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REVIEW: G.I. JOE THE RISE OF COBRA - TARGET EXCLUSIVE DRAGONFISH with WET-SUIT
By Thomas Wheeler

In conjunction with the live-action G.I. Joe movie, Target has produced a series of exclusive items. These consist of small vehicles, even smaller than the so-called "Alpha" series of vehicles in the movie line that are available at all retailers, accompanied by a figure. One of the cooler one of these that I recently purchased is called the DRAGONFISH, and it comes with a figure of WET-SUIT.

Although I believe "Dragonfish" to be a new vehicle name, the vehicle itself isn't. Apart from having a secondary usage in this same Target exclusive line, where it was named the Wave Crusher, its original appearance, also under the name Wave Crusher, actually came several years ago, in the so-called "newsculpt" line, when it was sold with a new diver character named Depth Charge.

It was first released in 2003. It was a G.I. Joe vehicle, colored mostly dark blue and a sort of yellow orange, and came with a new G.I. Joe character named Depth Charge. It was part of the Spy Troops line, so it had a Cobra emblem sculpted into the swivel pole.

The Wave Crusher put in a second appearance in 2005, as part of the Valor vs. Venom line. Once again a G.I. Joe vehicle, it was colored in grey and yellow orange, and once again came with Depth Charge, who'd picked up a new diving suit, the colors of which were closer to the vehicle this time around.

Although there's no particular vehicle description on the package, it is "able to transform from a water sled to a jet ski", and that's a pretty accurate description.

There have been water sleds and the like in the G.I. Joe line before, on both sides of the battle. But I have to say that I am very impressed with this one. It's an amazingly detailed and intricate little watercraft, especially for one that doesn't really have a lot of moving parts involved.

It comes fully assembled, which it would pretty much have to. Upon inspection of the vehicle, one notices that it's assembled with a series of six screws on the underside. Unlike the "snap together" nature of most of the "build it yourself" vehicles of the G.I. Joe line -- not that I ever disliked that, I rather enjoyed putting most of them together -- there's no real way that the Dragonfish could have come unassembled. That's fine.

The level of detail is really quite remarkable. I won't say "more than expected", since I've always had high expectations of G.I. Joe product. It's just that the Dragonfish does such a superb job of meeting those expectations.

The Dragonfish is, in basic shape, sort of an angular vehicle. It has a wide, angled front, that tapers distinctly in the back. There is a platform that comprises approximately the rear two-thirds of the main vehicle, which can be used either for standing in jet-ski mode, or laying flat in water sled mode.

The front part of the vehicle, essentially the frame and main body, has been painted steel blue, certainly a new color for any version of this vehicle. The platform, which has ridged detailing on it, I presume to make it look somewhat padded, is colored a very dark blue. The underside of the vehicle is entirely dark blue.

In the rear of the Dragonfish are two small propeller engines. Then either side of the Dragonfish are two additional propeller engines (so maybe the ones in the back are just for jet-ski mode, perhaps?). These are colored a sort of silver grey. The framework around the propellers in the back is also colored greyish silver, but the propellers themselves have been painted a brighter silver.

Up front are two machine guns, and underneath are two small torpedoes, which despite appearances are not removable. There's also two small handle grips under there, the function of which I can't quite determine. These are also all in the silver-grey color. The only other significant color detailing on the Dragonfish is a bit of bright silver piping on the black platform.

In water sled mode, the Dragonfish has a set of handlebars which snap into the front of the black platform. To transform the vehicle into jet ski mode, you remove the handlebars, rotate the center drive pole up from underneath the vehicle, and snap the handlebars into the top of the pole. It is reasonable to assume that Wet-Suit is going to decide beforehand which mode he wants to use before taking the Dragonfish into battle. It doesn't look like it would be very practical to try to switch midway through.

The Dragonfish also comes with a missile, which can be fired out of a spring-loaded launcher that is actually the jet ski drive pole, when the vehicle is in water sled mode. It won't work in jet ski mode.

The only real giveaway as to the previous incarnations of this vehicle being either Cobra-based or disguised to look like a Cobra vehicle as part of the SpyTroops like is a somewhat Cobra-shaped flat area on the pole itself. This, however, it at least lesser than the fully-sculpted Cobra insignia that the original 2003 Wave Crusher had.

What surprised me a little bit, and perhaps it shouldn't have, was that the Dragonfish did come with a small supply of labels, which the buyer gets to apply himself. This is definitely the preferable option for me, as I tend to be very picky about the placement of these and like to do it myself. Most of these are fairly straightforward, although the display screen one is not the easiest fit in the world.

Additionally, the movie emblem for the G.I. Joe team, the "eagle shield" shape, has been imprinted on the base of the pole, in white. It's hardly the first symbology to be used within G.I. Joe, and if you're trying to mesh some of the movie equipment with a larger G.I. Joe collection that doesn't use the movie emblem, just write it off as something applied only to certain vehicles.

I haven't put it to the rest, but I rather doubt that the Dragonfish actually floats. It MIGHT, but the front area where the drive pole rotates upward from underneath might sink. If nothing else, I'd be a little worried about rusting the screws with too much water use, even if it does float. The Dragonfish is probably best suited for imaginary sea battles.

