Monday, February 21, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra - Mantis Attack Craft with Aqua-Viper Officer

Mantis Attack Craft with Aqua-Viper Officer
Produced by Hasbro | Released August 2009 

Mantis Attack Craft submarines prowl the waters around the Arctic-based M.A.R.S. Industries research facility and conduct criminal operations for Cobra. They are deployed to battle the G.I. Joe team, which attacks the base to retrieve nanomite weapons prototypes. These one-man subs are equipped with high-explosive torpedoes and can read depths of 2,700 feet.

Aqua-Viper Officers lead platoons of aqua-Viper troops on ocean-based attacks and raids. Their physical abilities have been enhanced with nanomite technology, enabling them to withstand extreme ocean depths.

The Rise of Cobra continues in this vehicle and figure movie-tie in.

The Mantis Attack Craft comes in the standard small-vehicle packaging used across the Rise of Cobra line. I prefer this packaging over the medium-sized vehicle packs, where the contents are not visible. With this you can see exactly what's in the pack and I like that.

There's also a little bit of blurb explaining the Mantis' role and a cut and collect card for the Aqua-Viper Officer that comes with the vehicle. 

Opening the packaging consists of simply folding-out either end and sliding the inner tray out. The vehicle is held in-place with a few twisties and tape, all of which are easy to remove and - best of all - the box can be resealed. Replacing the vehicle in the box would entail some dis-assembly but it wouldn't be too difficult to do based on how easily the vehicle is assembled.

Let's skip to the included figure, the Aqua-Viper Officer.

Aqua-Viper Officer
The set includes the Mantis' pilot, the Aqua-Viper Officer. He's not the most exciting of figures but strangely, given he's a ''faceless grunt'' he's a lot more interesting than the Wild Bill figure included with the Dragonhawk XH1.

Under his removable helmet we find this Gordon Ramsay-alike head sculpt. It's acceptable enough and - aside from being a little shiny - there are no real issues with the figure's head.

The Aqua-Viper Officer is dressed in black fatigues with red detailing, including a removable combat/diving vest and a plug-in SCUBA pack that connects nicely to the back of his helmet. The helmet is nicely produced with a clear-red plastic visor and silver detail. 

The paint is well-applied and relatively clean, with some smaller details that are well-defined and the overall colour-scheme works well both on the figure and as the pilot of the colour-coordinated vehicle.

The joints are as you'd expect from a GI Joe toy and they hold a pose well, without any looseness or overly-tight articulation either. The helmet - when plugged-into his SCUBA pack - obviously restricts head movement but that's not really a problem, given that he'll probably spend more time in his vehicle than out of it.

I'm assuming however that parts of this figure are recycled from another previously-released Joe, given that his right leg features a holster yet he doesn't come with a pistol. That's not a major problem but it does seem an odd decision, especially given that he does actually come with an assault rifle.

Mantis Attack Craft
What of the vehicle itself? Not to jump ahead too far, but I'm pleased to say it's a very fun toy and there are some nicely-designed features here.

When the Mantis is first un-boxed, you'll need to do a quick bit of construction - the tail section and one of the turbines must be attached (which is the job of a few seconds) and the torpedoes must be loaded (more on that later) with the spares being mounted on the ''wing.'' 

Now a slight negative - like the Dragonhawk the decals are included on a peel-off sheet and must be applied by hand. I'm not a fan of this and even when they're applied they don't look too great, as they tend to have a sheen on the ''clear'' part of the decal that is very reflective compared to the more matte plastic of the craft. I can live with it but I'd prefer to see paint-applied decals.

That's the only really bad point I can make, so let's move onto the good.

For starters, there's a nice little nod to the past with the front-end pincers which, to me, seem to be a reference to the GI Joe/Action Man Capture Copter. Maybe there's more history to it than that (I'm new to the GI Joe line) but that's what it immediately made me thought of and - as I loved that toy as a kid - that resonated well with me. The pincers are primed by simply pushing either one apart (their mechanism is connected so both move together) and then can be snapped-shut by pressing the button on the front. It's a nicely-sprung, tight action and I could see kids loving grabbing their Joes with this toy.

