Friday, March 4, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra - Jungle Assault Shadow Tracker

Jungle Assault Shadow Tracker | Produced by Hasbro | Released February 2011

Shadow Tracker works for Cobra as a wilderness hunter and guide. Scorning conventional firearms, he uses traditional weapons from around the world. He tracks his prey using primal instinct: he hears the dark whispers of the jungle, senses the distant footfalls in the earth, and tastes his victim's fear in the wind. When Skydive lands in the jungle, shadow tracker instantly knows - and starts the hunt.

Welcome to the first Review from 2011's second Wave (AKA Wave 4) of the Pursuit of Cobra GI Joe line, Shadow Tracker.

Shadow Tracker uses a variant on the standard glued-down-blister-pack-on-a-card packaging used for all GI Joes. I say a ''variant'' because Shadow Tracker's extra equipment requires a second retaining tray to hold it all. He's certainly packing some gear...

The blister-pack is removed easily enough. Here's a tip though - keep that little clear elastic band used to hold the loose arrow in place. I'll explain why in a moment.

Predat- I Mean, Shadow Tracker
There, I've said it - Shadow Tracker is a clear homage to the alien from the 1987 movie. From his hunting equipment to his mask and even his dreads, there's a definite Predator vibe going on here. It's blatantly obvious I know, but sometimes the obvious needs to be stated.

Let's start with the head sculpt. This is a superb-looking character, with the clear plastic mask hiding just enough of his features to let you know there's something under there, but not allowing you to actually see. There's a nice Neo-Viper look to the whole thing, too, tying him into the Cobra organisation.

For the record, the mask is not removable, so don't try. 

His dreadlocks are also nicely produced, but they do - as you'd imagine - put a massive limit on his head articulation. However, with some creative posing it's possible to work around this and although it is a pain, on the plus-side it does make him look particularly awesome.

The removable vest is nicely produced (although given the complexity of his dreadlocks, I didn't attempt to take it off, as I was worried I'd not get it back on!) and adds a nice, lifelike bulkiness to the figure. He really looks like he's wearing clothing, rather than simply being cast from solid plastic. It's worth noting that due to the dreads, his back port is actually lower, being more like a belt port. Various pieces of equipment may be slotted into this port for storage/dressing purposes.

His hands can be a little problematic, as his right index and middle fingers are sculpted to hold an arrow (which he can just about do with some balancing and patience) but this makes it difficult for him to hold some of his other weapons. The spear, for example, will not fit in his hand. Again, you can work around this but there's only so much working-around you can do before you become frustrated.

There are also some problems with other items fitting into his left hand. This is covered below in the Extras section.

Joints are all nicely articulated - head aside - and he's quite poseable, with a nice, sturdy feel to the basic figure. The vest can cause some articulation problems - it's quite solid - but it's possible to - again - work around them.

Paint is nicely applied. Shadow Tracker uses a mix of dark greens and black with hi-vis green detailing. Although this seems strange for a stealthy predator, it works for a bow hunter and gives the figure an extra level of colouration that would otherwise be lacking (after all, how many camouflaged figures can you produce and still make them interesting?)

Shadow Tracker comes laden with equipment and includes:

Darktrap Reinforced, Escape-Proof Capture Net
Compound Bow
Single Arrow
Quiver with Arrows (solid piece)
Straight Bayonette
Crescent Blade

Of these items, the single arrow, the kurki, bolas and the cresent blade are best-suited for his right hand. All other items work best in his left, although be warned that the machete, dagger and - incredibly - the bow do not sit well in his hand and will feel quite loose.

Also note that Shadow Tracker does not fit well on his base and the pegs do not fit properly into his feet ports.

There is a sheath for the dagger at the base of his back, but be aware that this is not a very snug fit - the dagger drops out quite easily.

Indeed, this is the biggest problem with the Shadow Tracker: he simply has too much equipment and not enough space to store it. The spear has a port that allows you to insert either the bolas or bayonette, he has a port on his left leg (which again takes either item), the quiver has a (very loose) pair of C-shaped slots to hold the single arrow and there's a port at his back/belt (I find best-suited for his quiver.) He has eleven pieces to carry and it's a shame to see this wasn't given more consideration.

The worst part is that with just a little more thought and effort the problems could have been overcome (which seems to be Hasbro's motto these days.) A couple of extra knife sheaths would have been ideal. Or better yet, all they needed to do was add a single elasticated band across the quiver, much like the Jungle Assault Duke's backpack. 

All is not lost though. Remember when I said about the clear elastic band holding the arrow in his hand? Well it's time to put it to use.

Take this band and double-wrap it around the quiver. You can now slide the bow or the spear through one of the loops and it'll remain in-place (it also stops the single arrow from falling out - that connection is very loose.) This now frees-up both hands and allows you to dress the figure with more of his equipment. Any left-over parts I put in the net and wrapped with the draw-strings. Although I'm still trying to work-out a way for him to carry this, too (they're just at his feet currently), it keeps them together at least and doesn't look too out of place when he's displayed.

This over-accessorising is one of my pet-peeves with the GI Joe Pursuit of Cobra figures. I like having all the extra pieces and the options to dress the figures in a variety of ways but it's also frustrating when there's simply so much equipment that the figure cannot carry it all, especially when just a little more thought could eliminate the problem.

Final Thoughts
Shadow Tracker is a great-looking figure and - on the whole - he's well produced. It's his accessories that really let him down though, specifically how he holds and carries them. Looking at the toy I can see so many potential solutions for fixing this problem - an elastic strap on his quiver, the single arrow's C-shaped grips being tighter (thus allowing it to be used to hold other pieces in-place), a plastic ring on the net to allow it to hang from his belt, a few extra ports and pegs. I know it's easy to play armchair designer but it's also easy to get this stuff right.

Shadow Tracker's look is very unique yet fits within the line and - like Zartan - he's a strong ''character villain'' that looks great on the shelf and works well as a toy. It's just too bad that he's let-down by equipment that should be really excellent but - as it stands - actually brings the quality of the toy down a notch.

Production QualityB-
Final ScoreB+

Image Gallery


  1. He is all sorts of awesome! I will be keeping my eyes out for this new wave. : )

  2. He looks really good. He's just very fragile - every time you move him or even touch him, something will drop off... It's a shame, because - that aside - he is good and he looks superb.

    I'll be Reviewing Low-Light next...


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