Night Vulture (1991 Air Commandos)

Gliders, gliders, gliders. The soaring, looping, gliding vehicles made appearances at the beginning and end of the Real American Hero line. I had the Falcon glider as a kid, and it was loads of fun–while it lasted. Even though the glider itself bit the dust after many breakages and careful scotch tape repairs, the exclusive pilot (the legendary tan Grunt) remained.

The exclusive pilot/driver concept was a great element of the Joe line that continued through most of the line’s run. The last blast of driver figures came in the years 1991-1992, many of whom were included with–you guessed it–gliders. Interesting and fun molds, colors and accessories abounded with the Air Commando gliders. Night Vulture is no different.

I’ve always thought this guy had a real Snake-Eyes vibe. Obviously, not because of the colors, but rather the outfit. Granted, a real-wold commando probably wouldn’t be too successful decked out in purple and orange, but then again, this isn’t the real world. The head looks like 1991’s Snake-Eyes sans Jason Voorhees mask. And the mask even has lips, like Mr. 1985 himself. The web gear and vest bring to mind 1991’s ninja commando, and by the way, are those pipe bombs I see on his chest? Awesome.

The Air Commandos also sported some of the most unique accessories and weapons. The combination crossbow/machine gun is a quite impressive and nasty looking weapon, effective in both normal combat and silent operations. Like his fellow glider pilot Air Devil, Night Vulture is a great late line mold that would have been welcome had it ever shown up again.

10 comments

  • The first thing I thought of when I saw this guy up close in photos was ol’ Snake-Eyes. Given that there was a new version of him every other year by this point, it seems all the likelier. The sculpt seems to have gotten way too much love for a generic driver character. Maybe an unused alternate take on the ’91 figure? Or could he have been planned to man a fourth Joe glider alongside Skymate, Cloudburst, and fellow veteran member Spirit? Snakes did use gliders every once in a while, so who knows. Even as a Cobra, Night Vulture makes for a nice counterpoint to the Joes’ silent superstar.

    An aside: Is anyone else having trouble accessing the main page? I can’t reach it from my bookmarks and have had no luck clicking “home” on the site itself.

  • I have the International Action Force mail-in version of Spirit that uses the Air Commandos mold. I like it, and I like Night Vulture a lot.

  • Excellent sculpt on this one. Desperately needed a repaint.

  • This is probably one of the premier molds from the ’90s. But, the horrible colors doom him to obscurity. It’s too bad he was never revistited in the repaint line as this mold, done right, could be a Cobra baddie for the ages.

    (This mold would have been a perfect way to update the Cobra Mortal rather than repaint a V1 Snake Eyes figure.)

  • Jonah Hardenbrook

    For the longest time I had mistaken Night Vulture as another Snake Eyes, so I am glad to see I am not alone with the comparison. there is something about this figure I really dig, and I hope to obtain a few more for my collection. A small four or five man squad of these guys would be awesome.

  • First time I saw him I thought he was SE too, I was at a flea market and the guy sold him for $1, I quickly realized this wasn’t SE and then tracked him down in one of the old foldouts and found out who he was, but that pic of him was tiny, years later I saw him when Yojoe was being put together and confirmed who he was.

  • Cool figure even with those colors. I just wonder if the Collector’s Club and Hasbro didn’t sit on this and the other Air Commando molds for future exclusives before Hasbro just decided to scrap the molds of everything ARAH. Best that we never know the answer.

    But this mold or parts of it would’ve made for a more interesting take on COBRA MORTAL than the one the Club produced.

  • I always thought that mask looked like there was a skeleton dude underneath there. It’s a great look. And that weapon, definitely one of the most unique and cool.

  • The Night Vulture is the epitome of an assassin, he is the equal to Snake-Eyes, and Storm Shadow as well along with Firefly, to me he is not a group outfit, but a solo man who is precise and calculating, cunning, and crafty, and will put a bullet in your head, or a blade to your throat if the need be, but he’s cool, calm, collected, and very assure of himself, which is why the commander never sees him face to face, but only from bank account to bank account. When the orders come in, you can guarantee that the job gets done cleanly, without a trace. The Night Vulture is a master.

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