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.
It was a moment at JoeCon that I’m not likely to forget any time soon. The Hasbro round table as regularly been the highlight of many a JoeCon, mostly due to the product reveals and exciting announcements, and while the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention was no different, it was the context of those announcements that really brought the good feelings to the surface.
While the 50th Anniversary product was a highlight, to be sure, the source of so much praise was the reveal of the new character Sightline and the fact that he was being developed as an homage to G.I. Joe fanatic Gary “Goggles” Head who passed away suddenly early this year. Using Gary Goggles as his file name, Sightline was slotted into the Silent Strike boxed set, working alongside Captain Ace as his forward observer and recon expert. As if that wasn’t enough, the figure design was slated to come with goggles. It all seemed to come together perfectly, and the raucus audience let Hasbro know how they felt during the reveal.
Like I said, a great moment.
(Video Courtesy of Dave and Duvall and Toy World Order)
The only thing left to see would be whether the execution of the Silent Strike boxed set would live up to its conceptual development, and I’m happy to say, I believe it does.
I had some mixed reactions with the Crimson Strike ComicCon set, but from end-to-end I find myself really enjoying Silent Strike.
I asked the question during the ComicCon version of this set review, about whether or not we really needed another Skystriker. The answer to that question is obviously a “no”, but it’s tough to argue that point when they execute it as well as the Crimson Scythe was executed, and frankly, the vehicle in this set is pretty darn nice as well.
Sure, there’s not a whole lot of outside the box thinking or ingenuity here, this is essentially a “stealth” Skystriker, the familiar F-14 Tomcat in a darker gray, almost black paint scheme. It’s the same version of the plane that we’ve gotten several times since its 2011 debut, and there’s not a whole lot to complain about, really. The newly tooled structure of the plane is great, the “swing-wings” work well, and the missiles have been greatly improved since it’s debut, staying hooked onto their mounts on the plane far better than they have previously.
I’m not sure exactly how they achieved the effect, but the gray on the Skystriker has an almost metallic or reflective quality, which is a pretty neat design aesthetic. I don’t know if it’s marblized or not, but it comes across looking really “shiney” which is a nice separation from just a traditional dark gray color.
Sure, the plane is still just a single seater, but I maintain that this isn’t a huge issue, as you can’t really clearly see inside when the vehicle is on display, and if you want to “play with it” as a double seater, just use a little imagination, it’s not a huge deal. This version of the famous assault plane is a lot more solid and durable feeling than its predecessor, and I must admit I really do like the darker color scheme here. The canopy is a very nice diversion from the original, too, with some great red highlights.
One of my favorite elements of the Skystriker is probably the great new Wolf themed logo on the rear fin. It also matches a patch that can be found on Ace’s arm as well.
As I said, this isn’t an extremely clever or unusual concept for a Skystriker update, but it looks very cool, which helps.
One of the most unheralded figures in the Pursuit of Cobra/30th Anniversary line was the version of Ace that came with the original Skystriker. Using a fantastic mix of modern parts, that version of Ace existed as a great pilot figure, but also a very cool figure altogether. Both him and the ComicCon COBRA Commander based on him are great examples of how a vehicle driver can be designed as a great driver without sacrificing the basic qualities of a good figure.
The 50th Anniversary update to Captain Ace retains the same parts formula as that one, but done in the now well known “Wolf Squad” color scheme of dark gray with some subtle red highlights, which works really nicely as a flight suit, but also as part of the Wolf Squad ground team. It’s a combination of unusual individual parts that make up a really solid final figure that has great articulation as well as a fantastic looking somewhat futuristic flight suit. This version of Ace maintains all of that and I really love the colors as well. Interestingly, Hasbro balances the gray with a reflective “gun metal” type of paint scheme that just compliments each other so well and looks fantastic. It ties Ace into the Wolf Squad, but also gives him a very technical look, which works well. I love how the reflective gray colors on Ace’s uniform trim matches the same reflective gray look on the attack plane. It ties them both together really well and is a nice effect on its own to boot.
Another link to the aircraft is the Wolf Squad logo on Ace’s arm, which is pretty tiny, but it’s definitely there.
The Wolf Squad aesthetic has evolved into something very cool, and I hope Hasbro leverages that going forward.
Captain Ace comes with some familiar gear, some of the same stuff as previous versions of the figure came with. He has the flight vest that the original figure came with, as well as the leg harness from Para-Viper. The flight helmet is straight from the Pursuit of COBRA Skydive, which is a change from the previous Ace figure, but still works nicely. He also has a small submachine gun and the pistol that slides neatly into his ankle holster.
I really love the evolution of some of these pilot figures. Both Ace and the G.I. Joe: Retaliation version of Lift Ticket have evolved past being drivers and into really excellent looking military themed updates, who can exist behind the control stick, or behind a machine gun. This new version of Ace is no different, and I’m excited to have him.
For as much as G.I. Joe has been based off of existing vintage concepts for many of the modern releases, in my mind the bread and butter is with new characters. It’s what really helped the line push on through its original 12 year run, and for many folks, it’s what continues to interest long time fans. As a figure, Sightline works quite well. For the most part, he uses the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Ultimate Duke template (though the armored torso is from Retaliation Duke version 1, not the Ultimate version) only in a great digital camouflage urban deco instead of desert. He uses the alternate head that came with that figure, and even though, from the surface, the figure looks identical, the camouflage paint scheme does wonders to differentiate him. Heck, the Ultimate Duke figure is a fantastic figure anyway, so tough to complain about him being the base.
He’s one of those great toys that has a pretty bulky armored uniform, but still maintains significantly great articulation, with elbows and knees that move quite well. I’ll admit, though, as time goes on, I have less love for the rocker ankles, and they feel a little weird on this figure as well.
So, take one of the greatest figures from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation line, give it a terrific urban camouflage paint scheme, and base his new character identity on a good friend who passed away? Yeah, that’s a good formula for success in my eyes.
Sightline comes with a sniper rifle, the Duke vest, a laptop, pistol, knife, and shovel. I’m going to assume the inclusion of the shovel wasn’t meant as an homage (Gary Head unfortunately passed away due to heart failure from shoveling snow) and was merely an accessory that made sense for the character’s specialty. The sniper rifle and laptop are both terrific accessories, and I love the idea of Gary Head’s character having a computer within reach at all times. The knife and pistol fit the holster and sheath and I really like those base weapons anyway.
Yes, this figure was a highlight for collectors, and in many ways the end result meets our lofty expectations. It’s a great figure based on a great friend, and I’m glad to have him in hand.
Looking at the G.I. Joe side of the Silent Strike set, I’m extremely happy with how this all came together. Although the Skystriker is on the verge of overuse (heck, some might argue it crossed that line a while ago), I do like this new paint scheme. Both Ace and Sightline are highlights of this second run of 50th Anniversary figures, and the core of the Wolf Squad concept is done amazingly well in this boxed set. Thumbs way up on this side of the fence.