Project Downfall Air Raid
While I have been able to afford a Homefront Hero package the last few years, last year I was actually able to attend Joe Con again. Heck, I even covered the convention for the site here. However, not being able to attend the last few conventions meant I not only missed out on souvenirs the last few years but also the free attendee exclusive item. I figured for the Project: Downfall reviews, the attendee exclusive would be as good a place as any to start. Unlike the last few years, the attendee exclusive item was a figure instead of a small vehicle, and I think that’s a great call. It was a great way to add one more Joe to the set without sacrificing anybody important from the main set. In 2016, Sky Patrol gained one new member in the form of the attendee exclusive figure, Air Raid. The name Air Raid has been kicking around the Joe brand since the Rise of Cobra line, but this iteration is a brand new character, and I love that. He may not be terribly flashy, but I like seeing some new blood injected into the Joe line and the GIJCC was able to do so while using an already approved codename.
While Air Raid may be a new character, like a lot of GIJCC figures, he reuses a lot of parts. However, the GIJCC did come up with a slightly different parts combination, so I’m okay with it. He’s not the most unique looking figure out there, but he works and considering he was a free piece, I’m okay with that. The legs come from a combination of Pursuit of Cobra Skydive lower legs and 25th Anniversary Ace upper legs. Despite being from two rather disparate eras of the modern Joe line, they work pretty well together. Using the Ace legs also help keeps him from being just a repaint of Pursuit of Cobra Skydive with a new head. However, considering that figure came in a bit of a phantom wave, I wouldn’t have had too many problems with it had that been the way the GIJCC had decided to go with him. The torso comes from the Rise of Cobra Reactive Armor Duke figure, though you won’t see it because Air Raid has the same armored parachute rig that Pursuit of Cobra Skydive came with. I really do love how detailed this piece is. The armor gives Air Raid some visual weight and considering he spent most of his time in the comic on the run from the Cobra Air Devils, I like that his gear has some built in protection for him when he’s on the ground. The arms come from Pursuit of Cobra Skydive and while I still don’t like the slightly awkwardly cocked wrists they have, I really do love the armored flight suit look that it gives him. I know it’s not the most practical thing in the world, but aesthetically, it’s pretty great. Up top, Air Raid reuses the same head he had when Hasbro released him, the 25th Anniversary Resolute Duke head. This head works quite well for a newer member of the Joe team because it’s young enough to let him look younger than the rest of theJoes but it’s not also so young that he looks like he’s fresh out of boot camp. Overall, this figure has a solid look. That’s largely due to the fact that it’s pulled almost entirely from the same figure, but the few changes work well and do add to the figure.
Where Air Raid really starts to look like his own man is in his color scheme. The GIJCC used colors that work quite well for a Sky Patrol figure but are also very different from the colors this figure had when it was mostly released as Skydive five years earlier. The base of the figure is a very light blue. It fits with the Sky Patrol motif quite well since it looks almost like a sky blue. Over the light blue, there is a lot of gray. The gray works very well with the blue and the colors complement each other very well. There’s some black on the straps and hoses as well. It’s a very cohesive look and the figure looks excellent in these colors. Up top, the figure’s head gets a very different paint job than previous iterations. Air Raid gets a race change and Sky Patrol adds another African American member to the team. I think it’s a good call and surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of complaints about that. I think part of it is because Air Raid is a fairly new character and I think the other part of it is that the last time we got Air Raid, he was supposed to be Airborne, so the GIJCC had a lot more latitude to change things up for Air Raid since he wasn’t going to be related to that initial version at all. The Resolute Duke head works surprisingly well for an African American and the paint work on his face is spot on. There’s quite a bit of character in his eyes and that’s always the sign of a well-done figure in my books. His helmet is molded out of clear plastic and painted blue. The dark blue looks good on the helmet, though it would have been nice to see it used somewhere else on the figure. Air Raid also gets the Sky Patrol logo (an eagle catching a lightning bolt) done in silver on both sides of the helmet. The logo is crisply applied and the silver pops nicely against the blue without being too ostentatious. Overall, the figure has an excellent look and Air Raid is a nice addition to the Sky Patrol team.
Because of all his fancy gear, Air Raid doesn’t get much in the way of accessories, though mine did wind up with a second helmet. I didn’t open any of my figures until after I got home, so I didn’t know mine had two until after I could have turned it into the GIJCC as an extra. The helmet really helps complete the look, though for some reason, the hoses don’t fit into Air Raid’s helmet as well as they did when Skydive came with it in 2011. You can fake them up there, but I couldn’t actually get them to fit in the holes that they’re supposed to. I have actually found a better solution that involves slipping the hoses up under the arm holes of his vest, but I didn’t feel it was enough of a change to completely reshoot my photos of Air Raid. Air Raid also gets the same jet pods that Skydive had. I’m still not sure what to think of them, but I like that the GIJCC worked them into the character. Air Raid, as Sky Patrol’s test pilot, has a tendency to push the limits of the vehicles he’s testing too far. The jet pods are part of his personal ejector system that he can use in the event of an emergency. I don’t know if a guy notorious for wrecking planes should be your test pilot, but it’s still at least a nice little in-universe explanation for them. Air Raid’s only weapon is a pistol that fits in his ankle holster. Like Pursuit of Cobra Skydive, I wish he came with more accessories, but it makes sense for a test pilot. Air Raid’s an excellent pilot, but most of the time, his job isn’t going to require him to be in the thick of things. In fact, I think part of what made him work so well in the included comic was that he got shot down by Cobra and had nothing but his pistol to defend himself. He had to rely more on his wits than anything else to survive and that’s another aspect of the character I can get behind.
Air Raid may not be the flashiest figure out of the Project: Downfall con set, but he is a nice addition. Personally, I kind of like the idea of the attendee exclusive being a figure and, as long as the attendee exclusive figure isn’t someone who should have been in the main set, I hope the GIJCC does it the next few years as well. I remember racking my brain trying to come up with something cool and interesting the GIJCC could do for a small vehicle for the set, and truthfully, I couldn’t come up with anything. I’d kind of resigned myself to an A.D.D.E.R.S.- specific version of the F.A.N.G. or the Cobra Rocket Pack since I assumed all the major Sky Patrol vehicles would be souvenir pieces and truthfully, I wasn’t thrilled with either of those options. However, an additional member of the Sky Patrol team who was also a new character was something that really excited me. Air Raid is now finally his own man and he’s got a pretty good figure. Though there’s a part of me that wishes the GIJCC would have referenced the two international Sky Patrol Joes somehow in the set, I think Air Raid is still a decent addition. Despite being a team of airborne specialists, Sky Patrol never really had a dedicated pilot and now they do. However, Air Raid is also not something everyone’s collection would be missing if they didn’t manage to get to Joe Con in person and receive the attendee exclusive. I remember being a little bummed that I couldn’t get the ECO Striker when I got the Zombie Initiative con set, but I don’t really think anyone would have been too upset without Air Raid in their collection. He’s a good add on, but he’s not necessary to complete the team and that’s a big plus. I’m a little lukewarm on Air Raid because he’s not quite as interesting to me as the rest of the Sky Patrol members, but I still like seeing him here and I think, for my money, an additional figure is the way to go from now on for the attendee exclusives.