G.I. Joe: The Pursuit of Cobra "Jungle Assault" Skydive

Like Shadow Tracker, we first saw this figure during the JoeCon 2009 presentation, only then he was another version of Ripcord. After initial fears about the figures cancellation, some samples began showing up on eBay through international channels, and thankfully with reasonable prices, many fans out there have already gotten this figure in one form.

Does that mean you shouldn't buy this one? I don't think so, no. I mean, from a tooling perspective, yes, you essentially already own this figure if you bought that Ripcord, but from a presentation and character perspective, I still think there is a lot to love here. And for those folks averse to buying from the international gray market, you are going to absolutely love this figure.

Keep in mind, too, that although I do own the Ripcord version, I am going to review this figure as if it were a first release, because from a technical sense, it is.

Now, I have to be honest. It's amazing what a difference a couple of years makes. Back when this figure first made its pictorial debut, from JoeCon, it was the highlight of the show. An absolutely jaw-dropping figure that pretty much stunned most of the fans who laid eyes on it. Yet, among the rest of Wave 4, the figure comes across as somewhat subdued and understated. That is unbelievable to me. Absolutely unbelievable. When I got the pre-production sample of this figure, I was incredibly impressed at the level of detail, yet when I finally get my hands on the rest of Wave 4, this figure almost pales in comparison to the rest of them. I simply can't fathom how Hasbro is able to get this much detail, articulation, and quality of accessories in this small a scale.

That being said...how is this figure? Well, compared to the rest of Wave 4, it seems middle of the road, but it's got some very lofty company. Trust me when I say that this is one hell of a cool action figure.

The first thing that must be noted is that no longer is this Ripcord...since Hasbro departed from the Rise of Cobra universe, and has attempted to separate themselves from the need for Paramount royalties, they went ahead and changed the identity of this figure. He's now "Skydive". To most fans, this might seem like a haphazard change...to me? I'm in love with the change.

I'm a huge fan of obscure characters in G.I. Joe lore, and I'm especially fascinated by Skydive, the Sky Patrol leader. He's a Staff Sergeant, and I often used him as part of my command structure in my dio-story universe. Well, of course, the first thing I did when I got this figure is look at the filecard...and this figure does indeed share the filename with the original Sky Patrol Skydive! I LOVE that. Now I can picture that angry moustached, flat top grimace underneath Flash's gimp mask. It'll help me sleep at night.

Removing the jetpack web gear, I was surprised that Hasbro still used the Reactive Armor parts underneath. In fact, with the exception of the head sculpt, every inch of tooling here is reused from the original Ripcord. That's not a bad thing. The padded uniform is very nicely detailed and tooled, giving the figure some great bulk, yet not restricting articulation too much. The armored legs and arms blend seamlessly with the regular cloth uniform, and not only look great underneath the vest, but don't look all that out of place when the vest is removed.

Of course, the figure isn't entirely perfect. Once you put all that gear on him (which is, let's face it, when the figure looks best) Skydive is darn near immobile. The bottom straps restrict his legs, the vest restricts his torso, and his head can barely move encased in that padded high collar. Granted, the figure still looks excellent on display, but for a figure line that is so focused on articulation, Skydive's does suffer with all the gear piled on.

The paint applications for this version of the figure are definitely geared more towards the Jungle Assault rendition, and not the former Desert Battle version. Where Ripcord was mostly browns, tans, and blacks (with some dark green mixed in), Skydive is mostly green with some lighter brown and gunmetal trickled in for good measure. There is some black trim, but it's a much smaller amount than the previous figure. There's also a nice camouflage pattern on the legs.

For accessories, Skydive comes pretty loaded. While he lacks the machine gun that Ripcord came with, he comes with the helmet, hoses, webgear, spring-loaded backpack, removable rocket engines, removable pistol...and I think that's about it. Isn't that enough?!

Most of his gear compliments the flight suit element of the figure, but really that's pretty much the focal point anyway, so I think that makes sense. I was quite impressed by the detail and the sculpting of the jetpack when I first got the figure, and that positive first impression certainly hasn't lessened with time. Everything here looks and works just as well as it did then, and I find myself really loving this semi-futuristic airborne Joe trooper. I know a lot of folks out there dream of turning this figure into a TARGAT as well, and now with cheaper pricing and better availability, that shouldn't be an issue.

One really amazing thing to me is that all of the gear also stays together so well. Unlike the pre-production version, every part of the suit is glued down and firmly attached, so the hoses stay on, the pouches don't fall off spontaneously, and the bottom straps stay firmly snug.

Technically, I've owned this figure for a while now, but that certainly hasn't impacted my enjoyment of it. Changing him from Ripcord to Skydive has had zero impact on the figure's desirability to me, and in fact, probably made me love the figure all the more. This is a great looking action figure, a really fun toy, and a perfect addition to the G.I. Joe mythology. If I have any complaints, it's that I do wish he came with another weapon of some sort, but beyond that, this figure is just about as good as it gets.

Of course, that does leave me a bit torn. In comparison with the rest of Wave 4, Skydive lacks just a little bit of the "wow" factor to me...but that might be just because I own a close version of the figure already. In the end, I'm grading him a 4 due to the lack of a machine gun and the fact that he's pretty much a statue with his gear on, but keep in mind he's still a great figure. Pick this guy up. Now.


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