Elite Horseman and Basilisk
Sometimes the Joe line surprises you. I’m honestly a bit tired of seeing repainted Snow Cats. I’ve never really liked that vehicle, yet I have three of them now. The Wolfhound was a clearance impulse buy (seriously, I think I got it for five bucks somewhere during a post-Christmas inventory sell down), the HAVOC was a brilliant cross-sell by the GIJCC that successfully parted me with my money and got me a good vehicle and now I have the Cobra Basilisk as well. I was initially kind of bummed that it came packed with the F.O.E. Striker. I just wanted the Striker, so I was hoping I could pass on the Basilisk, but that wasn’t to be. However, the Basilisk has grown on me quite a bit since it arrived in the mail. I think the biggest plus for it is that it’s something that Cobra hasn’t had before. While I still think the Snow Cat can go away for a while, I am happy that the Basilisk is at least something different.
The Basilisk is a straight-up repaint of the Pursuit of Cobra Wolfhound. If you want a full discussion of the mold, go check out the review I did of the GIJCC exclusive HAVOC a while back. Despite not ever being a huge fan of the Snow Cat, I have to say the Wolfound is a decent mold. The design is solid, though I do wish the vehicle had something other than missiles to fight with. I’ve also never been a terribly big fan of the skipedos, but that’s neither here nor there. What makes the Basilisk nicer than the modern HAVOC is that it fills a niche in the Cobra motor pool. Cobra’s really never had a half-track combat vehicle, so it’s nice to see it here. While I wish Hasbro had done something more to distance the Basilisk from the Snow Cat, it’s still a decent vehicle.
The primary difference between the Basilisk and the Snow Cat is the color scheme. The lower part of the vehicle is a nice, almost gunmetal gray while the upper half is a metallic blue. Red is used for the headlights, canopy and missiles, but most of the vehicle is blue and gray. It’s a striking pairing and the colors are definitely Cobra. Much like on the Skystriker, though, I’m not in love with the red canopy. It just obscures things too much. I don’t mind is as much on the Basilisk because blue and red are Cobra colors and they look nice paired together, but I’m still not a fan of the overly obscured canopy. For the Basilisk, Hasbro designed a great new graphic to fill the spot where the vintage Snow Cat logo went. I love the basilisk logo on this thing. It really screams Cobra and it’s a nice touch that on the back of the missile battery there’s also a sticker with scary-looking eyes, a nod to the myth of the basilisk that could kill its victims with a single glance. Though it’s still just another recolored Snow Cat, Hasbro really did do a great job of making it look decidedly different from its previous incarnations and while I’m still a little bored with the Snow Cat, the Basilisk has breathed a bit of life into it.
To drive the Basilisk, Hasbro went back to the 30th Anniversary line and gave us a non-Crimson version of the Crimson Horseman, the new Elite Horseman. I’ll admit, the name leaves something to be desire, but the figure is still pretty great. The Elite Horseman uses the exact same parts as his crimson counterpart, so that means from the neck down he uses the Pursuit of Cobra Firefly body with the Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Snake Eyes I coat over it and a head only shared with the Crimson Horseman. The look is solid and the Snake Eyes coat works surprisingly well with the Firefly body. I love the helmet the Elite Horseman has, though I do wish they’d changed up the name. The figure reminds me quite a bit of the Cobra Coils from the SpyTroops era and I think it would have been a nice nod to that era had the Basilisk driver been called a Coil instead. It’s a better name and it references a great figure from the SpyTroops line that started its life as a vehicle driver.
Since he’s not a Crimson Horseman, the Elite Horseman has a very different color scheme than his predecessor. The 50th Anniversary line drivers are very well color-coordinated with their vehicles and the Elite Horseman is no exception. The base of the figure uses a similar metallic blue to the Basilisk while the vest and straps are black with silver on the armored parts. The helmet is black with a gold Cobra sigil over the visor. I wish they’d changed things up on the helmet’s paint job a little. There are some great details molded in there but you can’t really tell because the helmet is all black. I also really didn’t like the Cobra sigil over the visor back on the Crimson Horseman, and it doesn’t look any better on the Elite Horseman. Despite a few poor design choices, though, the Elite Horseman is a sharp looking figure and I do like it when the driver and vehicle match so well. It makes it easy to tell at a glance which vehicle he goes with and it’s nice to see some synergy between drivers and their vehicles.
Further making the Elite Horseman a great figure is his excellent equipment. Unlike some Cobra drivers, I think the Elite Horseman is just as effective outside his vehicle as he is inside it. That makes me see the Elite Horseman as part of a Cobra assault squad rather than just a driver. The Basilisk is used to blast Cobra’s way into a facility, but then the Elite Horsemen get out of their vehicles and aid in the assault. The Elite Horseman’s primary weapon is the great rifle that came with Retaliation Cobra Commander. I love this piece and it’s nice to see it getting some use again. It looks like a substantial weapon and that’s part of why I see the Elite Horseman as someone who can fight just as effectively outside his vehicle as he can behind the wheel of it. Since he shares parts with Pursuit of Cobra Firefly, the Elite Horseman also gets the great backpack and mines that Firefly came with. I’ll admit, the backpack and mines are a nice accessory, but beyond making the Elite Horseman look cool, they don’t do much for me when they’re not paired with Pursuit of Cobra Firefly. It’s nice that he’s got such a great gear load since vehicle drivers don’t usually fare that well in that department. With his gear thrown into the mix, the Elite Horseman definitely looks like an elite military operator working for Cobra.
The Basilisk and Elite Horseman are better pieces than I initially gave them credit for. Don’t get me wrong, I’m getting a little bored with the modern Snow Cat mold (seriously, at least mold up some different weapons to replace the skipedos that don’t make any sense for a non-arctic use), but adding it to the Cobra motor pool at least seems a little fresher. I’ve always kind of liked how halftracks look and I really like seeing one decked out in Cobra colors. The Basilisk looks futuristic enough that it falls in line with Cobra’s vehicles but it’s still grounded enough in the real world that it makes sense for the Joes to have a similar vehicle as well. The Elite Horseman is a nice addition, even if he is just a repaint of an earlier figure. The Crimson HISS, at least in my neck of the woods, wasn’t that common, so it’s entirely possible the Elite Horseman is the first time some Joe fans have been able to add this particular design to their collection. The head is a great piece and while I’d personally like to see a little more color on the helmet, the figure’s paint work is spot on. It’s definitely a step up from the paint work Hasbro did on last year’s 50th Anniversary figures. The blue, black, and silver combination is a striking look that works well on both vehicle and driver. Honestly, the only thing I wish they would have done was added the basilisk logo onto the Elite Horseman like they’ve done with the Wolf Squad logo on the Joes that are a part of it. I think it would look great on the chest armor and would just add a little more flair to the figure. For a vehicle I didn’t really want initially, the Basilisk has impressed me. That might have something to do with the fact that I really didn’t have any expectations for it, but regardless, it is a better piece than I initially thought it was and I’m happy to have one sitting on my shelf. It’s a fun vehicle that definitely gives me some play ideas, and I always like when a piece in my collection does that. I may not play with my Joes anymore, but I still appreciate when I get a good toy vibe from something.