G.I. Joe Spy Troops Vehicles - COBRA Ringneck
The Hasbro design team is trying…I think they’re really trying. Their first forays into vehicle designs were pretty hit or miss. The HISS IV was an odd design-scheme (and didn’t really work all that well, in my opinion) and the Sand Razor, I thought was very cool, but many others didn’t. The Smokescreen and Skysweeper had their good and bad points, but it was obvious they were going with playability and action features over realistic design and authenticity. That is perfectly fine, but it would be nice if they could blend the two well enough to make these vehicles fun for kids, but also quality pieces for older collectors to enjoy and use as well. They’re doing better, but haven’t quite reached that point yet.
My first glimpse of the Ringneck was one of pleasant surprise and joy. It seemed that Hasbro had finally started finding the perfect blend of playability, action attack, but also a useful vehicle and something with some quality that us older guys could also get into. Upon purchasing the vehicle and spending some time with it, though, I’m a little less enamored with it, but still think it has its place in the COBRA motor pool.
First of all, the overall design is pretty neat. Unlike the Battle Blitz, the six wheel format works well here on a larger vehicle and gives it an imposing “SWAT-like” assault vehicle look. It’s got a decent amount of clearance so it could go over lots of different terrain, but could also move fast through the city streets, which is probably where this vehicle will spend most of its time in my world. This SWAT appearance is only supported by the layered armor, with loads of bolts showing strength and resistance, and the dull gray shade of the armored hide. The armor overall, is really what impresses me most about this vehicle. It is a beast plain and simple, built to slam down city streets or be at the front of the attack-line, with bullets flying off and fire roaring from it’s cannons. But this only makes the cockpit design all the more bizarre. On a monster of an armored vehicle like this, why would the cockpits and gun-stations be completely open and way up front where return fire is likely to quickly eliminate three COBRA troops and three out of the four offensive weapons. This thing could be a powerhouse, but this seems like an obvious weak-point that I’m not sure I fully comprehend. Why send this heavily armored attack craft into action where the three pilots would only last a matter of minutes in a crossfire? It’s just kind of strange.
But the rest of the vehicle design is pretty much spot on. The flat front combines with a sloped body to look sleek, but tough, and that main turret/gun emplacement is just fantastic design and implementation-wise, with a well-protected gunner/driver and a large, powerful weapon. One downside to this gun, though, is a lack of elevation. It is permanently elevated at a 45 degree angle and cannot lower, which is another very strange design-choice to me. A massive main cannon like this that is so restricted in firing range/direction just seems odd.
The Ringneck appears at first glance to be a powerful, armored troop transport, something that COBRA has always been lacking (in a non-yellow and purple paint scheme, anyway…) and I was excited for this vehicle to be implemented in that capacity. But I was also surprised to find out that it isn’t a troop transport at all. It’s labeled as a recon vehicle, and there’s no spot anywhere for any troop storage. While it’s more my fault for assuming that this thing was a troop carrier, but it’s appearance and design would have been great for it, and instead it seems they must have filled that back space with the action attack mechanism. The Action Attack itself isn’t all that great, really. It causes the cannons to swivel and partially elevate, but isn’t much fun…not nearly as fun as the Patriot Grizzly or even the Desert Coyote.
So, while most of my disappointment stems from my own assumptions, I just kind of wish the Ringneck was designed as more of an assault vehicle than a spy-craft. I think it’s an interesting choice to make it so, but my longing for a nicely colored powerhouse urban transport and assault vehicle just wasn’t quite satisfied here. That’s not to say that the Ringneck is a poor vehicle, though. I really like the design scheme and it is loaded with weapons! The armor looks strong and solid and gives this craft a very imposing appearance…a few minor changes would have made this thing just plain terrific, but as it is, it’s just pretty cool, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. :)
The driver who comes with it isn’t a bad aspect of the whole package either…he’s a very odd color, with a grayish-silver base uniform color and purple highlights, but the overall appearance is pretty neat. I’m not really sure what function this particular Neo Viper will serve in my little COBRA organization, but he’s an interesting figure and works pretty well with the Ringneck’s overall look.
I have mixed emotions about the “purchasibility” of this item…the price point is in the $16-17 range, which for this vehicle I think is fair. The vehicle’s design and purpose are useful, it’s general look is great and I think that for less than $20.00, you’re getting your money’s worth on this piece. Personally, I’m not going to army-build these things like I thought I might originally, but they’re a good vehicle to have, and I recommend them.
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