Low-Light (Pursuit of Cobra)
It seems like one figure in every wave manages to completely blow the doors off the hinges and showcases just what Hasbro can really do and why the Joe line is still the best 3 ¾” (okay, closer to 4” or 4 ½” these days) action figure line currently on the shelves. What makes Pursuit of Cobra Low-Light so darn impressive is that none of his wave-mates were slouches. However, Low-Light was the perfect combination of nostalgia and newly-designed pieces that came together at just the right time and gave us easily one of the top five Joe figures put out since the line’s rebirth during its 25th anniversary. It also doesn’t hurt that this figure has the distinction of being the first modern Joe my older brother was willing to run down for me. I found all of his wave mates at a Wal-Mart in Liberty, MO while doing some research for my thesis at the Truman Library, but I was a little disappointed I couldn’t find Low-Light as well. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to find the others, but Low-Light still eluded me and that kind of bummed me out. My brother came through for me in a big way and this would be the first of many times he enabled my Joe-collecting addiction in the modern days.
This version of Low-Light is a testament to what Hasbro designers can do with smart allocation of tooling dollars. Low-Light shares a majority of his mold with the Pursuit of Cobra Beachhead and that’s just fine by me. I felt Beachhead was the best figure out of the first wave of Pursuit of Cobra figures so it’s fitting that such a great later run figure shares a lot of body parts with it. However, the parts reuse is very well disguised. They share the same torso, upper arms, waist, full right leg and lower left leg. Low-Light’s arms are based on the Jungle-Viper’s arms, but I contend that the lower arms are different enough to be considered “new” pieces. They swap out the attachment points for the fancy electronic camouflage system for some basic padding. Being based on the Jungle-Viper’s arms means they also have added wrist articulation, meaning he can get into a more realistic sniping pose. I appreciate it so much when Hasbro goes the extra mile to give us additional articulation. I’m a firm believer that not every figure has to have things like articulated wrists to be a good figure. However, when it’s a guy like Low-Light, that added articulation really helps sell his specialty as a sniper. It never bothered me that most Joes couldn’t get into a more realistic two-handed firing position growing up, but with some guys (like the original Low-Light) it kind of did. I’m very happy to see it here. The legs are also mostly shared with Beachhead, though instead of a computer, Low-Light’s left leg has a holster specifically designed to carry his rifle scope. I’ll get to how amazing a removable rifle scope is when I talk about his accessories, but I’m glad they gave him this little detail, though I’m not sure how useful it would be in the real world. I’m not an expert, but I’ve spent some time shooting rifles and I’m not sure you’d want your scope just hanging off your leg. I’d think being carried that way could knock things out of alignment, but as I said, I’m no expert. If anyone knows if soldiers in the field really do that, by all means mention it. I’d be interested to hear about why they do it. To disguise the parts reuse even further, Low-Light has a brand new vest that is a dead ringer for the torso from his original figure. The detailing is impressive and everything that you need to make Low-Light, from the grenades on his chest to the red shoulder pad, is there. Finally, Low-Light gets a brand new head. I’ll admit, I was pleasantly surprised that they went this route. Plenty of customizers used the Sandstorm head from Pursuit of Cobra Zartan to make a passable Low-Light, but Hasbro really went the extra mile on this. I thought Sandstorm’s head was an okay stand in, but I always felt Low-Light should be older and a little more grizzled. Sandstorm was clearly a kid, but this version of LowLight definitely looks like a guy who has a lot of field experience. His facial expression could be described, at best, as determined and I would say sour would be a little more accurate. Low-Light doesn’t exactly look like a happy guy here. That’s okay. Not every Joe can be as jovial as Snow Job and while I didn’t remember the Low-Light episode from back in the day, when I watched the complete series, that characterization of Low-Light was pretty intense for a cartoon. Low-Light clearly had his demons in that cartoon episode and I can see some of those demons here in Low-Light’s face. There’s an intensity in his eyes that works very well for a sniper and I’m glad Hasbro was willing to drop some tooling dollars on this rather than just take their cues from the customizing community. It made for a much better figure.
To me, Low-Light was always defined by his color scheme. I didn’t really know what exactly a “night spotter” did, but his look definitely told you he was a night ops expert. Once again, Hasbro did not disappoint in recreating his original look. The base of the figure is a dark, charcoal gray, but it’s accented by black for the straps and padding plus some silver thrown in on zippers and clasps for good measure along with the aforementioned red shoulder pad. It’s really hard to ask for anything more from Low-Light’s paint scheme. It successfully replicates his original look and manages to avoid being too boring despite the fact that so much of the figure is the same color.
