Big Boa (1987)

What happens when plans to bring the Rocky Balboa character into the Joe line falls through? You get the inexplicable Cobra trainer who looks like a boxer. I don’t know if that’s truly the case, but what else would explain Hasbro giving Cobra a character that looks like a boxer if they weren’t going to make a Joe of the same ilk? If he wasn’t designed as Rocky’s nemesis, it’s a huge coincidence. Heck, Rocky even had an entry (which was later rescinded) in the Order of Battle limited series roster comic. I even wonder about the names: Big Boa–Balboa. Was the name a little wink since Rocky didn’t work out?

1987 has one of the highest concentrations of crazy Cobra characters. Even the year’s troop builder, the Techno-Viper was pretty out-there in terms of design and concept. I’m not complaining at all, as I have a real soft spot for this year’s offerings, especially the drivers. Talk about a classic year for goofballs all around–it was the year of Backstop and Rumbler! Maybe I like the ’87 product so much because it was the last year I collected as a kid, and the fond memories are that much sweeter.

The accessories are a big part of what makes the figure work for me. I especially love the boxing gloves. They’re even branded with the Cobra logo. Cobra definitely had a good marketing manager in the 80’s. The crossed straps and ripped physique brings to mind Ramar, the Cobra slave/gladiator from the Arena of Sport in the first Joe mini-series. Of course, the scale would be off if one were to try making a custom using Big Boa’s parts, as Ramar appeared to be at least 12 feet tall on screen.

The idea of a Cobra trainer is a cool concept. The execution is a bit weird, but what else would you expect from Cobra?


  • I own a Big Boa. One of my favorite figures ever, ’87 was a great year.

  • Chicago, sometime in 1987: I was at a TRUs with my parents looking for the new figures. I had just found Chuckles when I noticed two younger kids talking about Big Boa and hoping to find him. Turns out there was one at the very top line of pegs but the kids couldn’t have reached for him being so high, so I grabbed it and handed it down to them. They were clearly surprised at their luck and thanked me. So Big Boa seems to have been a popular seller that year despite being one of the wackier characters. Being oblivious to the whole Rocky Balboa tie-in, I remember just liking the idea of a Cobra trainer that was the equivalent of Sgt. Slaughter. A cool addition to the Cobra forces all around.

  • Cool. I think my brother wears the same mask for sleep apnea.

  • 1987 was about the time when I became obsessed with GI Joe. Big Boa was one of the few figures from that year I didn’t own, but always wanted. I finally received him several years later thanks to Ebay, and he lived up to my expectations.
    I am a big fan of the individual cobra characters more so than the faceless army builders. Big Boa is a key example why.
    I really liked how Devils Due used him in the comics as a type of interrogator to beat some information out of some captured Joe’s. Surprisingly he was never featured in the Marvel run, which is a shame when characters like Raptor are used instead.

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