G.I. Joe Kre-O - Ghoststriker w/ Cobra ASP

It seems like it's been so long since I had a G.I. Joe Kre-O set to talk about, and I couldn't be happier to see a return to Toys "R" Us aisles for this fantastic expression of A Real American Hero.

At Toy Fair 2013, I saw the newest G.I. Joe Kre-O sets, and I'll be honest, it was the Arashikage Ninja Temple that really drew my attention, with the Destro and Baroness figures and the awesome HISS Tank. But now that I have the Ghoststriker in hand, there is an amazing appeal to this awesome small jet fighter as well.

As with the other Kre-O sets, the size is deceptively small...over three decades you get used to a certain size and scale with vehicles made for 4" figures, and when you get a Kre-O set, that mindset is stuck in your head. But the smaller size isn't a bad thing. It's a great size for anyone's hands (a fact that my 8 year old daughter is quite excited about) and manages to be crammed full of great features and detail, even at a smaller size.

The build for the Ghoststriker was pretty straight forward and fun. I really loved the unique design of the side fuselage pieces that add some great slope and shape to the overall look of the jet. I find it interesting that they went the Ghoststriker route instead of the Skystriker, especially because they chose vintage Ace as the pilot, but it might have more to do with the price point available and the need to make the vehicle much larger to accomodate two tail fins and other aspects unique to the Skystriker. Even building this out as the Ghoststriker works well in my eyes, though, and it makes a great companion to the Dragonfly, which I actually found a little bit lacking, to tell the truth.

Ace fits very nicely in the seat, and I love the canopy that opens in both directions seamlessly. The various different blocks used in this build made it very interesting to go through the build process, and everything came together quite nicely in the end. There's no feeling as cool as starting with a random pile of blocks and slowly seeing the final vehicle come together throughout the course of a couple hour build. In this case, the end result was impressive and fun to make come together. As a nice little addition, there is an included ladder so the pilot can walk up into the cockpit. A small piece for the overall set, but a neat addition just the same.

Along with the Ghoststriker, we got the Cobra Anti-Aircraft vehicle the ASP, and this one wasn't quite as effective as the plane. Granted, this is a smaller element of the set and you don't necessarily expect as much greatness, but it was a bit frustrating because it was almost terrific. The shape of the ASP is great, I love the tires and the way it rotates. But I really don't like the gun barrels. The guns are stuck upwards at a 45 degree angle, and yes for an anti-aircraft gun that is what you might expect, but I'd have liked for them to be able to rotate downwards as well. It's a minor complaint, but enough of an issue that it detracts from the overall effectiveness of the gun emplacement.

One extra cool touch to the ASP as well is the inclusion of a tow point as well. Granted, there currently aren't any Cobra vehicles with a matching spot for it yet, but it works flawlessly with the G.I. Joe VAMP:

That tells me that there are plans to get a Cobra vehicle out there with similar towing capabilities. Perhaps the new HISS that's coming with the Arashikage Dojo? Or can we expect a slightly modified VAMP recolored as a Cobra Stinger at some point in 2014? I don't have the answer, but I look forward to finding out.

The Mini-Figures

Like many of the other Kre-O build sets, this one comes with a pair of figures...a popular G.I. Joe character and a Cobra Trooper. I really love this formula, as it allows for some quick and easy army building with some nicely tweaked Cobra Troopers along the way.

As one might expect, the G.I. Joe character that's included with their first fighter jet is no other than Ace, inarguably the most famous G.I. Joe jet pilot in its 30 year history. As with most of the Kre-Ons, Hasbro manages to infuse an amazing amount of character into the tiny mini figure, using decal work to replicate his intricate classic uniform, and a terrific clear helmet revealing his unique smirk inside. The Kre-On figure is the same base figure that you get with any number of other Kre-O sets out there, but with that added line texture on the torso and legs, immediately the figure resembles its vintage counterpart, and I love the design work here. Ace comes with the same pistol that we've seen throughout the line, which works well enough.

Curiously, the pilot doesn't come with a Kre-On stand, but the ASP gunner does. I can't recall if this is normal operating procedure for the Kre-O sets or not.

The Cobra Trooper that operates as the ASP Gunner is awesome in the fact that the base color is very close to the colors of the other Cobra Troopers in the Kre-O line, immediately tying it in with the Cobra cadre of infantry we've already gotten throughout this line. As another nice addition, the ASP Gunner has a unique torso decal separating him quite nicely from the other Cobra Troopers throughout the Kre-On armada, with a great cross-strap across his torso. Lastly, he has a pair of cool clear goggles, to yet differentiate him even further. These are all very small, likely inexpensive touches but Hasbro including these little variations is an awesome way to build a Cobra squad that still all resembles a common theme, yet each has their own distinct specialty courtesy of well designed torso decals and some different head gear.

As mentioned, the Cobra Trooper has the Kre-O display stand in red, but also comes with what has quickly become the Cobra default machine gun, so he can either man his ASP, or march in infantry with his compatriots.

Bringing all of these different elements together, you have one heck of another nice Kre-O set. We have a nice medium sized vehicle, a great smaller addition, and a pair of really nice figures that all come together to create an awesome play pattern in a box, giving kids an easy way to fight good guys against bad guys all in one tidy package. Yet, even with that kid target audience, Hasbro adds enough collector tributes here to appeal to us old farts as well. It's a terrific formula and Hasbro is still doing great work with it. With word coming from Derryl DePriest at SDCC this year that Kre-O is continuing throughout 2014, I'm really looking forward to seeing what else is out there on the horizon.