The 1983 HISS is probably the most iconic G.I. Joe vehicle, it’s easily identifiable, has a memorable name, and was super prevalent in the Toys, the cartoon, and the comic book, so in the late 1980s, when the G.I. Joe line started to reintroduce older characters back into the line, it wasn’t surprising that the HISS was the vehicle that was reintroduced into G.I. Joe.
The HISS II, owes a lot of it’s design, to it’s predecessor from 1983, but rather than just re-hash the original, the designers took a lot of cues from the media interpretations of the original, which lead to the double seat cockpit, with the jaw-like entry system. While not perfect, the fact they were going from things seen in the early comic days shows that this was a vehicle that meant more to the line than say, the Devastator or Pulverizer. While they did take a lot of cues from the original HISS, there are still some of the late 80s Vehicle tropes on display, there’s the floating side rockets, the large gun and the troop carrier capacity. Honestly, none of these additions are a negative on the design. The HISS II is so much larger than a HISS, things like extra weapons make sense.
The Troop carrier aspect, is definitely not perfect, and doesn’t really make a lot of sense if this is supposed to be a combat tank or High Speed Sentry, or whatever the hell a HISS actually is, but it’s a COBRA Command weapon, and most of the time those don’t make a lot of sense. Mine is missing the little bars that are supposed to keep the figures secure, but it’s not that big a deal to me, it’s a feature I’m fairly indifferent to. The highly detailed side panels aren’t as sleek as most HISS iterations, but it’s something new, and keeps it from being an overly plain design. The TRIPLE BARREL CANNON is terrible, and doesn’t look very good if elevated, I will however give Hasbro marks for the fact they did a little bit of sculpting on the bottom of the cannon, rather than just leave it smooth, like they would’ve anytime afterwards.
I’m fond of this vehicle, though I’m not entirely sure why. It’s an updated look for the HISS, but still not even the best update, as the DTC version is a superior toy. I think the large size of this vehicle is probably what impresses me the most about it, as it’s far bigger than the HISS, in fact it’s probably closer to the size I always felt the HISS should’ve been from the beginning. It’s far closer to the MOBAT, which was the HISS’ typical dance partner in the early media. The colours aren’t too bad, the weird grey that COBRA went to in the 80s isn’t an eyesore, and LOTS OF RED WEAPONS has been their calling card since 1983. I also like that, despite the increase in size and such, the HISS Driver mold still looks good with it!
The HISS II is a very seldom seen vehicle, it’s release year really didn’t do it any favours, as a lot of the late 80s vehicles aren’t often seen. It also likely would’ve been a far more desirable vehicle, had the 2005 DTC HISS V not existed, as that’s a vehicle that takes a lot of design cues from this HISS, but wraps them in a HISS I coating. I think Hasbro really conked the collector around, by not doing anything with the HISS II mold, despite having it. There were a couple of very easy repaints (Black or even Crimson) that weren’t done, and that kept a fairly high quality vehicle out of a lot of Collector’s hands.
Overall, though, it’s actually a fairly solid vehicle, given that it came out just as the decline in the overall quality of G.I. Joe vehicles began to really make itself evident. I’d like to think it having a historically relevant prior HISS helped, but that’s probably unlikely based on the existence of the FANG II.