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Author Topic: Review - DragonHawk  (Read 2023 times)


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Review - DragonHawk
« on: May 18, 2010, 12:57:35 AM »

Vehicle Review – Dragonhawk

One of the most iconic Joe vehicles from the first few years of the line is the Dragonfly.  It’s definitely the most iconic Joe chopper, and is one of my personal favorites.  I like the Dragonfly so much, I own both an original ’83 version and the tan TRU Exclusive “Locust” version.  So when a successor to the Dragonfly was announced as part of the Rise of Cobra Bravo line, I was pumped.  I had to have it!

I got my hands on a Dragonhawk pretty quickly after they came out.  While it’s not quite a replacement for the Dragonfly, it’s still a pretty neat little chopper.  Like the original Dragonfly, it’s predominantly green, though it’s more of a true green than the olive drab of the original.  The wings, rotors, landing gear, and nose gun are all black.  The canopy is tinted green, and there are a few, stickered-on yellow accents throughout, but for the most part this chopper is straight military.  No crazy neon color scheme here!

Starting at the nose, the Dragonhawk has what appears to be a weapons control/avionics package on the front, similar to the Apache.  For those not in the know, this pod would contain the FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) and other systems that allow choppers to be effective killers at night and in all other weather conditions.  Above the nose pod sits the canopy.  The canopy is very similar in style to the canopy on the Joe vs. Cobra Night Attack Chopper, and I love it.  Raising it reveals a cockpit with a few surprising details.  There’s a heads-up display at the very front of the cockpit, and it has a sticker on it for detail.  The outline of a seat and vent holes in the floor are molded into the cockpit.  And, in a pleasant surprise, there are control levers on either side of the cockpit as well as a panel with molded-in buttons.  Anyone who has read my other reviews knows how much I hate undetailed cockpits!

Continuing along the top, just aft of the canopy sits the rotor head.  The Dragonhawk’s rotor has four blades, compared to the Dragonfly’s two.  Just behind the rotor head, two large intakes jut out from the sides of the fuselage.  The size of the engines relative to the rest of the chopper gives them a sense of power…you can easily visualize the Dragonhawk being very fast indeed.  Immediately behind the engines, the tail begins.  There is a larger section with three small winglets (two on the sides and one on the bottom) at the front of the tail.  The rear of the tail has a single vertical stabilizer with a triple-bladed tail-rotor on the left side (which starts JUST before the end of the tail), and dual horizontal stabilizers at the very rear of the vehicle.  Underneath the tail is a single, non-turning wheel. 

As for the underside, a small, multibarreled minigun sits just below the nose pod, angled downward.  The mingun can traverse side to side for a total of about 45 degrees of movement.  Just aft of the cockpit on the chopper’s belly are landing gear struts on either side.  The wheels DO turn on these, unlike the tail wheel.  Even with the rotor head on the chopper’s belly is a single, black grab handle, perfect for those emergency quick extractions…though I wouldn’t want to ride holding on down there for long.

The Dragonhawk is not without surprises. At first glance, it appears very wimpily armed, with just the small minigun to provide gunfire.  However, the sides of the chopper have a small black wing on either side, even with the rear of the cockpit.  Grab the very front section of the tail and slide it towards the rear, and the panels just behind the wings pop out, revealing four missiles!  A button at the rear of the pop-out panels fires the missiles…a light press will fire the top missile, while pressing hard will fire the top and bottom missiles one-two.  Not only are the hidden missiles some welcome firepower and a nasty surprise for attackers, but the Dragonhawk looks kind of beefy with the panels deployed.  When they’re deployed, the panels stick out even with the engine intakes for the beefy appearance. 

