#2712: Cobra Infantry

COBRA INFANTRY

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

G.I. Joe: Classified Series had something of a jumpstart last year, somewhat stunted by the fact that, like, more than half of the line at this point has been exclusives.  Several key pieces of the franchise, in fact, have been exclusives, and notably, that’s been two of the line’s three army builders.  I looked at the Cobra Trooper last fall (thanks to the small miracle that allowed me to actual get my hands on one), and now I’m taking a look at another one.  How about that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cobra Infantry is figure 24 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, technically from the third “wave” of standard release figures for the line, although Hasbro’s kind of moving away from actual assortments, in favor of single releases in solid cases.  Also, hey, there’s some novelty to a standard release figure, isn’t there?  It’s…been a while.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Structurally, the Cobra Infantry figure is the same figure as the Target-exclusive Cobra Trooper.  Given the relative rarity of that release, a pretty straight re-use makes quite a bit of sense.  It helps that it was a very impressive sculpt the first time I looked at it, which means I really don’t mind seeing it again.  As I discussed in the prior review, it’s a good summation of a number of the Cobra Trooper designs from over the years, and there’s just a lot of really great small detail worked in.  The first change of note from the Trooper to the Infantry is on the paint scheme.  This release is, per Hasbro, a little more animation inspired, which largely seems to have translated to having more blue than the previous release.  Upon the prototype’s reveal, a lot of fans speculated that this extra blue meant that Hasbro was simply cutting paint apps from the prior release, but in-hand this is very definitely not the case.  It’s easy to miss at first glance, but the paint scheme this time around is actually a fair bit more complex, with a lot more variations within the various colors, especially the blues.  It’s quite impressive to behold in hand.  Additionally, the skin tone has been slightly darkened on this guy, giving him a bit of variance when compared to the other release.  The other change-up between the two figures is the accessory selection.  The Target Trooper had a lot of extras, while this one dials it down ever so slightly.  He gets the removable helmet, the standard rifle, the two pistols, and the knife.  While this lacks the customizability angle of the prior figure, it keeps everything you could classify as “standard”, making this one a but more ideal for actually army building.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Between the two of us, Max and I were able to snag a single Target Trooper.  Max was kind enough to loan it to me for the purposes of reviewing, but that meant I didn’t actually have one for my personal set-up.  Fortunately, I was pretty sure this guy was coming, even before he was announced, and once he was shown off, I knew it was just the waiting game.  Honestly, I’m glad I waited.  As I said when I reviewed the other version, he’s nice, but I don’t know that he was quite worth all the fuss.  This one’s a bit more paired down, but keeps the stuff I really liked from the last release, and if I’m totally honest, I find myself far preferring the color scheme on this release anyway.  Ultimately, he’s pretty solid, and hopefully he proves a little bit easier to army build.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2692: Cobra Viper

