Monday, March 7, 2011

[Review] G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra Mantis Attack Craft

Note: This review was originally posted at TS118's Proboards site on August 12, 2009.

Today, we'll discuss the difference between a manta ray and a mantis, just because Hasbro failed to distinguish one from the other. So, let's consult the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary!

Manta ray (noun): any of several extremely large rays (genera Manta and Mobula) that are widely distributed in warm seas and have enlarged pectoral fins resembling wings

Mantis (noun): any of an order or suborder (Mantodea and especially family Mantidae) of large usually green insects that feed on other insects and clasp their prey in forelimbs held up as if in prayer 

So, what do we really have here, a Manta ray or a Mantis?

Upon opening the box, we have:

1. The Mantis Attack Craft (requires some easy assembly as one turbine and the tail are not yet attached to the main body)
2. An Aqua-Viper Officer figure with his gear (helmet, backpack, rifle)
3. A sticker sheet
4. An instruction manual
5. Four missiles

Note that the turbines can easily be removed from, or attached to the body. The same can't be said about the tail. The tail installation seems to be a one-time assembly affair. So, people who open the box just to check the toy out, better pay attention. Don't plug the tail if you have plans of putting the Mantis back in its box.

So, let's check the Mantis out!

The Mantis is just a rehashed VvV Sting Raider (2004). It may not be a new vehicle, but this is still one beautiful ride! The colors are great, and the design is very sleek and futuristic.

The Mantis has foldable fin tips, a pretty neat feature especially for kids.  Imagine this: the Mantis needs to go somewhere tight, and less width is needed for it to be able to pass through. No problem, just fold the fin tips, and presto!

The Mantis also has expandable fins! Just pull the fins outward, and missile launchers are revealed! Note that the missiles can only be loaded into the launchers when the fins are in this position, despite the missile holes on the fins. Also, missiles can only be fired when the fins are in this position, as the launch buttons are not accessible when the fins are in normal position. Another good play feature that is very much welcome.

We can also notice that there is a capture claw on the front of the Mantis. Pulling both sides of the claw outwards puts the claw in open position, and pressing the gray button on the middle of the Mantis' hood causes the claw to snap close. The claw holds a 1:18 figure well, perfect for simulating a captured Joe. Also, on the underside (belly), the Mantis has three free-rolling wheels.

The Mantis is a single-seater attack craft. Just lift the canopy up to reveal a very nice and comfy cockpit. It can accomodate even a geared up Aqua-Viper Officer! How's that for space? The control stick can be moved slightly (up and down), to help you in fitting the figure inside.

Regarding the weapons, aside from the missile launchers, the Mantis also has a gun turret located under its tail which swivels a full 360 degrees. Maybe you're wondering why there are four missiles when we only have two launchers. Well, the other two missiles can be placed on the fins. There's a tab above each fin that fits snugly on  the slot under each missile.

My only qualm about this set is about the stickers. The Mantis is a vertically symmetrical craft. The stickers should have been made symmetrical as well to make them fit on their designated spots properly. Unfortunately, the stickers are not symmetrical. They fit well on the vehicle's left side, but on the right, they're a bit so-so. A very minor complaint, maybe it's just me nit-picking.

Now, let's talk about the included figure: the Aqua-Viper Officer.

The Aqua-Viper Officer is simply a repaint of the 25th Anniversary Lamprey figure, but with a different head sculpt. The Defense of Cobra Island 7-pack Lamprey has a non-removable helmet, but the Aqua-Viper Officer has a removable one. Underneath the helmet is a new head-sculpt, a welcome surprise considering how much Hasbro loves to reuse available parts.

It's a good figure with very nice colors. The figure comes with a helmet, a backpack, and a rifle. He has a leg holster, but he has no pistol. All geared up, he looks like one menacing guy. A truly great figure to accompany a very nice vehicle.

Overall, this is a fantastic set that I won't hesitate to recommend to casual Joe fans. Everything in this set is great, except for the stickers, and that's a very little issue that doesn't affect this set's total greatness. Get this one, and if you have lots of money, get lots of this baby right here. You can never have too many of this!

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