Crap, it's been a while since the last update...anyways, since time is sharply rolling on, and PoC Wave 4 is now winging its way to me, I'm gonna try and finish up Wave 3 before then, and now that the chaff of the wave (that'll be Arctic Storm Shadow) is out of the way, we're gonna talk about the stars of the show, the first being...a nameless, faceless Cobra grunt. How did that happen?
I blend into the night like I'm silhouetted by a massive black pillow. Wait...
The Shock Trooper - whose name and function seem almost wilfully vague, something I'll come back to later - looks to be entirely black plastic here, but he's actually more colourful than you'd think, thanks to judicious applications of midnight blue and a couple shades of grey across his body, which really help to make him look...well, not like a ninja, which is good. The last thing G.I. Joe needs is more damn ninjas.
"Has anyone seen the other half of my badge?"
The detail work on the sculpt is just astounding; obviously, the influence primarily comes from real-life SWAT officers, and the Shock Trooper has a similarly overburdened vest and thick gloves, not to mention padding on his arms and that curious balaclava/cowl combination head. The edge of the cowl has a tendency to get stuck on the vest when you turn the head, which restricts his articulation a bit, but it's hardly a deal-breaker. And I really love how the Cobra emblem on the shirt is only half-visible, as if one side of it is obscured by the items fitted to the vest (not actually the case - the vest is all one piece, Hasbro just carefully cut off one side of the logo).
Show us dat ass.
Things are much the same around the back, with the ribbed 'counter-weights' used in real-life to balance against the weight of all the junk stuck to the vest's front, and some more Cobra paintwork down one side. He also has a handle jutting out from just under his collar, though I'm buggered if I know what it's there for. Maybe so it's easier for one of his mates to drag him along the floor mid-firefight, Army of Two style?
"I know kung fu...except for the bits about taking your jacket off quickly.
Skipped that part of the movie."
Articulation is, as you might expect, fantastic for such a small figure. It's not quite perfect, thanks largely to the detail work on the arms, which clutters the elbow joints a bit and prevents them from reaching a perfect 90-degree angle. But wait!
"Yeah, I'm pointing at you!"
"Whassup wit dat?"
The new wrist articulation! GLORY BE!!!! Previously seen on the PoC Jungle-Viper and the SDCC Sgt. Slaughter figures (neither of which have shown up on this blog yet), this gives him an extra hinge on each wrist which, for some reason, don't actually match; so the left hand goes forwards palm-first, whilst the right goes up-and-down in a 'chopping' sort of way. Still, new joints is new joints, and again, I'll come back to it later, because they really do help here.
I hope you're not expecting a funny caption about a hat.
The helmet is, again, very SWAT, and features detachable goggles which don't have a long enough strap to fit down over the Shock Trooper's eyes. I'd complain about that, except I'm starting to expect it with my Joes, and you could always treat it as a nod to the classic series Vipers, who had similarly nonfunctional goggles on their helmets (which they didn't need, since they wore fully-enclosed masks). Speaking of which, the Shock Trooper does still have the option of concealing his face in a different way...
Weirdest gas mask to not be worn by a guy called 'Vader' EVER.
No, that doesn't look like it would work very well, does it? It's just a bunch of filters stuck to a curved bit of perspex. Combined with the helmet, though, it all comes together very nicely.
Now that's better, isn't it? What's especially cool is that, under the right lighting, the mask retains its translucency and lets you see the trooper's eyes through it. Try clicking on the pic to enlarge it for an example.
So, we've established that the Shock Trooper is a good-looking and (mostly) well-articulated figure, but what about his guns? Like most PoC figures, this guy comes almost drowning in accessories, and by and large, they're all winners.
For all your home-protection needs.
The main rifle is a model I'm not familiar with. I'm not even entirely sure it's based on a real gun at all. That said, it does look believable, and the curved 'banana' clip is very AK-47ish - apt, since that was the preferred weapon for all basic Cobra Troopers back in the day.
"SARGE! Package tango inbound!"
"Oh, have my fizzy drinks arrived? Thank christ, I'm bloody parched."
Here's where the NEW SOOPAH WRISTS come into play; they really do help him get rifles with stocks into decent firing positions, something a good many Joes have issues with.