COBRA VIPER

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Alright, so, for my seventh entry in my crazy, insane “Day of the Vipers”–wait a minute! It’s not 2018 anymore, is it?  I…I already made it through the Day of the Vipers, didn’t I?  Right.  Sorry.  The “Day of the Vipers”, it did things to me, you guys.  I still haven’t fully recovered.  When I last left off with the Vipers, it was 2003, and the Joe line had just done a re-brand into it’s Spy Troops incarnation.  That line would lead into Valor Vs Venom, which got its own brand new Viper mold.  After VvV, the 3 3/4 inch line went on another hiatus at mainline retail, and moved to Direct To Consumer markets, until returning in 2007 with the 25th Anniversary line.  The Viper would gain an additional seven figures from that line (the first of which I reviewed here back in 2016), and then another revamp in the Pursuit of Cobra/30th Anniversary style.  The 3 3/4 inch line again went into hiatus following the franchise’s 50th anniversary, but Joes have returned once more, now in a 6 inch scale, and with an all-new Viper figure to boot.  What could possibly go wrong?  Yeah, about that…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cobra Viper is the other half of the second “Special Misions: Cobra Island” assortment of G.I. Joe: Classified Series.  He’s officially figure 22 in the line, the highest numbered figure so far in the line-up.  He follows the trend set by the Cobra Trooper of standard Cobra army builders being exclusives, which isn’t very cool.  Hopefully he’ll also get a second release in the main line, just like the standard trooper, because as of now, he’s even harder to find than that one was. The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation.  The Viper’s design is unquestionably an update on his V1 design.  Most Vipers since the ’00s have worked from this same reference material, so there’s been a lot of smaller tweaks to it over the years.  This one follows suit, with its own handful of tweaks, but does honestly stick closer to the original design than a lot of the Classified figures so far.  Most of the tweaks are of the rather minor variety, changing up some of the specifics of design, to modernize and somewhat utilitarianize the look, while still kind of hitting the same ending mark.  Things like the ribbed section of the shoulders on the original figure have now been adjusted to be straps holing things in place.  Same end result visually, but a more practical rational for it, and one that fits a bit more with the aesthetics of the line.  The biggest change to the character’s visual is on the arms; rather than the tightly rolled up sleeves of the original figure, this one’s arms are almost entirely covered in the default set-up.  The changes that cause this are two-fold.  Firstly, the new add-on pieces for the wrist guards are designed with removing them in mind, so they wrap solidly all around the arm, rather than leaving most of the forearm exposed like the original design.  Secondly, the sleeves come much further down the arms than the original, almost exactly meeting the guards.  This bit is caused by the figure’s only re-use; namely, he has the upper torso and arms of the Duke figure.  It’s not the worst choice of re-use, even if the sleeves aren’t quite right; it changes things a little bit, and removing the guards entirely helps to sort of simulate the old look in its own way as well.  He also gets Duke’s holster for his leg, giving the Viper a side-arm he doesn’t classically have.  The rest of the figure’s sculpt, apart from the arms, is all-new.  It’s a pretty solid sculpt, with quite a bit going on, and quite a few layers.  The helmet is a very clean piece; its shape is slightly sharper and more stylized than the classic helmet, but it fits well with the rest of the figure’s design.  Much like the 25th Anniversary figure, this one’s goggles are a separate piece, and much like that figure, there is some difficulty keeping them in place.  With a little bit of doing, you can get it to sit a little bit more securely, but I’ve heard that it’s prone to breakage, so I was quite careful.  Even so, mine’s started to split a bit at the back, so I don’t foresee it holding out terribly longer.  Ultimately, the removable goggles are an intriguing idea, but much like the 25th, I’m hoping Hasbro uses later releases to offer up a version with the goggles attached directly to the helmet.  The goggles are an interesting experiment, but they always seem to introduce extra problems, and honestly, how many people are really looking to display the Viper without the goggles?  It winds up as the one really annoying feature on an otherwise enjoyable figure.  The paint work on this figure is pretty decent.  It follows the usual set-up for the color scheme on a Viper, with a touch of extra red detailing worked in.  The flesh tone on the arms is a little sloppy around the edges, and misses the mark, as well as having a spot in the middle of one arm.  These parts aren’t really meant for being seen, I suppose, so it’s not the *worst* possible place for issues to occur.  The Viper’s accessory selection includes the previously mentioned goggles, a removable bandana piece, a back pack, Duke’s pistol (to match the holster), and a rifle with a removable clip.  The rifle’s not quite the distinctive silhouette of the classic Viper weapon, but it’s not an awful looking update either, and is a cool looking gun on its own merits.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Readers of the site may have *slightly* picked up on the fact that I’m quite a fan of the Vipers.  I’ve been anxiously awaiting their addition to Classified, and I was…less than pleased about the Target exclusive move.  Nevertheless, I was determined not to miss this one, but also not to pay scalper pricing.  I wound up stalking Target’s site for a couple of hours the day these dropped, and was actually able to get one pre-ordered in the less than 5 minutes they were actually in stock.  It wasn’t fun.  What also wasn’t fun was his delivery getting pushed back three separate times, all the while people were finding them in-store, and the aftermarket price was skyrocketing.  Fortunately, they actually came through, and he actually arrived, but Target *really* needs to work on that pre-order system…or maybe just not carry quite so many exclusives?  I don’t know.  It just seems like a bad set-up.  At least the actual figure turned out pretty nicely.  The goggles are annoying, but otherwise, I really like him.  And I’d really like to be able to have a few more of them, so maybe a mainline release?

