breathes through the back of his skull.

In addition to the airtank, which plugs into the figure's backpack hole, the Eel re-uses Torpedo's knife and pistol (since he also re-uses Torpedo's legs and, by extension, his holsters), but he also gets a fancy harpoon gun (MARS Industries UA-series harpoon) and Stupid Giant Gun (SMART torpedo launcher). The harpoon gun has nice techy details, as well as a fancy flashlight mounted on the bottom. The SGG is designed to look like some kind of torpedo or underwater sled, so it actually fits thematically with the Eel and isn't as stupid as most of these things are. Two blades or something fold out of it, but the rest is pretty cool. He also gets the removable flippers.

The movieverse Eel isn't the flashiest of figures. He's dark, with only the red patches on his shoulders to provide any real color. That means the details of his sculpt get lost easily, so he just blends into a display. If you want an update of the old familiar Eel, get the G3 version. Or get the Target-exclusive vehicle pack that comes with one. But if you want an underwater trooper who doesn't look like the same old same old, give this one a try.

-- 04/23/10

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