Tuesday, February 7, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra - Desert Battle HISS Attack Scout With Cobra HISS Driver

Produced by Hasbro | Released 2011 [Cancelled] Re-Released January 2012

HISS Attack scout vehicles are lightweight machines that race over rough terrain and clear the way through minefields and defensive barriers.

Cobra HISS Tank Drivers are the most highly-trained and aggressive drivers in the Cobra Ranks. They have to be: they're at the controls of the most sophisticated and destructive ground wapons in the world and it's their job to unleash the full fury of these vehicles.

Another Day, Another Ross Purchase
The HISS Attack Scout was - along with the Cycle Armor - originally intended to form the third wave of Alpha Class vehicles in the Pursuit Of Cobra line. Unfortunately Hasbro - after designing, showcasing and even producing the wave - decided not to go ahead with the official release, much to the disappointment of fans across the globe. 

But, as you've probably worked-out, this wasn't the end of the story. The vehicles eventually found their way to retail - just not in the US. After many months of appearing on shelves in Canada the vehicles have finally made their retail appearance at - you guessed it - Ross: Dress For Less.

The HISS Attack Scout comes in the standard Pursuit Of Cobra Alpha-style box, complete with fold-out diorama. The actual vehicle is held in place with a plastic restraining tray (and you'll have to do some picking, twisting and even part removal to get it loose) but it's pretty safely secured within.

Aside from the application of the transfers (of which there are only about a dozen) there's no assembly required.

Cobra HISS Driver
Let's start by looking at the vehicle's driver. And I have to apologise in advance for the quality of some of these images. My camera had some issues with lighting vs the dark plastic used on this figure and - as a result - these images are a little blurry.

Sculpt And Design
This version of the Cobra HISS Driver appears to share some elements with the previously seen HISS Tank Driver. The head sculpt, arms and - possibly - the chest are all re-used but the legs appear to be new. I'm not sure if they're new-new or just new-to-this-figure-new. Either way, they're pretty good and I have to say I do prefer this Driver to the original HISS Tank pilot, simply as he doesn't look quite so goofy.

Unlike the Cobra HISS Tank driver, the Cobra HISS Driver (or Scout Driver) doesn't feature the removable leg harness or chest armour. Personally I think this is an improvement and the more streamlined look not only looks cooler but also reflects the stripped-down, lightweight ethos of the HISS Attack Scout.

It's a pretty decent sculpt, overall. Sure it's a little generic but this is a generic Army Builder/pilot figure, so that's really as it should be. But there's enough cool detail in the shirt folds and pads, belt and chest piece to make him a visually-engaging figure. And I like that his right-side thigh holster features a working fold-down flap (and holds his pistol nicely - more on that below.)

The head sculpt is also kind of cool, with the Scout driver sporting a (sadly non-removable) helmet complete with visor and mouth cover. Again, it's not massively exciting but there's a pretty reasonable level of detail to it and it looks good.

For a generic, faceless driver/Army Builder, he's actually pretty interesting overall and although I wouldn't buy him as a stand-alone figure (unless Hasbro included a whole bunch of additional accessories that really changed the game) for a bundled figure he's perfectly fine.

The basic GI Joe articulation set-up is here, present and correct - which is good. Unfortunately though the Cobra HISS Driver is a figure whose sculpt restricts the operation of the joints somewhat. He's perfectly capable of sitting  in the Scout, holding his pistol and generally standing around but the sculpt limitations - specifically at his elbow joints - can get in the way somewhat. I'd hate to try and pose him with a two-handed weapon, for example.

As for the actual joints, they're fine on the whole, although my Scout Driver's hips are a little loose. He holds poses without any issue but if you hold him by the chest and shake him, his hips to a little shimmy. It's not a major problem but it's worth noting.

There's very little in the way of paint on this figure but I kind of like that. He's cast from a combination of dark blue and black plastic and it's from here that his colour scheme is derived (although there is a little even darker black used to paint his visor.) A neatly-applied chest tampo of the Cobra logo finishes-off the look.

I'm not even sure if this really counts as a paint job but I have to admit that I do like the overall effect.

HISS Attack Scout
So we move on now to the HISS Attack Scout. Did Hasbro have the right idea pulling this or should we be celebrating now it's available?

Sculpt And Design
The basic vehicle design is kind of cool. There's enough of the HISS Tank here to make it clear that they're from the same line and it looks kind of neat in its own way. The actual tooling is good, with the interior featuring an assortment of compartments (presumably so the driver has somewhere to keep his log book, CDs and gloves) and - best of all - twin control sticks, so when the pilot is in place he looks as if he's doing the business.

