Some two packs are completely logical. The two characters have some tie to each other—as opponents, troop builders, or even characters with similar areas of expertise. However, pairing a would-be world conqueror and a former Navy SEAL-turned veterinarian together just sounds like an out-of-control Hollywood buddy flick. Still, Link and Cobra Commander return in Wave 7—recolored, retooled, and rearmed and the overall result is pretty satisfying.
If any character has an uphill battle in terms of popularity with Joe fans it would seem to be poor Link. First off, not a lot of people took to the concept of a veterinarian being part of the Joe team. Next, there were a lot of fans that actively disliked his character in Valor vs. Venom: the Movie. Still, poor Link got more scorn than he deserved and this repaint will hopefully win a few more people over to this latest addition to the Joe team. Link’s mold is NO different than the Wave 4 version of the figure. The difference this time around is found in his color scheme. The previous version of the figure could be thought to be Link during the “Venom Crisis”—still a civilian and merely assisting the Joe team. This figure, however, seems to represent Link as a full-fledged Joe; he’s now sporting a GIJoe logo across his tank top and he’s got green pants instead of his maroon pair. For some odd reason, Hasbro decided that he still needed yellow patches on the sides of his pants and that he would still be wearing his famed “floating elbow pads” but I think this color scheme works much better for Link. It’s more of a military look than his first version and the addition of the GIJoe logo helps to make him feel like more of a part of the team. In my Joe-verse, Link is more of a medic than a vet and so takes the place of Lifeline on field operations. (Lifeline now being a full-fledged MD and all that.) There’s really not much else to say about this figure other than he’s got a new sculpt grenade launcher as an accessory. If you were not a fan of Link, I’d encourage you to give this figure a second chance, as it really is a much better version than the previous release.
Normally, this where I’d type in some filler text about how a new color scheme either makes or breaks a figure. I’d throw in some potentially witty banter about how Cobra Commander is one of my favorite figures and that this sculpt has been a favorite of mine since it was first released in Spy Troops. However, I’m going to omit all of that and give you one reason why I love this figure—despite its color scheme: GIJoe #25 by Devil’s Due Press. This is the Cobra Commander from that issue, plain and simple. This is the figure that allows me to re-enact the scene between Cobra Commander and Serpentor where Serpentor commands the Commander to kneel before him! For the first time ever, Hasbro has found a way to satisfy fans of the Commander’s two looks: hooded and helmeted! Of the two, I’m partial to the helmet. First off, it fits on his head extremely well and doesn’t restrict his movement. Secondly, it shows the Commander “ready for action”—not lounging around in an easy chair somewhere. The hood is nice but something about it doesn’t quite gel for me. Perhaps it’s the fact that the mold is “blowing in the wind”. It could be the fact that the hood itself is missing any kind of Cobra sigil and therefore looks a bit bland. It could even be the fact that the eye holes don’t really link up with the head sculpt’s eyes. Or it could simply be that I’ve always preferred Cobra Commander with a battle helmet. (The one exception being the Battle Corps Cobra Commander figure!) Either way, it’s nice to have the ability to choose just how the Commander should be displayed.
My single favorite aspect of this figure is the balaclava head sculpt. This is the first Cobra Commander head since my beloved Battle Corp head to truly capture the menace of the Commander’s eyes. There’s just something about that gaze that lets you know that you’re dealing with the “most dangerous man alive” and I applaud Hasbro’s design team for recapturing that element of the figure. There is only one thing that I would do to improve this figure and that is to give him a better color scheme. The light blue outfit combined with the white gloves just diminishes the overall menace of this figure. Don’t get me wrong, I still love this figure quite a bit but something is lost due to his more “kid friendly” colors. It’s almost as if Destro dropped some bleach in the Commander’s laundry as I just don’t see the head of Cobra wearing these colors voluntarily. Still, this is the best Cobra Commander mold to come out in a LONG time and the inclusion of the two masks makes this my current favorite version of the Commander.
In the end, this is just a pack of repainted and retooled figures—but it is a case where both figures are improved by the changes. Sure the Commander is wearing colors that I’ve only ever seen Ben Matlock wear in public but he’s got such a great head sculpt and gear that I can forgive it. Yes Link still has his “floating elbow pads” but he’s got a much “Joe” color scheme and a new accessory to boot. So, if you feel that you’ve already got your definitive Cobra Commander and you don’t like Link, you can skip this pack. However, I’d encourage you to give it a try. If nothing else, a simple head swap later and “the Great Snake” is wearing better colors and still had a removable helmet. All in all, this is one of the better redeco sets I’ve seen yet!