Armored Panther w/Sgt. Thunderblast
Let me start by saying that I do not collect G.I. Joe vehicles. Normally the amount of suspension of disbelief required for me to accept the existence of an attack helicopter the size of a compact car proves too much, but, What about tanks the size of compact cars? Now, that’s where rules can bend a little bit.
Hasbro released the Armored Panther vehicle with Sgt Thunderblast figure in 2009 as part of the Alpha Vehicle Assortment for the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra line of toys.
This particular vehicle does not appear in the movie, even though there is a line of dialogue that clearly mentions them as part of the convoy transporting the nanomite warheads. Still, the overall aesthetic of the toy is close enough to the movie designs to fit in the line, even though it’s based on the Armadillo chassis sold originally in the 80′s and that has been already re-used a few times ever since.
The Armored Panther features a couple of missile launchers clamped on to each side of the tank, free-rolling wheels underneath the plastic thread-sculpt and a swiveling turret with a quadruple flak cannon array. The linked flak guns swivel up and down together but can be operated in pairs too.
The only nitpick I have with the vehicle is that the lateral missile launchers do limit the amount of turning the turret can achieve. Athough the launchers are not glued down and apparently could be removed without much trouble, I don’t see a reason to risk damaging the tank by attempting to remove them.
The same goes for the silver engine cover. I’m sure there’s nothing more that a slight plastic flange keeping it in place, but it won’t budge using only my fingers and I’m not willing to risk scratching the vehicle using anything harder.
The inside of the turret is pretty bare-bones, with no sculpted details in it or even a proper plastic seat for the figure, reminding us this is little more than an update of a toy designed back in the late 80′s. I don’t mind the fact too much, but it would be nice if Hasbro acknowledged this as an aspect to improve upon some day.
As far as paint, there is not a lot going on in the vehicle. The pieces are molded in the proper color of plastic and only the upper chassis gets a slight desert cammouflage airbrushing done in a reddish/tan hue. The vehicle includes a sheet of stickers to finish it off and applying them is not too involved.
The great thing about the G.I. Joe vehicles is that they always (to my knowledge) include a driver/pilot figure, and the Armored Panther comes with one Sgt. Thunderblast.
Again, Sgt. Thunderblast does not appear in the movie (of course, it can be argued he’s one of the unnamed extras seen running around the Pit in the movie, but I’m not going there), but the figure re-uses most of the body from the Resolute Duke figure (with a different head), which makes him a pretty good generic soldier.
Understandably, Sgt. Thunderblast adheres closely to the standard articulation model used for the 25th Anniversary Collection Joes:
Ball jointed neck. Completely unimpeded rotation and tilt.
Peg & hinge shoulders. Excellent motion range on both shoulders.
Peg & hinge elbows. Bending range is slightly above 90° with free 360° sideways rotation on both arms.
Swivel wrists. Free swiveling range for both hands.
Ball mounted torso. Free 360° swivel and decent tilting back/forth, but ends up functioning as a simple swivel due to the vest accessory.
Ball jointed hips. Pretty good motion range all around.
Double hinged knees. These bend way beyond 90° and are quite well hidden from view.
Peg & hinge ankles. Good range of motion back and forth and free 360° swivel.
The figure is molded in three different colors of plastic, pale flesh for the head, brown for the shirt and black for the pants, with extra paint applications added for further detailing. Thunderblast is a redhead, so the very pale skin doesn’t look too sickly in combination with the fiery orange hair, and both eyes and eyebrows are neatly painted.
Like most vehicle driver figures, Thunderblast doesn’t come with much in terms of accessories. He does have a very nice mint green utility vest (same color as the spats painted onto his boots), and a brown vintage style helmet with a smoky translucent visor, but no handgun of any sort, even though he has a sculpted holster (non-functional), over his left tigh.
The helmet fits rather loosely on Thunderblast’s head, which does become slightly annoying whenever you try to turn the head, but it’s nothing a piece of poster tac would not take care of.
Provided this one isn’t your first G.I. Joe toy, chances are you already have enough extra weapons to share with Sgt. Thunderblast, so I won’t deduct points on this account.
The Armored Panther vehicle holds one figure inside the turret and has a couple of foot-pegs at the back for two additional G.I. Joe figures. I’m glad to see that these pegs were retooled to work with the modern figures, as the vintage Joes had much larger peg-holes at the bottom of their feet.
Overall the Armored Panther is a really nice small vehicle, it’s design plausible enough to appear to be real and has just enough detail to look interesting.
Errex Score: 85/100