#2134: Baroness

BARONESS

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“The spoiled offspring of wealthy European aristocrats, the Baroness graduated from student radicalism into international terrorism and finally into the ranks of COBRA. She was severely burned during a COBRA night attack operation and has had extensive plastic surgery. Rumor has it that she is the only one who knows Destro’s secret identity. Qualified expert: M-16; AK-47; RPG7; Uzi; H.I.S.S. tank operator.”

While the GI Joe comic was designed primarily to sell the toys in the toy line, it wasn’t entirely without its roster of non-toy-bearing characters.  On the Joe side, it was most limited to higher ranking officers who didn’t get in on the action quite so much.  On the Cobra side, however, there was the Baroness, who would go on to be one of the franchise’s most prominent fixtures.  Though introduced in the very first issue of the comic in 1982, Baroness wouldn’t join the toyline for another two years, and in fact would only have a single figure during the original vintage run.  I’m reviewing said figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Baroness was added to the GI Joe line-up in 1984.  The line was at the time doing one female figure per line-up, making Baroness the third female figure to be inducted into the line.  She was the first female Cobra added, and she would remain their only female member until Zarana jointed the line in ’86.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 14 points of articulation.  Baroness’s sculpt was all-new to her at the time, but would go on to see re-use for a few other Baroness figures later on down the line.  It’s probably the most attractive female sculpt that the vintage line produced, and certainly a step up from the likes of Scarlett and Covergirl.  It’s pretty decently proportioned, and really captures that femme fatale thing that Baroness had going in the comics and cartoons.  Additionally, it follows that great trend with a lot of these mid-run Joes, where there’s just so much depth to their sculpts.  You can make out what’s body armor, versus what’s the underlying jumpsuit.  It gives her a definite weight that a lot of similarly styled figures tend to lack.  They even manage to not make the glasses look totally awful, which is certainly not a bad thing.  Compared to others, Baroness’s paint is perhaps a bit lax, with a majority of the figure being un-painted black plastic.  What paint is there is really made to count, as she’s one of the cleanest vintage Joes I’ve ever handled.  Baroness is packed with a small back pack and a laser rifle.  The rifle would later see itself repurposed during the 2002 line for the re-issued Vipers, which is kind of nifty if you ask me.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the large Joe collection that netted me the previously reviewed Destro figure arrived at All Time Toys, Baroness was one of the earliest pieces to jump out at me, even though the figure’s never been at the top of my must-have list.  There was just something very impressive about this figure in-hand, and finding both her and Destro complete and together was really what sold me on getting the two of them.  She’s a very strong figure, and I can definitely get why Hasbro felt this one would do it for the whole vintage run.  Certainly one of the strongest figures the vintage line had to offer.

As noted above, Baroness came from All Time Toys, who got in a rather sizable vintage Joe collection, the remnants of which can be checked out the Joe section of their eBay page here.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

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#2060: Cobra B.A.T.s Army Building Set

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.

COBRA B.A.T.S

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.

#1820: Cobra Vipers

COBRA VIPERS

G.I. JOE VS COBRA (HASBRO)

“COBRA VIPERS are the grunts of the COBRA legions.  If there’s a dirty job that needs doing, these guys are first in line.  They wear multi-layered body armor and wrap-around helmets with built-in radio telecommunications gear, and carry multi-burst laser pistols, commando rifles and grenade launchers.  They know that they’re looked down upon by the more elite COBRA groups, but that just makes them fight harder so they can prove to everyone that plain rottenness gets the job done as well as fancy training.  They’re ready at a moment’s notice to cause harm and do damage anywhere that COBRA COMMANDER sends them.”

