The biggest piece in the new GI Joe 50th Anniversary collection is the Battle Below Zero, an arctic themed set that packs in two opposing vehicles– one never before released in the Modern Era– and two great driver toys. It’s a lot of toy in a single box, and the whole set turned out to be fantastic.
Both GI Joe and Cobra feature a figure and vehicle in this box set. In the Joe’s corner, we get our only Snake Eyes in the 50th Anniversary, as well as his personalized, winter themed Ghost Hawk. The Snake Eyes figure is a repaint of the Pursuit of Cobra desert figure, whose sculpt remains excellent. The new paint removes the sand-blasted look and replaces it with a nice metallic blue trim which does wonders to change this guy’s desert themed uniform into something ready for ice, snow and winds. Snake Eyes includes his twin uzis, a sword with sheath and a white visor that sort of flips up, revealing his eyes underneath.
The Joe’s vehicle is a recast of the original Ghost Hawk (Sky Hawk), in an arctic camo pattern which is quite eye catching. The white and grey markings give this a very unique look, and the deep blue canopy stands out brilliantly. The one-man airship also includes some cool new decals, including a pilot stamp to show this is Snake Eyes’ personal Ghost Hawk, a nice touch considering our pilot.
As nice as this Snake Eyes and Ghost Hawk are, it’s the Cobra half of the set which really shines. The Ice Viper is a vintage character who has yet to get the Modern Era update, so he’s obviously a welcome addition. While not featuring any new tooling, this Ice Viper is a very clever kitbash, one far too intricate for me to have cooked up on my own. The Snow Serpent base body works well while making this driver somewhat uniform with Cobra’s other arctic forces, while the Resolute Cobra helmet works very well to replicate the vintage figure’s look. There’s a bit of weirdness in the legs– this soldier includes holsters for a pair of sai (?) but he also packs a more appropriate rifle as an accessory that makes sense.
The Ice Viper has always been a drive, so he obviously needs a vehicle, and in this case he can pilot the Cobra W.O.L.F. (Winter Operational Light Fighting vehicle), an awesome reissue of the vintage 1987 vehicle. I can’t tell if this is a straight repack of the classic, or a reworked tool, but the Ice Viper– a fairly tall Joe figure– fits comfortably inside the vehicle’s cockpit, so I’ll take it. This was always one of my favorite Joe vehicles, and every feature, from the flip-open missile launcher next to the cockpit, to the snow torpedoes which store on the upper rack, are brought back for this release.
A new lighter grey deco and deep blue canopies make this a visually striking addition to Cobra’s army, and the updated stickers help distinguish it as a Modern Era vehicle. There’s been a number of arctic themed Cobras over the years, and the W.O.L.F. will certainly make a nice centerpiece for them.
This set is incredibly fun, and does a great job of playing into both the “Joe versus Cobra” theme, and the “Theater of Combat” environmental style that made Pursuit of Cobra so very cool. Even better is that this, the largest set in the 50th Anniversary collection, manages to pack in all this stuff for less than $50! The Battle Below Zero totally justifies its own price tag, and then some, bringing another vintage figure AND vehicle to the Modern Era, alongside some very well executed variants.