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GI Joe Sigma 6
by yo go re

Among the changes that Sigma 6 made to the GI Joe mythos was the removal of generic human troops from Cobra's ranks. They were replaced by wave after wave of unstoppable killbots. Well, okay, not unstoppable: the good guys still had to win, so the robots had to be stoppable. Almost superhumanly stoppable, in fact! Wave after wave of extra-stoppable killbots! See, it's okay to be extremely violent toward your enemy, as long as your enemy is a walking toaster.

Cobra Sky B.A.T. troops convert to different modes for multiple attack capabilities. Smart technology gives them the ability to automatically make the conversions themselves. Verticle Assault Packs attach to their backs and interface with their central processors to achieve complex aerial maneuvers. Armed with concussion bombs stored on their wings, they can launch devastating attacks from the air. In ground assault mode, their arms convert to powerful grenade launchers. With the addition of ionic gas cannisters, they can enhance their strength and move at accelerated speed. To combat this robotic force, the Sigma 6 team has developed specialized weapons designed to disable computerized systems.

Luckily, Cobra already had some robots lying around in its history: the BATs. So, in keeping with tradition, Sigma 6 kept the name, but changed the design. But instead of faceless black and yellow machine, these BATs were baby blue and definitely had faces. Sure, it's just two round red eyes and a mouthplate, but it's a face.

We saw a lot of very similar-looking bodies in the toyline, thanks to the characters' "Sigma suits," but the BAT bucks that trend. It has an unmistakably inhuman design, with square arms (seriously - there are four 90° corners, no curves), a neck thinner than its wrists, pistons holding up the head, and a narrow robotic spine visible through the empty space where a human's organs would be. The legs are more organic, but by the time you get down that far, you know what you're dealing with. And anyway, the way it's sculpted makes it look like armor worn over the square body beneath. The design comes straight from the TV screens (at least, judging by screenshots; I admit I've never watched the show, which is why I never comment on its quality).

The BAT has a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, injection molded wrists, a true balljointed torso, swivel/hinge hips, and injection molded knees and ankles. There are two swivelling... exhaust stacks? Something on his shoulders. Plus, inexplicable tubes attached to the figure's elbows, and they're mounted hinges as well. Presumably they're the "ionic gas canisters" mentioned in his Sigma File, but seriously, what the hell, designers? They're crap. Lucky for us, they can be popped off with minimal effort (but that does leave a weird knob on the back of the elbow).

The toy's arm doesn't really transform into a grenade launcher, but the set does include a nifty gun that fits over its forearm. The top barrel of the gun is square, and has a ribbed red section underneath; the bottom barrel is more rounded, and fires a red and blue missile a surprisingly long distance.

So far this toy has just represented the standard-issue BAT, but that's not the only kind there was. By including a set of wings that plug into the toy's back, Hasbro allows you to turn this into the Sky BAT, too! Fine, if you want to get technical, it's sold as the Sky BAT, so you'd take the wings off to turn it into the regular sort, but that's neither here nor there.

The wings have a 10½" span, and hinges where they attach to the pack (which uses the same three pegs to plug into the back as every other Sigma 6 backpack, so really anyone could use them). There are four removable missiles that you can push out of the wings to drop on enemies below, and two moveable machine guns on the shoulders.

When the Sigma 6 design was first seen, it didn't really remind anyone of a BAT - it was just too drastic of a departure. But if you lose the elbow-tubes, it's really not too bad. If the blue were just a little bit darker, closer to the classic Cobra uniform shade, it could pass as a giant robot for the Real American Heroes. Even without that, it's a stylish mechanoid, a terrific enemy for your Sigma 6 Joes.

-- 02/21/14

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