The Dragonhawk’s neat, but it’s not perfect.  I for one hate the minigun on the nose.  It is WAY too small to strike fear into anyone…it looks like it would shoot either BB’s or .22 caliber bullets.  Not very fear-inspiring like an Apache’s nose gun, is it?  Also, the downward angle means the minigun is only going to be shooting at stuff on the ground, unless Wild Bill seriously yanks the nose up.  I wish there were some small rocket pods or something stuck underneath the ends of the wings, as the Dragonhawk looks kind of naked, especially with the missile pods recessed.  I really dislike the way the blades attach to the rotor head…it seems flimsy and looks like it would wear out quickly.  The chrome screw heads that hold the toy together are exposed on the vehicle’s right side, and kind of mess up the visual.  I hate the non-turning tail-wheel, and I’m afraid to drop the chopper because I can just see those front landing gear struts snapping off.  And the hidden missile pods are neat…but other than the nasty surprise, what’s really the point of them?  After one encounter, Cobra’s gonna know what the DH is packing, so the element of surprise is gone.  The only thing I can think of for this design choice is that with the pods recessed, drag on the aeroframe is reduced to the point where the Dragonhawk could fly much faster than with the pods deployed.

Really and truly though, the biggest problem with the Dragonhawk is its size.  It’s not a very big chopper at all…it’s only about a foot and a half long, and the rotor blades are only about 7 or 8 inches long.  Heck, just the rotor blade of the original Dragonfly is a couple of inches longer than the whole Dragonhawk, and if you hold a Dragonhawk next to a Tomahawk, you’ll see that the Dragonhawk barely extends past the openings of the troop compartment.  If Hasbro had made the Dragonhawk a two-seater like the Dragonfly, and made it a bigger Echo-class vehicle, I think this thing would be an absolute SMASH.   

The Dragonhawk does come with a figure, another version of Wild Bill.  Yes, I heard that groan from you, as this is no less than the fourth Wild Bill we’ve gotten.  However in my opinion, THIS is the best Wild Bill we’ve gotten yet!  Wild Bill uses Ace’s body, with the 25th Wild Bill head.  This is an excellent body choice, because it makes Wild Bill look like less of a cowboy and more like a pilot.  He’s wearing an actual flight suit now, instead of boots and chaps…and the holsters that made other versions a pain to fit in a vehicle have mercifully been removed.  The color choices are what really make this figure.  The suit is predominantly olive, with tan accents on the kneepads, crotch, and butt.  Bill’s boots and gloves are black, and the bulky outer vest he’s wearing is as well.  Bill comes with both his traditional cowboy hat, pistols, and the same helmet included with the TRU SRO Air Wild Bill and the comic-pack Wild Bill.  The helmet’s painted olive to match the flight suit, and has a black visor that looks sharp!  This is my favorite Wild Bill figure so far, and I removed him from the Dragonhawk for duty as the Dragonfly’s pilot full-time.  Sure, he’s kind of a simple figure and another blatant repaint…but in this case simple, blatant repaint works exceptionally well!  The only complaint I have with Bill is his regular combat-style boots.  If they had given him black cowboy boots he’d have been perfect!

By now, RoC stuff has been clearanced at a lot of stores, so you can probably find a Dragonhawk cheap.  If so, I do encourage you to pick it up, as it’s a neat little chopper that comes with a great Wild Bill!  The Dragonhawk’s greatest crime, the thing that prevents it from being a smash, is dashed expectations and “What Could Have Been.”  Joe fans were expecting a similarly sized, updated version of the Dragonfly, and instead we got an updated version of the Locust.  I swear, if this were bigger (like Echo class) the Dragonhawk would have taken a place alongside the Dragonfly, Tomahawk, and Night Attack Chopper as one of the greatest GI Joe choppers ever.


« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Re: Review - DragonHawk
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2010, 07:59:58 AM »

Great review, man.  I guess it's cool to get a helicopter, but I agree with you, way too small.  The dragonfly sure does put it to shame.  You take some excellent photos with your reviews, too!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »


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Re: Review - DragonHawk
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2010, 09:49:43 AM »

Great review.  Now I must decide to keep this or trade for more 25th anniversary figures!  :-
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »