Thursday, April 7, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra - Steel Marauder Mobile Mech Suit with Kickstart

Produced by Hasbro | Released July 2010

The Steel Marauder Mobile Mech Suit boosts strength and speed to tremendous levels! This highly advanced battle armor gives the GI Joe team powerful support and firepower in the battle against Cobra!

Kickstart is an expert in electronic engineering, bioengineering and computer technology for the GI Joe team. This CalTech Alumnus and die-hard gamer understands every microcircuit of the team's advanced Mobile Mech Suit. During a jungle mission, he uses the suit to deactivate an electronic perimeter warning system and subdue Cobra troops, giving the team easy entry into a Cobra facility.

Packaging Shots

I've got to say this about the packaging: I hate the way the Mech Suit is kept in-place. Ten or so thick cords are tied around the limbs, passed through the card and then double-knotted at the back. Although some of the knots are loose, others aren't and you'll need a pair of scissors and a sharp knife to get them loose. And even then, you still have to untangle the cords from around the Mech's joints and limbs. Not only is it a pain, but it's also dangerous - more on that below.

Let's start with the Mech Suit's pilot, Kickstart.

Kickstart is clad in basic combat fatigues, with a removable vest augmenting the look. The sculpt - which is a mashup of a number of previously released figures - is acceptable but not much beyond that. There are a few minor details (such as a non-functional holster/sidearm) and some combat strapping to finish-off the look but overall there's very little to get excited about here.

Articulation is fine, although my Kickstart's right shoulder joint is very loose. That aside, there's nothing much to report.

Paint is applied cleanly but uninspired. The green of his uniform is a tad too green for my tastes and he looks more like a 25th Anniversary figure than a Pursuit of Cobra toy.

Overall, he's pretty much what you'd expect from a bundled figure - he does his job OK but you wouldn't spend money on him were he a single carded figure release.

Steel Marauder Mobile Mech Suit
What of the Steel Marauder? Does it fare any better?

The Mech Suit is clearly a homage to the giant robo suit vehicles of Battletech and other sci-fi series. There's also a hint of the Power Loader from Aliens about the whole thing. The overall sculpt is nicely produced and the visual design is quite cool. Perhaps it's a little too sci-fi for the GI Joe range, although I personally like the more futuristic elements of the line.

The vehicle's sculpt is quite detailed, with a number of pipes, hydraulic tubes, panels and armour plates adorning the surfaces of the Mech. It's eye-catching and engaging, meaning you'll spend a lot of time spotting extra parts and details you didn't initially see, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately there are some pretty hefty molding/joint lines, but given the nature of the piece - i.e. it's a vehicle - they could be dismissed as being part of its construction.

The right arm - as you can see from the images - is a large claw, with two sets of pincers set at 90 degrees from each other. At the press of a button (at the limb's ''elbow'') the claw opens. Release the button and the claws snap shut. It's quite a fun little play feature.

Equally cool is the left arm Gatling gun. Six missiles may be loaded into the weapon and - when the dial at the  ''elbow'' is turned, the chamber rotates as each missile is launched. Again, it's a very nice play feature and I can imagine kids having a lot of fun with that.

There are also two small cannons mounted on the ''nose'' of the cockpit that can be rotated up and down. They however do nothing else and are purely decorative.

We come now to one of the biggest problems with this toy - the joints. Before proceeding, let's look at the points of articulation on this toy:

Click to Enlarge
Overall there's a good range of movement and posability here, but it's let down by the actual joints. In order to support the weight of the limbs many of the joints are ratcheted (that means they ''click'' when moved and have a limited number of positions they can be locked into compared to a free-moving joint) and that makes them feel quite stiff (which is fine, as you want the limbs to remain in-place.) Unfortunately though the joints are very thin and the connectors on the joints even more so. It feels more as if the limb is going to snap-off  before the joint gives and I don't like that at all. There's also a lot of play in the ratcheted joints, meaning the limbs will ''droop'' in many poses. The toy rattles a lot, too when you're moving it and it just feels as if something is going to drop-off at any point.

Perhaps worst of all though is the canopy cover. It simply doesn't fit. The moment you attempt to raise it, it comes off in your hand. It's as if it's actually a piece from another toy, so bad is the fit. Not only that but - like many GI Joe vehicles - it doesn't even close properly when a driver is in place, especially one like Kickstart, who is wearing a helmet. It's a real let-down to see such a shoddy bit of design and production.

The Steel Marauder has no painted pieces, with each element being produced from either green, black, silver/grey and yellow plastic.

Kickstart has a removable helmet with night-vision eyepiece, as used by Night Fox. Like all pilots, he comes without a stand. He also has no weapons.

The Steel Marauder comes with six yellow missiles, a set of decals and an instruction sheet.

Final Thoughts
The Steel Marauder Mobile Mech Suit is a nice idea and, as a display piece, it looks pretty good (if a little bland). But it's not great. 

The fun toy features - the firing weapon and grabbing claw - are superb. But the way the ratcheted joints feel so weak would make me worry about letting a child play with this toy, as it doesn't feel as if it could stand-up to a play session. The fact that the canopy cover doesn't fit properly doesn't help, either. These flaws really detract from the toy's overall quality and make it feel cheap, which is a shame, as there's a lot of good stuff here.

(Sadly the two follow-up Mobile Mech Suits - the Desert Battle Minotaur and Arctic Threat Alpine Wolf - have been dropped from the line and will no longer be released. Whilst it's a shame to see Hasbro cancelling GI Joe toys (given how few they release now), it's perhaps for the best, because if their production quality was anything like this I could see them doing more harm to the toy's reputation than good.)

There's a real charm about this toy. It's a cool concept with some great features but it's let down by some very poor production and execution. Much as it pains me to do so - as there are some sparks of brilliance here - I have to say this is really only one for the collectors out there.

Kick Start

Production QualityC+
Final ScoreC

Steel Marauder Mobile Mech Suit
Production QualityC
Final ScoreC+

Final ScoreC+


  1. I am not crazy at all about those Mech Suits so i will not be buy any of them anytime soon i don't think.

  2. Yeah, unless you're a big GI Joe completist or you really like mecha-style stuff, you're not missing out on much here. It's a shame, as it had potential.

  3. I like the suites but I don't like the price for them. If they were 10 bucks each I would get them.

  4. Yeah, I'm sure they'll be showing up in the discount aisle soon...

  5. Found both mechs at TJ Maxx for 10 bucks each!

  6. I had heard they'd been spotted at TJ Maxx. At the knock-down price it's probably worth picking up.


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