The “battle in a box” concept is alive and well with Hasbro’s new G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary line, and that concept works really nicely with this large boxed set. One of the most anticipated entries in this year’s release, the Silent Strike set has something for everyone, featuring two timeless vehicles, army builders, a new character, and an interesting new twist with Wolf Squad.
I found myself really enjoying the G.I. Joe parts of Silent Strike…but the COBRA parts? Well, I wasn’t quite as fired up about those, for a variety of reasons.
When it comes to landmark COBRA vehicles, the HISS Tank leads the way as being one of the most identifiable. That makes it somewhat interesting that for this round of the 50th Anniversary, we were actually exposed to the G.I. Joe CHIMERA before we got our hands on the actual COBRA HISS. Though I think some folks would argue whether or not this version of the venerable COBRA High Speed Sentry really is the familiar, distinct HISS Tank. It does, after all, more resemble the Eco Warriors Septic Tank from a color scheme perspective.
I don’t have a huge issue with Hasbro going this way with the new HISS. After all, we’ve seen black HISS Tanks, blue HISS Tanks, red HISS Tanks, even brown and green HISS Tanks, pretty much all colors and styles over the past 7 or 8 years. We haven’t, however, seen an orange HISS since the 90s (well, unless you count the Collectors’ Club Convention exclusive from a couple of years ago). Considering many fans have latched onto the Hazard Vipers as a part of COBRA’s place in the Zombie apocalypse, perhaps it makes a certain amount of sense to work one of these new technically advanced HISS Tanks into the Hazard Viper corps.
The base vehicle is the same HISS as we’ve been seeing since 1984, which is fine, although not especially new or different. Like the CHIMERA, the turret is a nicely new tooled rail gun system, which manages to retain the classic look and feel, but add some new twists, something that HISS turret upgrades have pretty much failed to do since the 1989 HISS II. For that reason alone, this update to the timeless vehicle has something to appreciate. The rail gun system is extremely easy to detach and re-attach to a vintage or 25th Anniversary HISS as well, so you can equip your classic black tanks with these great gun upgrades whenever you want.
As mentioned the deco leans heavily towards the Eco Warrior orange template, with some nicely applied paint and decals bringing the vehicle to life. I’ve never been one to shrink away from bright colors, so the orange doesn’t bother me a whole lot (though I can’t help but think the vehicle might have looked better in a nice dark COBRA blue, a color I’m not sure the original HISS has ever appeared in).
COBRA HISS Driver & HISS Gunner
I’m not quite sure how to rationalize this pair, but I am reviewing them as a pair just because they’re so similar in design.
From a build standpoint, they’re both designed to mimic the Pursuit of Cobra rendition of the COBRA HISS Driver, only the gunner utilizes Night Viper’s legs rather than the Battle Armor COBRA Commander. And yes, I’m labelling him the gunner simply because if we look at the HISS Driver as a straight repaint of the existing HISS Driver, it only makes sense for the one that has a slightly different build to be the new Trooper character. Some confusion has been generated by press photos and such, but in my mind, it only makes sense to look at it this way. Not to mention the actual box itself as the name lined up with the figure build in a pretty clear way.
The figures use the 25th Anniversary HISS Driver head with the Battle Armor COBRA Commander torso and arms. As mentioned, the gunner has the Night Viper legs. The build is okay, I guess. To be honest I wasn’t a huge fan of it in the Pursuit of Cobra days (it seemed like one of the few design missteps in those formative years) and it doesn’t really light my fire here either. I mean, it’s okay, but in a set where I was heaping loads of praise on Ace for being able to exist as a vehicle pilot as well as an awesome individual figure, it’s only fair to point out that the HISS Driver and Gunner don’t really measure up the same way.
