Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper
Pursuit of Cobra was a great re-branding of the Joe line. Hasbro learned from the mistakes they made in both the 25th Anniversary and Rise of Cobra lines and was putting out great figures that fell into two categories: incredible nostalgic updates of classic figure or new characters and specialties. To up the ante even further, the second year of Pursuit of Cobra started a new trend of equipping figures with a metric ton of gear. The first wave of Pursuit of Cobra figures had a lot of stuff, but they really pushed the envelope once Pursuit of Cobra started hitting its stride. The Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper is a great example of a new Cobra specialty that also came with a lot of excellent, mission-specific gear.
While Cobra has had the Alley Viper for urban operations since 1989, I always thought they were just too much of a force to be limited to urban operations. A single squad of Alley Vipers could overrun anything without much problem. That seems too easy. To me, the Alley Viper is more of an urban squad leader, but he’s never had a group of urban underlings to lead until the Shock Trooper came along. The Shock Trooper uses all new molds and they’re very effective at making him look like a real-world S.W.A.T. operator. In fact, many people were somewhat disappointed this guy turned out to be a Cobra instead of a new version of Shockwave. However, I don’t really share that opinion. Primarily it’s because the look is just a little too generic. The Shock Trooper definitely looks like a trooper and not a standalone individual. I also have a couple issues with the overall design of the figure. I like the new masked head, but at the same time, it just looks a little weird and I don’t think I like that look for Shockwave. I realize that S.W.A.T. uses masks like that with fuller neck coverage, but it still looks a little strange to me. I prefer the way that Resolute Beachhead handled it with a collar piece over the neck instead of it being molded to the head. The other area I’m not sure I like is mercifully covered by his vest. His new torso is more of a skin-tight shirt than the jumpsuit that the rest of the body uses. Yes, his vest covers it, but part of the joy of removable gear is that you can remove it to do other things. Here you really can’t. I think had the torso been more of a jumpsuit, it would have also been very effective sans the vest as a Cobra recruit. Beyond those couple little issues I have, the mold is amazing and works together very well. The arms and legs look appropriately military but they still feel Cobra to me. They’re appropriately bulky and I do like the addition of both elbow and kneepads. S.W.A.T. guys get in some pretty hairy situation so I can see them not wanting to have to worry about banging up their joints while they’re in the middle of a firefight. The arms also picked up the new-for-the-time wrist articulation that allows him to hold his weapons in more realistic poses. I do love articulated wrists. They just make the figure more versatile. The Shock Trooper definitely has an evil S.W.A.T. vibe to it and I like that. Now the Alley Vipers have someone to lead around. The basic nature of the uniform makes me think of this guy as more of the entry level position to the Alley Viper Corps or an urban specialized Cobra blueshirt if you will. Cobra Commander isn’t going to hand out crazy helmets, pointy shields and orange uniforms to everyone that wants to fight in the cities. They’re going to have to learn the ropes and while this design is by no means bare-bones, it also doesn’t have the flair that the Alley Viper’s look does so it makes sense for this to be what Cobra urban operators wear before they’re inducted into the Alley Viper corps.
Cobra’s always been about blues and reds and here the Shock Trooper falls more into line with the Cobras than the Joes. While I complained about Desert Battle Snake Eyes II being a dark figure, I can’t really extend those criticisms here to the Shock Trooper even though they’re both rather darkly colored. The body is a dark blue base, but where Desert Battle Snake Eyes II just kind of stopped there, the Shock Trooper gets a lot of additional detailing done in other colors. His boots and gloves are black while his knee and elbow pads get a little different shade of blue with some black accents and his shoulder pockets and facemask are a relatively dark gray and his vest is primarily black but with some gray detailing. Since Cobra Commander understands the importance of branding, the vest has a red Cobra sigil on the front (and there is a red sigil underneath the vest as well, not that you’ll ever see it) and a Cobra sigil as well as “COBRA” written on the back. It all has a nice S.W.A.T. vibe and the colors really help bring it all together.
