NOTE: This “tag team” review features text by both Fred “Leonardo T Dragon” and Justin “General Hawk” Bell. Fred’s text appears in standard text while Justin’s will be rendered in bold.
Army-building. If Webster’s set out to officially define this term I’m sure the word “compulsive” would be in there somewhere. How else can one explain the need to acquire multiples of the same figures simply to display them as part of a collection? After all, shouldn’t one or two or even three prove sufficient to complete any collection? If the good folks at Webster’s took this approach, they’d most certainly be missing the point, -- at least as far as most collectors are concerned. Plain and simple, GIJoe fans love their troops and Cobra has certainly provided quite the selection to choose from. Episodes of the cartoon series and issues of the comics were filled with scenes of scores of Cobra Troopers swarming across the battlefield intent on achieving their organization’s goal of world dominance. In recent years, Hasbro wisely clued in on this trend of “army-building” and released pack after pack of troop-builders all directed at filling the ranks of many collectors. It’s only fitting that the same trend continues in the 25 th Anniversary line with the release of the Cobra Legions battle pack. Containing three army-builders and two named characters, this set is destined to become popular with fans as a new line surely deserves new troopers.
Any thoughts on this phenomenon of army-building, Justin?
I have mixed emotions about it. While I applaud anyone’s willingness and ability to acquire hundreds (or thousands) of troops to fill your armies, it’s not something I’ve ever really been able to accomplish myself, and don’t necessarily feel like my collection suffers for it. I won’t lie, though, I find great joy in looking at folks’ collections who have amassed huge armies, and you can’t help but be impressed by it, especially if folks have managed to track down a large number of vintage figures that aren’t quite so easy to acquire these days.
From a dio-story perspective, I probably do what I call “squad-building” which gives me 6-8 of various types of troopers, just because sometimes it’s necessary to have those to shoot realistic dio-stories, but any more than that number and you can’t fit them in one frame, anyway.
So really, if it’s your bag, all the power to you. Not necessarily my thing, though.
First up is the Cobra Air Trooper—a rather ingenious combination of parts we’ve all seen before. Essentially, this figure consists of the now-standard blueshirt body with a re-colored officer’s harness for added detail. The knee pads and knife sheath have been rendered in the same shade of orange-yellow as the harness leaving the overall appearance of the figure quite similar to that of the Comic Pack Officer released a few years ago. It’s essentially the same color scheme and it works for the most part. While I’m not a big fan of an overly bright color palette when it comes to Joes, this combination is more subdued that one might expect. The yellow straps come across more as“work glove leather” rather than the sleek black finish of the Battle Pack trooper. To my mind, this conveys the appearance of “working gear” as opposed to a more formalized “dress look” and it seems appropriate for a trooper who is about to strap a jet pack to his back and leap “into the blue”. Aside from these differences, this is the same Officer that both Justin and I’ve reviewed before so I can’t think of too much more to add. General Hawk?
Without a doubt this figure is far and away my favorite figure of the set…and why is that? New concepts. While I’m right on everyone’s side with the Anniversary line, and I love these great new renditions of figures we’re getting, one of the things about G.I. Joe that has always intrigued me is the new and interesting ideas that the line supplied us with. While the base figure of the Air Trooper is the same thing we’ve seen already, I love the addition of the Gas Mask Trooper helmet, and the COBRA blue JUMP jetpack. These things combine together to give you a new and different type of COBRA Trooper, which is something I will never argue with. I’m thrilled that he’ll be hitting the single packs when Wave 4 hits later this year.
The Comic Pack deco COBRA Officer is just gravy (but very tasty gravy, to be sure). It was a great idea to build the Air Trooper around a comic pack type Officer base figure, which gives folks some serious versatility and appeals to different types of people. Collectors like myself who enjoy the new ideas can use it as an Air Trooper, but those folks who much prefer new versions of their classic characters can simply use the base figure as a comic pack deco Officer. It appeals to all kinds. I prefer the Air Trooper form myself, and I think they did a great job with this figure overall.
I’ll be completely blunt—when I first saw press images of this figure I dismissed it as a “lazy boy custom”. It appeared that Hasbro had simply cobbled together the 25A blueshirt body with the Comic Pack #44 gas mask trooper’s head and released this “Franken-joe”. Yet, the realization is far more exciting than I had initially assumed. The Air Trooper comes with two helmets—the Cobra Officer’s helmet molded in a lighter shade of blue and a modified gas mask trooper helmet. This second helmet has been hollowed out to fit over the trooper’s standard bald head. So, rather than swapping out heads entirely, the trooper converts from flight gear to standard duty with the swap of a single helmet. This is a fantastic idea as it also opens up display options that wouldn’t have been possible with a straight head swap. It also means that this figure can function in two different capacities—as an “animated” officer or as an Air Trooper. It’s an unexpected bonus from a figure that I wasn’t all that excited about originally. What’s your take on the removable helmet Hawkmeister?
A terrific idea, and an even better execution. I agree, if the helmet/head had been a permanent thing, this figure might have appealed to collectors a lot less. But having a removable helmet with the Officer helmet as an extra in the pack is a great way to make everyone happy. I love it.