We meet again, old faithful...
This shotgun - a SPAS-12 if I'm not mistaken - is probably one of the most well-used moulds amongst all the 'generation 3' accessories Hasbro's been churning out since the 25th Anniversary range started. I'm pretty certain it was Flint's to begin with, but his was made from green plastic, which looked...ergh. It had some pretty good innings in the Rise of Cobra line, particularly with Night Adder and the Elite-Viper from the troop builder pack, and now it's back again...
Gawd dang it, bubbah, that ain't how ya kill us a deer!
...except it doesn't seem quite so well-suited this time around. Even the SOOPAH WRISTS can't quite allow the Shock Trooper to lift the thing into a good firing position, which is a shame, as it's otherwise still a well-sculpted weapon and quite fitting for a SWAT operation, where most fighting will be done up close and personal.
The red paint makes the bullets go faster. It's SCIENCE.
This, on the other hand, seems to be new. It's an MP5k, which is what happens if you take the usual MP5 submachine-gun favoured by American counter-terrorism units and shrink it down to a size where it fits in an attache case comfortably. The weapon has been seen before with some other figures - Resolute Destro has one inside his M.A.R.S. case - but this is a newly-tooled version, and very nicely tooled it is too. And to make the detailing stand out a little more, Hasbro added some red markings on each side, which is a rare thing to see.
"Sorry about before - I'm allergic to buckshot."
Despite his shotgun failings, Shock Trooper can manage a dual grip on the MP5k, using both the handle and the small foregrip just beneath the barrel. But of course, a gun this small is the sort of thing that's bound to wind up being fired single-handedly...
"YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE! HAHAHA - er, please
don't fly low over any trees, pilot."
...such as when hanging from the underside of a Cobra Gunship mid-flight. Honestly, sometimes these things just happen.
Next on the armaments list is what I'm guessing to be a taser pistol. I know next to nothing about this sort of weapon, but the blunt, blocky front end of the pistol and the lack of, say, a slide or bullet chamber make me pretty certain that's what it is. Unfortunately, I seem to have utterly failed to take a good picture of it, so instead, here's the Shock Trooper using it to 'contain' Duke.
Shock Trooper: "Squeal, piggy! Squeal!"
Duke: *zapping noise*
So that's another fairly nice addition, even though Cobra - or my Cobra, anyway - aren't terribly bothered about taking people alive. But what's that in his hand...?
"Ah, the dulcet tones of Chris Moyles - they always put me in a murdering sort of mood."
He's got a radio! I love that. Y'know how few Joes (and Cobras) come with some sensible means of keeping in touch with one another? Very few indeed. And given the retro bent so many Joes are keen on, it's hard to imagine most of them packing high-tech Codec-style communication setups. So it's very cool to see a basic grunt remembering that, at some point or another, someone may wish to talk to him without shouting through several rooms.
Well, that's certainly the least interesting picture I've ever taken.
Yeah, it's not a terribly exciting piece of plastic by itself, but I still like its inclusion. Plus, it's got its own little storage space too...
"I'm sure I had that radio on me when I sat down..."
There it is, on the back of his belt, exactly where it should be. Sweetness!
Would sir like some ninja with his soldier today?
And then there's these things...okay, I can see how they look like cattle-prods, so they're some sort of electrified stun baton or suchlike. Fair enough, it goes with the SWAT theme and the taser pistol. But why are they joined by a string?
Enter the dragon. The battle-armoured, begoggled dragon.
So they're stun-nunchuks, I suppose. Blargh. And to be honest, they're a little too thin for Shock Trooper to grip effectively. Double Blargh. Probably the weakest feature of the figure in hindsight, so it's just as well they're not really vital for anything.
This, on the other hand, is something I can get behind. It's a hammer - a great big ol' sledge-hammer. Okay, so maybe a 'door knocker' battering ram would've been a more sensible choice if we're going for the SWAT theme, but this is more workable, and somewhat multi-functional.
Okay, I give up...you can't touch this.
