Air Devil (1992)
I bought my first GI Joe vehicle back in 1983, the Falcon glider with Grunt. It was basically a foam glider that was counterweighted by attaching the figure to the harness. Naturally it was fragile and quickly broke, but it did fly well, and it was a fun toy while it lasted.
Fast forward to 1991 and Hasbro’s release of a series of new gliders and pilots. This time the gliders were smaller and made of a durable light plastic. Hey, no broken rudders on the first landing! The concept was the same as before, only these smaller gliders were more prone to loop and dive than travel long distances.
The Air Devil is a unique figure that, like most of the other Air Commandos, was completely new and also included new and interesting weapons and accessories. The most striking of which is the movable face shield. The suit is appropriate for a glider trooper, with its padded design, long gloves and jump boots. 90’s figures are often derided because of their outlandish colors, but here the color scheme is simple yet effective. Red and black always work well together for Cobra troops. Silver grenades add just a bit of color to keep things interesting. I think the simple scheme makes a lot of sense considering the character’s specialty of infiltration and ambush.
The file card describes these troops as ambushers and infiltrators first (they only get three days of training on their vehicle–Yikes!) the glider is simply a means to get them inserted behind enemy lines. I am reminded of the US paratroops during the Normandy invasion of WWII, being dropped, lightly armed into enemy territory, and expected to procure heavier weapons as needed. I can even see these troops taking it one step further and donning enemy uniforms as well. This sort of detail is nice to see in Cobra forces, as I’ve always liked to see them branch out beyond the usual generic blue shirts and Vipers. A solid and unique design combined with an interestingly developed specialty make for one of my favorite Cobra troops.