*The classic Viper rifle above was actually given to me, along with a few other classic Joe-esque designs, by Mark2Designs, whose work is quite impressive, and can be seen on his Instagram page!

#2691: Firefly

FIREFLY

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

I haven’t taken a look at anything from G.I. Joe since October, which does feel like a bit of a gap, doesn’t it?  In my defense, there hasn’t been a ton to look at, since I’ve been kind of keeping up with Classified as it’s been moving along, and there was a bit of a gap in new releases, as they at least attempted to actually get some of the older releases to some stores.  But, the new year has brought some new figures…or more specifically some new exclusives.  I know, I’m not thrilled either.  I’m starting things off with the *slightly* less frightening to acquire offering, Cobra’s resident saboteur, Firefly!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Firefly is one half of the second Target-exclusive “Special Missions: Cobra Island” series of G.I. Joe: Classified Series.  He brings us another Cobra mainstay, and another character that *probably* shouldn’t have started as an exclusive, but, hey, let’s not open that particular can of worms, huh?  Firefly stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  FIrefly’s design is one of the ones that’s a little further removed from his classic v1 appearance, at least in terms of direct replication.  All of the major strokes are there to ID him, but he modernizes a few elements.  It’s not incredibly new for the character, since elements like the goggles and the bomb disposal vest were incorporated into the character’s design back during Resolute and Renegades, making him more of an adaptation of all of the character’s appearances through the years, rather than focusing in on just one figure in particular.  The figure is a mix of old and new pieces to achieve this design.  His upper half is shared with Beach Head, while the legs come from Snake Eyes.  While we’ve had some re-use previously, this is the first time that any of them have crossed teams.  Fortunately, they end up looking pretty standard issue, so it doesn’t look too specifically Joe-y.  He gets a new head and boots, as well as an overlay for the bomb vest.  The head’s the best piece, and I absolutely love what you can make out of the crazed expression beneath the mask, as well as that small touch of scarring over the eye.  The boots are sufficiently unique looking, if maybe not much to write home about.  They get the job done.  The vest piece is pretty cool looking, but my main beef with it is how much it restricts the mobility on the torso and hips.  It definitely impairs his posability a touch.  Firefly’s paint work is pretty nicely handled.  He’s got some proper camo detailing, which looks pretty sweet, and they’ve managed to keep him in all greys without him looking too bland or boring.  I also quite like the detailing around the eyes; it really makes them pop.  Firefly is pretty well off when it comes to accessory selection, including a pair of goggles, a gun (based on a modified version of the Nerf Vortex Praxis; thanks Tim!), a backpack, stack of dynamite, drone, and control panel for the drone.  The goggles are another cool piece of customization, and the drone’s certainly a lot of fun, and can even be stored on the backpack (as can the dynamite).  I wish he had a spot for the control panel, but no placement for it seemed to make sense to me.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When these figures were shown off, I honestly didn’t pay Firefly much mind.  I was quite happy with Havoc as a stand-in on the shelf, and this one was an exclusive, and that’s not a game I was really looking to play.  I was far more invested in getting his assortment-mate anyway, so I wasn’t going to put any real effort into this one.  Then they started hitting, and I did stick to that bit about no effort.  Max, however, managed to find a pair of them out in the wild, and hooked me up with this one.  Admittedly, even after getting him, I held off of actually cracking him open for a bit out of protest about getting him before my pre-order for the other figure actually even shipped, but, well, he’s open now, so I guess you can fill in some blanks there.  He’s a well put together figure, but I can’t say he really jumps out at me as much as others from the line.  Still, I’m happy to have him, I guess.

