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By Thomas Wheeler

The original G.I.JOE SNOW CAT was released in 1985, and was a decidedly impressive vehicle. It was an arctic half-track, with wheels up front and "simulated" treads in the back. It looked entirely plausible, and fairly menacing, with a brace of missiles in a rack on the top near the back and odd "ski-torpedos" on the sides. It came with a nicely done figure named Frostbite. Both were molded almost entirely in white.

The next time the Snow Cat turned up was in 1988, renamed the TIGER CAT, and was part of TIGER FORCE. This version looked very cool, with the distinctive Tiger Force paint scheme, and also came with a recolored Frostbite. Same as the 1985 version moldwise, but with a brown coat, tiger pants, and, curiously, red hair instead of the original black. (Interestingly, a 1993 Fristbite figure would be given sort of brown hair -- a compromise?).

The final use of the Snow Cat was in 1993, as part of the STREET FIGHTER line. It was renamed and assigned to SAGAT. This time it was molded in purple. This was strange, but it was still a cool looking vehicle. Given the penchant then for spring-loaded missile launchers, which the original Snow Cat had not been equipped with, a small launcher was attached to the top of the missile rack.

Now we're in 2003, and the Snow Cat is back as a Toys "R" Us Exclusive. Gone, thankfully, is the purple coloration. In its place is a truly superb arctic CAMOUFLAGE color scheme that makes the Snow Cat seem more menacing than ever!

The vehicle has undergone a few revisions. The "ski-torpedos" are gone, sadly. I rather liked them. The spring-loaded missile launcher from the Street Fighter incarnation has been retained. Added is a device to allow the Snow Cat to have the "Sound Attack" gimmick that so much of G.I.Joe has been saddled with in the past year.

Unfortunately, you can tell that it's an add-on. It's been designed to snap onto the back of the vehicle, with a huge cannon-like gun that can snap onto either of the former ski-torpedo posts. I'm sure Hasbro put in some hard work to make this look like it was part of the vehicle, but it just doesn't quite work. Maybe if the sound pack had been molded in the arctic colors instead of black, which only matches the underside of the vehicle.

The figure that comes with the Snow Cat is named Frostbite, but in reality, it's a renamed Snow Job. This is NOT a complaint. It's still a perfectly fine figure, and done in the classic style of 3-3/4" G.I.Joes.

My only other complaint is with regard to the labels. While I am pleased that a label SHEET is included instead of pre-applied labels, I rather wish they'd been printed on clear vinyl instead of white paper. Using them blocks out the excellent arctic camouflage paint job on the vehicle itself, and I found myself getting very selective about which labels I wanted to use.

However, I do have to say that the labels and the sound device are minor complaints for an otherwise truly excellent vehicle. Assembling it, and labeling it to the extent that I did, very definitely brought back memories of assembling and labeling G.I.Joe vehicles in years past, an enjoyable activity that does not often come along these days.

And the Snow Cat looks truly impressive in its new colors. The arctic camouflage paint job on the main body of the vehicle truly makes it stand out. Makes me wish we had snow around here more often.

Overall, I most heartily recommend the G.I.JOE SNOW CAT to any longtime fan of the G.I.Joe concept. You will be very pleased with this new version of a superb classic vehicle. YO JOE!