Pursuit of Cobra Bravo Vehicle - Wave 1 COBRA Hiss Tank v.5

When talking about iconic G.I. Joe vehicles, it's tough to get much more iconic than the original Cobra HISS. The infamous HIgh Speed Sentry was Cobra's first really unique, individualized vehicle that defined the organization of the time.

Several times since then, Hasbro has attempted to redefine the HISS Tank, and they've had some mixed success. I'm of the belief that the HISS II is still far and away a cooler vehicle than the original HISS, and if I had my choice, my Cobra army would be stocked full of those tanks, not their smaller, less potent older brothers. After the HISS II, we got a repainted version in slate blue for the Real American Hero Collection...and then came Joe vs. Cobra. The HISS IV was pretty much an abomination and an insult to the legacy of the Cobra HISS Tank...and unfortunately that left a stale taste in collectors' mouths for a little while.

Granted, frequent repaints in the exclusives line helped offset this a bit, but it wasn't until 2005 when we got the Direct to Consumer HISS Tank that collectors felt like Cobra had a viable upgrade to their battle force. Yet, still, even as successful as the DTC HISS was, there were still complaints (very valid ones, I might add) that the armament was weak. It was saddled with somewhat small, unimposing missile launchers rather than the oversized cannons that fans were familiar with.

Time passed...the 25th Anniversary line came, and we once again received a nice helping of HISS I repaints, but still no real viable upgrades.

Then there was JoeCon 2009. Then G.I. Joe designer Richard Woodhouse showed a mock up prototype of the "HISS of the future". Moveable tank treads. Moving and customizable weaponry. No glass canopy. A true update to the HISS tank... and now I finally have one in hand. Does it deserve the hype?

In some folks opinion, it might not. In my opinion, abso-freaking-lutely.

The reason for my cop-out caveat is simple...I know there are folks out there who religiously cling to the vintage style, and that is totally cool. There are all sorts of different shapes and sizes of collectors, and many folks who like different things.

From my own perspective, I love seeing new and exciting product. New elements, some different storylines...a new idea for a character or an updated look for a classic character. This is all good to me. So, in my opinion, this version of the HISS hits on all of the right notes.

Upon first glance, it's immediately obvious that really the only thing it's got in common with the predecessor are the triangular tank treads. That is something truly unique to the HISS tank, and they translate them to perfection here. Yes, the treads move, and move VERY well. They're real rubber, they stay on the tracks, and cling to the surface they're rolling on quite nicely.

The body style of the HISS is much more akin to something like the Rhino copter, and doesn't really retain the classic elements of the vintage version. No glass canopy, no real sloped armor, no large tank cannons on top. Beyond the triangular treads, this really could be a totally new vehicle, but it is still fantastic.

Sure, the armor isn't really sloped per se, but it is drastically angular, which gives the tank a very nice, sleek, aerodynamic appearence that I love. I posted on GeneralsJoes a long time ago that I was very excited to see the Sigma 6 2.5" style inject itself into the 3 3/4" scale, and this is a perfect example of why. It's an awesome blend of both styles that really looks science fiction, yet somehow grounded in some warped "10 minutes in the future" reality.

I know people have complained about the lack of a glass canopy, but I love the smooth, unbroken look of the body of the tank. I imagine there are camera lenses scattered throughout the hull of this beast that project in 360 degrees, and you end up with a view of the battlefield that is even better than it would be with a simple window in front.

The front of the tank has a very angular "fang" like look that really feels "COBRA" ish. Small twin cannons portrude out from underneath the HISS's chin as a sort of small caliber weapon to "soften up" any infantry they might run across. Complimenting the twin machine guns are a large 20mm chain gun and a powerful looking missile launcher that can plug into holes on the top of the tank, or on the sides, and provide a nice, healthy dose of offensive firepower.

The flexible rubber machine gun belt connecting the heavy weapon to a slot on the top of the tank works very nicely and adds a cool design element, to boot. A simple press of a red button fires a spring-loaded projectile from the launcher, too.

But this does bring about my first complaint... there are holes scattered throughout the HISS tank, which are obviously meant to accomodate some weapon customization. Hasbro tried the same thing with the DTC line, and carried it over somewhat to the Sigma 6 line. However, these holes and those holes are not compatible. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why not. The difference is a matter of millimeters, and these new holes are just large enough that the slightly smaller pegs do not allow for a seamless fit, and the guns slip right out.

How cool would it have been to be able to use RHINO or ROCC weapons on the HISS? Or, for that matter, the Mech suit parts that are coming out to retail as well? That seems like a real no brainer, and something that Hasbro kind of missed on. It would have been a great throwback to some older vehicles and allow for some pretty neat customizations. Regardless of this, the vehicle is very cool, that would have just put it right over the edge.

Even if these holes aren't compatible, there is an assortment of weaponry mixed throughout the HISS that will work in various other capacities, and even the small twin machine cannons on the front will slide into the smaller holes on the upper body, too.

One last thing is the staff that initially was slated to come with the mailaway Cobra Commander (but is now included here) fits seamlessly into a small hole next to the cockpit. It's unknown as to the reason for this, whether it's just ceremonial, or meant to control something specific, but it's a neat little element.

