REVIEW: G.I. JOE COLLECTORS' CONVENTION 2009 - CRIMSON COMMAND COPTER
There's one thing you can pretty well count on at essentially every Official G.I. Joe Collectors' Convention that take place these days.
That is, along with whatever cool exclusive sets (12" and 3-3/4") are announced in advance of the Convention, there's going to be some very impressive -- "outside the box" items available. These generally take the form, especially in the 3-3/4" side of things, of additional figures and vehicles, that coincide with the theme of the main set itself.
From 2009, one of the most impressive items was a vehicle, called the CRIMSON COMMAND COPTER.
This was not the first item in the G.I. Joe line to bear this name, but it is certainly an extremely impressive one, nevertheless.
Helicopters have been a part of the G.I. Joe line almost as long as helicopters have been a part of modern warfare. Helicopters in their most recognizable form, although designed and built in the first half-century of flight, didn't really become practical, or even produced in significant numbers, until 1942. Both the Nazis and the Allies used helicopters, admittedly on a limited basis, during World War II, and even then, both sides were inclined to use them mostly for observation, rescue, and medical evacuation. Obviously, that's no longer the case today, as helicopters have numerous military applications, as well as civilian ones, of course.
The first helicopters in the G.I. Joe line came along in 1983, with the small Cobra FANG, and the larger G.I. Joe Dragonfly, which also introduced us to its pilot, one of the most popular characters in the concept, Wild Bill. Several years later, the G.I. Joe team would receive the Tomahawk, a huge, multi-passenger, double-rotor helicopter which is extremely impressive.
But the choppers would continue over the years, with the likes of the Cobra Mamba, the rather peculiar G.I. Joe Retaliator, the almost cute G.I. Joe Locust, and others. A transport copter for Cobra that turned up on numerous occasions within the comic book was sadly never made into a toy. Destro and his Iron Grenadiers even came up with the Dominator, a helicopter that could pull double-duty as a tank.
The first Crimson Command Copter was released as part of the newsculpt line, during the 2002-2006 run. A recoloration and slight reconstruction (the rotors and some of the weapons add-ons were different) of a previous helicopter belonging to the G.I. Joe team -- and in a CGI animated adventure it was shown that Cobra actually captured it from the G.I. Joes, which had to be a bit embarrassing, this initial Crimson Command Copter was a massive vehicle, in a size range to the Tomahawk, although not quite as passenger-friendly. It had plenty of bells and whistles thanks to a tendency at the time to add various sound effects and other gimmickry. And initially, at least, it was pretty tough to find, doubtless because it was (a) an impressive copter, and (b) it came with the newsculpt versions of Tomax and Xamot, the Crimson Guard Commanders, who couldn't be had through other means. Later on, the CCC would become more readily available, but for a while there, you'd've thought it was a stealth craft.
Apparently, sometime between then and now, the Crimson Twins decided that flying around in such a massive helicopter made them too easy a target. So we have the new Crimson Command Copter, which made its debut not just at the Convention, but on the cover illustration for the boxed set, and in the accompanying comic book!
The cover to the boxed CRIMSON STRIKE TEAM set, a striking painting by Larry Selman, has the Baroness in the foreground, the Crimson Twins directly behind her, and a phalanx of Crimson-uniformed Vipers lined up to the side. This assemblage of evil seems to be staged in a large Cobra arena. They appear to be outdoors, with a distant wall and Cobra flags flying high, with tall parapets with the Cobra and Crimson Guard emblems emblazoned on them.
The comic book that accompanies the set, titled "Crimson Reign", also debuts the Crimson Command Copter. The storyline features a small international team of members affiliated to one degree or another with G.I. Joe -- Europe's Action Force, South America's Comandos Heroicos, etc. Cobra -- or more to the point, the Twins and the Baroness -- have set up a large mining facility in Patagonia, Argentina. Additionally, they are recruiting Vipers for their own Crimson Strike Team.
The international team manages to break up the operation, and confront Tomax and Xamot, who manage to protect themselves behind a bulletproof shield. Since one of the things being mined was uranium, obviously the concern is that Cobra has plans to build a nuclear bomb.
The Twins react to this accusation with indignation, stating, "What? Oh, please, what are we..." "Barbarians? It's nothing so pedestrian and wasteful as that!" They explain that the uranium being mined powers their operation, while the gold being mined funds it. And once you've got money and power, the only thing left is cutting-edge science. Which in this case is being used to develop cutting-edge weapons.
Including the new Crimson Command Copter, which features a micronized nuclear power plant, and nano-forged depleted uranium-titanium composite armor. The Copter is the prototype, and the Twins have every intention of taking it for a test spin on the "meddlesome Joes", or, as the other Twin specifies, "their various multinational counterparts..."
Impressive as it may be, the Crimson Command Copter is brought down, but it takes a lot of firepower and a fairly insane stunt by one of the Comandos to accomplish it, and even so, Tomax and Xamot survive, wondering which one of them really has broken an arm, ultimately deciding to leave it up to the Medi-Vipers to sort it out.
Well, you hardly expected Cobra to win, did you? And just because it crashed in the comic, doesn't mean that the Crimson Command Copter isn't a cool toy. You can either re-enact the comic book, or figure that once they mended, Tomax and Xamot went ahead and built another one!
