Lamprey (25th Anniversary)
Hands down, the figure I was looking forward to the most out of the Defense of Cobra Island set was the Lamprey. I didn’t have the original Lamprey growing up but I was so impressed with the one KansasBrother got from one of those vehicle driver mail-away offers that when I saw the bright orange Gone Hunting Lamprey (aka Sonic Fighters Lamprey), I was all over him. The Lamprey is a classic Cobra driver. Some of his popularity is because he came with a great vehicle, but it’s a testament to how great the figure is that it became some popular even though it initially came with a relatively high price-point vehicle. Considering Cobra’s main base of operations is on Cobra Island, it makes sense for the Moray driver to be a big part of the defense of Cobra Island. The modern Lamprey is a great figure and really makes me appreciate my Sonic Fighters version even more. With this figure, Hasbro took what was a great vintage figure and made an excellent modern version of it.
I’ll address the elephant in the room by noting that the 25th Anniversary Lamprey’s overall design is a bit bulkier than his vintage counterpart. However, I’m okay with that. While I did like the original look, I do remember thinking that he was just a little too sleek. I get that the Lamprey fought on the sea, but I didn’t think the skintight divesuit with a life vest on was going to protect him from the elements much if he wound up in the water. I think the slightly bulkier look serves him better. They may have been through Eel training, but with all the additional advanced training, they don’t spend nearly as much time in the water as the Eels so it makes sense for the uniform to be functional both on a boat and in the water. The arms and legs come from 25th Anniversary Snow Job and help account for the added bulk since they were originally designed for an arctic trooper. At the same time, though, they’re not so bulky that they look like they would impede his movements in the water. My only real complaint about the use of Snow Job legs is that the holster still clearly has the Adventure Team logo on the side. Considering 25th Anniversary Wild Weasel used the same legs, I don’t understand why Hasbro didn’t use those instead since they did have a Cobra sigil molded on the holster, even if it was the winged one that’s used for the Cobra air force. I think it just would have looked a little more consistent with a Cobra sigil there instead of an Adventure Team logo. The torso comes from 25th Anniversary Alpine, not that you’d know it since it’s covered with a great newly-sculpted vest. The tight shirt on the Alpine torso also keeps the tight look while still adding a little more bulk to the overall design. Over the top of it, Lamprey has an amazingly well-detailed vest. The original Lamprey’s vest looked like your basic life vest. However, the 25th Anniversary Lamprey’s vest looks more like a diver’s swim vest. It may add a little buoyancy, but there are all sorts of other gauges and straps built in meaning it’s clearly more than just a floatation device. There’s a hose that runs from the front of the vest (that is also attached to a dial) that runs back to the small oxygen supply he wears on his back. It’s a great look and really helps sell the idea that while Lampreys spend most of their time fighting from the decks of the Moray, they can and will fight in and under the water if they need to and have the equipment to be dangerous. Topping off the figure is his only new piece, a brand new head. The head itself does a great job of replicating the original Lamprey figure but the details are even more impressive and the visor is both translucent and removable, allowing you to see the face of the trooper for the first time. While I appreciate the removable visor, I kind of wish they would have done what they did with the Rise of Cobra Aqua Viper Officer’s helmet instead. That figure was essentially a Lamprey, but instead of the modern Lamprey head, there was a new head and a removable Lamprey helmet. It just looks better. Since day one, the visor hasn’t fit flush against the helmet. It doesn’t pop out randomly or anything, but it leaves the visor looking kind of lopsided and bulgy if you’re looking at it from the front and shows a slit of exposed skin if you see it from the side. As such, the helmet doesn’t look like it can effectively keep the Lamprey safe. I appreciate that Hasbro tried something a little different here, but considering the Aqua Viper Officer likely came to be because Hasbro wasn’t sure they were going to get the Lamprey out and wanted to recoup the costs, why not give him the new head and helmet that looked they tooled up for that figure instead. Despite my issue with the visor’s fit, though, the head sculpt looks great and all those classic tiny details look much more impressive and realistic since Hasbro is able to work on a slightly larger canvas.
While the overall design might have been bulked up a little, Lamprey’s colors are straight out of 1985 and I’m pleased to see that. The original figure was decked out in silver and light blue and while the silver on this figure has been replaced with gray, it’s still clearly inspired by the classic figure. The bodysuit looks great and gray and the blue trim and vest really pop well against it. The gray and blue Lamprey looks just as good as the 1985 silver and blue version and that’s a testament to how effective the classic colors were. My only real complaint is on the vest. While there are a lot of details that got attention from the paint team, there are also a lot of details that didn’t. It reminds me of some of those 1994 Joes that had really detailed molds but most of the details got ignored by the paint team. I don’t think I was conscious of it at the time, but I think that’s why I passed on figures that normally would have been right up my alley like Space Shot or Lifeline. The Joes I grew up with, like Tiger Force Flint or Bullhorn, had very detailed paint jobs that really made them come to life and some of the newer Joes from the end of the line really lacked that and I think that hurts Lamprey a little bit here, too. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not as bad as Space Shot, but it still bugs me when Hasbro goes to the trouble of sculpting the straps and buckles and then doesn’t bother painting them. Yes, I’m a little afraid that Lamprey would have looked a little too busy with all those straps painted, but I think a lot of silver buckles on him looks better than all the light blue ones. The blue, black and gray helmet looks just as good as it did in the day and I do like the painted face underneath the translucent blue visor, even if it doesn’t fit as well as I would like. The paintwork on Lamprey is spot on and I really love how cleanly it’s done and how faithfully it replicates the original figure’s look. Strangely, though, my Lamprey did pick up a stray black mark on his right leg from somewhere. I’m not sure where, but it’s there. I’m not sure if it’s paint or just a rub from somewhere in the factory, but I should probably investigate to see if I can safely remove it without damaging the figure.
To help flesh out the look, the Lamprey also gets some great gear. I’ve touched on his backpack oxygen system, but I’ll talk about it a little more in depth here. I remember always being a little confused as a kid about why the Lamprey was an amphibious assault trooper since he lacked any sort of oxygen tank. I always pretended it was just built into the helmet, but I really like the modern Lamprey’s oxygen system on his back. While it wouldn’t be something that could last as long as an Eel’s tank, it would at least provide him with enough air to do some limited underwater sabotage operations. I remember the Sonic Fighters Lamprey’s filecard mentioned them doing underwater sabotage with their laser weapons and that’s something my brain latched on to. Lamprey also has two great firearms. His primary weapon is a submachine gun that is designed to look like the classic Lamprey’s rifle. I remember thinking that gun was really cool when I first saw it with my brother’s and I was always a little disappointed that the Sonic Fighters version lacked it. It’s a great submachine gun and while it may not have a lot of stopping power, it’s a great weapon to lay down some suppressive fire with in the event of some Joes boarding a Moray. To fill his holster, he’s also got a really cool small pistol. I really like this piece and would love to see more of it. It’s a great design that looks kind of high tech and futuristic and something that Cobra Commander wouldn’t necessarily equip all his Cobra troopers with. I kind of consider the Lampreys the officers of the Eel corps (making them like high-ranking Navy SEALS in my mind) so there aren’t nearly as many of them as say Eels or Vipers. Elite troopers deserve extra fancy weapons and that’s what the Lamprey brings to the table with this little laser pistol.
Though the original Lamprey wasn’t one of my figures when I was a kid, I always really liked it, so the Defense of Cobra Island Lamprey had a lot to live up to. Thanks to some smart parts choices and classic colors, the Lamprey really hits it out of the park. This is another one of those figures that I think really steps up the detail and brings it more in line with what my kid brain always saw the Lamprey as. The design may have been bulked up a little, but I really do like it and everything on this figure comes together very well. Yes, I’d prefer a standard helmeted head over the funky removable visor, but beyond that, there are no real flaws on this figure. He’s an incredible update of a figure that I remember wanting so much that I bought a version of it in crazy colors just because I thought the look was so great. It’s nice to have a classically colored Lamprey in my collection now and I’m glad it’s as good as it is.