G.I. Joe Kre-O - Cobra Terror Drome Headquarters
Because of the size and scope of this review, I've broken it into two sections. This one will cover the Terror Drome, while you can check out Section 2 for the mini vehicles and Kre-Ons.
I have very fond memories of the original Terror Drome. As a family with a single mom, there wasn't always a lot of disposable income on a regular basis, so even though I often had some lofty requests for Holidays, I never really expected them to be realized. Well, the Christmas of 1985 (I think) I finally got my most requested item for the Holiday season. For that reason, I've always had a soft spot for the Cobra headquarters. Many years later when I was starting to rediscover my love for the vintage G.I. Joe vehicles that I'd lost along the way, I found a Cobra Terror Drome at a Lee's Collectibles store in Warwick, RI (which has since closed) and immediately bought it. I still have that version of the venerable Cobra headquarters to this day. My original was unfortunately lost to the sands of time.
When the Kre-O Terror Drome was first leaked in an online retail list, part of me didn't want to believe it, even though it did make perfect sense. The Hasbro Kre-O team had already done a G.I. Joe headquarters and an Arashikage Dojo, so what other large scale playset was left? We had the Joes and Ninjas covered, we needed something for Cobra. Well, we got it.
Like many G.I. Joe fans, I was pretty blown away by the looks of the Cobra base at Toy Fair this year, and each additional picture only further cemented the positive feeling of the circular base, but still I figured it was all on the surface and there might not be much "meat" here. Well, I was dead wrong on that. Not only does the final assembled set look and feel like the "Terror Drome" but it retains much of the same functionality, from opening doors, to a working prison cell, and even a fully functional lift system! It's truly astounding.
But please understand this review is based on the perspective from a building block n00b. I don't really fully understand the intricacies of building block systems and the idea of a variety of pieces, numbers of pieces vs. cost, or durability of the final assembled model. I will say the Terror Drome feels a bit flimsy after everything is assembled, especially the circular top platform. Round pieces don't stay together seamlessly and have a tendancy to separate, but it does nothing to ruin the aesthetics at all, and doesn't significantly impact my overall opinions of the finished version.
The entire construction process took me a little over four hours over the course of two nights, and I was quite impressed by the level of complexity. It was complicated, but not overly so, and while it took a lot of time, that was mostly due to the large amount of pieces (over 850) and not because the set itself was extraordinarily complex. In order to offset some of that complexity, Hasbro broke the instructions down into three separate parts and organized the blocks with numbered bags as well, which made things considerably more reasonable. I was able to dedicate one night to each section, and get my head around the build much better.
Immediately you can tell this is based on the vintage Terror Drome, with the mixture of gray and dark blue blocks, retaining all of the aesthetic pleasure of the original round Cobra launch pad. Not only that, but the doors around the base all open to reveal a ton of great other play features. Serpentor's throne and a great communications station (with a hooded Kre-On Cobra Commander barking orders), along with the more familiar fuel station and prison cell. Also there are the twin gun stations with some really nicely functioning gun systems that rotate and extend forward and back. Thanks to the magic of pullies, levers, and a couple of thin rubber bands, the internals of the base even serves as a functional lift system for Serpentor's Air Chariot as well as the Firebat!
There's a separate construct you have to build in order to use the Firebat with the launch system, but it all comes included (Firebat sold separately of course) and it's a fantastic homage to the original base of operations.
Using some creative hinged pieces, the rounded surface of the top platform looks terrific, very representative of the original version, with blue armor plates and twin cannons. Blue triangle launch guards fold down over the shaft and swivel back to expose whatever aircraft might be launching from within. Small computer stations are scattered throughout the round top platform with various humerous scenes on them. As I already mentioned, there seem to be some minor fit issues keeping the whole top platform seamlessly together, but it doesn't drastically affect the overall appearance of the Terror Drome itself.
The end result is that even just as the Cobra headquarters this set is simply fantastic. It offers a great amount of interactive features, a really fun and complicated build system, and a great vintage aesthetic. Truly awesome. Add to this the Skyhawk, Air Chariot, Serpentor, General Hawk, Mainframe, Gung Ho, Cobra Officer, and Xamot, and this set is an absolute home run for any Kre-O fan.
Be sure to check out the mini vehicles and Kre-On section for a full run down of those additional elements.