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By Thomas Wheeler

Recently I reviewed the G.I.JOE NIGHT ATTACK CHOPPER, a surprisingly excellent addition to the G.I.Joe collection, a helicopter easily worthy of being part of any G.I.Joe 3-3/4" collection. So -- how do you take a cool copter and improve on it?

Simple -- re-do it in desert colors. Seems especially appropriate these days, too, for that matter.

That's what Hasbro has done. On top of that, just to add to its "collectability", the desert version of the NAC has proven annoyingly difficult to find. I tracked one down in a half-trashed box at the sole surviving K-Mart in Tucson, which is far enough from where I live that it's generally not worth the effort to head out that far, but I had other reasons for being on that side of town. Needless to say, the copter went directly to the cash register and then right into the trunk of my car until I completed my other business, and was then brought safely home!

So, how is it? Immensely cool. The original NAC was molded in black plastic and given dark green camouflage. This made some of the details, especially on the interior of the copter, difficult to get a decent look at, simply because the entire craft was so dark. Granted, this works well when you're called "Night Attack" Chopper, but maybe your owner wants a better look at you.

The desert version is molded in light tan with dark tan camouflage. As such, it's much easier to get a good look at the interior of the craft, and overall, somehow, it just looks more impressive. And it's just different-looking enough so that even when set on display next to the first NAC, they look sufficiently different that you really don't feel that all you bought was a cheap recoloring. You get the impression that you've bought a second helicopter designed for very different missions than its predecessor.

Some collectors have commented that the desert version of the NAC, especially, looks distinctly Soviet in design somehow, and a number have taken to customizing it into a chopper for the legendary OKTOBER GUARD forces. I'm content to leave mine among the ranks of G.I.Joe (my Oktober Guard troopers are welcome to borrow it), but I can certainly see their point.

Bottom line? Even if you own the original NAC (or if you don't -- either way, really), I HIGHLY recommend the Desert NIGHT ATTACK CHOPPER. Its package is also a different color, as it comes in the rather intense green "Spytroops" packaging instead of the basic "G.I.Joe vs. Cobra" packaging used throughout 2002. So it shouldn't be hard to spot in the stores ASSUMING you can find one. This bad boy's been scarce even on eBay! Should you be fortunate enough to find one, do not stand around pondering if it's worth the price, or thinking that you can come back later for it once you've made up your mind. GET IT. You won't regret the purchase.