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GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

You've gone too far this time, Boston Dynamics!

Cobra B.A.T.s are relentless humanoid robots developed by Dr. Mindbender. They are equipped with a variety of advanced weapon systems and can adapt instantly to overcome any resistance they encounter. Autonomous and virtually indestructible, these mindless machines of destruction carry out the cold, calculated ambitions of Cobra.

Interestingly, the vintage BAT's filecard specifically said they had trouble adapting to changes in battlefield conditions, while this version (only shown on Hasbro's website) implies the opposite. Are the Classified characters intended to be the literal same people as represented by the first three generations of GI Joe toys, or is this a new continuity that just happens to share the same names, like Renegades? Depending on which it is will tell us whether Dr. Mindbender improved his existing designs or made something better from the start.

Speaking of existing designs, it seems Roadblock really was the tipping point we feared he would be, because this BAT is just the classic design done bigger. How utterly, utterly dull. Oh, they added some silver to the top of their feet? Well, that shuts me up, doesn't it? So very different! Totally creative! Now, the original BAT had one of the coolest designs in all of G1, with their black uniform, yellow accents, and exposed robot arms, but that was 1986; surely Hasbro has someone working for them who could update the basics for today? And who could also understand that the mechanical elements visible on their chest are supposed to be inside the robot, not sculpted above the surface of the chest? This figure's larger size should have given them an opportunity to really play with the depth in a way smaller figures couldn't, but we don't even get that luxury. It even would have made the new black chest panel feel useful, like an access hatch or something.

A Classified BAT's head isn't as fat as a Generation 1 BAT's, but it's still the same head: black "helmet" with wide cheeks, a silver faceplate, and a ridge over the top. There have been other BAT designs over the years, but this is what people think of when they think "B.A.T." There are small vents on the cheeks and little silver panels on the back of the head just above the neck. At least they didn't try to chrome the face, right? Or make it a cartoony red.

Sticking with the theme of "exactly copying things that have been done before," the BAT comes with extra parts to turn it into a "battle damaged" version. There's no shame in that, it's something you can do with a robot character that you can't do with a human character, but the damage they've chosen to give it is the same damage the G3 BAT had: bulletholes in the chest plate and an exposed left eye. Do BATs only get shot in the left eye, and never the right? Is the right more armored for some reason? Despite being a larger toy, the sculpt on these alternate parts is worse than on the little one from 2009. The 4" figure had an entire chunk of its head blown away, while this one is just missing a little of its outer shell. And though the dents on the chestplate are nice, why are those plates black instead of clear? Does it make sense that Cobra would want to conceal a giant weak spot in their robots' constuction? Yes. Is having that giant weak spot be front and center a big part of the robots' visual identity, and thus should have been retained? Also yes.

Real-world scientists are still working on making a robot that can move like a human, but in the world of GI Joe, a mentally ill dentist was able to get that working as early as the mid-80s. Classified figures have swivel/hinge ankles, swivel shins, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, hips that are a balljoint mounted on a hinge, balljointed waist, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, pectoral hinges, hinged and balljointed neck, and a balljointead head. The BAT wears a holster that straps around their thigh and connects up to the belt around the waist, but it's soft enough PVC that it flexes to allow the leg to still move normally - the problem is, it's also stiff enough that moving the leg like that pushes the belt around all over the place.

Beyond the alternate head and chest(s), the BAT has the same accessories they had in the '80s: several alternate weapon hands and a backpack to hold them all. It's the usual stuff - a big claw, a blaster, or a flamethrower - but taking a cue from G3, both the bot's hands can be swapped out, not just the right hand like in G1. Like recent BATs, the backpack isn't wide enough to hold all three weapons the way it used to, but here's an area where Classified steps things up smartly, adding a little bump on the side where the third piece can be stored. Nice! Also, there's a pistol that fits in their holster.

The BAT's stats are listed on the website as Environmental Specialist 3,
Energy Weapons 2, Hand-to-Hand Combat 2, and Siegecraft 2, but the Role icon printed on the side of the box doesn't match any of the existing ones - "Environmental Specialist" is supposed to be a shield with a star above linked lightning bolts, while the one here is just a plain globe. Weird.

It may sound dumb that we're complaining about this BAT being too close to its vintage design, then also complaining about the few changes they did make, but we're not looking for change for change's sake, we're looking for change as a result of growth. The Classified line started well, reimagining the characters in ways that were new but still recognizable; but after that giant stutter in late 2020/early 2021, it's like they got scared and retreated to the past, afraid to try anything new. The first 20-some toys weren't popular and in-demand because they copied what was done 40 years ago, they were popular and in-demand because they were great new designs. Why get lazy now?

-- 05/27/22

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