Both figures are mostly orange, and while I don’t mind the colors necessarily, I’m not a big fan of the way they’re applied. There aren’t many detail breaks here, just a huge swath of orange, with random bits of metallic gray/silver and black. No particular rhyme or reason to the way the colors are applied. That holds true for both figures, even with the different legs of the gunner. As I said previously, I don’t shy away from bright colors, I just want the colors to make sense, and in some places here they really don’t. Some additional paint apps on the armor pieces or in other trim locations would definitely help. I think we all realize much of the production here was on a shoestring budget, so it’s understandable that the paint applications suffer here and there…and frankly, if they’re going to cut paint apps anywhere, I’d prefer it’s on figures where they’re covered by armor, or where they’re going to be stuck in a vehicle anyway.
Both the Driver and the Gunner come with mostly the same gear load out. The silver vest (that originally came with Pilot Destro), a pistol, and a laser-type weapon. The Gunner comes with a larger pulse rifle that originally came with Rise of COBRA Baroness while the Driver comes with the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes weapon.
The gear is fine, if somewhat unremarkable. I love the pistols, though the tight trigger guard prevents some really nice holding and trigger firing poses.
Out of the entire Silent Strike set, the two HISS Troopers are definitely the low light. I do like the fact that Hasbro has finally thought to provide us with an actual gunner for the HISS Tank, but the build is pretty blah and I’m not a fan of the color concepts or paint applications.
While I pretty much love the G.I. Joe side of this boxed set, the COBRA side overall leaves me somewhat cold. I enjoyed the G.I. Joe CHIMERA more than I thought I would, but it does make me feel a bit like the HISS here is a “been there, done that”. I think some more effective COBRA themed colors would have helped. The HISS Driver and Gunner also don’t do it any favors. The set overall is worth a purchase simply because of the great G.I. Joe gear (and folks who haven’t gotten the ComicCon set will get their first exposure to the great new rail guns for the HISS) but I could think of some changes on the COBRA side I would have much preferred.
50th Anniversary Silent Strike w/ HISS Driver & Gunner
Vehicle Paint Deco
Vehicle Play Features
HISS Driver Character
HISS Driver Sculpt
HISS Driver Articulation
HISS Driver Paint Deco
HISS Driver Accessories
HISS Gunner Character
HISS Gunner Sculpt
HISS Gunner Articulation
HISS Gunner Paint Deco
HISS Gunner Accessories
While I loved most of the G.I. Joe items in the Silent Strike boxed set, I wasn’t such a fan of the COBRA side. I really like the new turret for the COBRA HISS, but as much as I love an Eco Warriors homage when I see one, I can’t help but think that this first new “Rail Gun” HISS would have been better served in a more COBRA-type paint deco.
1 – New Rail Gun for the HISS for folks who couldn’t get the ComicCon set
2 – Included HISS Gunner is a nice touch
1 – Color pallet for the HISS Driver & Gunner is somewhat boring with an obvious lack of detail. Likely cost cut during production, but still quite evident
2 – Would have enjoyed a more general infantry color scheme for this new HISS. Something in COBRA blue maybe
3 – HISS Driver and Gunner use general helping of 25th Anniversary parts, which feel a bit dated (even if Battle Armor COBRA Commander is one of the better ones)
Why? Why did it take so long to get this idea right? And why, right when the G.I. Joe design team is absolutely kicking ass, will we be migrating back over to yet another G.I. Joe theme with G.I. Joe: Renegades in 2011?
I mean, seriously. The Pursuit of Cobra is like the essence of everything that is awesome about G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Real world, gritty military action, mixed with futuristic science fiction, yet fantasy that’s not too separated from the realm of reality. It’s nearly a perfect mixture of military and fantasy. I know we’ve already seen a healthy helping of images of the upcoming Cobra HISS Tank from the Pursuit of Cobra line, but for some reason these new images from AC Toys just make me all the giddier about it. The sleek, armored “speedster” look, the fully multifunction upper body with the multitude of cannon turrets and twin canopies. This thing is INSANE.
I’m not a huge fan of the brown, and that HISS Driver does absolutely nothing for me, but the vehicle itself is one of the coolest toys I’ve seen in a long, long time.