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GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra
by yo go re

When the Pursuit of Cobra toys were first shown off, their connection to the movie toys was unquestioned. But the line was retooled to more of a standalone product, so the figure that was going to be Desert Battle Ripcord has instead become Jungle Assault Skydive.

Skydive is an airborne combat specialist on the GI Joe team. He is experienced in HALO (high-altitude low-opening) and HAHO (high-altitude high-opening) jumps. Using an advanced rocket pack, he flies to a mysterious Cobra base under construction in the jungle. On the ground, he heads for the building, unaware that Shadow Tracker is following him and preparing an attack.

"Skydive" is a fairly obscure reference - you may have never heard of Lynton Felix before, but he's not a new creation. The name originates with 1990's Sky Patrol team, which used repainted Cobra bodies to create new Joes. How prescient! The G1 character's filecard talked about how he was big into Ranger training, so putting him in a jungle environment here makes a lot of sense.

The base body is one of the ones wearing reactive impact armor, but the arms and legs are all new. His head was originally seen on Flash, and that's a bit disappointing: he's already going to be wearing a helmet, so it would have been nice to see a real face underneath, even if it wasn't a new one. They could have repainted Mutt or Bazooka or something.

The new limbs are designed very well. The armor on the arms blends in with that on the chest naturally, and the new legs are embellished just enough to keep from looking plain - there are pads on the thighs, and carry handles on the heels. You won't often be looking his body, though, because the jump vest he wears will be commanding most of the attention. It's 100% new sculpt, much more intricate than the Para-Viper's gear. It's a big thick vest, with a bunch of pouches on the front, an emergency 'chute at the small of the back, and straps that hang around the knees. Two black hoses emerge from devices on the front of the vest, and plug into the aforementioned helmet. The helmet is gray, with a clear facemask, which again makes us bemoan the fact that he doesn't have a face.

Skydive is armed with a small pistol, but that's not the accessory that anyone will be paying attention to. No, the exciting thing is the Zeta Rocket Pack with Turbojet Engine and Aerosonic Wings. Seriously, that's its full name. The rocket pack is a backpack with wings; and not wings like Duke's jetpack, "wing" wings. Like some vast, predatory bird. They're mechanical, no question, but the shape is decidely more organic than, say, an airplane.

The pack looks cool even when the wings are folded, but if you press the large button in the center of the back, they pop open to their full 6⅝" wingspan. Each wing is marked on the back with a serial number of some sort - JPU81GP - and the current GI Joe star logo. The underside of the wings have a huge version of the serial number printed on them. It's so big, in fact, that only the 8, 1, G and part of the P are visible, so it ends up looking like it says "BIG!" Not entirely inaccurate, eh?

The Zeta pack has a few add-ons: two missiles, and two silver pod/canisters. Personally, I thought it was fairly obvious where these pieces had to go, since they only fit on the figure in one configuration, but since Rustin had trouble with it, Hasbro probably should have considered printing instructions somewhere. Perhaps in the light blue patch on the card behind the figure? Anyway, the rockets go on the angled arms sticking out the sides of the pack, while the silver things go on his shoulders, pointing upwards. They're not bombs, which is what I initially thought; they're either floodlights or (more likely) air intakes for the "turbojet engine." So yes, the wings can work with all the pieces attached.

Desert Battle Ripcord was one of the figures I was really looking forward to in the Pursuit of Cobra line, and I didn't even realize he'd been cancelled until I saw Skydive on the pegs - nor did I realize Skydive was a repaint at first, because the colors are so different. I still think I prefer the browns and golds of the planned Ripcord over the green and grey we got, but Skydive is a very cool Joe regardless: he's a forgotten character rescued from obscurity, and his old personality fits with the situation they've got him in now. The design is cool, and the accessories are killer. It would be nice if he came with a larger gun to use when the pistol doesn't have enough stopping power, but this is yet another top-notch POC release. Now, when will we see the TARGAT repaint?

-- 04/15/11

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