1982—the year of the genesis of Real American Hero. Back then Cobra had two types of troops: Cobra Soldiers and Cobra Officers. The former came equipped with a Dragonov sniper rifle, and the later came equipped with an AK-47. They were the faceless hordes that executed the maniacal schemes of the evil mastermind, Cobra Commander. It was a simpler time for Cobra—without vast hordes of specialized troops and subdivisions in every color of the rainbow. Everyone was a “blueshirt” and that was that. The design was classic and has remained consistent in releases whether in the Comic Pack #1, Comic Pack #5, Cobra Night Watch, or the Cobra Infantry Forces 6-pack. However, nothing lasts forever and design stagnation makes for a very dull collection, so the folks at Hasbro have taken it upon themselves to update the most-identifiable Cobra minion—the Cobra Trooper.
I’ll be perfectly honest here (and this involves eating some ‘crow’—someone pass the barbeque sauce), I was wrong about this figure. When news first broke of a new Cobra trooper, I looked at my shelves of Cobra troops, including a fair number of the TRU Blueshirts, and wondered just why I needed another Cobra Trooper. When pics first surfaced, I made my opinion quite clear—I wasn’t going to be getting any of these figures. Even at a recent meeting of the Chicago Coils, I proclaimed the inadequacies of the design. However, once I really sat down with the figure and examined him in detail, I gained a new appreciation for the “Frankenstein”. Sure, it’s not a perfect figure, but it’s not all bad either.
If the body looks familiar, it’s because it is. Remember Ghost Bear, son of Kwinn, who was packaged with the Cobra Pulverizer? Replace his head, color him blue and you’ve got the new trooper. The body design is simple—and befitting a pilot. It consists of a form-fitting body suit—elegant in its simplicity—with a large Cobra sigil set on the left front of the chest. Add in a large padded utility belt, padded gloves and boots, and you’ve got the basic design. It worked well for Ghost Bear who will spend long hours inside the Pulverizer Mech providing both insulation and ease of movement. Add in two of the dangling suspender straps that have plagued many recent figures (Tunnel Rat, Long Range) and you’ve got the totality of the figure’s body. It’s basic, it’s simple, and it’s extremely functional.
For the head, Hasbro delved into their cookie jar of recent DTC design and resurrected my favorite new trooper head. The Range Viper head, a simple balaclava design, makes it’s return on the trooper body. If you’ve read my review of that particular figure, you might remember this particular section of text: “This is a head that can easily be reused for whatever Cobra troops Hasbro wants to release. In fact, I can see it becoming the new standard trooper head for the evil hordes! It’s a shame that it’s such a nice sculpt as I’m no enamored with the helmets that I’ll probably never display these figures with the helmets off!” It would seem that someone at Hasbro had the same idea, as this head is now the face of the generic hordes of Cobra. Just look at the face and you’ll see that the set of the jaw and the look of menace in the eyes are PERFECT for an enemy trooper. My only real issue with the use of this head is that the neck looks a bit long in combination with the Ghost Bear chest. Don’t get me wrong—this figure in NO WAY suffers from “giraffe neck syndrome” that has plagued more than a few of Hasbro’s relaunch Joe designs. It’s just something that you may notice if you choose to display the figure with the helmet off.
Ah, the helmet—the one thing that bugs me about this figure. When I first opened these figures, I was a bit taken back but just how large the helmet appears in proportion to the head. I’m assuming that this is the same helmet that originally came packaged with Overkill as the DTC line has a penchant for reusing parts. Top to bottom, it’s a good fit but side-to-side it seems a bit wide. However, the width of the helmet isn’t my issue with it. My issue with the helmet lies on how well it fits onto the figure’s head. If you never remove the helmet, then you’ll have no troubles as the painted red stripe on the figure’s head seems to help seal it. However, break that paint seal and you may encounter difficulties keeping the Trooper’s head gear on. I’ve had mixed results with this—at the Coils meeting, the darned thing wouldn’t fall off for all of the Joes in Nomad’s basement. However, the day I got the figures it wouldn’t stay on—period. So, if you’re worried about losing helmets and never plan on taking them off, remove it once and apply a drop or two of superglue. This way you’ll never lose the helmet again.
As far as equipment is concerned, the Cobra Trooper is carrying the standard Hasbro AK-47 with bayonet and “folding” stock that we’ve seen with the VvV 7 Vipers, Comic Pack #6, Comic Pack #7, and whole slew of other figures. However, the secondary weapon—a two-piece anti-tank rocket—is an impressive piece of work. Sporting holes to allow it to interconnect to other weapons in the same fashion and Spirit’s sniper rifle and Scrap Iron’s cannon, the weapon has some terrific detail. It also features a mounting post that can attach to vehicle hard points such as those found on the roof of the cab of the ROCC.
I was completely set to disregard this figure. He was going to end up as either my anti-tank troopers or my new DTC HISS driver. (I still might use them for this due to the design similarities between this figure and the Rip-It repaint figure.) However, it took a bunch of Coils in Chicago to make me take a hard second look at this design. Sure, it’s a repaint and a “franken-Joe” but it’s also a fair logical combination. It has all of the standard Cobra elements and yet updates the classic blueshirt design nicely. While I don’t see myself running out and buying these in the numbers that I did the Cobra Infantry Forces six-packs, it’s a figure that has won me over with time and continual re-examinations. So, if you missed out on the blueshirts or are building a collection of entirely new-sculpt figures, you’ve just found your generic Cobra Trooper. If you’re not a fan of a red Night Creeper in your DTC HISS, then you’ve found your driver. Either way, this is a figure that will fit in well with any Joe collection and one that deserves a second look—even from this cynical Joe fan.