Monday, March 14, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra - Night Raven with Air-Viper

Night Raven with Air-Viper | Produced by Hasbro | Released July 2009

MARS Industries has developed an advanced hypersonic high-altitude attack an reconnaissance aircraft to rule the skies. Supremely fast and powerful, the suborbital Night Raven cruises at a top speed of Mach 6 and deploys stealth technology, making it undetectable to even the most sophisticated tracking systems. Equipped with twin rotary launchers, the Night Raven strikes its targets with infrared-guided IRG-42X missiles.

Air-Viper pilots fly next-generation aircraft designed by MARS Industries. Like all top test pilots, these ruthless hunters of the sky are meticulous, detail-oriented problem solvers with an extensive knowledge of aeronautical engineering.

Packaging Shots 

Let's begin by looking at the included Night Raven pilot, the Air-Viper. 

The Air-Viper is - like many of the Rise of Cobra vehicle figures - a repaint from a previous release, in this case, the Strato-Viper from the 25th Anniversary line. He's a pretty good figure and one of the better bundled-pilot figures.

The sculpt is pretty good, with a basic set of fatigues and a flight harness/vest (which is removable) being for the most part quite detailed. There are some well-defined creases in his shirt and the lower-half of the figure is clad in armoured leg pieces.

The head is particularly cool. The Air-Viper is wearing a basic flight helmet with what I assume is a secondary, high-altitude visor. The piece is sadly molded onto the top of the helmet (it would have been cool if it could have been deployed) but it still gives him a very unique look.

Articulation is OK but there seems to be something wrong with his left shoulder - I simply cannot get it to do a full rotation, as something keeps catching and stopping the joint from moving any further. Perhaps it's simply a production mistake and hopefully not a design flaw. Everything else is just fine though.

The paint is cleanly applied on the whole. The use of the metallic blue on some of the details is perhaps a little too disco/glam rock but I've seen worse and probably stands-out more due to the subdued grey of the figure's fatigues. Unfortunately there's a slight ''chip'' on his visor (where the paint wasn't applied/was scrubbed off) and his pouches are a little messy in terms of the paint app, but that aside, he's pretty good.

Night Raven
The Night Raven (known as the Nightbird outside of the USA) is a fairly hefty vehicle, one of only two Echo Class vehicles ever released. Interestingly, the other is the the Sand Serpent, a vehicle we've covered before at That Figures. Despite the chronological order of the Reviews here, the Sand Serpent is actually the follow-up to the Night Raven and not the other way around.

So does this mean the Night Raven is simply a repaint of the Sand Serpent (and vice-versa)? Not quite. You see, there are some differences, which we'll come to in a moment.

The sculpt and design are superb. There's a real sense of speed and power about this fighter and it just looks so menacing. In terms of production, the Night Raven's cockpit - which can be lowered and raised at the flip of a switch behind the canopy - seems to lock into place much more tightly than the Sand Serpent's. I don't know if this is a design thing or merely that my Night Raven is more tightly assembled. Either way I prefer this model's cockpit.

On the other hand, the rear wings on my Night Raven don't fit as well as they do on the Sand Serpent. They move in their sockets and can be prised out much more easily than those on the follow-up vehicle. Again, I don't know if Hasbro retooled the parts for the Sand Serpent or it I'm just unlucky. It's not a big issue really and is only noticeable if you waggle the pieces.

Like the Sand Serpent, the Night Raven includes three fold-away landing struts. Although the wheels on the struts are solid (i.e.not actual moving wheels) it's nice to at least have the option to display it in a ''parked'' position. The struts are nicely sprung and remain in-place well.

One of the coolest features of both toys is the use of electronics. A pull-down hilt with trigger and three buttons on the main hull can be used to activate a variety of light and sound effects. Like the Sand Serpent, pulling the trigger when the missiles are ''cocked'' (a process achieved by ''pumping'' the fighter like a shotgun) will not only unleash one of the 12 missiles the Night Raven carries, it also triggers the missile-launching sounds. Do so again without cocking the missiles and the cannons fire instead (complete with flashing lights.)

What I particularly like is that the electronic sounds here are different to those used in the Sand Serpent. That's a nice touch and I do appreciate it.

I loved the sleek, menacing look of the Sand Serpent and it looks even better in black plastic. The entire plane - with the exception of the red glass canopy and red interior - is molded from a sleek, super-stealthy black. Like the Black HISS Tank this adds so much more to the toy and makes it just pop as a more lifelike and interesting toy. I'm not sure how well the photographs convey just how cool this toy looks, but trust me, the Night Raven looks even better than the Sand Serpent - and I loved that toy.

The Air-Viper includes a removable chest harness/vest, cast from a soft, rubbery silver plastic. There's a sidearm molded onto the vest but it's not removable and he doesn't include any weapons or a stand.

There's also an instruction sheet, peel-and-apply decals for the Night Raven and a dozen missiles.

Note that batteries are not included but fitting them is relatively easy - so long as you have a small Philips-head screwdriver.

Final Thoughts
It's an even more awesome-looking version of the Sand Serpent with a better-looking pilot. What's not to love?

If you have neither, I'd suggest picking the Night Bird up - but only just. The Sand Serpent is still excellent. And if you already have the Sand Serpent, the Night Bird is different-enough to warrant buying, especially as many discount outlets are now selling them at the sub-$20 mark.

A great-looking, nicely-designed and fun toy that's as much fun to display as it is to play with. A definite winner.


Production QualityB
Final ScoreB

Night Raven/Nightbird
Production QualityA-
Final ScoreA

Final ScoreA

Image Gallery


  1. did you get it for 15 bucks at TJ Maxx?

  2. It was indeed $15 but I got it at Marshall's.

  3. This makes for a perfect Blackbird. Just pose some X-Men in front of it.

  4. Yeah, this was the one you mentioned when I Reviewed the Sand Serpent. Good call!


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