The HISS is also a lot larger than it really appears to be at first. It almost dwarfs the original and looks very imposing, even when the body is flush to the treads. But when the body needs more elevation and a better angle to take some shots at the other side, a slight press of the button on the top will extend the body and allow for 360 degree turning and a pretty neat appearance.

The four support arms move freely, and spring up when the button is pressed pretty seamlessly. The body locks down firmly and I've found no real deficiencies in the design at all.

I absolutely love the design elements of the bottom platform, and there are some great details, including removable cables that plug into the platform, just to add a flair of detail.

Along with the holes in the rear-top of the HISS as well, there are two holes on the side to accomodate the weapons, even if the older Joe gear isn't compatible.

While everyone has been complaining, too, about the windowless canopy in front, not many folks have mentioned the swing-down rear compartment. I really dig this design, even though I'm really not sure what he does in there. The guns seem small enough to be remotely controlled, and the rear cockpit isn't located in a real sensible location for any other function...is it just a single troop compartment? I'm not sure. I'm not quite certain, either, of how the trooper goes into the back. The instructions indicate he sits upside down when the canopy swings down, while the box seems to show him being right side up. My own personal experience is that it works better with him upside down, holding the control bar.

Now we get to the stickers, and the stickers are extremely cool. There are a metric ton of stickers that come with this vehicle, and the best part is, they offer a huge level of customization. Maybe too much?

All of those left hand letter and number stickers can be placed on the tank in whatever order you choose to create a custom callsign for your tank. Of course the "788" stickers are there by default, but there are options for a lot more. In fact...my 4-year old assisted me in putting stickers on this vehicle, and when you have an anxious 4-year old and customizable stickers, you end up with stuff like this:

Yes, apparently the HISS Tank pilot's name is Megan.

But of course, the vehicle isn't perfect...and folks have expressed some understandable disatisfaction with the color scheme chosen for the HISS. One of the appeals for the Pursuit of Cobra line has been the different environments that the figures are designed to operate in. From Urban to City to Arctic, and the Desert, vehicles and soldiers are chosen to work in these different climates. The Fury was slated as the urban vehicle, and the Wolfhound operates in the arctic. With the VAMP working in the jungle, that leaves the HISS as the desert vehicle. Because of this, it's gotta have a desert color element to it, so it's brown.

Not my first choice by far. But at least Hasbro colors this in a deep, dark, almost gunmetal brown that isn't quite so glaring as it could be. But still, I think pretty much every Joe fan out there would prefer this vehicle to be released in black, myself definitely included. Is there a reason a black vehicle can't operate in the desert? I dunno, I don't think too many folks would have complained about that. Perhaps somewhere down the line we'll get a nice black repaint, but until then we're stuck with the dark brown. It's not a deal breaker, but black would have definitely put this thing in another category.

HISS Tank Driver

When I initially saw the HISS Tank driver for this updated Cobra vehicle of the future, I was somewhat underwhelmed. The cobbled together look of the Cobra Commander battle armor and the Pilot Destro gear just didn't flow all that well, and the figure ended up looking like a mish-mash of parts and pieces.

Now that I have it in hand, my opinion has softened somewhat, but I still think that perhaps they could have done something a bit more exciting.

I am a fan of the Battle Armor Cobra Commander figure...the design really lends itself well to the more modern style, and the paint apps match your typical HISS Driver look (though more subdued and brown in appearance to match the desert theme). Once you get the gear on him, too, he does have many of the elements of a standard HISS driver with the blue chest plate, but he's much bulkier and more imposing.

The end result is a figure that looks much cooler in person than he does in images, but is still not quite as cool as he could be. For a vehicle with this level of bad-assery, I'd want an equally intimidating driver to go along with it, and this updated HISS Driver just isn't quite it.

He is a bit cooler in hand than images portrayed, and he maintains a somewhat ceremonial and enhanced look when compared to the originals, but ultimately, while he satisfies, he doesn't necessarily inspire excitement. He's just kind of there.


This updated HISS Tank is not perfect. But it is awesome. Very awesome. The sleek, speedy armor plating meshes perfectly with the blunt-force weaponry to create an awesome combination of high speed action, flexible functionality, and potent offense.

I would love it to be black, I would love a slightly cooler driver, and customization with older weaponry would make this thing perfect, but as it is, it's pretty nasty, and makes a great foundation for your 21st Century Cobra offensive battle group.


Pre-Order this vehicle NOW at BigBadToyStore.com!

I want to give a big thanks, too, while I'm talking to Gyre-Viper, the guy I got this from. He's become quite prominent in the community and has terrific access for pre-production and pre-release items. We've been buddies for a while, got a chance to connect at the Convention, and his generosity and willingness to help are a very pleasent and welcome surprise.

Being a part of the G.I. Joe fandom can be a two-way street. It's easy to be involved with the fandom, but it's not so easy being involved with the fandom, if you get my meaning. His enthusiasm and excitement is refreshing, and I fully appreciate everything that he does. Not just for how he helps me personally, but for how much excitement and energy he generates for the fandom as a whole. Keep up the great work, man. More pictures of the HISS can be found below.