Cobra Stinger Driver (1984)
Yesterday’s entry was one of the more obscure driver figures, and today’s is one of the better known. If you were around in the 80s for the small Joe line’s beginnings, you’ll remember this figure, and his vehicle. Though some of today’s collectors scoff at repainted figures and reused vehicles, I find that if they’re well done, the result can be as impressive as a totally new toy. I think that belief began with this figure.
I first caught sight of the Stinger and its driver, the descriptively named Stinger Driver, at a friend’s birthday party in 1984. I hadn’t gotten any of the year’s vehicles, so I hadn’t seen the insert catalog that showcased all the new GI Joe toys. I was surprised first to see the VAMP Mark II, and doubly surprised when another package was opened, revealing the Stinger. I had the original VAMP, and loved it, but these two new vehicles based on the same mold were fresh and exciting. The Stinger was especially amazing, with its black color scheme, red missiles, and new top, doors and bumpers.
Much like the tan Clutch, the Stinger Driver immediately emerged for me as a favorite figure. Within days of the party, I had hit my parents up for the Stinger, and had one in my own hands.
This figure still does something for me. I’ve always preferred the Cobra Officer mold over the regular Trooper, with its unique and detailed harness gear. When painted in grey, the figure has a whole new look, and the contrast of black along with a little color in the red details, makes for a vibrant and memorable Cobra. As a kid, I even used him as a higher ranking Cobra officer. I think the grey vs. original blue made him stand out as a special trooper. The grey color was very martial, and reminded me of the Marx World War II German troops that would often fight against my green plastic American army men at their Guns of Navarone playset (which by the way, were my first exposure to military toys).
Though later drivers would up the ante in terms of detail and exclusive new designs, this seemingly simple repaint continues to be a favorite.