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Arctic H.I.S.S. w/ Arctic H.I.S.S. Driver

GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

I don't know about you, but I always consider it a personal failing when I have to go online to buy something I should have been able to find in stores.

An Arctic HISS tank moves swiftly over the snowy Arctic ground. Its destination: a fortified research station housing a new electromagnetic energy system. The tank's driver launches missiles that destroy the protective barrier around the station and easily takes control of the facility in the name of Cobra Commander!

That back-of-the-box bio seems to refer to GI Joe: The Movie, when Cobra raided the Joes' Himalayan base, but they didn't use any HISSes: just three Stuns, the Thunder Machine, and a couple motorcycles. They also didn't take control of anything, so consider this a micro-continuity. Interestingly, white HISS tanks did appear once in a real episode.

Arctic HISS (High Speed Sentry) tanks are designed for use in polar or alpine conditions, to negotiate over deep snow and soft ground with maximum speed and maneuverability. This armored workhorse has a fully winterized cabin and can operate at temperatures to minus 60 degrees Celcius (minues 76 degrees Farenheit). They are armed with missiles that have IHS (infared homing synchronization) for pinpoint targeting accuracy. Cobra uses these cold-weather tanks to guard their arctic bases and attack polar facilities for capture or destruction.

It's really a bit silly to call this an "Arctic" HISS - the Himalayas are cold, but they're not in the Arctic. They're also not in the Alps, but the filecard was probably using "alpine" in the climatological sense, not geographic. Nor does the tank look much like a bear (the Greek word for "bear" is ἄρκτος - arktos - and is ultimately the origin for the term Arctic: aka, the region of the bear; that's why the polar region with no bears is ant-arctic).

The bulk of the mold is shared with the normal Generation 3 HISS, which is only natural. It's cast in white plastic, which makes for a very sharp design. The armored plating inside the treads is white as well, drawing attention to a feature that's usually overlooked. There's a trans blue light bar in the front, and the twin guns in the back have been replaced by the Stinger's missile rack.

A feature unique to the Arctic HISS is the thin black frame that fits over the rear of the tank. It has notches all the way around to accommodate hooked accessories that hang on the sides. This particular release has a cage/storage rack on one side, and a rolled up tarp on the other. The tarp is just a sculpted element, not cloth, but if it were real, it would be big enough to cover the entire tank - probably to protect it from snow when it's parked.

Arctic HISS Drivers, like all Cobra HISS Drivers, are selected from the best of Cobra infantry forces for their skills, physical strength and initiative (which means they're some of the nastiest, toughest and most aggressive troopers in the entire Cobra army). They are given concentrated training in the optimal operation of these powerful armored tanks; then they receive specialized training in cold weather combat and survival techniques. Arctic HISS Drivers are graduates of Cobra Battle School and Advanced Weapons Systems Training.

The Arctic HISS Driver is just as recycled as his ride: the head comes from the standard HISS Driver, while the Snow Serpent provides the bulk of the body, including the heavy gloves, the big furry shawl and the webgear with the pouch over his stomach. The lower legs come from Arctic Snake-Eyes.

The colors are very nice: decidedly snow-friendly, yet still entirely distinct from any of the three figures that contributed to his construction. The boots and gloves are black, as is the webgear. His suit is plain white, and the fur trim and tops of the boots are gray. His helmet thing is pale gray, with a golden visor and a blue facemask. Very cool.

The figure has two accessories (unless you think of the tank and all its gear - frame, roll, all four missiles - as accessories, which might be overkill). There's a black M16, and a black pair of binoculars. The fur can be removed, if you want, but the webgear is on there permanently.

The Arctic HISS was one of the final G3 vehicles "released" before the line ended to make room for the movie toys. We put "released" in quotation marks because it never actually showed up anywhere - online retailers like Entertainment Earth and Big Bad Toy Store got their cases, but come on: unless something shows up at one of the Big Three, it might as well never have been made. Some of the seasonal "Toys Я Us Express" stores apparently got tons of the things, but none of the ones I could ever get to. If you can get the Arctic HISS at a good price, you shouldn't be disappointed.

-- 01/28/11

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