Cobra Commander (1983)
I remember back to 1982, and it was a time when Star Wars was the big thing for me. From 1979 to 1982 I was all about Star Wars. If it was a birthday, Christmas or any occasion where I could get a gift, my wish was for anything from that galaxy far far away. However I do remember seeing a commercial for GI Joe figures one morning while watching the Great Space Coaster. I think that the animated segment of the Joe commercial subliminally planted the seed to sell these things to me. I remember being intrigued, especially by the one guy in black, but not particularly enthused enough to beg my parents to buy them for me. My mind changed when in 83 I participated in barter day at school, and traded a Star Wars figure for this Cobra Commander. I was hooked.
Cobra Commander is the very definition of a classic GI Joe mold. In a series where most of the Joe figures shared parts, the Cobra figures were refreshingly different designs. It’s often said that the heroes are only as good as their villains, and that’s been the case with Cobra. The RAH line would not have succeeded without compelling opposition as part of its play pattern. You can’t get much more compelling than a faceless villain outfitted in an ensemble that would make even the most stylish would-be world conqueror jealous.
In fact the battle helmet is such a strong design element that it not only influenced later popular Cobra designs (i.e. Vipers) but it continues to be the de facto image of the character 30 years later. Even the lastest redesign echoes elements of the original Commander.
The built in laser pistol holder/charger backpack has always been my favorite element of the mold. A figure who can store his accessories has always scored big points with me.