Cobra Stinger w/ Stinger Driver

Believe it or not, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I most likely would not own this beautiful piece of G.I. Joe history. Even though the Stinger has long been one of my all time favorite Cobra vehicles, it's extremely limited release and high price tag on the secondary market had convinced me that it would forever elude my grasp.

But then BigBadToyStore surprised everyone by having it in stock for a very reasonable price, and I jumped on it quickly, especially with the thought that the upcoming Heatseeker Missile launcher and SNAKE Armor would make for a pretty awesome combination for either an Anniversary display or a Rise of Cobra one.

Yes, the Stinger reuses much of the tooling from the VAMP, but like the original, the extra parts added really add enough value to make this vehicle worth your money and your time. It really is fantastic.

The 25th Anniversary was such a conflicting time to me...while I love my old school Joes, I really don't have a need to see them all reproduced ad infinitum in a different, more modern style. But there were times when Hasbro took the essence of the character or figure and souped it up in such a way that I absolutely loved what they were doing. Certain vehicles exemplify that to perfection. The VAMP, the RAM, the Sky Hawk, and the Stinger all got a certain amount of new tooling, all of which made some impressive differences, helped modernize the vehicles somewhat, and made them feel a lot newer and more worth the reissue. Every change made on this Stinger was made for good reason and is an improvement on the original, yet still maintains the essence and the spirit of the vehicle we got twenty-five years ago.

Obviously by now, everyone knows what to expect from this thing. It's Cobra perfection in sheer black and red with nice trims of dark gray and tons of nice added details. By far my favorite touch is the spot where you can hook the AK-47 to the hood. The opening doors are a very cool addition, and I'm happy to see that the red missiles stay fastened 100% better than they did back in the day. Every change made on this vehicle from the original was made with a purpose, and every change, it seems, was an improvement to boot. Very cool.

Stinger Driver Commander

Considering we had already received the Stinger Driver in the Cobra Legions set, just what could we expect to see here? More of the same? I'm happy to say "no". Some brilliant Hasbro designer decided, instead, to give us a Stinger Driver Commander, and changed him up really nicely! Basing him off the terrific Cobra Bazooka Trooper tooling was a stroke of genious, and unlike his predecessor, this version actually has the rear holster intact on his webgear!

The colors on the Stinger Driver Commander are based off the same color scheme as the more standard drivers, but with the fancier webgear and the textured helmet, he stands out very well. Considering how cheap Cobra Legions sets are these days, too, it's not hard at all to stock up on actual Stinger Drivers for your Stingers either, so we get the best of both worlds.

I've made no secret of the fact that a big part of me is happy that we've moved on from the Anniversary rehashes to something newer and more different, but every once in a while I have no issues with long time collectors being thrown a "bone", especially when that "bone" is something as gorgeous and as well designed as this. I still don't think the brand can survive long term by simply regurgatating the successes (and failures) of the past twenty-five years, but if done right, I think some nice Real American Hero homages can go a long way in the current scheme and get some life in the brand from new blood as well as more hardened support from the old school crowd. I know the Stinger was originally conceived for the Anniversary line, it's release just carried over into the Rise of Cobra, but I think it serves as some proof that Hasbro can please both camps and both crowds, and hopefully has a bit more success doing so in the coming months.