Cobra Trainer – Code name: Big Boa
G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service 1.0
Five years ago I sat down to review a series of vintage A Real American Hero-era Joes. Among that group of characters was a figure that I once described as a figure whose specialty was immediately obvious from the first glance. A hulking brute of a man whose helmet invoked a comparison to the Ultimate X-Men version of Juggernaut, this figure screamed pure physicality. The 1987 Big Boa figure surprised me by what a terrific example he was of effective character design. Flash forward several years to when the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club announced the debut wave of their Figure Subscription Service. It was a varied assortment of characters but most of them were figures that I could have lived without. However, the addition of Big Boa to the roster put me in a quandary: sign up or try and find him on the secondary market? Was Big Boa worth the hefty price tag of the first FSS or did buyer’s regret set in? Read on to find out one Joe fan’s opinion!
When it comes to constructing a figure like Big Boa the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club didn’t really have a lot of options. Sure the original Big Boa was the standard 3.75” standard of the original A Real American Hero line but ever since the 25th Anniversary figure heights have varied a great deal more. Big Boa was always depicted in his few comic appearances as a tank of a man and so most of the standard no-ring bodies were immediately off the table. In fact, there was just really one clear option at the time: the frame used to construct both the G.I. Joe Resolute Roadblock and the Rise of Cobra Night Adder figures. (The only other “big” option would have been the 25th Bazooka but the sculpted shirt took it right out of the running.) The choice works perfectly—giving the Cobra trainer both the height and the mass he needs to tower above a sea of raw recruits. Plus, the bare-chested nature of the buck is ideal for emulating the original design. Just toss in a brand new sculpted harness and the look is near complete.
I do have to take the opportunity to call out the color scheme used on this particular figure. The Club not only recreated the original color scheme but they took the palette and turned it up to “vibrant.” Seriously—all of the colors used just “POP!” What’s interesting to me is that the figure’s colors work well with both the more comic/animated figures as well as the realistic/muted tone figures.
When it comes to Big Boa’s head sculpt I have to default back to my original 1989 Big Boa review comments. The reason for this is simple: the FSS version has a perfect recreation of the original head design rendered in a scale appropriate for the larger body size. As a result, all of my original comments still hold true—including wondering how effective a melee fighter someone can be when they’re wearing a full helmet with only a slit visor for visibility. The folks at the Collector’s Club must have felt the same way because this time around the file card at least attempts to rationalize the very presence of the helmet. I don’t know if I buy the explanation entirely but I’ll give the GIJCC points for trying.
When it comes to gear, Big Boa follows the example of figures like Jinx and comes packaged with gear from a previously-scheduled-yet-cancelled figure. In this case, some of the Cobra trainer’s equipment comes from the “Training Duke” figure first shown at the 2009 G.I. Joe Collector’s Convention in Kansas City and scheduled for release in the Fall of 2010. While Duke was cancelled, some of the figure’s gear including his pugil stick, dumbbell, and training helmet all see new life thanks to the GIJCC. Also included are a set of specially-tooled boxing gloves featuring some white Cobra sigils. Unlike the original release whose gloves fit directly over the figure’s hands, this FSS version’s hand coverings plug directly into the wrist socket and require the figure’s hands to be removed completely first. While the fit is solid I do have some concern as to how durable this will be over time. I’d hate to have paid close to $30.00 for a single figure only to tear off the wrist peg in a few years’ time. As such, I tend to display Big Boa with his hands attached and the gloves off to the side. It’s a shame as I’d like to use them more but I would also like for this figure to last as long as possible. The only other piece of his kit which is a bit of a head-scratcher is the included sledge hammer. Just exactly what kind of training is he conducting? Otherwise I find the kit to be very thorough and appropriate to the figure—especially the boxing helmet and dumbbell! Well done, GIJCC!
So, the question remains—is this generation 3 version of Big Boa worth purchasing? To paraphrase Sir Mix-a-lot: “I like Big Boa and I cannot lie—though other Cobras I can deny!” (The irony of me attempting to reference a once-popular song will not be lost on some of my friends.) Of all of the figures in FSS 1.0, this is the one that pushed me over the edge and caused me to sign up for the first run of the Figure Subscription Service. True, other figures like Cover Girl, Iron Klaw, and even Dice were all good reasons it was the hulking Cobra Trainer that caused me to pull the trigger and I’ve not regretted his acquisition one bit! From the use of the Resolute Roadblock (and Night Adder) body to the dynamic head sculpt this is one Cobra that I’m glad to own. Honestly, his accessories are just the icing on the cake that helps to make him even more useful in any Cobra diorama. Seriously—if FSS 1.0 has a crown jewel, this is it! Of course, that’s just one Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line: Of all of the figures in FSS 1.0, this is the one that convinced me to sign up! Vibrant colors, near-perfect design, and a great head sculpt make this an essential addition to a Cobra cadre!