For part 5 of The Day the Vipers, we move to 2002.  An important year for G.I. Joe, as it returned fully to mass retail, relaunched under the G.I. Joe vs Cobra banner.  The first assortment of vs Cobra figures sported all-new sculpts, of a radically different styling than the vintage line.  However, when the initial line-up proved successful, Hasbro wanted to follow-up as soon as they could, and re-purposed a number of vintage-styled sculpts for a quickly thrown together second assortment.  Included amongst those figures, was the Cobra Viper, who had been absent since 1997.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The three Vipers here were available in two different ways.  Turquoise was available at mass retail, with Indigo as his color variant, both of them packaged with Mirage.  The Crimson Viper, on the other hand, was packed with 11 identical Vipers, a Tomax, a Xamot, and a Baroness, as part of the 2002 Joe Con-exclusive Crimson Strike Team boxed set.  All three figures were built on the V5 Viper mold, but now used a slightly higher quality of plastic than V5 and the Officer/Trooper did, resulting in figures that not showcase the sculpted details better, but also stand up a little better to play.  All three are sporting wholly unique paint schemes.  Turquoise and Indigo are the more similar two, mostly just palette-swapping from each other.  Turquoise’s overall lighter coloring means the handful of details that have gone unpainted are a little more obvious than they are on the much darker Indigo.  Both of them leave the hands unpainted, which don’t hate, but I do which they’d have at leas painted the edge of the glove to make it look like a strap, rather than some weird skin tag, but that’s quite minor.  I dig Indigo’s blue visor, as well as the swirly, molded camo on the fatigues portions of their uniforms. Crimson rivals only the V1 Viper in terms of quantity of painted details.  Just about every sculpted element is properly painted, and very sharply handled at that.  He’s definitely a very good looking figure.  In terms of accessories, Indigo and Turquoise are each packed with a sniper rifle and a back pack, both different from the originals.  Crimson gets the same backpack as prior Vipers, but yet another rifle, which is probably one of the best when it comes to his ability to actually hold it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After finding the original Viper in the collection that All Time Toys bought, it was actually the 2002 bunch that really grabbed my interest.  2002 was the year that got me into the small-scale Joes, and though I never actually owned these figures, I’ve still got a soft spot for them.  In particular, I’ve wanted at least one of the Crimson ones for quite some time.  All three figures here are a lot of fun, and while the original Viper might be objectively the best Viper I got, these three are my favorites.

Thanks goes to All Time for helping me out with these.  If you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1819: Cobra Officer & Cobra Trooper

COBRA OFFICER & COBRA TROOPER

G.I. JOE: THE REAL AMERICAN HERO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“The COBRA Officers are “officers” in name only.  The only real rank they have is over their own little squad of Cobra Troopers.  They are among the meager handful from the teeming ranks of COBRA Troopers that, for some reason, whether it’s previous experience, personal ambition or dumb luck, manage to show some level of initiative, organization or leadership skills.  Ultimately, somebody has the keep the ranks together and moving with a purpose, so that even these bottom-of-the-barrel COBRA forces can achieve their given objective, because nobody else wants the job.

The COBRA Troopers are the most basic, bottom-of-the-barrel soldiers in the COBRA regime. They have to work their way up to even become Vipers. They come from all over the world. They are thugs, mercenaries, pirates and assorted lowlifes that have committed so many atrocities that they only organization that will have them is COBRA. They are given the most basic level of training, which amounts to little more than organizing a handful into a reasonably cohesive group, giving them the most basic of uniforms, handing them equipment, and telling them to go out and cause trouble. The COBRA Trooper divisions were the first of COBRA’s notable forces. They’re not specialists. They’re not qualified for anything than the most low level of infantry. They only advantages they have are pure nastiness and sheer numbers.”

For part four of the Day of the Vipers (!), I’m not actually looking at Vipers at all.  Weird, huh?  Yeah, there were *technically* no Vipers released in 1998, but I’m focussing pretty heavily on that “technically.”

