The Cobra H.I.S.S. tank was my favourite toy growing up. It was sleek and sexy before I knew what sleek and sexy meant. It was built for fun and speed. Where G.I. Joe had a traditional military green tank, Cobra designed a High-Speed Sentry that was pitch black with blood red accents. The H.I.S.S. Driver that was included with the tank was that same blood red with a bold blue chest plate emblazoned with a silver Cobra logo that slowly faded after years of play. The Driver would sit beneath a clear canopy that jutted out in front of the treads and turret creating an angular design that made the tank appear as if it was always in motion. It looked FAST. Even at rest. It was so futuristic looking that my Stormtroopers may have hijacked it for a mission or two. In a childhood where I was blessed to have a number of iconic toys, there are few if any, that come close to capturing the joy that the H.I.S.S. tank brought me through the years. So when Hasbro announced a Classified scale Cobra H.I.S.S. tank as their latest HasLab offering, I was extremely excited.
Never before has an undertaking such as this occurred – our project is the first 6-inch scale G.I. Joe Classified Series Cobra H.I.S.S. vehicle for which everyone has been clamoring. A mere $299.99 grants backers the base offering of my technological wonder, the H.I.S.S., as well as a highly-articulated Cobra H.I.S.S. Driver Action Figure with premium deco, detailing, and articulation for poseability. The vehicle itself contains an astounding level of detail and features allowing for myriad posing and display options.
This crowdfunded project will run from June 29th 2022 11:00AM ET to August 15th 11:59PM ET. If successful, the project will begin shipping Fall 2023.
The Hasbro G.I. Joe team has already had a successful HasLab project with the 3 ¾ inch scale Sky Striker. This project is their first foray into the extremely popular 6-inch Classified line. For those unaware, HasLab projects are similar to Kickstarter. Hasbro announces a product, sets a production goal and stretch goals to sweeten the deal. If enough people agree to purchase the product it moves into production. If the goal is not met, then the product dies and is never spoken of again (RIP Cookie Monster and Rancor). I’ve come to view the success and failure of each HasLab project as a good indicator for how in touch each Hasbro brand team is with their customers. With that in mind, it’s not surprising to me that Emily and Lenny from the G.I. Joe Team have put together an offering that has broken the record for fastest funded HasLab project.
G.I. Joe Classified has always been an update to the Real American Hero characters we love from the ’80s. It’s Hasbro’s way of bringing those characters into today’s theater of war. They look familiar, but with modern day accoutrements. Early in the line, it was a bit too far removed from the ’80s style. To the Joe Team’s credit, they have always listened to their fans and made adjustments. Two years into the line, Hasbro has really hit a sweet spot in terms of the Classified style. It’s the perfect balance of old and new and the H.I.S.S. tank reflects this flawlessly.
- Functioning wheels with moving treads: Rotating sprockets and wheels spin as the treads roll forward or backward.
- Elaborately-detailed command cockpit interior: The Cobra H.I.S.S. Driver Action Figure sits buckled with a 5-point harness adorned with Cobra logo before an illuminated control panel. You can pose the figure operating the articulated joystick and throttle controls while targeting Joe combatants.
- “Gull-wing” Canopy: The vehicle comes with features “gull wing” functioning doors with independent right and left sides that lift from center hinges allowing the Driver to enter from either side of the H.I.S.S.
- Rear Cargo Bay: The rear personnel platform provides standing room for additional troops who can be posed holding the functional handrails. Below that is a retractable tow hitch on the rear of the vehicle. The center of the personnel platform flips up allowing the rear cargo door to drop. That reveals an illuminated troop transport cargo space. Inside is a jump seat and a weapon accessory storage rack.
- Articulated turret with poseable cannon accessories: The 360-degree rotating turret includes control details and fits an additional G.I. Joe Classified Series Action Figure (sold separately). The Double “Diablo” Cannon accessories can swivel and elevate independently from one another.
- Removable engine cover detail: Behind the cockpit sits the M.A.R.S.-developed HISS-CS22 propulsion unit detail beneath a removable cover. It connects to side exhaust port details.
- Removable armor plating skirt: The Cobra H.I.S.S. comes with a removable armor plating skirt detail with reactive armor to provide extra protection for the road wheels
- Extendable cockpit boarding ladders: Flip-down boarding ladders descend from each side of the H.I.S.S. granting the Driver easier access to the cockpit.
HasLabs have become a bit of a touchy subject in the collecting community. While many people recognize the benefit of being able to get products that may never be able to reach mass retail outlets, others see a billion-dollar company crowd sourcing the general public to pay for their production costs. I can see both sides of it, honestly. At the end of the day, I choose to look at my own perceived value in the offering. If I feel I’m getting my money’s worth for what I’m paying I’ll back the project. If not, I allocate my collecting budget elsewhere. The good thing about each of the HasLab offerings to this point is that the return on investment is extremely good. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of people buying two and selling one to cover the cost of the one they’re keeping. As with any type of investment, there’s always a risk, but I’ve already heard of people buying up to the maximum allotment of five H.I.S.S. tanks. Being a troop builder, there’s going to be some demand for these long term from those of us who want to see these en masse in our collections. Even if you decide to sell yours down the road, you shouldn’t have a hard time making your money back.
One way to offset the cost is by selling off some of the unlocks, which at the time of me writing this article are ¾ attained with 39 days to go. That last one should fall this weekend or early next week. Which begs the question: Then what? On a recent Q&A Session, Emily said “I cannot comment on this at this current time. There are currently no plans to add additional tiers, but we are always looking to see how we can potentially improve the campaign.” With over 30 days left and the project already fully funded, that’s a lot of time for the “currently” part of that statement to change, potentially making way for additional unlocks. If Hasbro wants to continue to sell units through the end of the campaign, adding more value through additional unlocks is the way to do it. We’re already getting the tank, three figures (Driver, Gunner, and the Tactician Early-Bird Unlock), side-mounted missile racks, retro style canopy and tread skirts as well as a weapons accessory pack featuring additional cannon mounts. If you put a value of $25 per figure, that makes the tank with all of its bells, whistles and LED lights $225. To me, that’s already enough value to justify the purchase. Update: The fourth unlock has been announced and it’s another figure. This time a Retro Carded Cobra Commander, bringing the new math to $200 for the H.I.S.S. tank and accessories. An even better value than I originally calculated.
Another reason I’m backing is the way the Joe Team does business. Where other people in the toy industry can come across as business first and fans a distant second, the Hasbro G.I. Joe Team come across as fans first who also happen to have a good sense of who their customers are. They don’t treat G.I. Joe as a project they were assigned to, but as a project they begged to work on. Emily and Lenny truly seem like fans of the franchise that just so happened to end up working on the brand they love. Whenever I hear them talk about the line, they do so with exuberance and joy. They are well versed in the deep history of the G.I. Joe universe and are always eager to share as much as they can while still leaving room for some fun surprise reveals. They’ve acknowledged when they get it wrong and they make adjustments to meet the needs of a very passionate fan base. They’re honest with the fans and as a consumer, I always appreciate transparency whenever possible.
If you have the funds and can afford to tie them up in a project you won’t have in hand until fall of next year, assuming no delays, the HasLab Cobra H.I.S.S. tank is available to preorder through August 15th