|Code Name: EEL|
The Eel was originally released as part of the fourth series of G.I. Joe, becoming Cobra's first underwater specialists to be given toys (the wetsuit clad chaps seen in the first cartoon miniseries didn't get a plastic release for a long time). The type was given a typically lurid update in 1992, though the Lampreys caught most of the rubbish Hasbro were throwing out at the time.
The type was actually seen very rarely in the cartoon or comic due to neither using many nautical situations, though they did get to be in a British Action Force strip which seemed to exist entirely so writer Simon Furman could crowbar in a telegraphed Monty Python line.
Thankfully the Eel got a smashing update for the 25th Anniversary line, closely following the original figure's design. The bare bones are just taken from Torpedo, which is fair enough as both are wearing wetsuits. The real trick is the unstinting detail, however. The lower arms are new parts that recreate the original's cuffs and there are a set of shoulder pads, while the helmet is now removable. The head underneath is no great shakes - just a grey balaclava - but it adds so much to any figure to give them actual removable headgear rather than just a head molded in a helmet shape. The old harpoon gun is present and correct while the backpack still inexplicably has removable boosters, but now the oxygen tube is connected permanently to the pack. This is a good thing as it's a lot harder to lose. The Eel is rounded out by a pair of flippers (removable) and two knives in holsters. These are probably the weakest feature simply because they fall out relatively easily.
None of which would really work if the original design wasn't so good. Along with the Crimson Guard the Eel might just have been the last really great Cobra generic of the 1980s - the original was one of the best of its' era and its' strengths are faithfully recreated here. It's just a really good take on the basic frogman design with enough flourishes to make it convincing within a Cobra unit all wrapped up in a great colour scheme. A super little figure.