Night Raft and Cobra Eel (2014)
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I have to say it again, the Cobra Night Landing set is one of my favorite GI Joe toys, and one of my favorite overall toys of the 80s. The 1985 Eel also falls within the same category. The Night Landing had a re-release during the last Toys R Us exclusive run in the late 90s, and here it is again, as part of the Danger at the Docks set. This time, the venerable vehicle has been tricked out with some amazing accessories, and given an upgraded modern Eel to serve as its pilot. Part of the Toys R Us exclusive 50th Anniversary series, the set was a bit controversial in that a vintage styled color variant of the VAMP was a San Diego Comicon exclusive. Fortunately, the Toys R Us retail version mixed it up a bit and included a classically decorated Night Landing and Eel.
Dubbed the Night Raft, the toy seems to retain all of its vintage detail, especially the wood grain and rope textures. There’s not a whole lot within the toy itself to improve a la the Sky Hawk and VAMP remakes of the 25th Anniversary line, but the extra crate of accessories is what makes this set really stand out. Before its release, I’d seen folks asking online whether the crate really contained and arsenal of weapons. Yes it does. There’s a metric crap-ton of rifles, knives, and even axes with which to arm your figures. The term “battle in a box” has been bandied about when describing sets like Danger at the Docks, but I think this is the first “war in a crate” within the GI Joe toy world. Back to the boat, the stickers approximate the old quite well, but the main call-outs on the side have been replaced with a printed version. No more worrying about those side stickers coming off if you throw this thing in the tub. Not that I’ve considered it…
The Cobra Eel shares some of its construction with the older 25th anniversary figure, but also incorporates improved parts from more recent series. The upper arms have been changed (I believe they come from Skydive) and they mimic the shoulder pauldrons of the 1985 Eel nicely. The ill-fitting neck piece from the 2008 figure is still around, and still seems to hover a bit too high on the shoulders. Below the waist, the figure was refitted with newer legs, and feature rocker ankles (a good addition to a diver/underwater figure). Along those lines, there are a set of alternate, more modern looking fins as well. Overall, this figure can strike a more imposing land combat presence than previous versions. It’s not the perfect modern iteration of the trooper, but it’s a step in the right direction.
The Danger at the Docks set was I think quite a good deal, considering it included two vehicles, two (fully articulated) drivers and a ton of extra weapons and gear. Come on back tomorrow to check out the rest of the set.