Ice Dagger with Frostbite | Produced by Hasbro | Released July 2009
The Ice Dagger slides across the snow toward the MARS Industries research base hidden in the artcic. With a top-mounted gun station and heat-seeking missiles, this polar predator can cut down any Cobra vehicles that it encounters.
Frostbite is an arctic operations specialist and expert in winter and mountain combat operations. He can drive through the most extreme weather conditions and roughest terrain imaginable. An ice mechanic, he can repair any vehicle in the middle of nowhere with only the materials on hand.
There's not a great deal to say about the packaging that hasn't already been covered, so I'll just include an image so you know what to look for on the shelves.
Frostbite is - I'm lead to believe - a mashup of Beachhead's head and a previously-released Snake Eyes. He's not going to win any awards, but let's take a closer look at him anyway.
Frostbite is OK for what he is, but he's pretty bland. The detailing - what there is - is nicely done and the sculpt is solid enough, just not very inspiring. One touch I do like is that the ''skirt'' of his parka jacket is a separate piece and can be pushed higher up his torso, thus allowing him to be bent at the hips and so sit properly within the Ice Dagger. I was initially disappointed when I saw how much the parka restricted his movement, as it was annoying being unable to seat him properly in the cab.
The articulation is fine, once you move the parka tails.
The paint is nicely applied but there's nothing particularly inspiring about it. The head paint is nicely applied and eyes and eyebrows are quite clean. Some camouflage on his pants or parka would have been nice, rather than them simply being cast from a solid colour. And green seems an odd colour for somebody to be wearing in arctic conditions... Oh well.
What's very odd though is his pelvis joint. Presumably because his torso is cast from white plastic, so too is his groin. And with the parka ''skirt'' it makes Frostbite appear to be dressed rather oddly...
Panchira fan service, anyone?
The Ice Dagger comes assembled, with just a few extra pieces to fit. The whiplash aerial, radar dish (which can be rotated) and top-mounted machine gun slot into place easily to complete the vehicle.
Cast from solid blue plastic, the Ice Dagger would - I think - have benefited from the same marbled effect as seen in the Wolf Hound. On the plus-side though, at least it's cast in a reasonably lifelike colour (although again, the actual choice of colour seems odd, given it's designed to operate in the snow and in its previous guise as the Ice Sabre it was white) There's also black plastic detailing on the skis, tracks and gunnery position (which we'll come to later.)
The vehicle sculpt - which, as mentioned, is reused from the 2004 Ice Sabre - looks good on the whole and works pretty well. The front skis are mounted on individual pivots and share an ''axle'' that turns to steer the vehicle. The axle may also be slid back to ''lock'' the skis (although there's still some movement there.) Sadly the tracks are for show only. The Ice Dagger actually runs on three wheels on the underside, which work pretty well on the whole.
The design of the vehicle is eye catching, with a sleekness you'd imagine would be needed to cut across the snow and ice but with the extra grunt of a tank-like vehicle to back it up. Again, like the Wolf Hound it has echoes of the SHADO Tank from UFO, but with a sleeker, speedier look and the blue colouring (and again, the design) also reminds me of the SPV from Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Or maybe I'm just seeing things that aren't there...
The cockpit - which has a front-hinged canopy - is more than capable of sitting two Joes side-by-side. Unfortunately though, headroom is an issue, especially with Frostbite, as the hood on the back of his jacket pushes him slightly up from his seat. With a bit of jiggling it's possible to get the hatch to almost close and it's close enough to at least appear locked. It's frustrating though that for the sake of about one millimetre, the seal would have been perfect (it fits just fine when no driver is present.) I found the canopy seems to fit better when Frostbite is seated on the right, rather than the left, for some reason.
The interior of the cockpit is devoid of any controls, unless you count the decals or the molded pieces at the driver's elbows/out of his reach. We've seen this before and it's not that big a deal but I wish they'd include more steering wheels or control columns in the vehicles, as they do look odd without them.