#2570: Cobra Commander

COBRA COMMANDER

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Since it was re-branded in the ’80s, G.I. Joe has been as much about the evil forces of Cobra as it has about the titular team of heroes.  The very first year of the line saw (as a mail away, anyway), the introduction of one of the most distinctive faces of the franchise…despite his lack of, you know, an actual face, Cobra Commander, the faceless leader to the faceless goons!  It’s really not much of a Joe line without him at this point, so it comes as little shock that he’s a pretty early addition to Hasbro’s recent relaunch…with three separate versions, no less.  Today, I’m looking at the only version I have so far, the most standard-est of the bunch!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cobra Commander is figure 06 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, and heads up the second main release assortment of the line, which wound up being the third assortment at retail if you count the Target stuff…look, let’s not think about it too much, okay?  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  He’s a little bit more restricted than some of the other figures in the line, missing out on the drop hips and the ball jointed waist in particular.  While it’s a little bit of a bummer, it’s not the end of the world, since the Commander’s rarely as agile as a lot of the other characters in the franchise, and what he has still allows him to pull of a lot of really good poses for the character.  Cobra Commander’s design is definitely a take on his original V1 battle-helmeted design, which has always been my preferred lineage for redesigns of the Commander.  This figure follows in the footsteps of both the Valor Vs Venom and Resolute takes on this particular look, taking the slightly more utilitarian design of the original figure and injecting some of the regal flair that would become so integral to the character.  On the whole, I think the design works, but I’ll also freely admit that there’s a degree of overdesigning going on with this guy, especially when compared to others in the line.  There are areas where I think simplifying things just a touch would help sell the design.  In particular, I think there’s just a little too much going on with the gloves, and the shoulder pad/half-cape also seems a little bit too involved.  I think this guy’s similarities to the Resolute version might be hurting him in that regard, because that design’s pretty cleanly handled, and is kind of the gold standard for Cobra Commander re-designs.  This one is quite far from being bad, mind you, and I do still really like a lot about it.  The paint work on this guy takes the Commander’s usual color scheme and slightly dials it back, going for an overall more subdued appearance, at least as far as the blues are considered.  As with the overall design on the sculpt, there’s perhaps a little too much going on with some of the color work, but as a whole it works, and it’s certainly got the appropriate vibe behind it.  Cobra Commander is packed with two sets of hands, one pointing/fist combo, and one gripping/open gesture combo, as well as a flintlock-style gun and a small sword.  The hands are definitely great for getting some expressive poses out of him, but I find the weapons once again fall victim to the dreaded over designing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m all-in on this new Joe line, or at the very least all-in on all of the standard release stuff, so there was no way I was missing out on the Commander.  I was planning to snag him through All Time, but ended up getting him just a bit earlier courtesy of Max, who snagged the standard early and then decided to upgrade to the PulseCon exclusive version.  While I see a few more flaws on this guy than with the prior figures, he’s still a solid figure.  Now I have to debate about whether I want the two repaints.

