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Cobra Commander

GI Joe: Retaliation
by yo go re

We tend to make fun of rabid Star Wars fans who flip their [lids] about the details of every minor costume variation in the movies, but then here I am, buying yet another Cobra Commander.

The evil Cobra Commander strikes from the sky using a tactical flight pack armed with a concussion bomb! The Cobra leader swoops down from above to drop the explosive device on the GI Joe squad below.

This figure is part of the final series of Retaliation toys, which means it's technically movie Cobra Commander. Rex Lewis. The Doctor. Yes, to look at it, it's obviously the Real American Hero Cobra Commander, the one we've known since 1982, but the packaging says "Retaliation," so that's who he is. Of course, it's not like Hasbro doesn't have a history of putting non-movie toys into the end of movie lines, so after the packaging is in the garbage, this can represent any Cobra Commander you want it to. As long as that Cobra Commander looks exactly like he did in the '80s.

And we really do mean exactly like he looked, because this figure's head (and, by extension, his helmet), is the same one on the shoulders of the Cobra Commander figure that came in the "Best of '80s Episodes" box set. It's a fine sculpt, if you don't mind the corner down the front, but sadly it's vac-metallized. Hasbro: nobody wants chrome on their toys!

For those who don't want their action figures to look like the bumper of a 1967 Chrysler (ie, EVERYONE, HASBRO!), the set includes a new second head. First, the bad news: it's not the unmasked beatnik face we've all been wanting for years; it's just CC in his ceremonial hood. It's a nice hood, bunching up around the neck just the way it should, and the eyes are sculpted as though they were really below the surface. How is it that we haven't had a Cobra Commander with fully swappable head gear since the Valor vs. Venom days?

Like Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow, this Cobra Commander is about nothing so much as recapturing the glory days in a larger form. Too large a form. The figure is 4¼" tall - remember, GI Joe toys are in a 4" scale, so that makes Cobra Commander (a plain, unassuming man that the world overlooked before he put on the mask) a door-scraping 6'5" tall. Uh, no.

Cobra Commander is wearing his blue suit, which is obviously something we've already seen in Generation 3, but it looks even nicer on this oversized body. More room to work = a more detailed sculpt, obviously. He's got the elbow-length black gloves, but is missing his spats; he has a large Cobra logo on his chest, but his chest joint is no longer hidden by a sculpted belt; he has a small sheath strapped around his left leg, but no technological pad on the back. Yes, we get better wrinkles on his clothes, but is that worth all the tradeoffs (including the wrong height)?

While the Commander himself is bigger than the previous figures, his gun is smaller. It has the same design as the classic blaster, with the distinctive rounded barel and ribbed section behind that, but it's more accurately scaled for his hand now. Good thing, too, since with no holster and no slot on his back, he has to hold it. He also comes with a tiny knife that comes out of the sheath on his thigh - that's really impressive!

But even better is his backpack. Remember how Storm Shadow came with a faux-C.L.A.W. and the Cobra Combat Ninja came with a faux-A.S.P.? Well Cobra Commander comes with a faux-F.A.N.G.! Yes, his backpack, which is a completely new sculpt, not some tarted-up version of Matt Trakker's Condor, is a reference to the old Cobra one-man helicopter!

There are two straps that go around the shoulders, and a peg that fits into his back. The body of the pack is black, with big silver engines and a grey rotor. There are four tiny red missiles, and a button on the side you can press to make the blades spin. Plus, a compartment near the bottom hinges open to drop two stout blue bombs. They've got biohazard symbols tampoed on them, so if they were neon blue instead of translucent, we'd say they were Compound Z (which would also go well with all those zombified Joes and Cobras that showed up in one of the Hasbro "concept case" displays).

The biggest problem with this figure is its size - even taking only ⅛" out of his thighs and shins would have brought him down to a more respectable height. But still, I bought this figure when Five Below got that big shipment of Joes in, and his backpack alone is worth the five bucks I paid. Other than that extra ¼", this is the best G3 Cobra Commander yet.

-- 09/12/14


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