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By Thomas Wheeler

When the first COBRA NIGHT ADDER turned up in early 2004, I honestly wasn't all that impressed with it. The vehicle, part of the VALOR vs. VENOM line, was clearly one of Cobra's vehicles infused with animal DNA or whatever, and with the scaly sculpting and red and black patterning, and painted eyes, looked just a little too weird, and looked like something that might've fit into some sort of "Python Patrol Extreme" concept.

However cool the Python Patrol concept might be for Cobra, the name "Extreme" is never a good thing to apply to G.I.Joe, after what happened the last time it was used...

At the G.I.Joe Convention, in the massive Hasbro-built diorama display, there was a Cobra Night Adder that had been colored mostly green. This was honestly a lot cooler-looking. Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to me, that color scheme will not be produced.

As such, I was a little surprised when, in the same shipment with the G.I.JOE DESERT HUMVEE, a third coloration of the Cobra Night Adder turned up. And honestly, this coloration helps it live up to its name a little better.

This version doesn't have the rather silly painted eyes, and the color scheme is mostly dark blue and black. The end result is a weird but sinister-looking flying craft, that's not going to be mistaken for some odd Python Patrol deviant.

It's hard not to see this vehicle as being based, at least conceptually, on the COBRA FIREBAT from 1986. It's as though Cobra's weapons designers took the basics of that rocket plane that was launched from the Cobra Terror Drome and streamlined it. The Night Adder is a sleeker ship by far, but there's still a bit of Firebat in its back-placed, rather small wings, and in the overall basic design. Where the Firebat's wings folded out, the Night Adder's wings extend outwards.

But there's also a bit of RATTLER in the Night Adder, as well. The ship is a two-passenger craft, with accommodations for a pilot and a gunner, in the back turret. The Night Adder is a flying attack jet that looks to have taken the best of several of Cobra's best conventional aircraft and while making them a little weird with the "Venom" concept, the end result is still an effective fighter.

There's certainly no shortage of "play value" in the toy. Some of the features on this vehicle make me think that it might have been originally intended for the "Sound Attack" line. Push a nicely concealed button on the back of one jet, and you can hear the engines roar. Lower the trigger handle on the bottom of the vehicle, and you can make four light-up "guns" on the wings move forward, fire, and retract, as the turret whips around quickly enough so that you hope whoever's sitting in the gunner's seat has an airsick bag. The "mouth" of the snake-headed like aircraft also opens up, emphasizing the animal-like characteristics that were more pronounced in the original color scheme, and the lower "jaw" includes a spring-loaded missile launcher.

About my only complaint with this vehicle is the pre-applied labels that include a number of "bullet-holes". Come on, already, if Cobra's pilots were this bad, they wouldn't be the threat to G.I.Joe that they've proven to be over the years. And it's certainly something of an insult to WILD WEASEL, generally regarded as Cobra's best pilot, and the figure that comes with this vehicle.

It's a new-style Wild Weasel, of course, and he's traded in his usual red-colored uniform for one in dark greyish blue to match the vehicle. Actually, while it makes him look a little less like the Wild Weasel we've come to know all these years, it also makes him look a good bit more dangerous. His file card reads as follows:

WILD WEASEL COBRA NIGHT ADDER PILOT File Name: CLASSIFIED Primary Military Specialty: Ground Support Pilot Birthplace: CLASSIFIED WILD WEASEL learned his trade flying for COBRA operations in every hemisphere in which the evil organization conducts its corrupt business. His knowledge of close support aircraft ranges from jury-rigged civilian conversions to state-of-the-art flying weapons platforms. when the COBRA ground forces are engaged in battle against GI JOE troops, WILD WEASEL swoops in to try and take out the enemy's armored vehicles. When he's in the cockpit of the NIGHT ADDER, he goes looking for trouble just so he can open up the side guns and launch a mouthful of missiles at any GI JOE aircraft unlucky enough to fly into his airspace. As wild and unpredictable as his code name, he'll even buzz his own guys just to amuse himself. "There's no place where GI JOE can run or hide when I'm in the cockpit!"

The Cobra Night Adder - blue version - isn't exactly the most military-looking fighter jet ever to come into the G.I.Joe Collection. But it's not bad at all, really, and the recoloration is definitely an improvement over the original red version. And if you have kids that enjoy G.I.Joe, then given the play value in this one, it's certain that they would enjoy it. On that basis, I definitely recommend the COBRA NIGHT ADDER.