#2569: Cobra Trooper

COBRA TROOPER

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

So, how ’bout that new G.I. Joe line?  Aren’t you all really glad that everything from it’s so easy to get at regular pricing and not getting scalped at the first chance pretty much everywhere?  Oh, right, that’s…that’s just how it is in my dreams.  The real world is far more sad and painful.  What a shame.  Well, despite the relative insanity that is this line and its distribution, here’s another new review, of one of those insanely hard to get items, nonetheless.  Please don’t hurt me.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cobra Trooper is figure 12 in the Classified Series line-up, making him numerically the last of the “Special Missions: Cobra Island” singles.  As with that whole sub-line, he’s a Target exclusive, but as Pulse Con confirmed, there’s a slightly tweaked version of this guy coming out in the main line in a few months.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Like a lot of the figures coming out of this line, the Cobra Trooper’s design has its roots in the v1 figure design.  That said, this one works in a lot more modernized elements, and even grabs from a few later incarnations (the v3 from ’06 comes to mind, given the full balaclava under the helmet).  The final assembled product feels very v1-esque, but there’s a lot of layers going on there.  As with pretty much everything from the line so far, it’s a truly impressive sculpt, with a ton of detail work and careful thought being put into how it all assembles.  I really dig how much work goes into stuff like the mask, most of which is never going to be seen when it’s under the helmet.  This is definitely one of the line’s most impressive sculpts (though I think Beach Head still edges him out in my book).  The paint work is about what you’d expect from Cobra forces.  There’s a lot of blue and black, with just a hint of red.  This version in particular has more black than usual, which doesn’t look bad, but is certainly different.  This particular version of the Cobra Trooper has quite the accessory selection, with the removable helmet, a set of goggles, a removable arm band to give him a higher rank, standard and sniper rifles, two pistols, and a knife.  Everything can actually be stored on the figure at once, which is quite impressive, especially since it doesn’t require him to be holding one of the rifles like most Joes fall back on.  I dig the customization angle that all of these parts give the figure for sure, though I myself am drawn to a rather “standard” trooper set up.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been able to pull some favors to get the rest of the Target-exclusive stuff for this line, but this Trooper in particular has been pretty much a ghost around here since before these figures dropped.  This one’s actually not mine, and is instead Max’s.  He was able to procure one through some of his connections, and even offered to let me have it outright, but I was content just to get to do the review.  He’s a fun figure, but one that I see a lot of people hyping up way too much and ultimately being let-down by.  I’m planning to wait for the standard release myself, but it was nice to get a little preview of how that version should turn out.

#2529: Arctic Mission Storm Shadow

ARCTIC MISSION STORM SHADOW

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Even before G.I. Joe went heavy into its ninjas, they’d been present for a while.  While everyone associates Snake Eyes with the whole ninja thing, it’s worth noting that he wasn’t so much responsible for bringing it into the franchise, since in 1982 he was still just a commando.  It was actually Storm Shadow’s arrival on the scene in 1984 that really ushered in the ninjas, with Snake Eyes getting a bit of a re-work to match Storm Shadow’s ninja skills for the other side.  The two have subsequently become rather intertwined, and ninjas have become a fixed piece of the mythos.  So, it’s not too much of a shock that Storm Shadow cropped up pretty quickly for this new incarnation of the line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Arctic Mission Storm Shadow is figure 14 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, and is an Amazon-exclusive item.  He’s our first Storm Shadow, so it’s kind of interesting that he’s an environment-specific figure, rather than an all-purpose version.  That said, with the exclusive status on this guy, it makes sense to do something a little bit less standard, while still giving us a taste of the character.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 37 points of articulation.  In the history of environmental specific Joe appearances and Storm Shadows, there’s not actually been an Arctic Storm Shadow (well, okay, there was *technically* one in Sigma 6, but he was just the standard figure with the arms painted grey, so it’s iffy), so this is *technically* a new design.  That being said, he’s actually *not* really a new design, because Hasbro’s aptly repurposed Storm Shadow’s Ninja Force design for this release.  As with any of the designs for this line, there have been some adjustments to update it, give it that slightly sci-fi bend, and just generally fill the larger canvas a bit better, but the broad strokes are certainly all there, and I really like how this thing turned out.  There are a ton of layers to this design, and the most impressive part of it all is definitely the mask and removable hood.  The original figure had a permanently attached hood, but this one takes advantage of the scale and modern innovation for the removable factor, allowing a lot more depth of detail to the underlying mask, and the neck and collar of his uniform.  There’s a lot of really cool details I like in there.  The figure’s shoulder pads are also designed much like Baroness’s from yesterday, moving on their own, and allowing for more movement on the shoulders.  Another touch I like quite a bit is the absence of any sort of a Cobra insignia from his outfit; the Ninja Force figure was released while Storm Shadow had switched over to the Joes, so he didn’t have the Cobra logo, obviously.  Since this figure is *technically* still a Cobra, he can’t very well have any Joe logos either, so instead he got his Arashikage emblem, which definitely looks cool.  Storm Shadow’s paint work is what really sells the Ninja Force-esque design, with the proper black and white with gold accents.  It’s pretty clean and slick, and he’s also got printed eyes, which keep him nice and lifelike.  Storm Shadow is packed with another impressive selection of accessories, including a bow, arrow, quiver, sword, sheath, grapple, and sickle.  It pretty much covers all of the major bases for what a Storm Shadow could need, so I definitely dig it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since this is an Amazon exclusive, it’s probably not too hard to piece together where this guy came from.  He went up for order, and I ordered him, and then I received him in the mail.  Very exciting story, right?  Obviously, I had Snake Eyes, and I needed a Storm Shadow to pair off with him.  I gotta say, while he may not be standard, I really dig how they managed to get this particular design out there, and it makes for a really fun figure.  I can’t wait to see how the proper version turns out.  Also, can we possibly get a V4-inspired “Arctic” Snake Eyes to pair off with him?  Because that would make me very happy.