As I’ve already mentioned, Pursuit of Cobra Wave Three marked the beginning of the year of accessories. The Shock Trooper has a lot of different weapons and I like that this urban operative is equipped for just about any mission he might wind up on. Starting with the gear he’s on display with, I’m going to talk about my least-favorite piece first: his helmet and faceplate. It just doesn’t work for me for some reason. Hasbro came up with a great gas mask and helmet combination for Pursuit of Cobra Beachhead and I wish they would have used it instead. I think it looks better than what the Shock Trooper is wearing. Add on that the removable goggles that don’t sit quite right on his helmet and it just doesn’t work for me. Unfortunately, I prefer leaving it on because of my issues with the head sculpt’s neck and that leaves me with a look I don’t necessarily like but I think is better than the alternative. The vest looks great and is very S.W.A.T., complete with a handle on the back to haul out a wounded trooper during a firefight. There’s also a small removable radio that can attach to the back of the vest. I really like that detail. It’s a bit retro considering all the communications technology we have in this day and age, but cops still use radios like this all the time in the field and the Shock Trooper has his own version of it. Adding to the S.W.A.T./riot trooper vibe, the Shock Trooper has a large, clear shield like riot cops use to keep the crowds at bay. To make sure you don’t mistake this guy for S.W.A.T., it’s got “COBRA” emblazoned on the front of the shield and another Cobra sigil. It slips over his forearm and has a place for him to grip it securely like riot police do in the real world. I can just see the Shock Trooper using this to bust heads before engaging in more gratuitous violence. For his primary weapon, I have him running around with the tactical shotgun. I don’t know why, but I like the riot shield/shotgun combo the best. This shotgun mold is rather old, but it still works here and the beauty of it is that most crowd dispersal rounds (such as pepper balls or bean bags) are generally fired from shotguns or other weapons like this. It gives the Shock Trooper both lethal and non-lethal options just depending on what he decides to load before going into the fight. Of course, these aren’t his only weapons. Starting off small, the Shock Trooper has a taser. I realize that a taser doesn’t really scream Cobra to me, but I like it and I wish it would have seen a little more use than just with the Shock Trooper since it’s a nice looking piece. The Renegades Cobra Trooper, as a rent-a-cop, would have benefitted from having a taser as well. I do, however, wish that the Shock Trooper had a holster for the taser. I like characters that can hold their all gear, but that’s not possible with all of the Shock Trooper’s stuff, but a slightly larger holster would have held that taser perfectly. I also like the idea of the taser being this guy’s weapon of last resort and something that’s held in reserve until his enemy is within its effective range to get dropped. For a little more lethal force, the Shock Trooper has both a small submachine gun and a larger rifle. The submachine gun is compact and looks to be a good choice for close-quarters combat situations while the rifle is a bit larger and can be used for more covering fire. Both weapons look at home in the hands of a modern-day urban combat specialist. For a S.W.A.T.-type character, I really appreciate his sledgehammer. The Shock Trooper has clearly been trained in door breaching techniques and I like that they went as far as to give him this accessory. It fits very well with the kit for an urban operative, but much like the taser, I do lament that he can’t carry it on him. It just seems like another weapon that he’d have with him most of the time just in case he runs into a door he can’t kick down on his own. His final accessory is a bit of a head scratcher to me. First of all, the “electroshock batons” are a little redundant since he has a taser and secondly, I’m not sure how they even function. Everything else in the Shock Trooper’s kit is realistic, but then you have this set of stun-nunchuks. I’ve never seen a police officer of any kind with anything like this. One baton yes, but I don’t understand why it’s a pair of them and why they’re linked together. I just don’t get this accessory, but it’s another one that I think would benefit from being something he could carry with him at all times. It looks sharp and would look great slid into a loop on his legs even though its purpose is still a bit of a mystery to me.
To me, the Shock Trooper more than anyone epitomizes what was so great about the Pursuit of Cobra era. It was the perfect blend of new concepts and nostalgia. While we still saw certain characters popping up again, it was at least in settings and mission-specific gear we hadn’t seen before. The Shock Trooper has a solid design and is arguably the best generic body Hasbro made during this era. I think it’s even more versatile than the Desert Battle Snake Eyes II body and that’s also a great generic body. However, I feel the parts of the Shock Trooper lend themselves to reuse even more the generic commando sweater. It works well for troops on either side of the battle and it’s generic enough that its parts can be included in a wide variety of uses.