COBRA Night Watch

Toy name: COBRA Night Watch
Assortment: N/A
Price: MSRP $19.99
Availability: August, 2005 - Direct To Consumer Exclusive

I can say without much fear of reprisal that the COBRA Infantry Forces figures were far and away the most popular 6-Pack that Toys "R" Us and Hasbro ever combined on. Great classic army builders in beautiful COBRA colors, but with nicely updated headsculpts (and arms) and some great additional detail touches like rank insignia and different ethnicities. These small changes really spiced up the trooper mold and took it from a two decade old dated figure sculpt and really made it fit in with the modern new sculpt stuff. Small changes made a huge difference, with the only downside really being the weapons.

Well with this release, Hasbro took a couple of clumsy steps backwards, mostly due to factory mishaps, but they've also taken steps forwards as well. The result is a pack that is less successful than the "Blueshirts" in several ways, but still maintains a very interesting and unique look that provides some decent appeal.

I know the first thing I said when I saw these figures was " cool would these have been with the new head sculpts?!?". According to Dwight Stall at the convention, they did order the molds for the new head sculpts, but received the older ones from China instead...the same gaffe also brought sound attack weapons into the pack, too, when non-sound attack weapons were requested. These two little "whoopsies" actually cause some problems for me, particularly in the head sculpt arena, but luckily there are other cool things about the pack that do make up for it.

First we'll take a look at the COBRA Officers in the set. These two figures are a little less exciting than the other four, but are still pretty neat in a non-descript kind of way. Their molds are nice and simple as the Officers always have been. Simple dress uniforms, nice v-shaped strap pattern on their torsos, and an assortment of pouches above their waist. It's a slightly more elaborate design than the standard troopers, which makes sense since these COBRA's are higher in rank than their suboordinates. The molds are unusually slim when compared to the other twenty plus years of G.I. Joe molds, but that almost suits them...these are the COBRA troops before they don Viper uniforms...before they don Crimson Guard uniforms...before they even don the "Leaky Suit Brigade" uniforms. These are the base of the base, and the Officers are their squad leaders. They don't need clunky battle armor yet, they get all of the basics, and not much else.

That also works for the officers, since they're mostly behind the frontlines, barking orders, and not normally in the thick of combat. Unfortunately, these figures do suffer from a little bit more slimness than they should. The last 6-Pack had arm sculpts that were baggy sleeved and fit the figures terrifically. They looked slim enough to belong to the troops, but the baggy sleeves brought out some bulk that gave the figures a little more "umph". Sadly, these figures do not have those baggy sleeves, and as a result they look a little scrawnier than they probably need to. It's not a huge deal, but enough that it detracts some from the figures in general.

Luckily, those detractions are offset by the really neat color schemes these figures are offered in. The officers are somewhat blander than the trooper counterparts in this set, but the dark, dark gray uniform with black trim looks surprisingly striking, I have to say. It really makes these figures look dark and menacing, and also makes the regal silver COBRA logo on the chest stand out all that much more. It's nice to see the Officer's emblem on his helmet, too, and seeing that in a nice bright hue makes a nice difference. There's also a second Officer in the pack with much a similar cool looking paint scheme, only with a black mask, gold emblem on his chest and gold emblem on his helmet. These nice little tweaks separate the two officers nicely and look really cool. These guys do look like the Officers they should.

But the real gems of this 6-Pack are the COBRA Troopers. With some minor paint tweaks and a small camouflage addition, Hasbro has really brought some new life to the trooper figures and these are quite successful.

As with the Officers, the molds have a certain slimness and scrawniness that was nicely offset by the head sculpts and arms last time around. This time, it's more visible and more obvious, but there is still a nice "classicness" to the mold that makes these figures still appealing. The slim torsos with twin straps are a hallmark of the COBRA troopers, and look especially neat here. The detail is very subtle, as it always was with the figures pre-1985, but is definitely still there in the ribbed surface of the shoulder straps and the small wrinkles by the boots. These are still your baseline COBRA Troopers and work well as such.

Colors are really where these troops shine, of course. They are clad in your basic blue/gray...a definite shade of gray that is very nice and an almost blueish color. It mixes perfectly with the black straps over their chests and contrasts perfectly with the shoulder pad and other brighter trim throughout the figure. Perhaps the neatest addition to this figure is the camouflage pattern on the pants. It is an insanely simple paint mask, but a very successful one, and really brings you back to the classic days of G.I. Joe. That's one of the cool things about these figures, is that they mix quite well with the Real American Hero figures, and to be very honest, every day I gain a new appreciation for the classic sculpt stuff. I find myself having much more pleasure going through the classic figures and displaying them, organizing them, and just looking at them, then I do some of the new stuff. Not sure if it's just an attack of nostalgia, but I'm just finding this classic stuff so much more "fun". It's not to say I'm coming down on the DTC stuff, I'm still quite excited to see the new stuff coming down the pipeline. But recently I've just found immense pleasure in my large classic sculpt collection, and I'm happy to add these guys to it.

The weapons assortment is impressive, to say the least as well. They are all new sculpt weapons, but thanks to the new softness of these figures' hands, they can hold them fairly well. If the one-time Baroness weapons didn't come with sound attack, these guns would be flat out perfect. As it is, they're still pretty cool. The assault rifle, MP5's, knives, and Scorpion submachine guns are all suitable armament for these troops, and it won't take me long to hack off the sound attack from the other guns and use them. As much as I love the guns that Marauder puts out, I'm almost happy to have a Hasbro 6-Pack that I don't feel like I need to spend additional funds just to equip them well.

The specialty of these figures is actually pretty neat, too...and it also meshes nicely with the classic head sculpts. Designed as a Night Patrol team, I see these guys just as they're described on the package...caffeine junkies who live for the night. Because of this label, they're almost "sleepy" classic head sculpts quite suddenly seem expertly thought out to give the troopers a certain more "tired" look to them. I'm sure it's mere coincidence, but I still dig the classification, and it helps to have the troopers with those lazy eyes.

All in all, even with the drawbacks compared to the original Infantry Forces set, I can definitely recommend this one for purchase. I'm not sure how many I recommend buying...I only picked up one myself so far. But they are fun figures, nice updates, and a good enough introductory piece to Hasbro's DTC 6-Packs.

Ratings (out of 10)

Characters: 7
Molds: 5.5
Paint Apps: 6.5
Value: 6
Overall score (not an average): 6.5


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