Monday, February 28, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra - Ram Cycle with Sandstorm

Ram Cycle with Sandstorm | Produced by Hasbro | Released 2010 [Cancelled]

Riding the Ram Cycle, Sandstorm patrols the perimeter of the GI Joe team's base of operations. He's searching for Cobra troopers who may infiltrate the base to sabotage the team's vehicles and weapons. When he spots intruders, he unleashes the cycle's Gatling gun and sends them packing.

Sandstorm is a Military Police Officer assigned to the GI Joe team. A law enforcement specialist, he guards vehicle routes, conducts perimeter patrols, and does whatever is necessary to eliminate all threats to the people and bases he's assigned to defend.

Deluxe Figures Wave 3 - CANCELLED
Ram Cycle with Sandstorm was one of the Wave 3 toys from the Target-Exclusive Deluxe Figure line that was cancelled before release. The figures were however available overseas and - more recently - have started to appear in some overstock outlets. This figure (along with the other three toys in the Wave) were purchased in Ross Dress for Less. Should you wish to purchase the Ram Cycle set, I would advise you check your local discount/overstock outlets before paying the scalpers' online prices.

The Ram Cycle with Sandstorm set comes in the Deluxe Figure packaging. The box is slightly wider than a single-carded figure blister-pack but shares the same hooked top, so it can be hung on display spikes in-store. The box is slightly deeper than most single-carded figure packs, to accommodate the vehicle within.

The figure - in this case, Sandstorm - is visible through the small window on the front of the box. The remainder of the pack is taken-up with an illustration of Sandstorm and the Ram Cycle in action.

The rear of the pack includes Sandstorm's cut and collect ID card and a photograph of him riding the bike, with various features highlighted. I think however, Hasbro's copywriter was a little desperate when it came to selling the features, which include ''figure can sit on vehicle!'' and ''front wheel turns!''

Inside the box is a smaller box containing the figure (held in position with clear elastic bands) and a box in which we find the Ram Cycle. The vehicle's removable Gatling gun mount must be attached to the bike but there's no other assembly required.

Sandstorm is, overall, a pretty good figure. One thing that strikes me about the Deluxe Figure sets I've seen is that the figures are generally better than those included in the vehicle packs (although there are exceptions on both sides.)

Sandstorm is dressed in desert camo pants and a protective bike armour. The pants are well sculpted, with a baggy look to them and gathers at the ankle, where they're tucked into his boots (which are also quite detailed.) Chances are that they're recycled from another figure but it's not an issue, given that combat pants are combat pants are combat pants and the use of the disruptive camouflage pattern further disguises their origins.

The bike armour is very good, with numerous plates and details in the sculpt giving it a sense of being real armour, even if it is a quite snug fit. It's got a slight sci-fi element to it, too, which makes it all the more realistic, given how real bike attire often looks like something from Judge Dredd.

The helmet is a re-paint of the same helmet used by the Air Raid figure but thankfully it sits in a better position than it does on that figure. I believe the head beneath is actually from a Cobra agent. Again though, this is a minor point, especially as most people will display him with the helmet on.

Overall, it's a nice sculpt, even if it's pulled together from other figures.

Paint-wise, the figure excels. The desert camouflage is - a few spots around his ankles aside - well applied but it's the body armour that really wins here. It's been washed, dry brushed and scrubbed to give it a blasted, well-worn look that gives the impression of the outer layer of paint being removed thanks to various scrapes and the desert conditions taking their toll. 

Head detail is also well done, with his eyes and eyebrows being cleanly and subtly applied. The helmet is a bronze/gold and black combo that works well, too and is also mess-free.

Sadly his hands are terribly painted. The illustration shows him wearing gloves (as any sensible biker would be) but the toy comes with bare hands that are painted with a thick, splodgy application that looks like they were simply dipped into a pot of paint.

Indeed, the hands on Sandstorm are also poorly produced, with wrist joints that feel as if they're going to snap-off any second. That's not good when you're trying to get him to grip the handlebars of the bike, a task that can be quite scary. The rest of his joints are fine, though.

Ram Cycle
The Ram Cycle consists of two primary parts - the motorbike and the side-mounted Gatling gun. The two must be popped together when the bike is first unpacked but the peg and port system used allows the to be separated again should you so wish.

The Gatling gun piece is more than simply a weapon. The pod into which it's mounted also features a wheel so when it's in place the motorbike is transformed into a motortrike. It's a nice, sturdy piece and when it's attached to the bike it provides a solid level of stability. The wheel spins freely and there's also a twist-able knob at the back of the mount that can be used to make the barrels rotate. This doesn't move so well and I'd have liked to see more done with it - a ''clicker'' that made noises as the barrels spun or having them rotate when the wheel spun would have been nice.

I'm not so sure about the bike. The design features some nice details but the vehicle looks very toy-like.

Perhaps it's based upon a real-world motorcycle but to me it looks very much like a child's rendering of what a motorbike looks like. It's very angular and has a cheap look to it, like a dollar store toy where they've tried to make it from as few parts as possible to save on labour/assembly costs. 

The seat is especially poor in this respect. It's a solid, square-edged, plastic-looking lump that simply doesn't look realistic. Perhaps if it had been produced in black plastic or had some of the sharp edges taken off it could have looked more lifelike. As it is, though, the piece really stands-out as an eyesore.

It's a shame because under the horrible-looks there are some nice little features and details. I especially like the two pop-in/out panniers, which can be attached to the cycle's sides. They actually open and can be used to store equipment (one comes with a pre-packed pistol.) There's also a fold-down stand that can be used to balance the vehicle when the gun pod is removed, which is another thoughtful piece of design.

As you'd expect, the handlebars/front forks and front wheel move together. Turn the handlebars and the wheel turns (and vice versa.) The wheels themselves move well enough (although I'd prefer to see rubber tires rather than these hard plastic ones) and the bike has a solid feel.

The vehicle's engine is asymmetrical, giving it a lifelike look and the use of silver/chrome paint certainly makes it ''pop.'' It's just too bad the exhaust pipes are cast in the olive drab plastic and there's no other paint on the vehicle, as this only accentuates the toy-like nature of the Ram Cycle.

My advice would be to keep the Gatling gun pod attached and have Sandstorm riding the bike when you display it. That way you can hide a lot of the bike's flaws.

Sandstorm comes equipped with his Assault Rifle, plus an automatic pistol, removable helmet and a belt. The belt is sculpted with a pistol holster than includes a weapon. Sadly the pistol cannot be removed from the holster.

The set also includes assembly instructions and a sheet of decals. The decals are well-designed and - when applied - help make the bike a little more interesting.

Final Thoughts
The Ram Cycle with Sandstorm is, overall, a pretty good pack if you can get over the bike's clunky, cheap toy design. Sandstorm is a good figure, with a unique look and superb paintwork (barring his hands) and the bike itself - toy-like looks aside - is a fun little plaything. It rolls nicely, the gun is a nice addition and it's got some nice touches, such as the opening panniers. It's just a shame it looks so plastic and toy-like, something that's made all the more obvious when Sandstorm - whose paintwork looks quite lifelike - is mounted upon it. I wish Hasbro would focus more attention on applying some paint to their vehicles, as many of them look very odd when placed beside these more realistic-looking figures.

At the end of the day, though, this toy is retailing at Ross Dress for Less for the cost of a regular, single-carded figure. So even if you throw away the bike (and you'd be a fool to, because it's not THAT bad) you're still getting a nice figure in the form of Sandstorm.


Production QualityB-
Final ScoreB+

Ram Cycle
Production QualityB+
Final ScoreB-

Final ScoreB+

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