We're typically not big fans of repaints, reissues, or retreads, but Operation Crimson Sabotage Review Capsule was just too cool to pass up.
You get a Cobra H.I.S.S. in red, a Cobra A.S.P. in red, and three Crimson Guards-- very similar to 2003's Mail-in Agent Faces but with new heads under the helmets and very minor deco changes. We love it, you should too.
Like Agent Faces, but with new heads. These figures are basically revised versions of the old Crimson Guard from 1985 but with superior deco and (arguably) superior heads-- this time around, the helmets are removable and not pea-sized.
With their helmets on, there's really no telling them apart. The classic (but still good) styling shines through and the result is a little squad of terrorist commandos of your very own. The updated deco really works for the designs here and shows what a little paint can do for a figure that's older than its potential customers. Or rather, the intended potential customers. You can see silver cuffs around the shirts, painted medals, and all sorts of little items given just a dab of paint so that they don't fade into the deep red of the suit. Good move, Hasbro-- we're glad to see you keep up with today's deco if you're going to use the molds of the era of Marty McFly.
Without the helmets, you can see there are three unique ethnicities. One is vaguely Asian, we think-- maybe he's just Black Irish. We don't know-- but we do know the next one is black, or African American, or something less offensive if that is, in fact, offensive. (We apologize for any issues here.) Number three is a pale-ish redhead, perhaps the angry young offspring of Conan O'Brien of the future. Or perhaps not. It's a nice added touch to see new heads, and even better that Hasbro saw a way to get a lot out of a single brand new sculpt.
The heads themselves are very similar to ones shown in the early Marvel comics-- basically a Trooper without a helmet looks like these guys. As such, customizers will probably turn them into communications officers or something else equally cool.
We'd be negligent if we didn't point out one big new addition in terms of deco for this set-- the patch! The figures and H.I.S.S. are emblazoned with a Crimson unit patch which we believe is currently unique to this set. Maybe there will be a t-shirt some day, but for now, these are the only three figures that sport this special insignia.
A H.I.S.S.! And an A.S.P.! Well, one's exciting.
The A.S.P. (Assault System Pod) was originally released in blue back in 1984. It was released again in Python Patrol colors in 1989, was a mail-in, and is now here to bore you to tears. (We kid, we kid.)
It can be towed around, stand on its own, lay in wait, and even be cracked open and "repaired" for extra play value!
The deco underneath is pretty blah-- and by blah, we mean nonexistent-- but it's a nice feature and what's really spiffy about it is that they did this on a toy 20 years ago and rarely would today. Sigh.
The play value basically comes from it going up or down-- it has no firing parts, no special gimmicks, nothing. It also is a little snug for the figures in the canopy. Still, it's cool, and we like it plenty for the money. It would have been nice if it did a little more, but it's old-- and a snazzy new red paint job with new stickers and tons of mud on the wheels are quite enough, all things considered.
It's not often that toy lines make a toy specifically designed to interact with another toy unless that's the whole idea of the entire line-- so an item like this is particularly cool because the H.I.S.S. can tow it around. It's also not often you can come up with a design as mind-numbingly spiffy as the Cobra H.I.S.S., a vehicle from 1983 that still looks amazing and nifty today. Or so we think.
The High Speed Sentry has place to carry four figures-- FOUR! It's obviously a one- or two-man vehicle, but the genius-brains at Hasbro added a place in the back with foot pegs to carry even MORE troops in. Why, WHY can't a toy company put this kind of thought into their toys today? Obviously not every kid will have enough figures to deck out every vehicle, but it's nice to know the option is there.
This is one of the ultimate in classic vehicles and a concept Hasbro continues to revisit every few years. The original black H.I.S.S. came out in 1982 and has been tweaked with different label shits a few times. It was recolored in red once as a Sears exclusive, again as a convention exclusive, and finally, again right here. A blue version came out as the H.I.S.S. III a few years ago, and of course there was also the H.I.S.S. II in 1989 (later the convention H.I.S.S. IIb) and the H.I.S.S. IV-- a brand new modern mold. Finally, aside from smaller candy toy kits, there was also a "Built to Rule" H.I.S.S. released in small numbers in late 2004/early 2005. We'll be covering these toys as we can.
The toy itself is pretty great-- there's room for a figure in the cockpit, another in the gunner station, and two on the back. The moving parts are far and few between, but you can find a rotating gunner station with cannons that go up and down and some wheels under the false treads. It's a little old-timey in terms of play factor, but it works for the design-- there's a lot to like here, if you really like the design in the first place... and it's really a good one. There's a hitch in the back for other vehicles, and a small trailer was used in the past-- but today, you get a whole A.S.P., which is a lot more impressive looking when you combine the two.
So to reiterate, there's room for five figures in between the two vehicles-- which ain't bad.
Three guns, three helmets.
The shotgun was previously packed in some gift sets, with Destro on more than one occasion, and of course, Agent Faces. The helmet was packed with the same mail-in Agent Faces and will be packed with the upcoming six packs.
We accidentally tossed the shotguns with the packaging-- so we had to basically go around begging for someone to sell us the guns. (And to you kind souls, I say thank you much. Kings among men.)
Surprisingly ornate. There's a die-cut Cobra logo on the sides which allows the toy to have extra light coming in to the box... which is pretty sweet, really.
Neat, yes. But that little story on the back doesn't say anything about "Operation Crimson Sabotage." Just how does sabotage fit into this? I see a mission, but it doesn't seem especially... sabotagenous. (What's really funny is that doesn't trip our spell check.)
The file card is pretty similar to the old story for these guys-- these are figures that infiltrate all aspects of America and will destroy your way of life. COWER, poor fool, COWER in the might that is COBRA!! (I think that's the idea, anyway.)
It's a neat idea for a gift set. You get a themed presentation with a vehicle that'd be an easy $10, a smaller vehicle that's an easy $8 or so, and three figures that sell for a whole mess of scratch on eBay. It's a rare $20 set that'd probably have sold just as well at $30 at Kay-Bee stores last holiday season, and to be honest, we'd not complain at the price. It's just that good. For fans of Cobra toys, evil troops, or good old molds colored well, this is a no-brainer-- go get it! It could be more exciting, but to be more exciting, it'd need more figures or a lower price point, neither of which is really feasable. So buy this, it rocks.
Text and photos by Adam Pawlus
Review posted on March 9 2005
Sample purchased in December 2004 at Kay-Bee Toys for $19.99