Review by Chris Chung & Fred Meyer
Pics by Fred Meyer
Elite Infantry - Codename: Cobra Air Trooper
SDCC 2015 G.I. Joe Desert Duel Exclusive Figure
Like the Elite Horseman, I’m not going to spend too much time talking about the Air Trooper. Aside from a change of colors, he’s already been reviewed along with the Black Dragon tilt-rotor aircraft from Renegades.
Yep—just not by either of us! The Black Dragon hit during my sabbatical from the hobby and I’ve never gone back and reacquired him.
I will say I question his inclusion in this set, as it makes no sense. His filecard states he flies in on a jetpack, but A.) He doesn’t come with a jetpack, and B.) His vest has no backpack hole to facilitate a jetpack, so he’s essentially useless as a desert fighter.
Fred, can you add any details that might make this guy make sense?
Sure! You see--- there’s this thing and then another thing and then… Nope. I’ve got nothing. The Cobra Air Trooper is one of the two exclusive figures in the SDCC version of the Desert Duel set and I’ve honestly have no idea why he’s included in this set. Without the aforementioned jet pack, he’s essentially a pilot who had his wings clipped. Now if the storyline for the set was built around the recovery of a downed Cobra pilot then suddenly the Air Trooper becomes the single most important character in the set. Instead, he’s the guy who tags along with the Elite Horseman and tries to show why he’s relevant. There was a term for this in the 1980’s: comedy sidekick. Things never ended well for the comedy sidekick—as proved in the movie The Last Action Hero.
The Air Trooper is a complete repaint of the same figure that came with the Black Dragon. And like the prior figure, his knees are situated in a way that the knee pads hit the legs, making it impossible for him to straighten out his legs. I was hoping this would have been corrected, but it was not to be.
Another aesthetic flaw that detracts from the figure is the blatant indented peg slot in his lower back where he is missing a pouch or webgear that would have normally been glued on. While not necessarily damning, it does look awkward.
I’m just going to say it now and get it out of the way: I don’t like this figure one bit. Aside from his helmet which is probably the most interesting feature of the entire build, he’s a horrible figure. Poor design in the legs mean that he’ll never ever stand straight and the arms have such a limited range of side-to-side motion that the Air Trooper is incapable of anything other than a one-handed grip on his rifle. For an exclusive figure that’s meant to entice people to seek out this set over the regular retail version he’s pretty crummy. I typically try to find something positive to say about every single figure but this is one instance where I can’t. I’d rather be honest than put in pseudo-positive comments for the sake of scoring points with readers. Sorry guys—he’s a dud.
Weapons and gear:
Notice that Chris didn’t have anything to say about the figure’s kit at all? Think about it—when is the last time that Chris didn’t have ANYTHING to say about a figure’s gear? His omission speaks volumes right there. As far as this Joe fan is concerned, the included kit is actually pretty nice except for the fact that the Cobra Air Trooper really can’t use it due to the design limitations I mentioned earlier. As such, what is actually a nicely balanced selection of weapon and sidearm is utterly wasted on a figure that can’t use them.
Overall the Air Trooper is an interesting looking figure, but tiny head, anime-inspired helmet, and poor leg articulation and construction might be sore points to some fans. Add in the fact he seems like a fish out of water, and I can’t really see him useful for anything except sitting in a cockpit. Thankfully with some twisting, he will fit inside the Basilisk along with the Elite Horseman.
This is another example of a figure that was designed with form triumphing over function. Sure, the design is interesting but it’s really only interesting from the neck up in my opinion. While it’s true that a good head sculpt can make or break a figure it’s also true that a good head sculpt can’t save a poorly-designed body. From his arthritic legs to his barely usable arms, there’s very little reason to rush out and try to track down this figure on its own. If you bought the SDCC exclusive set you’re going to be stuck with one but unless you’re just a huge fan of the design I’d say that you could avoid this stinker and live a full and happy life filled with other more well-designed action figures. Heck, save the money for one of the 2015 50 th Anniversary two-packs and get two good figures instead of this waste of plastic. Sorry kids—I can’t do it. I can’t throw out an endorsement for something that can’t even achieve the basic range of motion that the original 1982 Joes had. PASS!!!
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