Wednesday, March 2, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra - Wolf Hound With White Out

Wolf Hound with White Out | Produced by Hasbro | Released July 2010

The Wolf Hound vehicle combines the stamina of a tank with the handling of an off-road vehicle. The result is a machine that makes its own road over tough terrain to reach the Cobra geothermal base. Rear HT-3X high-traction treads cruise over snow and ice as the heavy-duty 1600GT engine flexes its muscles and growls over impassable ground. The slider missile system launches four anti-armor missiles in quick succession.

White Out is a cold weather specialist for the GI Joe team and experienced in polar combat mobility. He equips the team with the gear, tools and tactics necessary for a successful mission against the enemy and elements when the team infiltrates the Cobra geothermal base.

Like the Cobra HISS Tank, the Wolf Hound is from the Bravo Vehicle range and - as such - comes in a large, sealed box. Again, this is because the Wolf Hound is not assembled. However, box art and photos will give you a good idea as to what's inside and the driver, White Out, is visible in the small window on the front of the box.

What is a little cheeky is the back photo's use of set decorations to make the Wolf Hound appear more detailed than it is. Whilst the vehicle does include some camouflage patterning (see below) it doesn't include the iced-up windshield and snow details on the tracks. I can imagine some children may find it disappointing when they open the box, so if you're buying this for a child be sure to know they know. After all, knowing is half the battle...

Flaps at either end give access to the interior, which contains a retaining tray in which White Out and the Wolf Hound parts are found. The entire box is resealable.

White Out
The Wolf Hounds's driver, White Out, is bundled with the vehicle.

White Out is dressed in arctic combat gear, a basic parka and fatigues combo that works quite well, overall. The parka has some nice detailing, being sculpted to include a utility belt and combat webbing. What's particularly cool (heh) is the hood that comes with White Out. Obviously it's intended to be part of his parka but it can be easily removed. What's not so good about the sculpt, though, is the parka tails. These soft plastic pieces really give White Out a nice silhouette but they do inhibit his poseability. For a character that's intended to drive a vehicle it's an odd move to give him a design that makes it difficult for him to sit properly.

The head sculpt is particularly good. I don't know if it's just me, but the entire figure looks like a scaled-down 12'' GI Joe/Action Man doll. I don't know why I get that vibe or whether it's intentional but it's something I do like about White Out.

It's also worth noting that his goggles are removable, which is another nice touch.

Paint-wise, White Out is very good, with a nice camo pattern applied to his parka and his facial details are especially well-done. His hair has a dry-brush or wash effect applied that really gives a sense of hair, rather than it simply being a painted splodge on his head and his eyes and eyebrows are cleanly applied.

As mentioned, poseability is a problem thanks to his parka tails. Granted he's wearing arctic survival gear but I would have liked a better solution. The rest of his joints work fine though and it is possible to get some good standing poses - just don't expect him to crouch or sit very well.

It's also worth noting that White Out is apparently a hybrid of previously released Arctic Snake Eyes and Snow Job figures.

Wolf Hound
The Wolf Hound is an awesome-looking vehicle. The design reminds me a lot of the vehicles from Gerry Anderson shows, especially the SHADO Tank from UFO. It's a very cool-looking design that's been translated into a very good toy.

The Wolf Hound is probably one of the more complex vehicles to assemble. Granted it's not rocket science to get the thing together but it does come in more parts than some of the previous GI Joe vehicles I've seen. Essentially there's a lower chassis (in dark grey), an upper chassis (in marbled white), the wheels, the track sections, the back panel, windshield and missile launcher, all of which must be put together before the additional, detail parts (such as the steering wheel and engine cover) may be added. It only takes a moment or two to assemble but again, it might be a little complex for younger children.

What makes the Wolf Hound work so well are all the details. A lot of thought went into this vehicle's design and execution and it shows.

For starters, the upper chassis - unlike many other GI Joe vehicles - isn't cast from a single, solid coloured plastic. The core white has been augmented with some black dye to create a marbled, snow-camo effect  that really gives the vehicle a realism not seen in the other GI Joe toys. As I've mentioned before, I love how realistic the Pursuit of Cobra figures look and am often disappointed to see the vehicles are still quite toy-like in their appearance. That's certainly not the case here.

This attention to detail continues with the darkened windshield. Not only does it include a moving wiper (which moves very fluidly) but there's also a ''clean sweep'' spot where the wiper-blade arcs across it, an effect I assume is achieved through some clever molding. However it's done, it's very effective.

The cabin is also quite detailed, with molded seats and an adjustable steering wheel. Two figures can be accommodated within quite comfortably and the spare seat when not in use provides plenty of storage space for weapons and equipment.

The rear-mounted missile launcher is a nice little play gimmick that also looks cool even as a display piece. By moving the firing slider, you can trigger the launch of each missile. The missiles themselves are cast in bright yellow plastic (presumably so you don't lose them, especially as I'm sure kids will play with this vehicle in the snow) and do stand-out a little too much but so long as they're in their firing tubes, you can't really see that much of them and they do - in fairness - add some colour to the toy.

The Wolf Hound is not without its problems, though. For starters, only the front wheels move. The rear tracks are static, solid pieces and hidden flywheels on the under-chassis are used to allow movement (it's worth noting the instructions don't mention these wheels, so if you were wondering what those ''spare'' pieces were for, there's your answer...) It's not a deal-breaker, especially if you're only displaying the toy, but it would be nice if they'd included working tracks.

Secondly, the ski-torpedoes mounted on the side of the Wolf Hound are very fragile, with the torpedo and ski pieces being a very poor fit. Indeed, they wobble and look poised to fall-off at any moment. The mount onto which they slot doesn't fit very well, either.

Perhaps the oddest piece of design though is the windshield. When White Out sits in the cockpit with his hood accessory on, the canopy cover doesn't close properly, due to the extra millimetre or two of height his hood provides. Even with the hood removed, it's still a tight fit. I just wish they'd either mounted it slightly higher or lowered the seats within, as it's quite frustrating to see such an excellent design let-down by a few minor - and perfectly avoidable - flaws.

The Wolf Hound includes four missiles and two ski-torpedoes. There's also an assembly sheet and a number of decals. For once, I like the way these decals look on the Wolf Hound, probably due to the marbling effect.

White Out comes with a removable hood and goggles. He has no weapons or stand.

Final Thoughts
White Out is another figure that - if he were sold individually - you'd probably pass on. However, as a bundled figure he's actually acceptable-to-quite good. I like how his look - in terms of head sculpt and uniform - reminds me of the 12'' GI Joe/Action Man dolls and although his articulation is limited, he looks at home in the Wolf Hound's cockpit.

As for the Wolf Hound, the use of the marbled effect is a real winner here, adding an extra level of coolness and class to an already pretty freaking awesome toy. The Wolf Hound is a rare example of the concept being not only well-executed but that execution surpassing all expectations. I think out of all the GI Joe vehicles I've Reviewed, this has to be the best-looking, if not simply best, period.

The Wolf Hound may not be perfect but it's a very, very good vehicle and if you're a fan or somebody wondering if these toys are for you, get this set. You won't be disappointed.

White Out

Production QualityB+
Final ScoreB

Wolf Hound
Production QualityA
Final ScoreA

Final ScoreA

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