G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Lava Pod w/ Volcano Viper

Sometimes you don't know what you have until it's gone...and I wouldn't hesitate to say that if this third wave of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Alpha vehicles ended up hitting mainstream retail in large quantities, they would have languished.

I don't think many fans were overjoyed to own a Rockslide repaint, a Snake Trax repaint, or a Mole Pod repaint, but the minute this wave is "cancelled" and starts appearing in limited quantities in Canada, it becomes the focus of fandom fury everywhere. And hey, I cast no stones, you bet your ass I was emailing Canadian hook ups within seconds of hearing this news.

I'll tell you right now, if I saw these at a domestic Wal-Mart, and knew they weren't rare, I would have probably picked up the Polar Shark, and that's about it. But with the chance to grab what could end up being a rare piece of Joe history, suddenly there is a lot more appeal.

Now with some of these vehicles, this perceived rarity has put a very nice shine on what would otherwise be considered (for lack of a better word) "turds". Repaints, and somewhat uninspired repaints, of vehicles that didn't really encourage fan frenzy to begin with. But I don't think even perceive rarity can improve on the Mole Pod design, which is dull and flawed in just about every way possible. Small, unexciting, and with little to no play features to speak of, there is nothing exciting to see with this small vehicle, even as something with such a big focus in the film.

Structurally, this is the same vehicle we've seen a few times before, with just some minor color alterations to make it more "Lava", I suppose. The vehicle is a much more rust color this time around, no chrome on the drill, and there is a light red dry brush by the very tip. Minor cosmetic changes throughout that don't do much to add or detract from the overall "mehness" of the vehicle.

There really is nothing to talk about... so let's focus on the interesting part of this set.


This is where it's at. Even though I quickly grew weary of the Rise of Cobra trooper base, seeing them so covered in extra gear and padding allows me to gloss over the flaws of the tooling underneath. And really, the figure is only partially based on the Rise of Cobra tooling, since it uses the Ice-Viper figure as a base, who had those very nicely sculpted oversized legs. I never would have suspected that this figure could be easily re-utilized, but it works remarkably well as a toxic trooper or a well-insulated "Volcano Viper".

Most of the good stuff here is with his gear, which is mostly new tooling, with an elaborately sculpted vest, a fantastic piece of headgear, and numerous hoses that connect back to vest-mounted oxygen tanks, all giving this figure an exceptionally realistic look that blends into the Cobra style nicely, and almost makes for a really great Toxo-Viper update. I really can't get over how awesome the headgear is...the way they sculpted the wrinkled surface tucked under the straps of the gas mask...it all blends together perfectly and is without a doubt the highlight of this entire set.

Funny thing is, as cool as the Volcano Viper is, with all of this gear crammed onto the figure, he can't even fit in his own vehicle! That doesn't detract from how awesome the figure itself is, of course, but an interesting side note.

Looking at this vehicle from an overall quality standpoint, I can't whole-heartily recommend the purchase of yet another Mole Pod. However, the addition of the Volcano Viper immediately makes this a more desirable piece and more easily recommended. He's a new character that doesn't necessarily have to stay in the Rise of Cobra universe, and almost makes up for the exceedinly lackluster qualities of the vehicle in the package. I do think the Volcano Viper ultimately makes the vehicle a worthy purchase, but considering the fact that domestic collectors would have to pay Canadian shipping (and possible mark ups depending on where you get it from) this isn't something I can whole-heartedly recommend.