Cobra Soldier B (Red Laser Factory Custom)
By Past Nastification
After reading reviews by Rob and by Forgotten Figures, I have given into the temptation to purchase some “factory custom” figures.
I know there are backstories about Red Laser factory customs and Black Major factory customs, but I’m not sure what they are. Also, I don’t really care. I just want the toys. I do know, though, that they have more than picked up Hasbro’s slack. This is especially true for diehard ARAH collectors.
This is Red Laser’s “Cobra Soldier (B)”. As a collector, and a customizer, I can say this there’s nothing about this figure that feels like a custom. It’s not made from old parts of “real” figures painstakingly hobbled together and re-sculpted/repainted as customizers would normally do.
It’s made of brand new parts made from new molds based on old parts. That the figure is actually molded in Cobra blue is amazing. The blue is lighter than the ‘82/’83 Cobra Soldiers and the ’04 multi-pack Cobra Soldiers. It’s about the same blue as the ’04 Comic Pack Cobra Soldiers, perhaps just a smidge lighter. It looks like my ’83 Cobra Soldier might be discoloring with a tinge these days, so it’s hard to say what the Cobra Soldier (B) would look like side-by-side with an un-discolored ’83 Cobra Soldier.
Being molded in blue means that there’s no paint flaking at the points-of-articulation as a standard custom might have. You can drop this figure without worry of a glued piece breaking off or epoxy cracking that a normal custom would face.
“Factory custom” is technically correct, but it feels like a brand new toy that Hasbro made. Not a custom. The in-hand look/feel is, to me, indistinguishable from Hasbro’s stuff. My opinion is that it’s better than any of the ARAH format figures made in or after ’97. The leg joints are probably 90% as tight as a Hasbro figure would have been. The arms tightness is the same as a Hasbro product would have.
Cobra Soldier (B) is made of old school ARAH parts. (Or new “old” mold parts. You know what I mean). It’s a Cobra Soldier head on a Zap/Short-Fuse chest/back/arms/waist, paired with Airborne legs. Red Laser has taken mostly Joe parts to make a figure that will slide in almost perfectly next to your ‘82/’83 Cobra figures. The Hasbro Cobra Soldiers/Officers’ blue is touch darker. If Hasbro would have used the same parts to make a figure, I might say that it’s a lazy use of parts. But this isn’t Hasbro, so I don’t have the same rigid expectations. Quite the opposite, I applaud Red Laser for this great figure, making the most out of limited set of molds. If anything, I’d love to see Red Laser expand its parts library, especially the heads.
The paint applications are perfect. Red Laser has done a better job figuring how to best paint the ambiguously sculpted details of the Cobra Soldier head. Where does the mask end and the face begin? Where exactly are the eyes? Red Laser seems to know.
My only criticism of the figure, which is probably unfair, is that the shiny silver of the rivets really sticks out. As soon as I take some photos so you can see an unaltered figure, I’ll remedy the shininess with a blue Sharpie and move on with my life. And a quick micro-criticism: the thumbs feel like they’ll snap when you put in a gun or knife, but they don’t.
This isn’t a Hasbro product, or even a GI Joe Collector’s Club licensed product. But it is absolutely GI Joe.