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Cobra Officer and two of the Cobra Troopers were released as one of the three triple-packs of figures from the second year of The Real American Hero Collection.  That’s a lot of numbers going on there, isn’t it?  Don’t worry about it too much. The key thing about these two figures is, that despite the name they may be sporting, their both effectively Viper figures, using the Viper/B.A.T. hybrid body introduced with the V5 Viper.  Presumably, the original Officer and Trooper molds were lost, and, as with so many other figures in the 97-98 lineup, they had to improvise a bit, grabbing the just recently frankensteined Viper from the preceding year.  So, they’ve still got those square butts.  Poor guys. 

Paint is what differentiates them.  The Officer is grey, which was a change for that rank, but makes him easily distinguishable.  The Trooper goes for a more familiar dark blue.  The Officer has larger sections of silver, with gold accents, while the Trooper gets the reverse.  Curiously, neither of them actually gets a Cobra sigil.  Maybe they’re trying to be more covert?  Both figures included the same accessory selection.  A pistol, a rifle, a stock, and a backpack.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These guys are absolutely on the “Ethan was already buying a bunch of Vipers” train.  I wasn’t planning to get them, given their comparatively bland appearance, but I was already getting 7 others, so what difference did these two make?  I was actually a bit baffled by them at first, since I wasn’t able to find any reference to Vipers in this style, but eventually realized they weren’t Vipers at all.  So I didn’t have to buy them.  Great.  Nah, I’d probably have bought them anyway.  I actually ended up liking both of these more than I’d expected to.  That said, in my mind, I’m always going to consider them Vipers.

Once again, All Time Toys helped me out with these.  If you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1818: Viper

VIPER

G.I. JOE: THE REAL AMERICAN HERO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“Vipers are the backbone of the COBRA Legions. They are the bottom of the pyramid, which leads to the hierarchy of material wealth and power within the organization. When COBRA received word that G.I. Joe operations had been shut down by U.S. Government, he promptly began recruiting more soldiers. Within weeks, the most cruel, greedy, back-stabbing lot – joined the ranks; tripling the original size of their ground forces. All Vipers are issued a combination assault rifle/grenade launcher, along with a three day field pack. Multi-layered body armor and wrap-around acrylic/composite helmets with built-in radio telecommunications gear are standard issue. This equipment and a bad attitude makes them very dangerous opponents. Vipers are highly motivated, and superbly trained. However, to make them follow orders, the punishment for failure is to be left on the battlefield when the B.A.T.S. (Battle Android Troopers) are deployed. This is due to the fact, these Androids are programmed to shoot and incinerate anything that moves in front of them. That is the last thing any Viper would want, better to take his chances with the real enemy. Vehicle Specialty: COBRA Flight Pod a.k.a. “Trouble Bubbles.””

Man, Hasbro really likes that thing about the Vipers being the backbone of the organization, don’t they?  It’s the Day of the Vipers part 3!  The Vipers, having been a regular feature of the line, made a reappearance every couple of years.  After 1989’s Python Patrol offering, the Viper’s tried out that bright colors thing in 1990, and then got their second new mold in 1994.  The less said about the latter, the better.  Fortunately, it was more or less a return to form for Version 5 of the Viper, which I’ll be looking at now!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Version 5 Viper was released in 1997, the 15th Anniversary of the A Real American Hero incarnation.  After a three year absence from stores, G.I. Joe returned, albeit in a slightly different form, all under the heading of The Real American Hero Collection.  The Viper found his way into one of the three Mission Packs, where he was released alongside one of the Flight Pods, or “Trouble Bubbles”, mentioned in the bio.  This figure marked an important change for the Vipers.  He uses the same upper body as the original figure, but for the first of many releases, the Viper is actually sporting the legs of the B.A.T., rather than the proper Viper gear.  In the years since the original mold Viper had been seen, it seems the mold for his legs had been lost, necessitating a replacement.  The B.A.T. legs work in a pinch, I suppose, though it does mean this guy ends up with a really squared-off backside.  He also got a brand new paint scheme, almost an inversion of his original.  It’s predominately a brownish red, with a blue vest.  It’s ugly is what it is.  Perhaps its due to my figure not being in quite as good shape as the other Vipers, but he just feels kind of washed out, ratty, and generally not as cool.  He reminds me of a supermarket on a Sunday morning.  He’s all florescently-lit, and pale, and full of that oddly dark and murky sort of despair…sorry, I went a very specific place there, didn’t I?  The V5 Viper mixes up things slightly on the accessory front.  He gets the same backpack as before, but a new, slightly less distinctive, sub-machine gun as his firearm.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The V5 Viper was not on the list of ones I was really looking for.  Truth be told, I didn’t actually know he existed.  But I found him while digging through all those Joes that All Time just got in, and at that point I was just too far into the Viper’s Den to say no.  He really lacks the flair of the last two, and I’d have preferred to find the V3 release, but another Viper’s another Viper, right?

