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Polar Sharc w/ Ice Storm

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

Remember when we told you about the third series of ROC Alpha Vehicles being cancelled? Yeah, about that...

The GI Joe team's Polar Sharc Subs battle Cobra Mantis Attack Crafts in the chilly waters of the Arctic. The mini-subs are unleashed from the team's main underwater vessel and plunge into combat, blasting the enemy with DIVE-6 depth-impact vortex energy torpedoes. These one-person subs are swift, silent and can reach depths of up to 2,700 feet below sea level.

It seems the vehicles were only cancelled in the US: not only did they ship in the Philippines, but also in other strange exotic lands, like Canada. And now they're showing up at discount closeout stores, so let's all point and laugh at people who paid to import them (people like me).

The Polar Sharc is, like the Steel Crusher, a vehicle actually seen in the film. You remember, the Joes' sub birthed out an entire school of the things during the battle at the Arctic base. And even before that, we saw them swimming around in that awesome water tank inside the Pit. Sure, they were a bit larger in the film, but there's no ignoring that this is the same vehicle.

If the name wasn't a dead giveaway, this is a movieverse take on the classic SHARC, in that it's a one-man sub. Yes, one: the version in the movie was a two-seater, but like we said, sacrifices have been made. The design of the thing is terrific, a very sleek and angular shape that looks incredibly aerodynamic. Sorry, hydrodynamic. The clear blue canopy rises above the surface of the sub only slightly, and there's a large missile launcher under the hull. The coolest feature, though, is the large fin in the back. It can rotate 360°, and it really changes up the look of the sub.

The canopy opens, revealing a full cockpit inside. It's perfectly shaped to accommodate a figure laying on his back, and is detailed with padded sections and various control panels. However, there's a second clear panel under the nose of the sub - what's that for? Well, it's a throwback to the original SHARC, where the pilot laid prone to control the sub: if you want to do the same here, you can jam the figure in head-first and he'll still be able to see. Finally, there's also a simple peg under the hull that's sized for the holes in modern figures' backs, so the Polar Sharc can deliver a diver into combat, as well.

Ice Storm is the GI Joe Team's cold-water marine combat and survival specialist. Take the worst battle situation then add subzero temperatures and freezing water: that's his environment, and he makes sure the team can fight and win under those conditions.

Here's something I never thought about: international releases require multilingual packaging, right? Well, that extends to everything, which means multilingual filecards, as well. Rather than do the stupid thing, and put four languages on a single card, the packaging includes two filecards with a different language printed on each side: one has English and French, the other Spanish and Portuguese. It's certainly a clever way to deal with the need for multiple fandoms, and an elegant solution to the problem.

Ice Storm is a new character: the codename has never been used before, and his file name - Nolan MacPhee - isn't borrowed from anyone else, either. The mold, however, is: this is basically a repaint of Arctic Doc done in less garish colors. While Doc had a DayGlo orange coat and yellow pants, Ice Storm has a more subdued (but still vibrant) red-orange jacket with black and silver panels on the shoulders, black pants with orange flash just below the knees, and dark blue gloves with silver trim. It's still very colorful, but not nearly as offensive to the eye as Doc was. The colors make perfect sense for him, too: since he's going to be inside a submarine, he doesn't need to be camouflaged like everyone else does - in fact, if anything goes wrong, he needs to be eay to spot for rescue. Think Deadliest Catch; are those guys wearing white and gray? No.

The one part of the figure that's new is the head. It's a bit hard to see, between the high collar on the coat and the way he's got his hat pulled down over his eyes, but it's new nonetheless. He's got a narrow face and a rather plain expression, which together make him look like a mopey teenager. Some people have said he looks like Eminem, but I don't see it.

Ice Storm's accessories are the same shoulder-harness that Arctic Snake-Eyes had, and the modified FN machine gun with the backwards ACOG scope a few of the Rise of Cobra figures have used. They're not the greatest pieces ever, but considering Hasbro really could have gotten away with giving him nothing, we're not going to complain. Think of these as pure extras, and throw them in a bin if you don't like them.

The Polar Sharc is one of the best Rise of Cobra vehicles around. Heck, it's one of the best modern GI Joe vehicles, period. Sleek yet intricate design, play features that look completely natural... oh, and it actually floats. Ice Storm is a top-notch repaint, as well, making this an excellent set. It was already a good buy when I was paying Canadian import for it, but the fact that these are now showing up (sporadically) in the US at discount prices makes it even better.

-- 03/18/11

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