There's also another possibly coincidental reference to another toy in the way the Mantis ''splits open'' to reveal the torpedo launchers, something the old Battle Star Galactica Cylon Raider toys used to do. Again, whether this is intentional or just pure coincidence, seeing this and the Capture Copter-style grabber on the front immediately made me warm to this toy.

That's not to say it's not a good toy in its own right. The sculpt is nice (from the copyright on the underside, I presume it's constructed from a previously-released toy, given it's (C)2004) and it has a nice, biomechanical design that evokes the lines of a Manta Ray (which begs the question, why is it called a Mantis?) and it all holds together well, feeling fairly sturdy, with the spare torpedo mounts on the ''wings'' being the only slightly loose connection.

The ''wing'' tips fold up for storage (and maybe as some kind of turning aid) and the rear-mounted turbines can be clicked into three distinct positions (flat, 45-degree and vertical.) Attempting to move them outside this range is possible, but the turbine mounts will pop-out if you do so.

The ''wings'' can also be pulled-out to reveal the torpedo launchers, which may then be fired by pressing the trigger. The torpedo-launchers are surprisingly powerful and a lot of fun to play with. Although the torpedo-tips are visible when the ''wings'' are closed, they can only be launched from the open position.

The cockpit is nicely detailed, with a yolk/control column that can be elevated/lowered, allowing the figure to sit comfortably within. The video-display screens are transfers that must be applied, however. Still though, even without the decals there are a few nice details in the cockpit and it's not simply a bland, featureless interior.

There are also caster-wheels on the base of the toy (one at the front, two at the rear) that allow the vehicle to roll across smooth surfaces. They're nicely fluid, meaning the Mantis rolls very well and is just another nice little touch.

Paint-wise there's not much to comment on. The toy is cast in a dark grey with silver and red painted highlights. The silver pieces are well-applied but on my Mantis, the tail section's red stripe petered-out toward the body, which is a shame, as the rest of the red detailing is cleanly applied.

That aside, this is a nicely produced, fun toy.

The Mantis Attack Craft comes with two spare torpedoes (that can be stored on the ''wings'') and the Aqua-Viper Officer comes with removable helmet and backpack (which connects to the helmet via two ports in the rear) and his M.A.R.S. Industries D57-A pulse rifle.

There's also a sheet of transfers and an instruction page.

Final Thoughts
The Mantis Attack Craft is a lot of fun. It's a nicely-designed little vehicle that feels sturdy (aside from the minor looseness of the torpedo storage) that looks great and offers a lot of fun play-opportunities. Whilst the Aqua-Viper Officer isn't the most exciting toy, he's a nice ''Army Builder'' and what detailing he has is nicely done. He works well as the pilot of the Mantis vehicle.

It's hard to articulate why this toy is so good. It's nicely-designed, looks great and the finish - from the colour-combination to the way it all fits and works together - is well-executed. It's also got a kind of James Bond-ish vibe about it, that kind of what-if? technology that's so much fun about the GI Joe range and doesn't look as toy-like as the Dragonhawk XH1 from the same line, possibly because it's not inspired so much by a real-world craft.

And if all this wasn't enough, many places are now selling-off their Rise of Cobra toys, which is a definite bonus for the collector. I snagged this vehicle and figure set for $9, which isn't much more than I'd pay for a Marvel Universe single-carded figure. But even at its original $16 price-mark, I'd still be happy to recommend this vehicle, as it's a fun, well-produced and great-looking toy.

Aqua-Viper Officer

Production QualityB+
Final ScoreB+

Mantis Attack Craft
Production QualityB+
Final ScoreB+

Final ScoreA-

Image Gallery


  1. I think this is the best looking pack-in figure you have shown so far.

  2. Yeah, it's a nicely-designed set in all. The vehicle is a lot of fun, too.

  3. I think Toys R' Us had these marked down too.

  4. I picked-up my Dragonhawk at TRU and it was marked-down but not as much as the Walmart clearance stuff.


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