Again, thanks goes to All Time Toys for helping me get this guy, and if you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1817: Python Viper

PYTHON VIPER

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“The PYTHON VIPER is the backbone of the Python Patrol. He is highly motivated, superbly trained, and formidably equipped. Due to the Pythonizing Process, this particular viper is equipped with stealth-like capabilities, whereby he can penetrate enemy areas undetected! His combination rifle/grenade launcher has been retro-fitted with a passive, infrared seeker and the barrel rifling has been changed to accept hyper-velocity discarding ammunition.”

What’s this?  Didn’t I publish a review earlier today?  Why yes, hypothetical reader, I did.  Here’s the scoop: back in my first year on the job—er, running the site, I was more lax with the “I personally must write a review every day” thing, which has been throwing off my review numbering by five days ever since.  With my fifth anniversary upcoming, I wanted to correct things.  And, as luck would have it, I just procured a bunch of rather similar figures, who don’t quite warrant a whole day to themselves.  So, I’m going to be running five bonus reviews today.  It is officially the Day of the Vipers!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Python Viper was the second iteration of the Cobra Viper, released in 1989.  He was part of the Python Patrol subset, one of six repainted Cobra troopers designed to be even more elite than the previously more elite Viper.  He’s the elite-est!  The Python Viper is the same exact mold as the standard Viper release, which, as you’ll recall from just a few hours ago, I really liked, like a whole lot.  So much.  Anyway, the paint work is the main differentiating thing.  The Python Patrol were all in grey, yellow, and red.  It’s not quite as nuanced as the standard Viper coloring, but I think the Viper definitely looked better in these colors than some of his compatriots.  That being said, I was a little saddened to see some of the nice painted details from the last figure missing, leaving a number of sculpted elements (like the straps on his wrist guards) completely unpainted.  The Python Viper gets the same assortment of extras as his standard equivalent, though his rifle is now in black rather than light grey.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After digging out the basic Viper from All Time Toys’ recently acquired collection of Joes, I kept digging through just to see what else I could find, and ended up coming across this guy.  I was only thinking I’d grab one or two of them at that point, so he got added to the pile.  He’s not quite as good as the standard Viper was, but I have to admit, I like this variant more than I’d expected to.

Special thanks to All Time for helping me get this guy, and if you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1816: Vipers

VIPERS

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“Vipers are the backbone of the Cobra Legions. They are highly motivated, superbly trained and formidably equipped. All Vipers are issued a combination assault rifle/grenade launcher; the rifle part of which can function as a short burst assault weapon, a sustained fire cover support weapon, or a long range sniper rifle with an advanced light-intensification night vision telescopic sight with a built-in range-finder. Multi-layer body armor and wraparound acrylic/composite helmets with built-in RTO gear are standard issue.”