As with every other figure in this pack, the body is nothing new. Cobra Commander is seen here in a color scheme that is remarkably similar to the one used in the CGI “Valor vs. Venom” animated feature. Rather than the light blue of the Battle Pack Cobra Commander, this “Legions” version is clad almost entirely in a black uniform. The unique “dual belt” has now been painted silver, as have the hands of his gloves. The buckles, buttons, and uniform trim have all been painted a dark gold for an effect that is both striking and severe. The red Cobra sigil found on the previous release of this figure has been replaced by three gold sigils—one on each shoulder and one located on the forehead of the helmet. The result is a decidedly sinister and more military Cobra Commander than has been previously released in this anniversary line. In many ways, the uniform is more evocative of those worn by Magneto in the X-Men movies or the original incarnation of the Master in the classic Doctor Who series. At the risk of sounding “non-PC”, the uniform is almost reminiscent of a Nazi SS uniform—not so much in terms of literal similarity as it is tone and feel. I’ll be honest—this is a much more sinister appearance for Cobra Commander than this line has yet produced and I find myself preferring it over the original “animated” version from the first Battle Pack. When combined with the updated look of his bodyguard Storm Shadow, this figure truly has a formidable presence. Of course, Justin’s opinion might differ on this.
This is a tough call. I love black on COBRA Commander. Ever since we got the Battle Corps version of COBRA Commander back in ’93, COBRA Commander has looked awesome in black. This figure does look pretty cool, but ultimately, no I don’t think it outshines the original version in the more familiar powder blue. Honestly, if given my preference between all previous versions, I would choose the dark blue and gold hooded version over the other two, but I do like the light blue more than this black. Part of that, though, might just be the questionable paint applications that go over the nice black base.
I must point out two things that do bother me about this figure in terms of paint applications. The first is the silver paint applications on the hands of the figure. I understand that Hasbro was going for a different look than the previous releases of the figure which had darker long gloves. As such, the decision to color the hands silver works—except that the long gloves are part of the molding. In other words, the Commander is wearing black gloves with gold trim and silver hands. It just seems a bit too complicated for this figure’s otherwise severe color scheme. Yet, I’ll admit that the color on the hands is needed to break up an otherwise bleak design but I find myself wondering if perhaps there might have been a better way to accomplish this. The second “paint issue” I have is found on the Commander’s boots. His spats are painted gold as is the seam of his pants—or rather the bottom of the out seam. For some odd reason, Hasbro chose to apply the gold paint to the seam below the swivel joint only. Perhaps a full gold seam was just a bit too “Vegas”—I don’t know. What I do know is that this gold “mini-stripe” is just a bit odd on such an otherwise solid figure. So aside from two color quirks that just make me scratch my head a bit, I’ve ZERO complaints about the rest of this figure.
And this is really where I have the bulk of my problems with the figure myself. I like the black base color very much, and the gold trim is a very nice touch as well, but the way the silver gloves were painted leaves me kind of cold. They look downright strange just being wrist-length when the gloves are obviously more elaborately sculpted. Even with the gold trim the hands and forearms just look almost unfinished. The silver belt(s) look great, and as I said, I do like the rest of the gold trim throughout the bulk of the figure. Without the large COBRA logo, this looks like a more refined and subtle version of COBRA Commander, which is pretty cool in my eyes. Besides some minor oddities with the silver gloves and such, I do like this figure far more than I thought I might.
Remember the debut Comic Pack from a few years ago? If you do, then you’ve seen this Cobra Trooper’s color scheme already. The body is a bit lighter in color than the previously released Cobra Trooper and Officer and it actually molded in a lighter blue than the original Comic Pack #1 Trooper. The removable harness is molded in a similar shade to the Air Troopers—giving the impression of the “work glove suede” rather than the black leather of the standard Trooper. The Trooper’s neck scarf is painted a bright red which continues all the way down the neck to meet the molded shirt collar. The figure’s boots are black as are the kneepads which comprise the double-joint. The figure’s heads, which were previously molded black, are now molded in the same blue plastic as the body with the hands being given a flesh-colored paint application. I’m not certain why Hasbro seems to prefer painting rather than molding the “fleshy parts” of figures in recent years as the paint is almost a bit thick, giving the hands a waxy feel. The arms of the 25A Buzzer were molded in flesh tones and the technique seemed to work well enough there. However, the painted hands aren’t enough to hinder my appreciation of the design. I do wonder how well they’ll hold up to the removal and replacement of various weapons over the years as the figure will be left with blue palms. Anything to add here, Justin?
You’ve covered a lot of what I have to say about the figure. At it’s core, the comic pack Trooper is just like the other Troopers that we’ve gotten twice already, only with some minor cosmetic adjustments to give it a more “comic book” type of color scheme. I’ll be honest, I really love the comic style deco, and I do like how they end up just bulking up the COBRA Trooper reserves with minor paint alterations here and there. The light brown straps translate well to the plastic figure, and I’ve always loved the red face mask as well. This figure meshes well with the Air Trooper/comic pack Officer and I enjoy this deco change, even if it’s tough to find something to talk about.
I’ll be honest- I don’t really have much more to say about this trooper body and I’ve still got to write something for the Vehicle Driver! This is now the fifth time I’ve described this body in a review and I’m rapidly running out of things to say. The color scheme works well for a comic trooper although, for some reason, it will always be a “toon trooper” in my head as that’s the only place I can really see this color scheme working. I’ll leave the wrap-up of the Trooper to Justin as I’m tapped at this point.
Oh sure, let me try and think of something new to say about a figure we’ve both reviewed six or seven times already. Bastard.
Really, there’s not a whole lot more to say. I like all of the different colors for the COBRA Troopers we’ve gotten so far, and ever since these Troopers came out in the old school comic packs a few years ago, I’ve loved this new color scheme. Fans will buy troopers regardless, so I love that we get somewhat authentic updates that pay a nice tribute to the different media out there. While it’s yet another trooper, it’s a nice update that I do like.