Behind the cockpit is the gunner's position, a simple slot/trench in the hull that can easily accommodate a Joe and allow him to operate the machine gun.
The gun pivots (and must be elevated to open the canopy) and rotates with an arc of about 70 degrees, which is more than enough when a figure is manning the weapon.
The gunnery position is a well thought-out little feature. One of the things that's cool about the Ice Dagger is the amount of Joes it can carry (more on that later) and I can imagine it being a fun vehicle for kids wishing to charge their soldiers into battle.
Behind the gunnery emplacement is a second weapons station.
Here the operator is seated within a roll cage, which can be elevated from the front, although it's perfectly accessible through the top and positioning a Joe within the seat is not difficult at all. This station features a second machine gun (which again can be rotated, although only a few degrees) and two side-mounted, twin missile pods.
At the rear of the vehicle is a small switch that is used to activate this missile station. Press the button and the side panels drop open as the missile station springs upward.
From this position the missile pods may be elevated and the missile station rotated. Although it's possible to cover a full 360 degrees of rotation, the strut supporting this station ''locks'' at a point around 45 degrees from forward. Rotating the station counter-clockwise however allows you to cover the remaining arc. To reset the station, simply rotate it to face forward and push down. Note that the side doors must be put back into place manually.
The missiles may be fired in pairs (two from each pod) using the button atop each. Range is pretty good and the missiles are - thankfully - cast in black plastic to match the rest of the vehicle.
When the missile station is in the elevated position, it's possible to place another Joe in the storage compartment as shown here.
However, when the missile station is returned into the main hull, the small trench/hollow in which the Joe stands may still be used to store equipment.
The rear door of the Ice Dagger also opens and has space enough to seat a single Joe or to store equipment. There's a lot of passenger and storage space on offer here!
Overall vehicle articulation is good, although the side panels that pop out of place when the missile turret is elevated aren't as tight a fit as I'd have liked and they don't ''lock'' into place. I understand this is to avoid the spring mechanism breaking them off or being damaged but they will occasionally flap about when the vehicle is being moved. All the other moving parts work well though, with the only real issue being the seal around the canopy when tall figures are placed within.
There's no paintwork on the Ice Dagger - everything is cast from solid plastic.
The Ice Dagger includes four missiles that slot into the missile pods, an instruction sheet and its decals (which must be applied.) Frostbite does not come with a stand or any weapons.
The Ice Dagger is a very solid, fun toy. Whilst visually it's not a match for its arctic-brother the Wolf Hound it still has a lot going for it.
For starters, it looks good. The use of blue plastic - although questionable for an ice vehicle - looks sleek and slightly metallic. The pop open side panels are maybe a slight shade off but it's not that noticeable and overall the Ice Dagger's visual design is good. I like the way it's asymmetrical and that there's a lot of close-up detail in the cast.
Secondly, the pop-up missile turret is a fun feature, as you don't really expect it. It's the kind of thing kids will get a kick out of and you can imagine countless scenarios where the Joes win because of their ''secret weapon.'' The missiles themselves work well and the way the station slots into place when not in use doesn't compromise the sleekness of the Ice Dagger at all. When extended, the strut supporting the turret may be a little wobbly and it's a shame it can't rotate fully but it still works well enough.
Perhaps coolest of all though is the sheer number of Joes this thing can carry. There are two seats in the cockpit, a gunnery position behind, a seat in the missile turret and a seat in the rear. That's five Joes minimum, with space for more on the running boards or when you elevate the turret. We don't normally see that much capacity in a GI Joe transport and it's certainly one of the Ice Dagger's best features.
Frostbite is an OK figure but you're not going to buy this vehicle for him. You'll buy it for the sleek looks, nice design and carrying capacity. Is it as good as the Wolf Hound? No, sadly. The flappy side panels, bouncy turret strut and poorly-fitting canopy cover - all little details - add up to just knock it down a notch. Don't get me wrong, it's still a very, very good vehicle and a lot of fun. It's just the execution of the superb concept doesn't quite deliver on what it could have been.