When G.I. Joe first moved to the smaller scale, Hasbro’s biggest concern was keeping down the line’s budget.  They came up with a handful of unique (well, unique enough…) heroes, but they needed some villains for those heroes, and they needed them to be cost effective.  Preferably, they needed to sell multiples of the same figure to the same consumer.  Enter Cobra (The Enemy) and Cobra Officer, G.I. Joe’s original faceless goons.  They carried the line for four years without much trouble, but then came the need for a more elite fighting force, an even more faceless selection of faceless goons.  Enter the Vipers, my favorite Cobra trooper of all time.  Yeah, they’re just that cool.*

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Viper (or Vipers, as the figure is specifically referred to on the packaging) was introduced into the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero line in 1986.  That was a good year for the line, at least by my count.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  The Viper was an all-new sculpt at its time of release (though most of the parts have seen some liberal re-use for other variants of the Viper as the line progressed).  It’s quite a good one.  There’s some some solid detailing going on within the various sections of the uniform.  You can clearly see all the pieces that add-up to the whole Viper look, and how they all attach.  The padded arm guards have two separate straps keeping them in place, the wrist length gloves jut out a bit to show a slightly looser fit at the ends, the belt and all of its pouches are individually detailed, the pockets on his pants have stitching on the edges, and, heck, you can even make out the pull tag on his vest’s zipper.  Real attention to detain here.  You can even see the loops on the helmet that are holding his goggles in place (a detail that Hasbro would miss on their 25th Anniversary version, who had infamously hard to place goggles), so that the Viper doesn’t lose them mid-mission.  And, while this sculpt has a lot of the stylistic hallmarks of the rest of the line from that era, his fully helmeted appearance means he doesn’t look quite as dated as some of his compatriots.  Perhaps the only drawback is that he’s still got those standard vintage Joe hands, meaning he’s not really optimized for holding and sorts of firearms.  Odd for a line of figures that are all designed to be shooting guns, but it’s not like the Viper’s alone in this.  The paintwork on the Viper is solid for a vintage offering.  He’s got some eye-catching elements, but doesn’t quite descend into the neon madness of later troopers. The dark blue calls back to the standard troopers, and the silver faceplate to the original Cobra Commander.  The application fo the paint is mostly pretty clean; there’s some slight slop here and there, but nothing too major.  The Viper was packed with a light grey rifle and a backpack.  The rifle does have some trouble staying in his hands, but its workable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, as noted above, the Vipers are a favorite of mine.  That said, in a rather interesting turn, I didn’t have a single one of them as a kid.  My first Viper was the 25th Anniversary one.  I’ve always loved the design, though, and in the last couple of years, I’ve been working my way into a vintage Joe collection.  My friends over at All Time Toys just got in a rather sizable Joe collection, and I was able to fish out a complete vintage Viper, amongst other things.  He’s an awesome figure, full stop.  I  really, really love him, and I’m happy I got one…but I may have found a new obsession.  More on that later.

While I can’t promise that anyone else will be getting their hands on any of these awesome Vipers (because they’re mine, all mine, I tell you!), as I noted above, All Time Toys just got in a rather sizable vintage G.I. Joe collection.  So, if you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

*Okay, so there’s also the B.A.T.s; they give the Vipers a good run for their money, largely due to that whole cool robots thing they’ve got going. 

#1461: Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow

SNAKE EYES & STORM SHADOW

G.I. JOE VS COBRA (HASBRO)

Heyo!  As all my faithful FiQ-fans are undoubtedly aware, today marks four years of reviews here at the site.  In honor of this momentous day, I wanted to take a look at a pair of figures that are somewhat important in the grand scheme of my collection.  I’ll be setting my sites on G.I. Joe, a franchise that I feel I don’t look at quite as often as I should around these parts.  I mean, it is the *original* action figure, after all.  The line definitely deserves some respect.  Today, I’ll be looking at two of my favorite characters from the franchise (as well as two of the most popular characters in general), Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow were released in Series 1 of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe Vs Cobra line. This series served to bring brand-new 3 3/4-inch Joes back to mass retail after a one year absence and a few years of repaints.

