Cobra Black Dragon

February 1, 2012 | By More

I know. It’s been forever since I reviewed the Black Dragon Pilot. I’ve taken pictures on more than one occasion. They’ve just never been as good as I wanted. Part of the issue stem from the fact, this one of the biggest things I’ve tried to photograph for the site. My background wan’t quite big enough.


The Black Dragon is a VTOL aircraft that appeared in GI Joe: Renegades. It’s got that five minutes into the future look that embodies what GI Joe is all about. I’m not saying VTOL’s don’t exist, I know they do. Just not one that looks like a stealth spaceship.

The Black Dragon in Renegades was a much bigger craft that this one. It’ was a multi passenger plane capable of hauling cargo. While this has the same general look it, it is a one person craft.

The key to a VTOL is typically pivoting engines. That is what we see at the end of the wings here. They are fairly well detailed. There’s some red detailing. The props are fairly nice with strips and high visibility red on the tips, I’m assuming for ground crew safety. The little panels and stuff are nice. And the prop spins very freely.

This also brings me to my first issue. Which I wasn’t sure was going to be an issue at first. You my remember there are a ton of decals on the VAMP. I actually expected that here, but there are none. Everything is painted on. What’s the problem you ask? It’s all too big. Should “Danger Exhaust” really be half as long as the engine it is painted on?  This carries through to the “No Step” painted in different locations. When you look at it in comparison to the size of the plane, it’s just too big.

I’ll assume from the box art, the cockpit canopy is suppose to be semi transparent. I like the idea of it being armored. Keeps in line with modern tech. The canopy opens forward, which is a bit odd, but cool. It’s never seemed to latch quite solid either.

The cockpit is fairly well detailed considering you can’t see it when it’s closed up. There’s painted details for the seat and control panes, as well as a control stick. This is where the figure’s knees make it difficult to get him in there.. This cockpit is tight. A larger figure would probably not fit at all.

There are two small landing gear underneath that are manually operated. One is under the tail and other is near the nose. Right under the nose is a solid molded removable Gatling gun.

The tail gear is a bit longer and helps balance the tail. Something I found out is they upright fins on mine seem to pop off easily. One of the pups tried to steal one when it fell on the floor.

One of the things I really like about the overall look is the red and black color scheme. The black is matte and gives the craft a bit of stealth appearance.

There are two weapons pods underneath. These support the main weight when it is on the ground. They look slightly oversized, but not too much. The angular design  helps the stealth aesthetic as well.


There’s some action features here as well. Two buttons on the top activate these features.

The first is pretty straight forward. The wings pivot at their attachment points and lock at the full back position. This would allow Cobra to store them easier on their aircraft carrier. Push the button, and they snap forward. To be honest, this scares the heck out of me. I always feel like something is going to fly off the darn thing. Maybe that is just me.  (Engineernerd Note: be cautious assembling these parts, they are easy to put on backwards if you aren’t ‘ baying attention.)

The other button activates two features. The first of which is a bigger cannon pops out from underneath the body. At the same time the pods on the sides open up to drop missiles. Well, they don’t look like bombs and the box art depicts them being self propelled. However, when you push the button they will fall straight down.

To be honest, I could really do without this gun. Or have it manually actuated. It just doesn’t seem like you would need it with the one on the front. And why would you need it at the same time as bomb/missile thingees? Also, the front landing gear interferes a bit with the gun if it is down.


I orignally picked the Black Dragon up because I enjoyed the VAMP so much. I wasn’t quite as impressed with it. It has some high points and some oddities to it. The overall design is pretty cool. I’m sure the action features are cool for kids. In general, even the scale issues don’t upset me too much. The paint scale was the only thing that really bothers me.

I’d love to see a re-issue of this at some point with decals instead of paint. You could just add more to the whole thing. But, as an Air Force brat, I have to say any air craft in the GI Joe universe is a good one and I hope we get to see more.

Engineernerd Score: 87/100


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Category: Featured, GI Joe, Toy Reviews

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Comments (4)

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  1. Errex says:

    Very cool aircraft. I also like the color scheme but, How sturdy are the hinges on those wings?.

  2. Engineernerd says:

    That’s the thing I’m most worried about. I try to hold them and let them gently out.

  3. Joseph Tages says:

    Very reminiscent of the classic Firebat but the cockpit is way too small to fit the new style figures.

  4. Tom says:

    I was actually kinda disappointed with no stickers as crazy as that may sound. I had really looked forward to getting this but after having finally getting one it was just kind of a meh.