Then we have WET-SUIT. Although I don't believe he was actually in the movie, certainly this is a character with a lot of G.I. Joe history. He's technically the G.I. Joe team's second SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land), having been introduced into the line in 1986.

The character file cards that come with the movie-based toys are rather limited. Wet-Suit's reads as follows:

WET-SUIT
Brian C. Forrest
Petty Officer First Class (E-6)

Wet-Suit is a member of the G.I. Joe team with expertise in marine combat and underwater demolitions. He provides his expertise with freezing polar waters to help the team attack an arctic facility and retrieve dangerous nanomite weapon technology.

Wet-Suit was introduced in 1986, and as such, saw considerable media time in the second season of the original animated series. Here he was generally paired off with Leatherneck, a gruff Marine that had been introduced in the same year. Given the apparent rivalry between the Marines and the Navy SEALs.

Wet-Suit has had a number of uniforms over the years. His first uniform was a diving suit that was mostly a very pale turquoise, with a yellow-orange helmet. It looked a little overly colorful, but color perceptions tend to be different deep underwater, and it might well have been ideal for that. This is probably Wet-Suit's best known incarnation.

However, it didn't take Wet-Suit long at all to get a second uniform. That very same year, in 1986, Toys "R" Us produced the "Special Mission: Brazil" set, which featured four recolored G.I. Joe figures, and a new (cobbled together) character named Claymore. Wet-Suit was part of this special unit, and gained a very cool uniform, using the same molds, but the outfit was silver! Honestly, it was one of the coolest figures in the entire set.

Wet-Suit turned up again in a new figure format in 1992. This outfit was almost entirely black, with yellow trim, and revealed Wet-Suit's face on a figure for the first time, although it didn't look all that much like the character had appeared unmasked in the animated series. This figure was slightly recolored -- given red trim -- in 1993.

But the original Wet-Suit molds returned, for various use between 1998-2002. One was black with turquoise trim, another was black with blue trim, and a third was grey with black and white trim. All were quite impressive in their own rights.

Then Wet-Suit entered the newsculpt figure realm, and his first figure from that series had him wearing this rather high-tech-looking diving suit that was mostly white with blue trim!

Why do I bring all this up? Only to make this observation -- given the astounding number of color variations that Wet-Suit has had over the years, it's be really tough to say that this Wet-Suit figure that comes with the Dragonfish doesn't look enough like him. Look, the guy pulled another diving suit off the racks, okay?

This Wet-Suit figure is, of course, in the style of G.I. Joe figures that started to be used with the 25th Anniversary line, and have continued for the movie. The body molds have been used for quite a few underwater-type figures, including Torpedo, the Cobra Diver, a version of Deep Six, the Cobra Eel (including the Cobra Eel that comes with the Wave Crusher version of this vehicle), and I suspect the 25th Anniversary version of Wet-Suit himself, although to be perfectly honest, I never saw that figure in the stores.

Now, that may sound like excessive usage, but hey -- it's a decent design. It looks like a diving suit. Might as well use it.

For Wet-Suit, the diving suit is mostly black -- either that or such a phenomenally dark blue that it doesn't make any difference. Even in good light I'm not 100% sure. There is grey trim on the sides of the torso, and the outsides of the leg. Essentially it's the original Torpedo's color scheme in reverse, in this respect. The arms are black, with grey gloves.

Wet-Suit is wearing a diver's hood, but his face is visible. Does it look like Wet-Suit? Well -- well enough. It's a little hard to tell just from a face. It's a nicely detailed face, neatly painted, and with a surprising level of color, with brown eyebrows, the whites of the eyes, blue irises, and black pupils and an overline over the eyes.

Wet-Suit has the "eagle" emblem on his chest, and he's wearing an extra little harness over his chest and back, which is in keeping with Wet-Suit's more traditional appearance. He also has a diver's mask that snaps to his face, and connects to an oxygen tank that he can wear as a backpack. This tank, along with a little accessory in the box that looks like a little set of wings (I suppose in case the Dragonfish breaks down, he has a spare), are very much in keeping with the equipment that the original Wet-Suit came with in 1986, except in this instance, they're molded in grey.

He also has a very nice pair of swim fins, which I am happy to say are molded from a very flexible plastic. Used to be, especially in the original line, swim fins tended to be molded from rigid plastic. I never understood that.

Other accessories include a second hose which can be connected to the mask and the oxygen tank, a rifle, and a pair of knives, which Wet-Suit does have sheaths for on his uniform. All are very nicely detailed, including the silver blades and black handles on the knives. He also comes with a black display stand.

So, what's my final word here? Pretty much the same word I've been using with most of the G.I. Joe movie-related merchandise I've been reviewing. Whether or not you're interested in the movie, there's no shortage of interesting new toys available. Granted, many of them aren't even IN the movie. If Hasbro restricted themselves to that, I suspect it would be a rather limited toy line. I have no objection to "old favorites" being brought back if they're done well. They can be incorporated into any G.I. Joe collection, movie-based or not.

Certainly this Dragonfish is an impressive little vehicle. If you're looking for a very cool and impressive little vehicle to bolster the aquatic capabilities of your G.I. Joe team -- here it is. I don't impress easily when it comes to G.I. Joe, and the Dragonfish impresses me. And Wet-Suit's not a bad addition to this figure format, either.

The TARGET exclusive G.I. JOE DRAGONFISH with WET-SUIT definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!