SNAKE EYES

“SNAKE EYES learned his top combat skills in missions around the globe. A tragic helicopter mission took away his voice and scarred his face. That’s why he communicates with sign language and never removes his mask around others. He studied mystical martial arts with the Arashikage clan, which is also the family of master ninja STORM SHADOW, SNAKE EYES is an expert in all disciplines of martial arts and silent weapons. He can move silenty and without being seen. At one time, he and STORM SHADOW were sword brothers, linked by spirit and tradition. Now that STORM SHADOW is part of the evil COBRA organization, there is no escape from a final battle between two of the world’s greatest martial arts fighters.”

As perhaps the most popular Joe ever, it was no surprise that Snake Eyes turned up here in the first series.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall (he’d be taller without the wide stance) and he has 14 points of articulation.  The first series of Vs were distinct in their construction.  Hasbro abandoned the more typical O-ring construction, and went for a more solid construction.  This results in figures that are a little sturdier than their predecessors, but slightly more limited in their posability at the hips.  It wasn’t a perfect solution, and that’s why Hasbro ended up going back to the O-ring build in the next series.  This Snake Eyes had a unique design, which made use of elements from all of his prior figures.  I may be a little biased, but this has always been a favorite look of mine.  His sculpt definitely shows its age….or an age.  Given the sheer size of this guy’s muscles, he looks like he should be straight out of the ’90s, not the early ’00s.  Guess Hasbro was still shaking off a little of the Extreme days from the ’90s.  That being said, whoever worked on this sculpt was certainly having a good time of it.  The details in the wrappings, the straps, and the pouches are all really well rendered, and indicate real attention being paid to this figure.  The head’s my favorite part of the figure, as it’s probably the least affected by the stylization.  I like that you can clearly see the face under the mask, but it’s not quite as ridiculous as the sculpted lips from Rise of Cobra.  The paintwork on this figure is a bit more involved than most Snake Eyes figures tended to be.  He’s actually molded in a very, very dark green, allowing his visor to be made straight black and still have contrast.  The rest of the work is all in the accents, which all go pretty well.  He’s got some color without it getting too garish.  Snake Eyes was packed with a pair of swords, a backpack to hold them, a knife, and a sub-machine gun.  After 15 years, all my figure has left are the swords.

STORM SHADOW

“STORM SHADOW grew up in the Arashikage clan of ninjas.  During his training, his sword-brother was SNAKE EYES, the commando and martial arts master of the GI JOE team.  The evil COBRA organization recruited Arashikage members.  This corruption split the clan in two.  After a COBRA agent killed STORM SHADOW’s uncle, he went undercover within COBRA to find the assassin.  When the killer was revealed, STORM SHADOW joined the GI JOE team to get revenge.  But now, STORM SHADOW is back with COBRA.  Are all Arshikage ninjas evil? Or does COBRA COMMANDER hold some special power over STORM SHADOW?  Whatever the reason, the anger is clear when he meets SNAKE EYES.  The battle between the ninja masters will be legendary.”

Ah, the revolving door that is Storm Shadow’s affiliation.  Yes, one of the notable things done by the relaunch was placing Storm Shadow back on the side of Cobra, which was explained in the Devil’s Due comics of the time as the result of brainwashing.  The figure has the same height and articulation as Snake Eyes.  Thanks to a slightly straighter stance, that actually makes him a little shorter.  The sculpt for Storm Shadow as another all-new one, and while Snake Eyes would get another sculpt very quickly, Storm Shadow’s stuck around for several years.  It’s not anywhere near as exaggerated as the Snake Eyes sculpt, so I guess it had a slightly longer shelf life.  That being said, I can’t help but feel this sculpt is a little less inspired than that of Snake Eyes.  The details seem a lot flatter, less organic, and just generally a little less developed.  And then there’s that hood; what’s going on with the hood?  It’s all stuck to the head, and generally un-hood-like.  The Storm Shadow figure just prior to this one clearly showed that sculpting a hood was totally within Hasbro’s grasp, so this just looks…strange.  It’s as if they didn’t decide until the last minute whether they wanted the hood or not, so he just has this amorphous could-be-a-hood-could-be-a-mask thing.  Storm Shadow’s paint is alright.  It’s pretty basic stuff, really.  Red, white, gray, and black.  It’s relatively clean, and makes for a good contrast with Snake Eyes.  The white is all molded plastic, though, so he’s done some serious yellowing over the years.  The figure was packed with two swords, a backpack, a knife, and a sub-machine gun.  Apart from the backpack and knife, the pieces were actually unique to Storm Shadow, not shared with Snake Eyes.  That’s actually pretty cool!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These two are my very first small-scale G.I. Joes.  I had several of the 12-inch ones, but the smaller line was on the back burner for my earlier collecting years.  When the first series was first shown in ToyFare magazine, I was pretty excited, and I knew from the very beginning that Snake Eyes was the first one I wanted.  Storm Shadow sort of came along for the ride.  My dad bought these for me, as a reward for patiently waiting for flooring with him at Home Depot.  They aren’t amazing figures.  None of this era of Joes really were.  But they were my first, and they were fun.  I loved having them, and they got me into the whole franchise.  Now I have over a hundred of these little guys.  Lots of them are better technically than these two, but these two are still my favorites.

