Cobra CLAWS (2002)
I’ve often wondered why Cobra didn’t have more traditional looking pilot figures over the years. While Wild Weasel was a classic character, and one of my early favorites in the line, he didn’t look much like a real world pilot. Later figures such as the Strato-Viper were interesting designs, but not the most functional.
Available as the driver of the FANG III, this Cobra CLAWS (Combat Light Armored Weapons Specialist) is no doubt a pilot from all appearances. How the weapons specialist ended up piloting a helicopter is anyone’s guess. Outfitted in the normal CLAWS gear, he’s been given a new helmet and breathing apparatus. The CLAWS uniform was plain enough to lend itself to other troop types (a forerunner of the modern Shock Trooper mold?–maybe not). His copter ride is clunky, like many of the early relaunch efforts, and has always been relegated to the lesser-visited storage bins within my collection. I’ve been revisiting some of these vehicles recently, and while a couple have started to grow on me, the FANG III continues to be unremarkable.
The most interesting aspect of this figure is the head sculpt. Instead of some stylized cobra motif or futuristic design, the helmet looks more real world in origin. The downside is the helmet is not removable, which is always kind of a disappointment. Again, it’s one of the few 2002 figures that didn’t get an o-ring refit, although I suppose the head could be popped onto the other versions of the mold.