Finally, we have to talk about Low-Light’s accessories. They really do the heavy lifting on him and make him feel like a real-world sniper. This is going to be a doozy of a section so bear with me. Starting off slowly, I’ll look at his backpack and what’s in his backpack. Yes, Low-Light’s backpack is fully functional. Between the backpack and the working rifle case, Low-Light can carry every single piece of gear on him somewhere and that’s just plain awesome. The backpack unhinges and the top and bottom but hooks back together remarkably securely, which is important since so many of his accessories are quite tiny. Inside this backpack, you can fit his spotting scope and tripod, his ballistic computer and his ammo case with single removable bullet. These accessories are all great and add an impressive level of realism to Low-Light. The ballistic computer is listed as “GPS locator” in YoJoe’s listing, but I think it makes more sense for it to be a ballistic computer, which is a device snipers use in the field to calculate their shot taking into account things like range to target and wind speed. Regardless of what it’s actually supposed to be, it still looks like something that would belong in a sniper’s kit, either helping him get to his target during a long trek or to help him hit his target at a long distance. The spotting scope and tripod are another great nod to the real world. Snipers often work in pairs, with one man working the high-powered spotter scope and relaying all the pertinent information to the sniper. The spotter scope looks great and gets attention from the paint team, with a large red lens and a light gray eye piece. I’d never even noticed the eye piece was a different color until I looked at it for review purpose. Finally, there’s his ammo case with removable bullet. I had to smile in John Warden’s interview with the GIJCC where he said he created the bullet “with the sole intention of creating the tiniest G.I. Joe accessory ever made.” It’s a beautiful piece and I love the idea of an in-scale single bullet, but I’m also quite certain that his prediction was right that someday, that bullet will command the same prices on the secondary market as some of the tiny helmet mics from the original series do now. The ammo case looks like a typical bullet case and I appreciate their willingness to do that, while at the same time I do hate that I’m constantly worried that the world’s tiniest bullet would go missing. I’m sure the only reason that it even got past the child safety people (since Joe still isn’t being marketed as an “adult collectable”) is because it’s way too small to be even a choking hazard. On the outside of his backpack, you can attach his field telephone. This is another great, real world addition to Low-Light’s gear. I like the look of this field telephone (with removable antenna), and I can see Low-Light waiting for his go-order in the field and picking it up on this piece of technology as opposed to something like a cell phone. Low-Light’s primary weapon is a rifle that can be broken down into five separate pieces. The rifle has a removable butt stock and suppressor along with a detachable scope and bipod. This is an amazingly modular weapon and it stays together very well. The rifle can be carried, broken down inside a rifle case that has room for the rifle and stock, the scope and the suppressor. The bipod can also find a home inside his backpack. The rifle case looks very realistic, complete with a zipper running the length of the case. It can either be carried in Low-Light’s hand or can be carried on his back. The case has a hole in it that the backpack can plug into and the case itself has a plug that can go into Low-Light’s back. I’m partial to him carrying it by hand, but it’s worth noting the different ways he can carry all his gear. Low-Light still wears his signature goggles, but this time they’re removable. Hasbro has really made some impressive leaps in terms of removable eyewear. Comic Pack Baroness’s glasses during the new sculpt era were horrible and I even felt Pursuit of Cobra Dusty’s removable goggles were just a bit too oversized, but Low-Light’s are spot on. Finally, Low-Light can’t use a sniper rifle in every combat situation. To offset that, he carries a knife and an Uzi. The knife is your standard Pursuit of Cobra fare, but I’m pretty sure the Uzi is a new mold. I love this weapon. The original Low-Light carried both a sniper rifle and an Uzi and now his modern incarnation carries the same gear, but in a completely new and more realistic way. I love that they used a new (or at least less familiar) Uzi mold. They’ve had a perfectly good Uzi in the parts library since the very first 25th Anniversary Snake Eyes figure, but this isn’t quite the same mold. I’m glad Low-Light carries on this tradition since the original Low-Light also got a brand new Uzi back in the day.
Low-Light is one of those few figures in the history of the Joe line that has consistently had amazing figures. Even when the color schemes were wonky, Low-Light always had a great mold. Pursuit of Cobra Low-Light continued this tradition and really upped the game. Not only did he set the bar for every subsequent release for quite some time (and honestly, I think the only figure that came close to raising the bar even further was the Retaliation Ultimate Cobra Commander), but he also set the bar for Low-Light as a figure. If Hasbro has any sense, they’re going to leave Low-Light on the shelf for a good long time. This is a figure that doesn’t need any updating and anything they try and do will probably fall short of the impressive heights they hit during the Pursuit of Cobra line. It’s got all the nostalgic features I want from Low-Light but makes him fresh and new and fits with the far more detailed, fully-equipped modern Joes. There are very few figures I would feel my collection has a gaping hole without, but I do feel that Low-Light is such an incredible figure and his gear is so great that without this specific version of Low-Light would leave a nagging sense of incompleteness in my mind. I only saw this wave on the shelves once, about 120 miles from where I was living and even then Low-Light was already gone. I think a lot of people probably agreed with me on just how amazing Low-Light is.