And now we come to the toy. I discovered the source of the Crimson Command Copter entirely by accident. I was in a toy department at Target, which had a considerable display of G.I. Joe toys related to the live-action movie. This included Target's exclusives. This included their exclusive R.H.I.N.O. vehicle, a recoloration of the original R.H.I.N.O., which had been released at the tale end of the newsculpt line, first as an online DTC exclusive, and then briefly turning up at Toys "R" Us stores.
And there was the copter. Differently colored, of course. The new R.H.I.N.O. looks to be a light grey-blue, not a crimson red. And the original R.H.I.N.O. was black. But there was the helicopter segment, right down to the jagged pattern on the canopy framework.
The R.H.I.N.O., a very impressive item in its own right, is essentially a two-part vehicle. It's a rolling, wheeled, ground-based battle wagon, that happens to have as its centerpiece a detachable attack helicopter!
Let's have a closer look at the Crimson Command Copter, and let me qualify that "just". The CCC is not a small vehicle. It's not just some tiny portion of a mid-sized vehicle that's been tossed out for the Convention. The R.H.I.N.O. is a large piece of work, second only to the R.O.C.C. for sheer size during the last days of the newsculpt era, and they're both considerable vehicles. And the helicopter portion of the R.H.I.N.O. was a considerable portion of that vehicle. This isn't something that's going to be swatted down by a FANG or a Locust. It's going to do the swatting.
The Crimson Command Copter, from nose to tail, is about 14" in length. That's a respectable size in this scale. With its side wings extended, it has a wingspan of about seven inches. It's not that tall, only about 4" with propeller raised, but that makes it look sleeker and faster.
The Crimson Command Copter has been molded in crimson red, as one would expect. A very distinctive paint pattern has been developed for it. There are no labels with this vehicle. Under other circumstances, I might miss that, but in this case, the paint work has been done so effectively that labels would probably end up cluttering the look of the vehicle.
The body around the canopy, on the top, has been given silver trim. This turns to a black line of trim on the side. There is additional silver trim on the sides and the tail structure of the Copter, all very neatly done, and all quite angular in appearance, adding to both the sleekness and menace of the craft.
Large Cobra emblems have been imprinted in silver, on the sides and top of the Copter. Impressively, the specific, classic Crimson Guard insignia has also been imprinted on the vehicle, on the front of the canopy. The only other paint on the vehicle is the canopy frame. The canopy was molded in transparent blue, and the frame around it, on the same mold, had to be painted crimson, and it's a perfect match. All of this paint work has been done with a phenomenal degree of precision and neatness that every toy company on the planet should sit up and take notice of. This is how it's done, people, and it can be done!
The Crimson Command Copter has a number of interesting features. The double-bladed rotor, which is nearly a foot at full extension, can be folded back, and then snapped down into the rear of the tail. This is a carryover from the R.H.I.N.O., when it was necessary for the copter to be able to do this. The two side wings are on springs, and can be folded up, for the same reason.
The canopy raises and -- surprise! It's a double seater. Well, if that doesn't make this thing Tomax and Xamot's personal new airborne, heavily-armed-and-armored limousine, I don't know what does.
The Crimson Command Copter also comes with some other parts from the R.H.I.N.O. The R.H.I.N.O. was designed to have highly modular weaponry, and that's reflected on the copter portion, and has certainly been carried over to the Crimson Command Copter. It has the huge missile launchers from the R.H.I.N.O. These bulky pieces each accommodate three missiles, which have rather curiously been molded in blue. Although not spring-loaded, they are what I would call "pressure-fired". They snap into place and can be pushed from behind until they snap loose and launch.
Also recolored and reissued for the Crimson Command Copter is a long, angular, spring-loaded missile launcher, capable of firing a single missile, which is included, and is also molded in blue. There's also a smaller machine gun, molded in black.
There are various snap-on ports at various points on the Copter where these items can be utilized, including on the main body, the wings, and on the gun turret on the lower front. They work better some places than others. The large triple-missile launchers seem to fit on the wings best, although they make the wings look pretty weighted down as a result. However, they also make the copter look VERY heavily armed and capable of taking out just about anything. In this configuration, the single missile launcher and the machine gun can best be attached on the front turret.
If you want a sleeker looking copter, that's probably capable of greater speed, then leave off the large missile launchers, and attach the single missile launcher and the gun to either the wings, or the ports in the side of the Copter.
In short, a very impressive and distinctive helicopter, with plenty of features and "play value" thrown in. By the way, just for fun, I decided to see if it would fit in the designated place in the R.H.I.N.O. I'm not sure why I questioned whether it would or not, and I'm not sure why you'd want it to, but -- of course, it does.
So, what's my final word on this? I'm impressed. I'm also very glad to know where this copter came from. But honestly, its origins are less important than the fact that it is an extremely cool and extremely impressive helicopter, assigned to one of the most dangerous factions within the ranks of Cobra.
I have no idea what the availability of this vehicle will be when you read this review. In any case, if you have a good opportunity to acquire this item, then I strongly urge you to do so. Any G.I. Joe collector would be very pleased to add this fine helicopter to their collection.
The 2009 G.I. JOE OFFICIAL COLLECTORS' CONVENTION CRIMSON COMMAND COPTER most definitely has my highest recommendation!