#2400: Cobra (The Enemy)

COBRA (THE ENEMY)

G.I. JOE: 25TH ANNIVERSARY (HASBRO)

“One of the nameless, faceless legions of COBRA Command. Each COBRA is highly skilled in the use of explosives, all NATO and Warsaw Pact small arms, sabotage, and the martial arts.”

Okay, let’s go back to the well of the randomly generated list of reviews, shall we?  What are we gonna do today, Brain?  Same thing we do every day, Pinky: try to take over the world.  If you’re gonna take over the world, you need some good, solid faceless minions.  Also, if you’re going to launch a toyline with a limited tooling budget which really only covers the main heroes, leaving the space for only a single villain figure, the faceless minions also help there.  When G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was launched in 1982, they had one villain: Cobra, subtitle “The Enemy.”  Later, that same figure would be more commonly referred to as the Cobra Trooper, as the line grew and Cobra became a much larger organization.  But, that name, Cobra –  The Enemy, stuck with people, so when the 25th Anniversary line was launched in 2007, it was used for a couple of figures before “Cobra Trooper” took hold again as the go-to name.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cobra (The Enemy) was released in the second wave of single carded 25th Anniversary figures in 2007.  He was the third Cobra Trooper variant in the line, following the slightly different Cobra (The Enemy) released in Battle Pack #1 and the Cobra Officer released in the first wave of singles.  The figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  As one of the earlier figures from the line, he suffers from some rather restricted movement on the elbows, which can’t quite make a full 90 degree bend.  It affects his ability to properly hold his weapon, but otherwise he manages alright.  He just needs some creative posing.  All three of the ’07 Cobras share the same core body.  It’s a respectable update of the original ’82 design, now with more removable gear and depth to its design.  Both his helmet and webgear are separate, removable pieces.  The webgear’s a little bit on the floaty side, but looks decent enough, but the helmet stays nice and snug.  Perhaps a little too snug, even….I’ll touch on that in the paint section.  Hey, let’s jump over to the paint section.  For the most part, he’s pretty good.  Application’s clean, and everything looks pretty sharp.  Technically, the Cobra insignia being silver’s not really a regular Cobra thing.  Were it not for the black gloves in place of blue, this guy would actually be spot-on for the deco from 1983’s Viper Pilot figure, which didn’t actually get an update, so there you have it.  The only true issue with the figure’s paint concerns that tight helmet, and the fact that it’s placed on the figure in the package.  It got a little stuck on mine and ended up taking some of the skin tone from the sides of the head with it.  It’s a little distracting when the helmet’s off.  Cobra (The Enemy) is packed with a rifle, a short blade, and a display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Cobra (The Enemy) came relatively early into my 25th collecting, which was, of course, after the line had pretty much wrapped.  I had gotten the Resolute sets and wanted more figures.  Cosmic Comix had a handful of figures, including Hawk, Sgt. Flash, and this guy.  He mostly came along for the ride with the other two, because I didn’t want to just leave him behind.  He’s hardly my favorite Cobra Trooper in my collection, but at the same time, he’s not a bad figure.  He at the very least does a decent job of filling in the ranks.