This level of detail is also present on the vehicle's exterior, where an assortment of rivets and bolts, panels and general ''mechanical bits'' It's very much an ugly-beautiful kind of look that fans of military vehicles will really dig, I'm sure, as it looks way more practical and functional than many other GI Joe vehicles.

To the rear there's an extended platform, complete with foot peg, that allows an operator to man the rear-mounted gun. Though given that there are no controls on the weapon I'm really not sure what purpose this would serve. It's also worth noting that the foot peg is in the dead centre of the platform, meaning any figure standing here will be off-centre because of it.

And speaking of the cannon, it's a pretty wimpy piece of kit. I understand that the HISS Scout's role is to be a lightweight, nimble assault craft but I'd have much preferred to see it as a mobile gunnery platform (which is really what it looks like.) And for that, this tiny, twin-barreled shooty pew-pew gun just doesn't cut it. As an experiment I switched this weapon with the VAMP cannon and although the it loses the elevating arm element, it looks much cooler. I just wish Hasbro had beefed-up the weapon a bit.

Secondly, the open cockpit design is utterly ridiculous. Even if this is a ''scout'' tank, it's ludicrous to design a vehicle in which the driver is so utterly exposed. It's a real shame Hasbro didn't just add an extra inch of protection at the front, as it would have made the vehicle so much cooler. I'm actually tempted to try and fabricate a simple windshield from the plastic retaining tray/box, as I'm pretty confident that this would dramatically improve the vehicle's look. If I have any success I'll let you know.

Movement And Articulation
The Attack Scout features a few moving parts in the form of the rear-mounted gun pivot and the tank tracks.

The former is pretty well articulated, overall, with a horizontal twist/rotate at the base and two vertical/elevation joints at the base and just under the weapon itself. This allows for a variety of poses and positions, with the maximum elevation being 90 degrees and a full 360 degree horizontal range of movement. The joints themselves are pretty sturdy and hold their position well.

As for the tracks, overall they're pretty cool. They seem a little on the loose side to me, although not to the point of interfering with their movement. Whether it's down to the vehicle's shape or the wheel design, I don't know, but I found the Scout's tracks were much freer in their movement than those found on the HISS Tank.

Like its driver, the HISS Attack Scout's colouring comes predominantly from the plastics used in the production process - in this case a dark blue and gun metal/grey. There are also touches of red thanks to the wheel tampos and the overhead cannon. The overall effect is pretty good, although, again, it can't really be considered a ''paint job.''

The HISS Attack Scout comes with a set of transfers, an instruction sheet and a small pistol that fits snuggly into the driver's holster. He does not come with a stand.

Final Thoughts
The Cobra HISS Driver is pretty much what you'd expect from a bundled figure. He looks pretty cool, overall, thanks to a nice - not great, just nice - sculpt and the muted colouring. The articulation problems would be more of an issue were he not simply designed to sit in the Scout but beyond that there's really not much wrong with him. Sure, there's also not much to get excited about but I certainly prefer this take to the one seen with the ''real'' HISS Tank's driver. Hardly a knockout but OK for what it is.

As for the Attack Scout, it's a vehicle with a lot of potential and it's therefore a shame Hasbro didn't really see it through. A meatier cannon would have given it a very cool air of menace and an enclosed - or at least semi-closed - canopy would have dramatically improved the toy's look. Interestingly the HISS Attack Scout's basic chassis has actually been re-purposed at the GI Joe Tread Ripper in the upcoming Retaliation line - complete with a new weapon and pilot-protecting roll-cage. I'm certainly pleased to see Hasbro making these changes, as the Attack Scout is certainly a good foundation to build upon.

But sadly, this is a Review of the HISS Attack Scout, not the Tread Ripper or even of the vehicle's potential and - as such - I have to report that whilst there's a lot of good stuff here, such as some great sculpt detail, a nice colour scheme and a good articulation set-up with the tracks, it's just not quite there as a must-have vehicle. If you've a spare $8.99 (plus tax) and you're looking for a new vehicle - especially one to customise - then this is a pretty good investment. But I do feel sorry for those collectors who shelled-out more than the Ross asking price when this vehicle went on sale, as in my view it's simply not worth the aftermarket price.

A solid enough but flawed vehicle with an equally acceptable bundled driver.

Cobra HISS Driver
Sculpt and DesignB
Extras and Accessories B-
Final ScoreB

HISS Attack Scout
Sculpt and DesignB
Extras and AccessoriesB-
Final ScoreB

Final ScoreB

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