After the success of their Joe and Cobra 25th Anniversary box sets, Hasbro quickly followed them up with a second set of villains, the "Cobra Legions" set. It provided repaints of Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow, and a few Cobra grunts, which annoyed some collectors: they didn't want a horde of Cobra Commanders standing around when they assembled their Cobra army. Silly collectors! They should have realized that this is Hasbro, the company that never met a re-release it didn't like. It took only a few months for the figures from that set to start to show up on individual cards, beginning with the Cobra Air Trooper.
Cobra Air Troopers specialize in air assaults,
using jet backpacks to fly into their target areas. As ground forces keep the enemy busy below, the air troopers sweep in from above. Cobra troopers who show exceptional air combat skills are selected for this elite force and given special training in airborne attack tactics. They also fly Cobra fighter jets on combat and scouting missions for Cobra Commander.
The Air Trooper's filecard uses the same screwed up "big specialty, small codename" layout seen on the other early Cobra figures, but at least this one has the codename designation attached to the correct line. This guy serves as the "elite infantry," but he's called the Cobra Air Trooper.
This figure isn't based on anything released in the early days of GI Joe - in fact, its source material didn't really show up until 2006! In one of their comic packs, Hasbro released a set of Lady Jaye and two Cobra Troopers - Troopers with new, unique heads. The TFAC Cobra Air Trooper is actually based on those figures, but still gives us the same kind of upgrade all the others have delivered.
Cobra must draw its Air Troopers from the typical rank-and-file, since the basic uniform is the same: a very detailed update of the classic Cobra uniform, a solid blue outfit with black boots and gloves, tan kneepads and belts, and red Cobra symbols on his chest and left arm. His webgear (a removable piece, tan with silver highlights) is the same worn by the Cobra Officer, rather than the usual Troopers, and his identity-concealing bandana is red, rather than black. Honestly, this guy could pass as part of the regular forces if you don't give him his accessories. He even has the same knife and black Dragunov Sniper Rifle that the regular cannon fodder guys have.
Pop off the standard helmet (revealing the CAT's bald head), and you can slip on the flight helmet. With a wider rim,
black goggles and a silver facemask, this really looks like something an airborne soldier would need in order to keep, you know, "breathing." He has a slightly retooled version of the JUMP jet pack from 1982. "JUMP," by the way, stands for "Jet Mobile Propulsion Unit" - spellcehck rlues! The pack is blue, with silver tubes and a red Cobra symbol on a black circle. A thin wire connects the JUMP pack to a handheld laser gun with technological detailing on the top. The original 1982 mold of that piece had a sight sticking off the side, but it was notoriously fragile and Hasbro chose not to include it this time.
The TFAC figures are a full 4" tall,
and mostly move at the same joints. The Cobra Air Trooper has balljointed ankles, double hinged knees, balljointed hips, swivel wrists, balljointed elbows, balljointed torso, balljointed shoulders and a balljointed neck. The figure's right wrist is molded with a slight angle that makes it somewhat difficult for him to hold the JUMP handset; not impossible, just difficult.
It was a smart choice to make the Cobra Air Trooper the first figure from the Cobra Legions box set to appear on a solo card - after all, he's the most unique offering in the bunch, and has a great selection of accessories. He can be a (semi-)standard ground trooper, or he can take to the sky and rain death from above. And heck, if you have the "Pit of Carkoon" Boba Fett, his exhaust cloud base can fit the JUMP's jets, allowing your figure to hover for real. The Cobra Air Trooper is just a good figure all around, and is worth recruiting to your army.