#1335: Rex “The Doctor” Lewis

REX “THE DOCTOR” LEWIS

GI JOE: RISE OF COBRA

“Rex is the chief experimental doctor for M.A.R.S. Industries and developer of advanced nanotechnology. Disfigured in an explosion, he relies on life support equipment as he launches a diabolical plan to satisfy his thirst for power and revenge. ”

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra isn’t a particularly well-regarded movie.  It definitely took some…different approaches to the source material.  I myself kind of enjoyed the movie, but with the caveat that I liked it as it’s own, separate thing.  It’s a good spy-flick, but the Joe label is a bit misplaced.  Misplacing of labels seems to have gone around a lot in this movie.  I absolutely loved Joseph Gordon Levitt’s turn as Doctor Mindbender.  The only problem is that as it turns out, the mysteriously named “The Doctor,” despite checking off every mark for Mindbender (including the character’s signature monocle), is actually Cobra Commander.  Odd choice.  But hey, cool action figures, though!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rex “The Doctor” Lewis was released in the third series of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra tie-in line, which hit a little while after the film’s release.  Presumably, he was in a later assortment so that the reveal that he was Baroness’s not-quite-dead brother Rex could be kept secret.  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  The sculpt for the Doctor was all-new to him, and as far as I know, it’s not been re-used (well, apart from the labcoat, which has shown up on a few figures).  The sculpt is certainly different.  Hasbro opted to not be 100% faithful to the film’s version of Rex, who dressed more like an actual scientist (well, apart from the headgear).  This figure has some sort of  Edward Scissorhands get-up.  Which, with the addition of the jacket, ends up looking about the same as the movie design anyway, so I guess it didn’t really matter.  The head stays pretty faithful, apart from the loss of the monocle thing.  The hair and breathing apparatus are both removable, allowing you to view the fully unmasked Rex, who actually looks a fair bit like Levitt in the scar make-up from the film.  Despite being removable, the hair and rebreather fit pretty tightly to the head, and look pretty decent overall, and they also both stay in place really well, which is a definite plus.  The paint on the Doctor is largely confined to the head (everything else is mostly black plastic).  The detail work is actually pretty great, and they convey the scarred nature of his skin quite nicely.  The Doctor is packed with a pair of claw gloves, a giant nanite-injector claw-thing, a pistol, a rifle, a briefcase with three containers of nanites, and a display stand with “THE DOCTOR” printed on it.  Not a bad assortment of extras!  The case with the nanites and the claw gloves are definitely my favorites, but they’re all pretty fun extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Doctor was one of my favorite parts of Rise of Cobra, so I was a little dismayed that he wasn’t out when the film hit.  I patiently waited for his release, and ended up finding him at the local Walmart while grabbing some Christmas decorations with my Dad.  He’s one of the better entries in the Rise of Cobra line, and one of my favorite modern-era Joes in general.  Not bad for a figure from a movie nobody likes!

