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By Thomas Wheeler

Among the Toys "R" Us exclusive re-releases of 3-3/4" G.I.Joe vehicles such as the Snow Cat and Conquest X-30 (see other reviews) is what I have to consider a slightly skewed entry -- the COBRA RATTLER, arguably one of the most popular aircraft in the G.I.Joe/Cobra line-up.

This new edition is its fourth version. Originally released in 1984, in traditional "Cobra blue", this aircraft is based largely on the real-life A-10, a United States Air Force combat jet that is frequently seen in the skies above Tucson where I reside. However, the Rattler has a VTOL (Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing) function that the real-life A-10 does not have.

Other versions of the Cobra Rattler include its 1988 Tiger Force "Tiger Rat" incarnation, its 1998 edition as a G.I.Joe plane specifically designated "A-10 Thunderbolt", done in a very nice dark green, and now in 2002 it returns to its Cobra roots and its original name -- with a rather interesting color scheme.

The newest version of the Cobra Rattler has been done in metallic copper. When I saw the pictures of this plane on the Internet, I was skeptical. It just looked -- odd. But I eventually decided to purchase it. Surprisingly enough to me, the color scheme isn't bad at all. The copper looks better than I thought, and is mitigated somewhat by a fair amount of black trim that isn't bad at all. The red trim is a little on the garish side, but tolerable. For the most part, this newest version of the Cobra Rattler is most satisfactory.

I wish this could be an entirely positive review, but it can't. The new Rattler has two notable problems. The first is the distinct lack of a gunner's canopy. This was a deliberate omission because the new-style figures with their broader shoulders do not fit well into the narrow canopy, and the figure that comes with the Rattler is a new-style Neo-Viper body with a new head, given the name of the original Rattler pilot, Wild Weasel. This omission has driven up the prices of Rattler "parts" auctions on eBay rather considerably.

The second problem has nothing to do with the figures, and I've asked around, and the Rattler I bought wasn't the only one to suffer from this. The assembly of the Rattler includes a square metal rod, to which both wings are attached. This allows the VTOL feature to work. Unfortunately, the metal rod that I received is somewhat skewed along its long axis. That is, its square lines do not line up. The end result is that neither do the wings. When one wing of the Rattler is all the way in the "down" position, the other one -- isn't quite.

Of all Rattler incarnations, this is the first time this has happened, and I really wonder why. I also wonder how it can be corrected. I wonder if Home Depot or some hobby shop might sell metal rods in this size and shape. I intend to investigate the matter.

I won't say that I can't recommend the new Cobra Rattler. The color scheme is better than I expected it to be, and the overall design of the plane is one of the best for the G.I.Joe line as a whole. But this latest version does have a couple of glitches, as stated, that the buyer should be aware of. If you're willing to accept them, or find a way to correct them, then the new Cobra Rattler is a perfectly fine addition to anyone's G.I.Joe Collection.