Cobra Commander (1991)
Comic book heroes can be fickle fashionistas. Even the tried and true bigwigs like Superman and Spider-Man have had their fair share of wardrobe changes over the years. Some second string heroes like Marvel’s Wasp and Wonder Man seemed to change their outfits as often as most of us change our socks, many times only appearing in a single issue. Well, True Believers, even the GI Joe comics succumbed to the allure of redesigns, although short lived in this case. Behold the Cobra Commander uniform that couldn’t even manage 15 minutes of fame.
The Commander had a few specific use outfits over the years, like the Battle Armor and Star Brigade versions, but this one just sort of popped up, both in the toy line and comic with no fanfare and no elaborate file card explanation. In fact, the launching glider accessory got more file card background than his change of attire. The first appearance of the suit in the comic pictured the Commander seated on an ornate cobra throne, so maybe it was meant to be a new ceremonial uniform. But alas, as quickly as it showed up, this getup was gone. The comic version looked fairly similar to the figure, with the exception of the helmet. The helmet in the comic was quite odd-looking, as the snake motif on the helmet wasn’t clearly portrayed, and the top portion of the visor was colored gold. The gold coloring on the visor makes it look like the helmet has slipped down over his eyes and nose. The end result is just weird and distracting.
As for the figure, it too was gone and forgotten. While the helmet design is regal, the rest of the sculpt is disappointing. He seems to be so bulked-out that he can’t lower his arms to a neutral position. He also has the thighs of a speed skater. The figure does hold a couple of points of interest. The red visor has an actual face beneath it. The face is sculpted, but unpainted in some versions. There’s also a variation with painted eyes and eyebrows. So after all this time, what does Cobra Commander look like under the helmet? Like a regular guy. He doesn’t even have one dramatically raised eyebrow like his Star Brigade version. Finally, his unique submachine gun is a great new weapon, even though it’s gold.
This is the ultimate “blink and you’ll miss him” Cobra Commander, and one that I don’t find much use for in my collection, aside from maybe a ceremonial function. I much prefer the same year’s Talking Battle Commander mold and the 1993 and 2000 repaints, all solid updates of the “rag face” version of the Commander.