When Joe returned to retail in 1997, Hasbro was deft enough to also release vehicles. Fortunately, at the time, Star Wars vehicles were strong sellers and items sold at specific price points were highly profitable accouterments to a basic figure line. While collectors of the age complained about the mold choices that were included in 1997 and 1998, history has proven that these releases were at least strong legacies of vehicles in general. When the line returned to full retail in 2000, vehicles were once again included as a vital part of the retail experience. (In fact, the vehicles actually hit most retail outlets first with figures following a few weeks later.) Hasbro looked to release more vehicle offerings in 2001. This time, though, they dug up a Johnny Quest toy mold that was acquired when Hasbro gobbled up Galoob. It created a lackluster release, especially when paired with a coolly received SHARC repaint. The highlight of the vehicles, though, were the drivers. Hasbro re-introduced two molds to the repaint theatre. While the Sub Viper has found a following, his Joe companion has faded into obscurity. While the character of Cutter is great, a barely repainted release of him in a terrible vehicle was not a figure that captivated the collecting community.
On his own, this Cutter is good. He has a somewhat muted orange life vest and blue pants. He looks like Cutter. In fact, he looks almost EXACTLY like the 1984 Cutter figure. The only real difference is that the colors on the 2001 version are softer. You can see obvious difference with the two next to each other. But, if you have a 1984 figure, there's no reason to own this 2001 (and vice-versa) other than completism. The 2001 offers nothing new (aside from softer plastic) from the 1984 release. For some reason, Hasbro started doing this in 2001 with this Cutter as well as Cobra Commander and Destro. This made these releases simply seem like wastes. Collectors got nothing new. (At least the Cobra Commander and Destro molds had been drastically repainted for their 1997 releases.) At the time, collectors wanted "realism" (whatever that meant) but they also wanted figures that weren't the same colors as those they could cheaply and easily acquire on the secondary market. Cutter failed in that regard. It was disappointing that one of the rare vehicle driver slots using a mold that hadn't been seen in years was basically the same figure we already had. And, collectors responded in kind by massively skipping the Night Landing Craft since they didn't need this Cutter and the vehicle itself was pretty lame.
I'm very conflicted about the Night Landing Craft. One the one hand, Hasbro tried something different and attempted to bring compatible toys into the Joe line to give collectors something different. This should be lauded. However, this vehicle slot could have gone to many other molds to which Hasbro had access at that time. The Night Landing Craft is not a good vehicle and it's not a good toy. (The 2002 release of the Mantis sub that also used a Johnny Quest mold was a decent toy that looked cool and fit better with Joes, though.) So, its inclusion in the line sticks out as a bit of a sore thumb. It doesn't really fit with standard Joe vehicles. It feels like a cheap inclusion that, as a quick throwaway, might have been acceptable. But, as a well planned retail release, the Night Landing Craft seems lazy and uninspired. Retail agreed as both vehicles from this assortment hung around for quite a while and were, ultimately, clearanced out.
Very few of the ARAHC vehicle drivers included accessories. In 1997 and 1998, this was not the case as Ace, Hawk, Thunderwing, Heavy Duty, Vypra, Alley Viper and Ace again all included some form of gear. But, starting in 2000, vehicle driver accessories mostly disappeared. It was likely a cost cutting move aimed at keeping the retail margin higher. In the case of figures like the Desert Striker Flint, it's a choice that definitely hurts the figure. But, the original Cutter lacked any gear so the absence of weapons with this version doesn't seem out of place. As a kid, my Cutter carried a Battle Gear Scarlett Crossbow. I cut the actual bow off of the accessory and viewed it as a harpoon gun used to thwart wayward Cobra Eels who would attempt to board the Whale. I tied a thread to it so that Cutter had it slung at his side in the event he needed it, but it also stayed out of the way while he piloted his craft. Should this version ever man the cockpit of a Whale, I could see him getting similar treatment. But, as this guy is doomed to a life inside the 2001 figure drawer, that's unlikely to happen.
The Cutter mold is criminally underused. The original 1984 release was a superb pairing of figure and vehicle. But, as the Whale mold moved around the world, Cutter stayed behind. He found some use as a mail away. But, that was it. When this 2001 offering showed up, it was this mold's first appearance in 17 years. But, then, it disappeared again. In 2006, the Cutter body appeared in the Operation Flaming Moth sets. This time, it was given a new head and released as Shipwreck. This is easily the best coloring of the Cutter body. Were it not for the fact that the excellent 1992 Cutter mold exists, the character would have been one of the most wasted opportunities in the vintage line. But, the 1992 release breathed new life into the character and is, probably, a better version of the character. The mold used for this 2001 figure could have easily been repainted a few times, even with a couple of different heads, and released as a naval character pack and collectors would have loved it. Those opportunities, though, are long gone and collectors are left with very few ways to enjoy this sculpt.
This Cutter is worthless. He's worthless for a couple of reasons. First, he's not all that hard to find. The Night Landing Craft and Wave Runner both hit clearance outlets all over the country. Most collectors had access to $5 vehicles for quite a while. Second, there were large lots of over run figures that were available from Asia, too. These could be acquired for under $1 per figure. A few enterprising collectors snatched up a few lots to use as custom bodies for a USS Flagg crew. But, that was about the extent of the value of the figures. Finally, this Cutter is very unpopular due to the fact that it's just an inferior version of the relatively common and vastly superior 1984 version of the character. You don't see too many of the figure offered for sale. But, loose, he's a $4 figure. You can get boxed and sealed Night Landing Crafts for about $25 before shipping. But, since it sucks and you pay a premium for the vehicle, it's better to just drop a couple of bucks for the Cutter. The upside is that this Cutter is still cheap enough to be useful for customs or army building. But, when that is a figure's claim to fame, you know you're dealing with a dud.