In case you were wondering - yes, Shock Trooper can grip the hammer with both hands very easily, and looks bloody mean when he does. Maybe it's my inner WWE fan talking, but there's something more vicious about a sledge-hammer than there is a knife or sword; if Jim Ross was a war correspondent, he'd be better at it than Michael Cole was - and I can imagine him yelling about "business" and how it has "just picked up" whenever Shock Trooper goes to town on some Joes with this nasty lump of menace.
Raging battle-cries? Yup, the hammer helps with that, too. Though I suspect that its primary use shall inevitably be smacking Joes upside the head.
Now we're talking.
Oh hell yes. I love riot shields. Not sure why - maybe something to do with Urban Chaos: Riot Response on PS2, or Crisis Squad in the arcade. Whatever, point is, there's nothing cooler than carrying your own cover, essentially, and G.I. Joe as a whole has been lacking a good example up 'til now. Even Shockwave, the Joes' own SWAT specialist, never had one. But this, oh, this will do nicely. It's predominantly translucent, as these things should be; maybe a bit too 'clean' - I'd mark out if it had a few bullet marks and scrapes across the surface - but it's still nice. And of course, it has COBRA scribbled on it, in case you forget who carries the thing.
Can't think of anything relevant to put here, so...
The grip works like on a real riot shield, with a 'loop' to thread the wearer's arm through as well as a bar to hold in their hand.
Modelling this year's must-have item...
And here's how it fits on the Shock Trooper. It can be quite difficult to force his arm far enough in to make his fingers wrap around the handgrip, but the shield stays on and stays in position firmly.
Finally, a Cobra Trooper with a chance of surviving longer than 5 seconds?
So then, we have safely established that, pointless stun-chuks aside, this is one seriously badass figure with seriously badass gear. I can give it a 10/10 mark and leave it at that.
Ever since I first saw this guy, there's been two issues with him in my mind, and sadly, they're still here. Firstly, there's the fact that, if it weren't for a few logos painted onto the gear, this guy wouldn't look like a Cobra operative. Cobra, in most cases, likes to show off and either make its guys dress incredibly formal or attach all manner of odd, impractical stylistic flourishes to their battle armour because...well, because they're the bad guys, dammit, and bad guys are weird like that. The Shock Trooper, in that sense, is disappointingly normal. If Hasbro had painted him blue, he'd be a Joe. Shockwave, specifically. (note to Hasbro: if you want to actually paint this guy blue and re-release him otherwise unaltered, as Shockwave...no objections here)
Also, there's the question of what his actual job is within the Cobra hierarchy. One of the head designers on the G.I. Joe team has been quoted as saying that the Shock Trooper is a 21st-century update to the old-school Cobra 'blueshirts', their basic infantrymen, but this is such a radical departure from those previous figures it's hard to see the evolution. Observe below as I compare Shocky with the closest figure I could find to a vintage trooper, the 25th-anniversary Crimson Guard:
"What the hell're you gonna do dressed like that?
Bust up an anti-Prop8 rally?"
Not the best picture, but you can clearly see that there's absolutely no common ground between these two guys. The 'Siegie' is tarted up with his jackboots and double-buttoned shirt whilst the Shock Trooper could be someone's online COD avatar.
And on top of that, there's the slight issue that we've already got one Cobra urban assault trooper class in the Pursuit of Cobra line, the fantastic Alley-Viper:
"Red again? Did I miss a memo or some shit?"
I can't very well replace the A-V with the Shock Trooper, because the A-V is far too cool a figure to drop, and with his stylised shield, inexplicably red vest and funky helmet, fits the Cobra style a lot better too. So who goes on missions and who stays behind at the Terror Drome to do the washing-up? Tough call.
Or maybe I'm overthinking this. I mean, Rise of Cobra, good as it was, gave us two terrible standard army-builders (Neo-Viper and Viper Commando) before slightly upping its game with the Ice-Viper, then finally striking gold with the Elite-Viper. PoC didn't really need to bother treating us to another classy Cobra trooper after the Alley-Viper (and I haven't even mentioned Jungle-Viper...), and yet Hasbro gave us one anyway. Why complain?
Overall rating for 'City Strike' Cobra Shock Trooper: 10/10
"Surrender to me, Wild Bill, or I'll smash your tiny helicopter to smithereens!"
"Git yer damn dirty paws off ma slick, varmint!"