Let's face it, the one aspect that made the GI Joe line so successful were the vehicles. While it was fun for boys to re-create battle sequences with their Joe and Cobra figures, what kid didn't want a tank or a jet to put their figures in while playing? I know I did, but due to the size of a lot of these vehicles I never got to experience many of them, especially the toys that were released later into the line.
In 1990 Hasbro released the Cobra Condor Z25. It's described as a high altitude fighter / bomber. It was only on store shelves for about a year and retailed for around $20.00 USD. By 1990 I didn't have much to do with GI Joe or any toys for that matter, so I can't say I have any type of childhood connection to this particular toy. I just remember seeing it years later in I believe one of Mark Bellomo's Joe books and thinking how awesome of an aircraft it was.
The design of the Condor Z25 is very unique in that not only does it have the inverted wings, but it also has that long "neck" if you will. You can also tell it's pretty armed. Missiles under the small wings found on each side of the front canopy, wings underneath the large inverted wings, a cannon on the back of the jet asd well as the bombs you can see stored inside the wings. These little bombs especially are easily lost so make sure when you are buying this vehicle on the secondary market that all 14 small bombs are included.
Another feature the Condor had was retractable landing gear. Unlike some vehicles that may have just had molded wheels, the Condor has free rolling wheels. There were 5 sets of landing gear, partly due to it's gimmick.
In the center of the plane is what I originally thought as some sort of vent or engine. If you look inside those holes you'll see a gray/silver plastic piece. When you turn this, it will eventually line up with a slot on the bottom and drop a larger red bomb! The Condor came w/ 7 of these bombs and I believe it could hold all 7 at one time.
Another cool play feature of the Condor were the smaller bombs. I personally loved how these were stored in the wings with a translucent cover. However these aren't just for looks. On the underside of the wing was a lever that you could slide towards the opening. As you slide it, it would push a bomb over and out the slot. Keep sliding and you could release 7 bombs one after another in quick secession!
Earlier I mention the number of retractable landing gear due to it's gimmick. If you didn't already know the Condor Z25 could be separated with the push of a button into two air craft. Now GI Joe was always known for pushing the limits on the believeability of some of it's weapons and vehicles and this is no exception. However I'm sure that kids back in the early 90's playing with this could have cared less. Shoot, I don't care...I think it's a cool design element. If nothing else, this explains why there are two cockpits on the Condor.
The rear of the Condor is now turned around and acts as bomber. It looks more like the head of a hammerhead shark in this mode. The large ring on the jet houses a silver twin cannon that you can move up and down. You still have two missiles underneath the wings and all of the smaller bombs at your disposal. If you turn the jet around, you'll see a turbine engine where the Condor was seperated from the other half.
The front half of the jet isn't nearly as impressive in my opinion. I guess this is supposed to be the high altitude fighter? In this form the jet still retains the larger bombs as well as two missiles up front. You can't really see very well in my picture, but inside the rear hull of the jet is a silver engine turbine, similar to the one found on the other end of the bomber.
I failed to remove the Cobra Aero-Viper from the jet to take proper pictures of the figure, I do apologize. it's one of the better looking Viper figures in my opinion. His jumpsuit has a nice texture to it, although the green looks out of place. His vest and gloves are done up in a flat gray color. His removeable helmet is a soft, swirly gold plastic. The head sculpt is pretty cool as the Aero-Viper sports a bandana that covers the hair and upper portion of his face. To make him look a little tougher, he also sports a black goatee. I believe this head scuplt was later reused as a generic Dreadnok by the official GI Joe club. If you have more than one, you can use them in both cockpits of the Condor.
I don't have much of a GI Joe collection to date, mainly because of a lack of space. I can say however this vehicle was a lot of fun to play around with and had I had more room I may have kept it just because it's so unique when compared to other Cobra aircraft. If you're looking to buy this on the secondary market, be aware that parts of the vehicle may be discolored. After all it's a 25+ year old toy made of white plastic. The stickers will also most likely show some wear. Being that they were printed on clear plastic, the edges may show dirt and wear as mine did. I don't know if anyone has made a set of reproduction labels for this aircraft either. The ring on the back of the jet, the twin cannon and all of the missiles/bombs can be hard to find unless you are buying a complete specimen. It's a great to and one that I highly recommend to any ARAH Joe fan.