To see this set in action, check out the Kindle Worlds Novella Welcome to the Wolf Pack!
According to legend, the Basilisk is a legendary reptile reputed to be king of serpents and said to have the power to cause death with a single glance. While I’m not sure I see weaponry on this Cobra vehicle that could potentially cause immediate death, I find myself loving the mythological connotations and the name is definitely a great choice for a Cobra vehicle.
I’ve never really been a big fan of the Snowcat, mostly because as an arctic vehicle, it was somewhat pigeon holed into a certain specialty. Even living in New England most of my life, I preferred my G.I. Joe adventures to be in the jungles or other land-based environments, aside from specific environmental concerns. For that reason, even though I loved Frostbite, I never gravitated towards the Snowcat a whole lot. Since its original release, the vehicle has been re-released many times, as a Tiger Force vehicle, as a Street Fighter vehicle, as updated arctic vehicles, and even as a refreshed G.I. Joe HAVOC, but this is the first time it’s been repurposed on the other side of the conflict. I find myself surprised to say it really works.
The shape and sculpt of the Snowcat certainly looks as if it could be a semi futuristic Cobra themed vehicle, with the halftrack build and ski-based torpedos. Unlike the vintage Snowcat, this newly tooled version (which on its own has been re-released a few times in the past several years) has a contained spring-loaded rocket launcher rather than the rockets sliding in and barely being held in by a narrow slot. I actually found the spring-loaded functionality to be a huge improvement and a ton of fun. Sliding the switch along the rocket launcher, you can either selectively launch one or two rockets, or blast all four of them out in a vicious barrage. Pretty neat idea.
One thing I really enjoy about this vehicle is the color scheme. The shade of blue is nice and rich, calling back to Cobra’s origins, but still being really vibrant, and offset nicely by the equally vibrant red and silver. I’m not sure what the key to good pantone color choices is, but whatever Hasbro designers used, it worked in this case as the colors balance really nicely and look bright and striking. I’m a bit unsure about the canopy and its lack of transparency (except where the windshield wiper sweeps, which is a bit more see-through than the rest). With the original Snowcat the “frosted glass” look worked really well, but in this case, the red is almost too opaque and one wonders how the driver can even really see his surroundings.
Curiously, some Basilisks made it out of China in a pre-production format, and it looked like at least some of those had some deco based wear or desert sand on the vehicle armor. I thought it was a great look, and unfortunately it doesn’t look like that technique was passed along to the final vehicle. Of course, it’s possible the retail release will have that wear and tear, I’m not sure. This interesting look appeared in press photos as well, and I was a bit surprised to not see it on the final product.
I would consider the Snowcat a pretty definitive G.I. Joe vehicle, yet this Basilisk repaint works remarkably well, and adds quite a bit of fun to the Cobra armory. I enjoy the rocket-launching functionality, and for some reason the vehicle appeals more to me as a basic Infantry support vehicle than it did in its arctic capacity.
COBRA ELITE HORSEMAN
I’ve been buying into the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero universe for over three decades now, and as such, I always welcome new ideas and new concepts. That was one thing I really enjoyed about the Pursuit of Cobra. They managed to produce some great updates to the vintage characters, but also brought some new characters to the table as well. One of those new characters was the Cobra Crimson Horseman. The design was really appealing to me back in the day, and the thought of a tank driver also being a highly trained foot soldier was pretty cool.
I never would have considered the fact that Hasbro would deem the Crimson Horsemen worthy of revisiting, but they did as a driver for the Basilisk, and he works nicely. The choice of blue as the color of an “Elite” branch is interesting, because in every other Cobra rank structure, the red colors are the “elite”. That being said, the blue on the Elite Horseman is the same vibrant, appealing shade of the Basilisk itself, which ties the figure in nicely and just manages to look really great. The blue is complimented nicely by black and silver throughout the figure (I’ll admit at least some hints of red would have really made the figure pop) and the overall structure of the figure is good. Using the Pursuit of Cobra Firefly figure as a base with the Arctic Snake Eyes vest gives us a slim base figure with good articulation, though the range of motion isn’t perfect. I do wish he could hold his weapon a bit better two-handed, but the somewhat restricted elbows and bulky armored vest both limit that ability.
Along with his base paint scheme, like the regular Crimson Horseman, the Elite version has painted “wear and tear” on the armor. The results are… well, a bit mixed. For whatever reason the effect on the Crimson Horseman looks pretty effective and subtle. This blue repaint ends up looking like some sort of strange tribal markings more than armor scuffs and scrapes, but that’s a minor complaint.
The Elite Horseman doesn’t come with much for gear, unless you count the Basilisk itself. He has what looks to be a laser gun along with his vest, and the same backpack that came with Firefly, complete with four remote mines. It’s a fine assortment, though nothing particularly identifiable with the Elite Horseman’s specialty.
I had a pretty good idea that I’d like this figure considering how much I’d enjoyed Firefly and the Crimson Horsemen. The updated blue paint scheme is very nice and compliments the Basilisk well. Elite, indeed.
COBRA AIR TROOPER
The G.I. Joe “Desert Duel” set is an interesting one, as technically this version I’m reviewing is exclusive to San Diego ComicCon, though the majority of the set will be released to traditional retail via Toys “R” Us likely in the next few weeks. What separates this set with the retail version is the great deco box, the slipcase, as well as the addition of the Cobra Air Trooper, which doesn’t come in the retail release.
From a character choice perspective, I couldn’t be happier with the choice of an Air Trooper. As a huge fan of the G.I. Joe: Renegades, any time I get a figure even loosely affiliated with that terrific animated series, I get very happy. In my opinion, the more Hasbro revisits G.I. Joe: Renegades the better (how’s about a Roadblock, guys?!?! C’mon here!), although, I have to admit the execution for the Air Trooper leaves a lot to be desired.
All of the issues with this Air Trooper are carried forward from the previous version, and they mostly lie in the legs. This figure uses the 25th Anniversary Ace legs, but with the larger rectangular knee pads of the Cobra Para-Viper. Unfortunately, the top and bottom halves of the legs don’t fit real well together with the rectangular kneepads and not only can the Air Trooper not really straighten his legs, but he can barely stand. This is a pretty major issue to me, and a disappointment because the figure is pretty good beyond this drastic misstep. Hasbro went to great lengths to try and improve the overall look of the Air Trooper, coloring him in a lighter gray with some great hints of red and blue trim. The blue and red colors are good matches for the Basilisk, and manage to make the figure look more animated, as well, which is great for us Renegades fanatics.
Overall, this figure is better than the original, due to a much improved and more dynamic paint scheme, but the clunky leg construction is disappointing to say the least.
Air Trooper doesn’t come with much, just a machine gun, pistol, and his removable flight vest. They’re fine, but nothing special.
I’m not entirely sure why the Air Trooper was chosen as a ComicCon exclusive figure for a set that includes no air vehicles. He’s a nice looking figure aesthetically, but has the same construction issues as the original, which detracts from the improved paint scheme.
Looking at the Cobra side of this boxed set as a whole, I find myself surprised with how much I can embrace and enjoy the Snowcat repurposed as a Cobra Basilisk. The colors are very nice, and I like the Elite Horseman quite a bit. While the Air Trooper does impact the set negatively, I think there’s still a lot to enjoy here.