#1274: Cobra Commander

COBRA COMMANDER

G.I. JOE: PURSUIT OF COBRA (HASBRO)

“The deviously brilliant leader of Cobra has created the Cobra H.I.S.S. Tank, a dangerous weapon that will help him expand his empire. He is prepared for battle in a mask that uses sunlight to power his cybernetic armor. As the showdown with the G.I. Joe Team begins in the desert, he sends in his new tanks for the final attack.”

When G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra was released in 2009, the whole G.I. Joe line was reformatted to tie in with the movie, bringing an official end to the widely popular 25th Anniversary line.  When Hasbro returned back to the non-movie based stuff in 2010, the sort of merged the two, offering a modernized take on the G.I. Joe mythos that used some elements from the movies, but was largely a continuation of the same Joe story from 1982.  Quite frankly, it’s probably my favorite era of the line.  The line offered new takes on a lot of the classic characters, including Cobra’s shrill leader, Cobra Commander!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cobra Commander was part of the first series of Pursuit of Cobra.  He was officially classified as the “chase figure,” but I don’t actually know what the logistics of that were.  It may have just been that he was short packed.  Whatever the case, he’s not noticeably rarer than any of the other figures from that same assortment.  This figure actually began his life as a proposed mail-away figure for the Rise of Cobra line.  When that line was ended, Hasbro cut one of his accessories (the PoC figures were packed in smaller blisters than the RoC ones), and moved him into this line*.  The figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  This figure is largely a parts re-use from the main RoC Commander figure, which was loosely based on his movie design.  While the movie look wasn’t my favorite thing, there’s no denying that the figure had a pretty cool sculpt.  The jacket’s probably my favorite part; there’s an air of elegance to it, which seems perfectly in character for the Commander, and between the awesome texture work and the slightly windblown look to it, it really adds a lot to the figure.  The rest of the figure is pretty solid too; the torso has some really sharp detailing on the armor, and I love that this guys got wingtips.  The figure does get a new head sculpt; it’s not too far removed from the RoC head, but it’s a solid piece this time, instead of being pseudo removable, which makes it a bit sleeker.  I’m still not as much of a fan of this design as I am the classic featureless faceplate, but it’s not awful.  The paintwork on this guy is pretty top-notch; it’s super sleek, if nothing else.  The faceplate of the mask has been vac-metalized, and there’s even some slight accenting on top of that to help bring out the details.  The chest is a deep red, a departure for the Commander, who’s usually blue.  Still, it’s a really nice, metallic red, and there’s a black wash over it to make it really pop.  This figure moves the previous Commander’s logo from just to the left of his left lapel to the back of his jacket.  It’s certainly more visible now, and looks a bit less out of place.  With that said, it’s abundantly clear that this sculpt wasn’t intended to have a logo on the jacket.  The interior of the jacket has been lined with a dark burgundy, which is easy to miss if you aren’t looking closely.  Cobra Commander is packed with a small pistol, a weird grey machine gun thing, a Gonfalon (thanks yojoe.com for helping me ID that), and a display stand with his name and the Cobra logo on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always gone through phases of buying G.I. Joe, but despite hitting smack dab of one of those phases, I didn’t pick up this guy when he was new.  I thought about it, but his design was divorced enough from what I consider Cobra Commander to give me pause.  Then, between the Resolute version, the later (more classic Commander-inspired) PoC version, and finding the RoC figure for a discount, this guy just felt sort of redundant.  Back in February, I ended up spotting him as one of the silent auction items in Farpoint’s charity auction.  Like the previously reviewed Kaylee figure, the money going to a good cause was enough to get me to finally buy him.  I’m really happy I did.  He may not be your conventional Cobra Commander, but he’s a really, really fun figure.

*In 2011, they also offered the figure in his original packaging and with the missing mini H.I.S.S. Tank accessory, as a G.I. Joe Collectors Club exclusive.  This has probably contributed to the relative ease of acquiring the standard release.