Thursday, March 3, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra - Mole Pod with Terra-Viper

Mole Pod with Terra-Viper | Produced by Hasbro | Released July 2009

Cobra Mole Pod vehicles drill through the walls of the underground GI Joe Pit Headquarters, using a composite carbon steel drill bit that chews through solid rock. There powerful drilling machines are just one of the attack vehicles masterminded by Destro, the head of MARS Industries.

Terra-Viper troopers are experts in combat engineering and specialize in undermining and damaging large, fortified structures. They analyze a building's construction and attack its stress points to yield maximum damage or swift infiltration.

The Mole Pod with Terra-Viper uses the standard Rise of Cobra Alpha Vehicle packaging, as seen on the Sky Sweeper Jet and Mantis Attack Craft. Unfortunately, the packaging on my Mole Pod was badly damaged (that's the one drawback of buying older stock from discount outlets...), so I skipped photographing the box, which - artwork aside - is identical to the packaging of the vehicle sets previously mentioned.

The Mole Pod's pilot is the Terra-Viper. He's a pretty standard GI Joe figure, composited from old Serpentor and Croc-Master sculpts, with little in the way of extra costume pieces, although he does include Croc-Master's breathing apparatus system which is actually quite nicely designed. A cylinder on his back is attached to his mouth by a thin tube that's designed to flex and move with his head. It works very well.

Beyond that, there's not much to say about the Terra-Viper. His joints are nicely articulated and he's quite posable. The design - aside from the head - is fairly uninspired and I'm not sure why he appears to be wearing a vest made from ROCK. Maybe he's just so manly and tough he can wear ROCKS as clothes.

Paint is neatly-applied, although it's used sparingly with a few silver details on his wrists and ankles, plus his eyes/helmet lenses are painted black.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Terra-Viper is what he's not - namely, the figure shown on the box. The rear of the pack shows the Terra-Viper clad in a blue jumpsuit with a black, ribbed chest-plate (somewhat akin to those worn in Kendo bouts) and matching black head (without the breathing tube.) I've not seen any mention of this figure as an alternate pilot or a variant release, so I'm assuming Hasbro simply used pre-production shots for the box artwork.

Whilst the figure isn't particularly exciting, he does what he does well.

Mole Pod
The Mole Pod is Cobra's underground tunneling machine, a single-pilot vehicle designed to infiltrate enemy bases, secured vaults or other sub-terrainean complexes.

Unlike many other GI Joe toys, this one comes straight out of the box, ready to play (some of the decals are even pre-applied) and there's no assembly required.

There's nothing particularly new about the Mole Pod design, with a look that harks back beyond the cartoons to - in my mind - the Mole from Thunderbirds. But given the vehicle's purpose and function, it's a bit like saying a motorcycle and a car look the same because they both have wheels.

The tracks on the bottom of the Mole Pod are, sadly, only for looks. Four ''hidden'' flywheels on the underside allow the Mole Pod to roll along the floor (rather well, I might add) and - as an added bonus - the front-left wheel's movement causes the drill bit to rotate. It's a silly and gimmicky function but I like it and it works very well.

There's also a firing missile mounted in the centre of the drill bit, presumably to help with the tunneling or to launch into enemy bases. The red stud at the fore of the vehicle will launch the missile some distance but the firing mechanism is tight, meaning the missile won't pop-out accidentally.

A side-opening, hinged canopy allows access to the cockpit. Although fairly wide, it will only accommodate a single figure and even then, getting the hatch to close can take some effort. The interior itself is fairly bland, with a steering wheel(!) and some kind of console facing the driver as he sits in a molded seat. Strangely there are no markings on the console's video screen and the included decals pack does not feature any form of display panel.

There's little else to say about the Mole Pod. There's no paint to speak of, except for a light dry-brushing on the tracks and sides (in indicate wear and tear) and the vehicle is cast in dark grey and silver plastic, with the drill bit featuring a nice chromed effect.

The set includes a decal sheet, although - as said - some of these transfers come pre-applied. I don't know if it's due to the packaging being damaged, but my Terra-Viper did not include any form of weapon, even though the cut and collect ID card states he likes using a ''D57-A extreme environment tactical pulse rifle.'' The figure does not include a stand.

Final Thoughts
The Terra-Viper is a very simply designed figure, with not really much to recommend him except that he's very well put-together. The joints are nice, there's a good range of mobility and although his look is a little bland, he's good for what he is.

The Mole Pod is also similarly good-but-bland. It's not very sophisticated, there's not a great deal of detail and its looks aren't going to get you too excited. But for all that, like the Terra-Viper, there's something just ''right'' about it. It's a hard toy to really criticise, mainly because it's not really doing much, but what it does do, it does well. The rotating drill bit is fun, the wheels roll nicely and the missile fires when it should and remains locked in place when it isn't being used.

I'm sure kids would love playing with this set and I can understand why. They're both robust, simple-enough to be fun but not so simple as to be useless. As a collector piece it's OK, but there's something about it that just elevates it above being simply another shelf piece.

It won't win any converts to the line but if you're a GI Joe collector I'm sure you'd be happy to see this toy in your collection, even if it's not that exciting.

NOTE: This vehicle was also included in the Toys R Us Exclusive ''Attack on GI Joe PIT Headquarters'' 5-pack, which also featured movie-versions of Duke, Ripcord, a PIT Commando, a Neo-Viper Officer and a Neo-Viper soldier. This set has been seen in the clearance aisle at TRU so if you're looking for the vehicle and some extra figures, you may want to check this out first.


Production QualityB
Final ScoreC+

Mole Pod
Production QualityB
Final ScoreC+

Final ScoreC+

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