#2346: Zombie Viper

ZOMBIE VIPER

G.I. JOE: 30TH ANNIVERSARY (HASBRO)

“ZOMBIE-VIPERS are COBRA infantry troopers who have been given a mysterious chemical substance, Compound Z, that has turned them into drones. Wiped of all thought, they follow orders mindlessly and cannot be reasoned with or sidetracked. They have retained skill at combat; in fact, their desire to fight has been increased, making them more dangerous than before. In other words, they are deadly zombie warriors.”

After a rather noticeable hiatus from retail shelves, G.I. Joe is making its return later this year, with an all-new line of 6-inch figures.  I myself am quite excited for this new line, so in the mean time, I’m going to look at some of the older items already in my collection.  Today, I’m turning my sights on the 30th Anniversary of the 3 3/4 inch line, which in addition to updating some of the older figures to the modern day, also served as the distribution point for a handful of left over ideas from Hasbro’s rather inventive Pursuit of Cobra line.  PoC attempted to introduce some new ideas into the franchise, including a few new styles of Cobra trooper.  And since everyone was going crazy about zombies in the early 2010s, we even got one of those!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Zombie-Viper was part of the fourth assortment of the G.I. Joe: 30th Anniversary line, which would prove to be the final assortment of the 30th line.  Unfortunately, due to Paramount not wanting competing product during a movie year, the 30th line was shoved into 2011, which wasn’t its actual anniversary year, and the fourth assortment in particular was practically non-existent at retail.  Fortunately, the Zombie-Viper got a more or less unchanged release for the 50th Anniversary line in 2016, making him much easier to find.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  The Zombie-Viper’s non-zombie parts are re-used from the Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper.  The same figure served as a parts source for both the standard PoC Cobra Trooper and the Viper,  so there’s a nice connective tissue to it, which sells the backstory that these are infected Cobra forces.  The new parts do quite a nice job of selling the whole zombie thing.  The level of detailing is really impressive at this scale and at on a mass retail item, and is honestly enough to give other zombie lines of the time a run for their money.  The forearms are designed like those of the BATs, allowing for them to pop out at the joint and be swapped out for other attachments, in this case a set of tendrils, adding to that more sci-if side of things.  They are also compatible with the BAT attachments, allowing for some mix and match.  The Zombie-Viper’s paint work is mostly on the drab side, which is sensible for a zombie, but with a little bit of bright blue thrown in there, again to play up that sci-fi side of things. There’s some nice accent work wit ph a wash, which helps highlight the intricacies of the sculpt.  The Zombie-Viper is packed with the previously mentioned tendrils, as well as a containment helmet and tube, and a display stand with the figure’s name and the Cobra insignia on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was quite looking forward to this figure when it was first shown off, but unfortunately Wave 4 never showed up at retail around me, and by the time I realized it hadn’t, the full sets had long since sold out online.  I wound up tracking down my one must have figure (Lifeline) on his own, but never did get the Zombie-Viper.  Fortunately, via the 50th Anniversary reissue and Max not wanting to keep both of them from the two-pack, I was finally able to get one.  I’m glad, because he’s a really cool figure.

#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.

#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.