Cobra Infantry Trooper (2004)
If you were collecting the early 2000s GI Joe lines, there wasn’t much competition to pick up whatever you wanted. Sometimes there was a bit of a shortage of army builders, or of a variant here and there. For the most part though, it was generally clear sailing to pick up entire waves in one go. That changed with the Infantry six pack. It seemed everyone and their brother wanted to army build these guys. I can’t blame them. For the most part, it was a great set.
Oh my gosh, the trouble I had getting a few of these sets when they came out. First, I checked Toysrus.com constantly, getting lucky only once to snag a set online. I also called all the stores within reasonable driving distance, and managed to pick up two more. I found one more set a few weeks later at my then usual hunting ground. After another month or so, a couple of sets actually hung around that store for at least a few weeks before vanishing.
The body is generally good. Most of it is based on the original, but with Thunder arms and a new head. The arms were a great choice, since a 1984 figure’s arms were still small enough to work with ’82-83 parts. The heads were an improvement in size when compared to the old melons of the 80s, but they have always looked a little weirdly narrow to me. I recall seeing prototypes online of a removable helmet version before these hit the streets. That would have been a neat little extra feature.
The weapons were the biggest disappointment. The Rock Viper rifle, really? By the time of Valor vs. Venom, that thing was second only to the Tomax and Xamot guns in annoyance level. It just doesn’t work as a replacement for the old Dragunov. I’ve replaced mine with ’91 Red Star rifles. The backpack is also an uninspiring choice, coming from the SAW Viper. Did these troopers even need backpacks? The more generic looking ’91 Dusty pack had been reissued nearly a dozen times by that point, why not one more time?
There were several differently decorated troopers in the set, and this one has dark skin. It was good to see Cobra getting progressive, adding some diversity to their ranks. Finally, I don’t know if this is common, or just my sets, but these have to be some of the tightest jointed and o-ringed figures I’ve ever seen. Two of mine have had the o-rings snap over the years, just sitting on a shelf. I also hear that the torsos are difficult to take apart. Hopefully, I can provide a little first aid to my troopers in the future without having to crack them open like a walnut.