Retaliation gave us some very good designs for Joes and Cobras in my opinion. Despite being a movie tie-in line, the Hasbro design team managed to throw us some nice Easter eggs in the early waves, like Renegades Zartan, while still remaining true to the limited movie cast list. However, sometimes Hasbro makes a figure that with just a little imagination can be a great stand in for other great figures that aren’t likely to see a modern release. I jumped onto the all black Retaliation Cobra Commander the moment I saw it because liked the movie Cobra Commander figure (though I would have preferred finding the blue and black version) and I wasn’t sure how hard things would be to get after the movie line restarted following the release date change. The design was good and I loved the helmet. But it just didn’t say Cobra Commander to me. After having him in my hands for a few days, I realized he screamed Interrogator out to me. The Interrogator was one of my favorite named Cobras and he’s never gotten an update. The helmet looks a lot like the one in Interrogator’s card art and I decided with some different paint, he’d be perfect as the infamous Battle Copter pilot. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the steadiest of hands when it comes to fine detail work. Believe me, the theatrical makeup class I took in college to fill out my minor was probably the hardest class I took just because of that issue. Mercifully, I know people that are much better at that sort of thing and I enlisted a friend of mine who paints miniatures to repaint Cobra Commander into Interrogator for me and she did a bang up job. Sadly, the pictures don’t do it justice. The flash and digital lens magnify every minor flaw. Really, the paint job is quite consistent and looks like it has a subtle black wash over it, having been painted over the original black base. I honestly forgot to take pictures of Retaliation Cobra Commander before he was repurposed, so you’ll just need to imagine this figure all in black to see it in its factory-original form. I’d also like to again (since I did it in person when the figure was repainted going on two years ago) give special thanks to my friend, Carrie, for repainting the basic black Cobra Commander into a really kick-ass version of Interrogator.
Despite its original all-black paint job, this is a very good figure. I’d not realized just how much detail there was on this mold until I started looking at the figure and making an MSPaint mockup of the colors to make sure my friend had the paint colors I was looking for. The upper body looks like a standard BDU shirt with a flak vest over it and some additional, asymmetrical armor plating on the arms. The lower body is also pretty utilitarian, having him wearing a basic pair of pants with armor-fronted boots. The helmet is where this design really shines, with Interrogator’s faceplate staring out from behind the fangs of a cobra. The top of the helmet has a pair of eyes for the cobra as well as a raised cobra as a part of the comb of the helmet. To make him just a little fancier, he also has a removable bandolier and belt combo with a pair of cords over the left shoulder. The slightly more utilitarian nature is I think part of what made me want to turn him into Interrogator. The Cobra Commander figures I’m more familiar with all had a very regal look. While this is a classy look, it’s not necessarily regal. Meanwhile, Interrogator also had a classy look but it always seemed a little more functional than a dress uniform. The mold does have fewer points of articulation thanks to the infamous, and mercifully temporary, Retaliation articulation cutbacks, but they don’t bother me that much. He only has swivel wrists instead of the balljointed ones, his knee joints are only single hinges instead of double and he has no ankle articulation. While I do like the double-hinged knees, the balljointed wrists can be aesthetically hit or miss and the rocker ankles can be functionally hit or miss. I’ve had Ultimate Cobra Commander fall down so many times because of a combination of his weak ankles and awkward footpeg holes that a few times I’ve cursed those ankles. The factory-original version was pure black plastic. In lieu of talking about that paint job, I’ll touch on my color choices and mention some of the extra effort my friend took when changing him over to Interrogator. At his most basic, the original Interrogator used gray and dark blue with some silver for his highlights. I wanted to carry that through, but the vest did leave me with a tough decision. I opted to have it a shade or two lighter than his pants because I didn’t want the detail to be lost like it was when he was all black. While the belt and bandolier combo did help break that up, I still thought that there should be a little bit of color variation there. You’ll also notice that the Cobra sigil on his chest is intact. I’d told my friend if she wanted to, she could just paint over that. However, being used to working on very tiny projects, she was able to preserve the Cobra sigil without really breaking a sweat. Yes, folks, she’s that good. The silver details were all drybrushed and I think Carrie added a nice level of weathering to those armor plates by doing it. After deferring to her expertise on the visor, it’s actually a flat red, but having been put over the existing silver, it still has a nice metallic sheen without actually cracking out the metallic paints, which are also a bit more difficult to work with. I also believe that this red was a much better shade than the metallic red and I’m glad it still has a little metallic tinge to it. Fortuitously, that red is also fairly close to the existing red on his helmet, so it really comes together well up there. The kneedpads were also drybrushed with some red on them to bring out the detail of the two nice Cobra sigils on his legs—again, details that weren’t quite as prominent in his original all black form. The last little nod to the original Interrogator was painting the cords over his left shoulder silver. Interrogator’s original mold had the raised silver piping around the dark blue on his torso and I thought that repainting the cords from gold to silver would be a nice little nod there. Finally, rectifying a problem that a lot of Retaliation figures weirdly had, Carrie also added a little flesh tone up on his neck, which is visible through his collar. It’s also quite handy that modern-era construction allows for the easy removal of heads. I’m not sure whether I would have asked her to try and add that detail had it not been so easy to get Interrogator’s head out of the way.
Retaliation figures did get a little bit of a cutback in the accessory department, but Interrogator’s weapons are so good, I’m actually okay with it. I don’t have any pictures of him with it, but I find myself really liking his missile-launching snake-staff. I always loved the snakestaves from the new sculpt era and I like seeing in here as well. I can also see Cobra Commander building a last-ditch weapon into his staff to surprise someone who’s trying to apprehend him. The accessories I really love are his two weapons. First of all, he has a very cool pistol that fits nicely in its holster. It fits so nicely, in fact, that I’d forgotten it was even in there when I stripped him of his gear before transport so Carrie decided to give it a nice gunmetal paint job with a light black wash over it. It was cool before, but in a slightly darker color it looks even better. I kind of see it as the spiritual successor to his old hair-dryer pistol. It’s small, but it’s also really high tech and will pack a punch. He also gets a cool-looking futuristic rifle. I’m not certain if it’s based on a real gun or not, but the banana-clip reminds me of an AK-47 but the rest of the design seems a bit more high-tech. This is another gun that Hasbro could include with every figure from here until doomsday as far as I’m concerned. It’s a nice weapon and I’d like to see it used more often. After picking up Ultimate Cobra Commander, I also decided to reunite Interrogator with his Battle Copter roots. While the copter backpack looked good on Ultimate Cobra Commander, I think it looks really cool on Interrogator. If you want a full discussion of the Battle Copter, take a look at the figure it was actually included with, but it is one of my favorite kid-friendly accessories because it’s just so darn neat and yet doesn’t hurt the figure if it’s not being used.
I wanted to snag the Retaliation Cobra Commander regardless. Sometimes a figure you already want can really surprise you. The fact that his helmet reminded me more of Interrogator than Cobra Commander really made me like him even more. In all black, he looked pretty sinister, which only increased the Interrogator vibe. However, I still thought the figure would look better in something more than just all black. With some assistance, I now have the perfect updated Interrogator and all that had to be done was take a really good Cobra Commander and repaint him. That’s great in my book since I’ve always been interested in Joe customizing, but I don’t think the new style of construction lends itself well to doing that. I’ve read some of the tutorials over at JoeCustoms, and man, does cracking open a modern style torso scare me. Being a paint-only custom meant that I could have an Interrogator without all the fear of damaging my limited parts resources trying to build one from a couple of figures.