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Baroness with Cobra COIL

GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

A brilliant master of disguise and psychological manipulation, the Baroness is in control of every situation. Her only desire is to watch the world unravel, and she will use her inherited wealth, connections, and skills to make it happen, no matter where she needs to swear her allegience.

"Baroness" is not simply a vanity title or codename - she really is one by marriage. Anastasia von Stromberg was born to European artistocrats, and in a handy bit of social climbing, she married the Baron Cisarovna for his money and political connections. And probably his name, too: the "Cisar-" part joins words like "kaiser" and "tsar/czar" in tracing its roots back to "Caesar," while the "-ovna" is probably a diminutive form of "son of." There's never been anything said about what happened to him; is he dead? Did she just run off and leave him? Probably depends on how vicious she was feeling that day. It's not like barons (the lowest rank of nobility) have any specific duties or responsibilities that anyone would be coming after her to perform if he were no longer around, so we're just left to wonder.

We've had some really good-looking Baronesses over the years, and also some really bad ones. This Classified version takes full advantage of the larger scale to deliver a Baroness with a distinctive look. It's a very severe face, with harsh cheekbones and jawline, but it's a face a real human being might have. They didn't try to make her beautiful or make her ugly, just make her... a person. Her glasses are a separate piece glued to the figure's temples, and her straight black hair hangs all the way down to her waist.

Baroness was first revealed in the art on the back of the packaging - fans were concerned, because the art made it look like she'd be wearing gold armor over her usual leather suit, but while this exclusive release does have the armor seen in that painting, it's as black as the rest of her couture. Maybe there will be another release of her later that fancies her up, but for now we've got the classic look. Handy, since it saves us having to go to the trouble of coloring over her accents ourselves.

Like Destro, Baroness' costume is an update of what she wore in the '80s: thigh-high boots with an angled, layered look, curved armor pads strapped to the outside of her forearms, and an armored breastplate with a raised Cobra logo. It may be hard to see the detail under normal lighting, but it's there. Instead of a black leather catsuit beneath the armor-y bits, she's wearing a body-hugging suit that has some shiny black sections, but also a lot of grey areas with a sculpted texture on them, suggesting some sort of flexible ballistic material. So she still looks like The Baroness, but she also looks ready for modern battles.

Classified Baroness stands just about 6⅛" tall - her boots have heels, but just small ones, so she perfectly lines up with her reported 6'0" height (as stated on the official website's character section). She's got a balljointead head, a hinge at the top of the neck and a balljoint at the bottom, swivel/hinge shoulders on pectoral hinges, swivel/hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed chest and waist, hips that are a balljoint mounted on a hinge, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. She's lacking the swivel shins the other figures have had, because of her boots' design. The small pauldrons are part of her breastplate, so the arms move beneath them rather than dragging them along. Of course, the hair impedes the neck.

Baroness' stats say her Role is Intelligence 4, her Gear is Light Weapons 1, and her Skill and Mastery are PsyOps 3 and Disguise 4 respectively. The accessories back this up. We begin with two golden pistols, which can store in the holsters that hang against her butt. There's a black knife with a golden cobra-head pommel, a technological snake-gun(?) thing that can either stand by itself or wrap around her arm so she can aim it at her enemies. That's pretty neat! She also includes two black submachine guns, but she doesn't need to always hold those. Because they can plug into her bike.

Yes, taking a cue from the Marvel Ultimate Legends line, Baroness is packaged with a motorcycle. It's officially called the Cobra COIL, but there's no word on what "C.O.I.L." stands for. So we get to make it up! This is now officially the "Cavalry-Operated Invasion eLement" Cycle.

The bike is definitely a sci-fi design, not anything you'd see in the real world. It's all sleek angles, like a sport bike, but it is laid out more like a street bike. I guess it's most similar to a power cruiser? The front wheel sits way out and the footpegs are low to the ground, but the handlebars are low enough that the rider has to bend over and there's a tiny windshield right in front of them. The wheels are smooth, but very thick - thick enough that the bike can stay upright even without using the kickstand! That's probably fine for roads, but would be less useful on the rough terrain of Cobra Island.

As mentioned, the two SMGs are designed to attach to the sides of the bike - they each have a peg on one side, and the COIL cycle has holes near the front where they can plug in. The front fork can turn, along with the handlebars; to fit in the packaging, one of the handlebars needs to be popped in after you get the bike out of the tray. They're attached by balljoints, to help make them easier to fit into a character's hands. The lack of swivels in the shins makes it slightly difficult to get her feet onto the pegs, a fact exacerbated by the way the engine bulges out just above them.

The bike is red and black, with some silver on the engine, and a semi-opaque windshield. The red is definitely plasticky, which makes this look more like a toy than a scaled-down vehicle. And honestly, why red? I know the packaging gives that color to the bad guys, but "Cobra blue" is a thing for a reason. That's their color, and this motorcycle could have used it instead.

Proving that people do listen to us, Baroness comes with one more accessory. Remember in the Ultimate Legends Black Widow review when we complained about her ugly second haircut, and said she should have come with a motorcycle helmet instead? Baroness comes with a motorcycle helmet! It's solid black (with the visor being a bit darker than the rest), but has a nice sculpt that references a snake, with slit eyes and "fangs" that reach down over the visor. Wonder if she and Natasha have compatible balljoints?

A bright red Cobra motorcycle is not something totally new. During 2003's SpyTroops line, they had the Venom Cycle, a little off-road bike with a sidecar - clearly not something that looked like this, but still a loosely similar idea. Interestingly, though, the red Venom Cycle was a repaint of one released earlier that year in a grey/green colorscheme; when that toy was first announced in late 2002, it was going to be known as the "Cobra Coils Cycle," so there's a connection to today's Cobra COIL after all! Honestly, this cartoony bike is no one's first choice for a Classified vehicle, and it doesn't have any particularly strong connection to Baroness as a character, but she's awesome and it's not bad, so overall we're counting this set as a win. The only downside is that it's an exclusive and thus very hard to find.

-- 09/04/20

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