Toy designers and movie producers take note, because Hasbro (with huge credit to Boss Fight Studio’s Fred Aczon) are putting on a master class on how to take an old school concept and crank it up for modern audiences. The G.I. Joe: Classified COBRA Trooper is simply fantastic.
Of course the beauty and flawless execution of the COBRA Trooper only makes its relative rarity through the Target stores all the more frustrating, but I’ll try and tamper that grousing because this review should celebrate the excellence of the figure’s execution and not the rage at a logistical failure of not making it actually available for the mass audience to purchase.
Putting all of those complaints about Target exclusivity and their inability to figure out where and how to sell these things aside, how does this figure stack up?
Absolutely amazing, that’s how.
G.I. Joe has always had a fascinating conundrum. Emerging at a unique time in history, the Real American Hero line seemed to be the perfect storm in the 1980’s. A popular toyline, popular comic and popular animated series all coalesced into a truly industry-defining merchandising behemoth that ran for twelve years, leading retail sales for many of those years.
But the world has changed since the 1980’s and in many cases, G.I. Joe has struggled to evolve, trying to walk a line between science fiction fantasy and military realism. Not only that, but many of A Real American Hero’s most staunch supporters were children of the 80’s who want today’s figures to exactly mirror their memories. The only problem with that, is that re-making toys that match 40-something year old memories may not be a recipe for retail success. So what can Hasbro do? Cater to their existing fanbase (which shrinks year over year) or try and redefine what G.I. Joe is, in an attempt to capture a fresher audience?
It’s become abundantly clear over the past few months that Hasbro is trying to do a little bit of both, though they are certainly not shying away from doing something new and different.
I’m totally cool with that.
And if you need to wonder why I’m okay with that, look no further than the COBRA Trooper.
In the 80’s (and especially the early 80’s) the COBRA Troopers were the backbone of the COBRA organization. They were the faceless and the nameless, the legions of faithful that would follow COBRA Commander into death if that’s what he asked them to do. But looking back at them now, they were essentially dudes in blue pajamas with masks and helmets. Don’t get me wrong, I love ’em, but at the same time, clearly that look and feel wasn’t going to fly in 2020.
What Hasbro has done with this Trooper is pretty much taken the overall feel of the classic and added all the right modern and sci-fi touches to give us an exceptionally cool looking COBRA foot soldier that maintains the perfect callbacks to the old school 80’s.
His blue uniform is clearly more tactically oriented now and instead of glorified black suspenders, he has an immaculately detailed tactical vest with pouches, holsters and sheaths to carry every one of his various weapons he comes with.
Where the original COBRA Trooper had a simple cloth black mask, this version has an elaborately sculpted facemask with what appears to be a built-in breathing apparatus. Many eagle-eyed Joe fans have noticed that his head resembles the head of some concept artwork for Storm Shadow, so many are wondering if we’ll see this part used again at some point. Along with the newly sculpted facemask, there are removable goggles that fit beautifully over his eyes and even have some trademark verticle slits, just like an actual snake.
Those little details are crammed throughout this figure and they are so well done.
Along with the gorgeous vest and amazing head sculpt, this updated COBRA Trooper is littered with more modern defensive armor on his arms and lower legs, angular shaped, and even has raised COBRA logo’s on his armored gloves.
Beneath the armor is an awesome looking blue uniform and the vast amount of different textures used within the sculpt is a testament to the amazing ability of Fred Aczon, who is an absolute wizard when it comes to sculpting action figures. I cannot find a single flaw with this figure from a sculpting perspective and I couldn’t be happier that Fred is involved in a six inch G.I. Joe line, which I know has been a long time dream of his.
Just incredible. In spite of the layered armor and intricate textures, the COBRA Trooper is amazingly well articulated, maintaining the right balance of movement versus sculpt. Double jointed elbows and knees, rocker ankles, nicely articulated neck and shoulders– pretty much any pose you can think to put this figure in, he can achieve and the vest is designed in such a way that it pretty much steers clear of impeding his movements.
Again, the six inch scale truly opens the door for some of this impressive articulation and posing this figure for pictures was an absolute joy.
Once again we come upon the eternal question on the lips of G.I. Joe fans everywhere. “WHEREZ THE AK 47?”
Honestly? What I really care about is that these guys have cool weapons. Whether they fire bullets, grenades, buckshot, or pulsing energy beams, I just want weapons that look neat and are functional, and this figure comes with a nice assortment of them. No, they do not look like realistic weapons, not even the least bit, but unlike the rail gun that Roadblock comes with, they still look great and seem to at least have some basis in reality.
And yes, as many fans have pointed out, they are very much based on Hasbro’s arsenal of NERF guns, and like I’ve said elsewhere, I’m okay with that. There are so many six inch lines out there and any number of places to buy 1:12 scale weapons, it’s relatively easy to give this guy a real world gun if you so choose. I’ve always maintained that I LOVE a healthy mix of science-fiction in my G.I. Joe toys, and the weapons here fit the bill.
He’s got a long range sniper rifle, a more compact rifle, two pistols, a knife, a removable helmet, goggles, and a neat looking arm band for some added flexibility with your growing army of COBRA Troopers.
Well– they would be growing if you could actually BUY them, but — I digress,
Another awesome thing? He can store every weapon on him. Two holsters, a knife sheath and holes in the back of his vest for his two rifles give him the ability to stash all of his weapons away, which is a really awesome touch.
Another figure, another amazing piece of custom art by a fantastic artist. This time around it’s Kekai Kotaki and his art perfectly encapsulates the encroaching evil and menace of the COBRA horde. Simply breathtaking.
How can a single figure bring me so much joy, yet so much relentless frustration all at once? Not only is this figure a Target exclusive that is nearly impossible to obtain for retail prices, not only is he an army builder, but he is the BACKBONE OF THE ENTIRE COBRA ORGANIZATION.
And he’s only available at Target.
Except when he’s NOT actually available at Target.
Anyway. This COBRA Trooper is a nearly flawless evolution of the familiar blueshirts from our past and does all of the right things to jettison that archaic archetype into the 21st Century. He looks threatening, imposing and just plain cool and I want a freaking army of them.
PLEASE LET ME BUY MANY OF THESE. SOMEONE. ANYONE.
G.I. Joe Classified COBRA Trooper (Special Mission: COBRA Island)
This guy is the faceless army that COBRA deserves. Imposing, layered with body armor and awesome offensive weaponry, this figure deserves a place in anyone’s collection.