Laser Artillary Weapon w/ General Hawk & Grand Slam

I know it's trendy amongst Joe fans these days to smack talk the Rise of Cobra line as it completes its rocky transition to The Pursuit of Cobra on the way to a full fledged Renegades revival in 2011, but I think it's important for folks to understand and realize that the Rise of Cobra did some good things for fans along the way.

First of all, these battle stations were originally planned for release in the 25th Anniversary line.  That much is clear.  However, due to lackluster sales, questionable distribution and odd case packout decisions, the line was floundering, and these were cancelled for that line.

However, due to the powerhouse "movie" aspect of The Rise of Cobra, these fan-favorite vintage homage battle stations were able to be re-utilized in the movie style, yet retained their classic looks, for the most part.  Of course, they now come packaged with movie figures instead of 25th Anniversary figures, which I'm sure is a bone of contention, but at least the battle stations themselves are intact.

For better or worse.

I loved a lot of these little sets back in the day...stuff like the Bivouac, Checkpoint Alpha, and the Outpost Defender really rocked my world...but I will fully admit, the LAW did nothing for me then, and doesn't do a whole lot for me now.

Essentially an oversized artillary cannon on a non-descript platform, the LAW is a single-seat powerhouse weapon that is designed to look cutting edge, but here in the 21st Century just comes off somewhat dull.  Sure, the cannon is pretty massive and intimidating (and retains that great classic G.I. Joe style) but besides a rotating cannon and a seated workstation, it doesn't do anything.  The detailing of the LAW, of course, is marvelous, being based off the 80's aesthetic.  Panels, rivets, armored plating are all intact and sculpted in amazingly meticulous detail, especially compared to offerings of today.  Hasbro retained the familiar dark green color scheme, and the stickers (a lost art amongst modern toys) flow well and actually have their own place on the station.

So when it comes to the LAW itself, I can admire the skill of the design, yet still lament it's overall non-functionalness and somewhat boring purpose.  But there are additional selling points here, due to the fact that like the planned Anniversary releases, these battle stations come with a pair of figures.

Grand Slam

Grand Slam, at one point the red-headed stepchild of the original 13, now has become a regular appearance at retail, with this being his third iteration within a twelve month time span.  However, this Grand Slam comes with Flash's laser rifle, and is also somewhat deficient, tooling-wise, in comparison the the movie-themed version we got with the Target exclusive Jet Pack.

Another knock against this figure is the fact that Tripwire also comes with the Outpost Defender, and is essentially the exact same figure with a different head.  They seem like bizarre choices to partner alongside each other in the same assortment, but that's the way it goes.

Grand Slam fits the movie aesthetic fairly well, with his dark green uniform now just black, and his silver pads intact.  Perhaps in a perfect world, the original release of this battle station would have given us a Grand Slam with a light green uniform and red pads, but that's nit-picking, I suppose.

Even with a slightly darker color scheme, this character is immediately identifiable as Grand Slam, but I'm not sure if that's a testament to the quality of the figure or just a statement on how unnecessary it was to get three different versions of this character looking so similarly to each other within one year of release.  That being said, the figure is fine, but certainly not a selling point of this station.

General Hawk

This figure, however, IS a selling point.  For whatever faults the Rise of Cobra had, figure design and sculpting was not one of them.  Sure, they had to shoehorn their talents into the Paramount Rise of Cobra aesthetic, but the leaps forward in sculpting, articulation, and overall design was clearly evident as you look at the birth of the 25th Anniversary line and compare it to the Rise of Cobra.

This is a version of General Hawk I could easily work into my normal G.I. Joe universe, and I may end up doing just that.  It's a simple figure, wearing a black t-shirt and camouflage pants, but he is awesome in his simplicity.  Great range of motion in his arms, awesome paint apps within the camouflage incredible accurate Quaid head sculpt, and some terrific, simple accessories.  A really nice figure, and quite simply, the entire reason I bought this battle station.

Granted, $14.99 is a lot of coin to drop for a Hawk figure, so when Wal-Mart put these on clearence, I knew I had to jump on it.  Yes, I know this is essentially the same figure as the Wave 4 General Hawk, but being the Hawk fanboy that I am, I had to get it, and I love the updated jungle camouflage look.

By and large, this is one of the most underwhelming battle stations, even with the nice vintage roots and the awesome Hawk figure.  I'm not sure if that's really a complaint on this set itself, or more of a praise for the other three sets, but regardless, if you can't get them all, don't put this one on your short list.  Of course, eBay's really your only choice for picking these up at this point anyway, but let's stick with the formula, shall we?