COBRA B.A.T.S ARMY BUILDING SET
G.I. JOE VS COBRA (HASBRO)
1986 was a good year for G.I. Joe, if you’re me at least. Not only was my all time favorite army builder, the Cobra Viper, introduced that year, but so was my second all time favorite army builder, the Cobra Battle Android Trooper, better known as the Cobra B.A.T. After two variants in the vintage line, the B.A.T.s disappeared from G.I. Joe for over a decade, but would return triumphantly in 2002, as the backbone of Cobra’s forces during the “Sound Attack” iteration. They got a brand-new sculpt in the main line, as well as an online-exclusive rerelease of some old molds, designed expressly for army building. I’ll be looking at the latter today.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
The Cobra B.A.T.s Army Building set was available exclusively through online retailers in 2003. The line-up was not quite the one seen here, as it actually had one less standard B.A.T., one more Inferno B.A.T., and the commanding officer Overkill. They were, however, all sold sealed in little baggies, which means that getting them after the fact is pretty much always going to involve buying a bunch of loose figures.
This was the fourth version of the basic B.A.T. to grace the line. He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 15 points of articulation (again including an extra joint on the right forearm). Since (most of) the original B.A.T. tooling was lost prior to the line’s re-launch in 1997 (part of the reason there was such a gap on B.A.T. figures), this figure instead is built on the body of the V2 B.A.T. It’s not the same, and really just not as strong a design as the original, but the original was gone, and this is far from the worst substitute. It’s overall a slightly bulked up B.A.T., apart from the head, which is actually quite a bit pared down from the usual B.A.T. design. It’s definitely a lot less of a melding of sci-fi and military, falling more firmly on the sci-fi side. While it results on a figure that’s more internally consistent, it does also remove some of the more definitive flair of the original concept. This one could really be any sci-fi-robo-henchman. The main thing that this figure does to the V2 is try and give it the V2 colors, which is an interesting experiment. I’m not sure how I feel about a ’90s Joe sculpt that’s not done up in its proper neon. It’s not an displeasing look at all, but it’s definitely different. Like his predecessors, he’s got the lenticular in his torso, detailing his robotic innards, and I will say that this one is designed to stay more firmly in place than the original, which is certainly a plus. The B.A.T.s each included an alternate gun-arm attachment, as well as a black display stand.
COBRA INFERNO B.A.T.
Not content to just give us a bunch of standard B.A.T.s, Hasbro also created a new style of B.A.T. for this set, the Inferno B.A.T. Designed as more independently operating troops, they also had a gimmick where they were always overheating, which gave them the distinctive design we see here. The body is the same as the standard-issue trooper, but now it’s molded in a translucent red. It’s actually a pretty solid look, and the brighter palette just feels “right” on this sculpt. He had the same stand as his fellow troops, but swaps out the black gun-arm for a bright red one. I dig it.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I passed on these when they were new because I was upset that they weren’t the V1 mold. I was a picky child. I didn’t get them until a decade after their original release, when I fished these five out of the loose Joes bin at Yesterday’s Fun. They didn’t have a second Inferno B.A.T. or an Overkill, so I just had to make due with what I got. They’re not my favorite versions of the B.A.T., but they’ve grown on me, and I can definitely appreciate them for what they are.