Cobra C.L.A.W.S. (2004)
The Cobra CLAWS mold was quite well traveled from 2002 to 2004. It seems like whenever a fill-in troop builder or driver was needed, the CLAWS was there to fit the bill. This particular flavor was the driver of the Venom Striker, a crimson-hued redeco/remold of the Joe team’s assualt quad from earlier in the relaunch era.
Back when this figure was released, anything crimson was cool with me. It’s a bit of a sad thing to say, but I remember validating a generally pointless repaint like this by thinking, “well I suppose he could fit in with Cobra’s crimson guard.” I had gone crimson crazy at the time, and bought at least ten of the Operation Crimson Sabotage sets on clearance, as well as the later six-figure packs. Such was the life of a completist collector and Crimson Zombie, in the early 2000s.
Looking back, I have a strange affection for this era’s toys, in spite of themselves. The facts that the line received quite a bit of support from Hasbro, and that it was squarely aimed at kids gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. Heck, even coloring books and a fan club made a return for a bit. Even though later offerings like the 25th anniversary series were great in their own homage-centric kind of way, the clunky, funky toys that preceded them were fun for me to collect. Most of the toys were quite freely available during those years as well, a marked contrast to the blink and you’ll miss it experiences surrounding some of the modern waves.
Maybe if Joe ever gets a kid-friendly relaunch, we’ll see a return to form with Hasbro putting more weight behind its one time moneymaker. Goodness knows I’ll certainly give them a shot. And I’m sure I’ll buy a few repaints, even if they’re not red.