Tuesday, March 8, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra - Tunnel Rat vs Monkey Wrench Double Pack

Tunnel Rat is an explosives and demolitions expert with the GI Joe team. He is an expert at deactivating the dangerous devices that Cobra plants as part of their plan to release nanomite weapons upon the world.

Monkey Wrench works as an explosives expert in the Dreadnok gang led by the Cobra Mercenary Zartan. This mechanically gifted thug can craft devices capable of anything from minor damage to catastrophic destruction.

These two demolitions experts face each other in an explosive encounter!

Rise of Cobra Double Packs
Available exclusively at Walmart (originally - see below), these Rise of Cobra two-packs took the premise that while the action was taking place on-screen, other members of the GI Joe team were fighting their own battles off-screen. The concept allowed Hasbro to widen the range of available figures to include regulars from the comicbook/cartoon continuity and provide a few fan favourites along the way. And of course, it was a good way to get some older toys out there under a new name, but that's beside the point... 

These packs have recently started appearing in (bizarrely) Burlington Coat Factory and Ross Dress for Less outlet stores at a reduced price. From what I've seen, Ross' prices are more competitive.

The double pack uses - as you'd imagine - a larger pack than the standard single figure card and is designed to be hung upon pegs.

The packaging is pretty much what you'd expect and works fine. The only thing I dislike is that the figures/accessories are pushed through the retaining tray within to hold them in place. I don't like this approach as it can often bend the plastic.

Tunnel Rat
Let's begin with the Joe of the pack, Tunnel Rat.

OK. Let's get this right out of the way. Tunnel Rat - AKA Nicky Lee - is of Chinese descent. We get that and don't need to comedy slanted eyes for us to understand that. I know the GI Joe characters are often quite stereotypical and their's not a particularly complicated world-view behind the series but this really is pretty bad. I'll try to move on from that but really, given the abundance of Caucasians in the Joe line-up it would be nice to see more diversity and - more importantly - sensitivity. White kids aren't the only kids who want heroes.

The sculpt is actually not bad, head issues aside. He's a slighter character, which is a nice way of reflecting his role - he's not a front-line combatant but rather a saboteur and explosives expert, so being bulked-up and dressed in close-combat armour isn't something Tunnel Rat needs to be. Indeed, his entire uniform is quite un-militaristic, with a look that's more akin to work clothing. He's a relatively plain, though, with a few details such as rolled sleeves and a knife sheath (with a molded knife) being the only real additions to his basic sculpt.

The figure's articulation is fine, if a little predictable. What is nice is that he can actually hold his machine gun with both hands (just) although his right hand's sculpt is very loose, meaning it's difficult to get him to hold weapons properly.

The colour work on Tunnel Rat isn't particularly inspired. I'd have hoped to see his clothing a little worn/dirtied-up, given his name and predilection for underground exploration and guerrilla-style sabotage. Most of his colour comes from the plastic used to cast the pieces, although he does feature painted hair, a camo pattern on his bandana and - worst of all - black painted eyes. Just in case we forget his Chinese lineage. The actual colour-scheme isn't bad, except for the too-bright greens used on his headgear, neckerchief and harness. I much prefer the drab tones of the Pursuit of Cobra figures.

Much of the extra detailing comes in the form of accessories and costume pieces, which will be covered in the Extras section below.

Monkey Wrench
It's Chuck Norris!

Monkey Wrench - like Tunnel Rat - is another ''specialised'' combatant. In this case, he's a member of Zartan's Dreadnoks gang and a mercenary for hire. As such, he's clad in a more civilian-esque look, wearing what appear to be jeans and a biker vest. OK, so the grenades and holster kind of give it away but a still...

Monkey Wrench is the better sculpt of the two, although he's not without his problems. The core figure has some nice detailing on his muscles and his vest features a variety of pouches and fasters, which looks quite good. The facial sculpt is also nice and the design captures the biker look pretty well. The side holster - which can hold a pistol - is nicely produced and works as it should.

There are no issues posing Monkey Wrench, although he does seem to have problems staying on his stand when both feet are popped onto the pegs. I don't know if it's a pose thing or whether it's a size issue, but it is there.

Again, his colouring is a little brighter than I'd prefer, with a very bright blue and red-purple combination topped-off with black detail. The paint is nicely applied though, except for on his groin piece, where the interior has been left unpainted. It's not visible from all sides but at certain angles it does stand-out somewhat.

Like Tunnel Rat, Monkey Wrench features a number of extra costume pieces, which we'll look at now.

Both figures come with slot-in backpacks. Unfortunately Monkey Wrench also has a bandolier of grenades and - when they're worn - they cover the port into which the backpack fits. Also if he's wearing the included black satchel, this complicates matters further with the backpack.

Monkey Wrench also comes with a pistol (which fits nicely into the side holster on his leg) and a machine gun.

Tunnel Rat includes a shoulder holster identical to that used by the Range-Viper featured in the Jungle Terror Twin Battle Gun Deluxe Figure set. Here however, it's cast from a too-bright green plastic and uses red paint to detail the shells. The paint is sloppily applied and the green plastic is not a good choice. He has a neckerchief and a TNT satchel in the same matching hue.

Tunnel Rat is armed with a revolver and a machine gun, complete with removable bi-pod. Again, it's the same weapon as also used by the Range-Viper.

Perhaps the coolest/dumbest extra is the twin set of Cobra/GI Joe team stickers and the Arashikage Clan temporary tattoo. I think it's a nice touch, even if it's somewhat childish.

Final Thoughts
Unless you're a completist or a fan of the earlier GI Joes, you won't lose any sleep not having this double pack in your collection. As I primarily collect the Pursuit of Cobra toys, I find these figures' colour-work to jar with that of the more lifelike figures I prefer. They look more toy-like than their newer counterparts and even beside the Rise of Cobra movie figures, they look slightly out of place. Which is fine, because they are older GI Joe figures, just repackaged and sold to cash-in on the movie line.

At the original RRP of $12 or so, I'd say to pass on them. Even at the knock-down, clearance aisle prices you can pick them up for now, I'd give purchasing some serious thought. They're not bad figures but they're just nowhere near as good as the other Joes you can pick up and unless you really love Tunnel Rat (who'll be getting a new - hopefully less-racist - figure when the Renegades line appears anyway) or Monkey Wrench, I'd honestly not bother.

Tunnel Rat

Production QualityB
Final ScoreC

Monkey Wrench
Production QualityB
Final ScoreC

Final ScoreC

Image Gallery


  1. Another nice set from the GI Joe line have not seen before. Iok you find the best stuff. : )

  2. It's called buying on a budget. :)

    You'd be surprised where some of this stuff shows up, although you sometimes have to have a good poke around!

  3. That's the thing, I don't mind paying for my stuff but there's no sense paying more than you need to, especially when some of these toys can't be found anywhere else anyway!

  4. I dig Monkeywrench. I kinda like the Chuck Norris look

  5. Yeah, Monkey Wrench is definitely the better of the two.

    If I were talented, I'd actually try and repaint the pair of them. As core sculpts - Tunnel Rat's Charlie Chan look aside - they're pretty good. It's the very shiny/plastic look that loses them points in my book and - as I say - if I had the skills, they could probably be repainted to look much more lifelike.


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