This past Monday my 2015 San Diego Comic Con exclusive “Crimson Strike” box set arrived in the mail. The set consists of two G.I. Joe vehicles and four figures. I reviewed one of the figures, AVAC, yesterday. AVAC’s role in the set is to pilot the Cobra Scythe, a G.I. Joe Skystriker, repainted in a Cobra deco. The concept behind the box set is that the Joes and Cobras have procured each others vehicles and repurposed them for their own arsenal. To rival the Cobra Scythe the Joes have turned a captured HISS tank into the G.I. Joe Chimera.
The repainted Skystriker looks pretty cool and the figures are all decent but given the secondary market price of this set I would have passed on it if not for the Chimera. I’m a sucker for HISS tanks and I simply couldn’t resist getting one in a new colour.
The original Cobra H.I.S.S. (High Speed Sentry) was released in 1983. It was one of the earliest Joe vehicles released and one of the first, if not THE first, Joe vehicle I ever owned. I would’ve been five or six when I got it. Most of the Joe vehicles released in the early years were based on real-world conveyances like tanks, jeeps, and helicopters but the HISS tank was pure science fiction. There was something fantastical about the angular design of the HISS that really appealed to me. I still have my 1983 HISS and it is in fact the only vintage Joe item that I presently have on display.
The HISS has been remodelled a number of times over the years. Some have been downright ugly while others have been respectable upgrades. I’ve amassed a decent little troop of the modern-era design (brown, blue, purple, and red) but there’s just no beating the original. I have the classic HISS tank in black (x2), red, white, mini, and now green.
When I first saw pictures of this green HISS tank online (it was revealed at April’s Joe Con) I knew I had to have it. The idea of the Joes capturing one of Cobra’s iconic tanks and making it their own was very appealing to me, much more so than if Hasbro had just made this a green Cobra tank. Seeing the Joe logo and the white star decals on this thing seems so wrong that I love it. Construction wise, this toy is almost the exact same as my ’83 HISS but even after 30+ years the design holds up. However the colour and the decals aren’t the only thing thats changed. Hasbro has added a brand new double rail gun to the back. The new guns look much more devastating than the double cannons usually found on HISS tanks. I like that the rail guns show how the Joes took the time to customize their captured tank rather than to just paint it.
As with all classic style HISS tanks, the Chimera has a cockpit that holds one driver and it has a glass canopy. It can also hold a gunner in the back and it has foot pegs on the very back to accommodate two passengers. You could also hide stowaways in the belly of the tank beneath the gunner station as I often did when I was a kid. The treads don’t really work but there are wheels on the bottom of the tank so it glides along the floor with ease.
This tank looks great displayed with my other HISS tanks but it also looks great displayed with my classic military Joe vehicles. The tank’s shade of green matches up nicely with that of the Vamp and the Skyhawk. It also matches up with the uniforms of the original 13 Joes which is appropriate since the box set includes new versions of Steeler and Grunt to man the Chimera.
The Chimera oozes retro appeal so its a shame it won’t be available at retail. However a variation of this set with a reddish-orange HISS will be available at TOYS R US for a much more reasonable price very soon. 9 out of 10.