Rex “The Doctor” Lewis
I know a lot of people weren’t totally sold on Rise of Cobra’s interpretation of Cobra Commander. From an action figure standpoint, I’m right along with you. That figure wasn’t the greatest. What really confused me was that Cobra Commander came out in the first wave of figures, yet he barely showed up in the movie that way. Instead, Cobra Commander spent most of his time as a sinister scientist known only as “The Doctor.” Considering his identity was supposed to be a major plot twist, I applaud Hasbro for not releasing a spoilerific action figure until after everyone’s had a chance to see the movie, but it was still an odd choice to wait so long to release a figure of Rex “The Doctor” Lewis. I personally think that the first wave of a movie-based toy line should almost exclusively feature the looks the main characters spend most of the film in. Though Cobra Commander looked a little off, The Doctor looked great and while it took a while for him to hit shelves, I think he’s probably my favorite Rise of Cobra figure just because he’s so different and outside the box. I don’t use The Doctor as Cobra Commander but rather a new mad scientist joining the Cobra ranks, but as I’ve said before, that’s the great thing about the Joe line. There’s so much history, you can take what fits with your conception of the Joe universe and modify or ignore what doesn’t. As long as the figure’s cool, I don’t really care.
The Doctor is a Rise of Cobra figure that uses all new molds. Considering how many figures shared parts, it’s actually pretty impressive that The Doctor didn’t reuse anyone’s parts. The Doctor’s look is interesting, but at the same time, I’m still not quite sure what I think of it. With all the buckles and straps and black leather, The Doctor looks more like he belongs in an S&M club than a laboratory. It really doesn’t even fit that well with the rest of the Cobras from the movie. Sure, Baroness is still rocking the black leather body suit, but no one else is and that look makes sense for Baroness since she’s a femme fatale. Despite my questions about The Doctor’s overall fashion sense, though, this is one well-designed figure. The figure moves well and looks pretty great, too. The straps on his legs and torso are all interconnected molded items and I think that was smart. While he’s still got a bit of a 90s “straps for the sake straps” vibe, it’s well executed and the straps on his chest and legs at least look natural. His arms are the one area where I really don’t like all the straps. The Doctor has a long lab coat to wear over his torso, but his arms really don’t look like they’re part of a lab coat. With all the straps and buckles on them, they look more like a part of his bodysuit. I think this figure would have been served a little better with arms that looked a bit more like a lab coat. I don’t normally talk about accessories at this point, but I’m going to break my usual writing rhythm here to talk about one of his cooler accessories. The Doctor has normal hands while he’s in the package, but in the movie, you saw he had some pretty cool robotic hands. Rather than mess up The Doctor’s ability to hold his accessories properly, they gave him a pair of removable gauntlets that look more like his hands in the actual film. I love these things. They’re very sinister and give him a great 80s supervillain vibe. The gauntlets fit his hands nicely and really add to the overall look of The Doctor. Up top, The Doctor has a great new head with some interesting add on pieces. To reflect the moment in the film when The Doctor reveals himself to be Rex Lewis, both his hairpiece and ventilator are removable. With both pieces on, The Doctor looks very sinister. However, with the pieces off, The Doctor looks even more impressive. The scarring on his face looks absolutely wicked but you can still see Joseph Gordon-Levitt in there. I’m of two minds about that. I like it because it’s impressive that Hasbro could scar up Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s face and yet keep him recognizable. However, I’m a little bummed by it because that means this part can never be reused again due to likeness rights. I think a bald, heavily scarred Cobra operative would be a great addition to the Joe line, but they can’t use this head again without needing to pay Paramount for it. Just one word of warning, when The Doctor comes out of the package, his wig is held on quite tightly. However, after you pop it off for the first time (and it’s clearly designed to be removable), the fit just isn’t as tight as it is when you first get him. My only real complaint about The Doctor is what his ventilator is missing. In the movie, there was a monocle built into the ventilator, but that’s conspicuously absent here. I realize it would have been harder to make that work, but why not mold the monocle onto The Doctor’s face and just make sure everything lines up properly when the ventilator is on? I still question The Doctor’s choice in lab attire, but it’s a solid design and the head is just perfect for the figure.
Since we’re talking about a Rise of Cobra figure, you already know what his paint scheme is going to be. From the neck down, The Doctor is nothing but a sea of black. Considering how detailed that mold is, that’s a bit of a bummer. The straps and buckles are all black, save on the arms. The lab coat is all black. Even his respirator and hair are mostly black. There is a later variant release with a white lab coat and arms, but the all black look is more screen accurate. Plus, I only ever saw the white coat variant once at a Walgreens, so I don’t know how strong that figure’s market saturation was. What little paint there is has been applied exceedingly well. The silver on the arm buckles is crisply painted and the head, while painted, is not painted so thickly that it obscures all the great scarring details. The silver add-on gauntlets do provide a much needed pop of color and I think, besides the fact that they look so cool, that’s the other reason I prefer to have The Doctor wearing his gauntlets.
Like many other Rise of Cobra figures, The Doctor has some great accessories. Though it’s not pictured, I even like The Doctor’s springloaded weapon. Rather than be equipped with an oversized missile launcher, The Doctor is carrying around a capture claw device. I really like that because it fits the character pretty well. I don’t mind weapons with action features, but not everyone needs to carry around a springloaded BFG, yet that’s generally how Hasbro handles the inclusion of springloaded weapons. I like character-specific weapons like that, so it’s a win in my books that The Doctor has this. The Doctor’s primary weapon is an assault rifle that stylistically shares some design elements with Rise of Cobra Cover Girls’ Styg Aur, but it’s larger and not quite the same model. Again, this is a gun I should recognize, but I just can’t quite place my finger on what its real world counterpart is. The Doctor’s other accessory is a case full of nanomite serum. The case is a nice addition and the three canisters of nanomite serum have handles on their tops so he can carry a canister as well. Surprisingly, The Doctor doesn’t have an injector tool. It’s a little odd that he has canisters to get the nanomite serum out of, but he doesn’t have anything to inject the Neo-Vipers with. However, considering how many other characters came with that injector, I think I can probably find one that can loan theirs to The Doctor should he need it.
It’s a tough call for me as to who my favorite character in Rise of Cobra was. I very much enjoyed Christopher Eccleston’s performance as Destro. However, The Doctor was a great addition to the Joe mythos, and my inner nerd was very amused at the movie having a both Christopher Eccelston and a character called “The Doctor” in it yet them not being the same person. If I’m looking just at their mass market figures, I have to give the edge to The Doctor. Don’t get me wrong, Rise of Cobra Destro is a great figure, but I prefer my figures from movie lines to look like the characters they’re supposed to represent. I don’t mind movie lines bringing in characters that may not have appeared on the screen but are styled to look like they had, but if you’re going to release a figure in a movie line of a character that appeared in the film, it darn well better look like the character did in the movie. I remember being kind of bugged by that when I was a kid, and apparently it’s still held over into my adulthood. SDCC James McCullen Destro is just as good of a figure as The Doctor, but since he was an exclusive (that should have been a mass market release, if I’m being honest), it’s hard to say that Destro was treated better because the version of him we saw throughout the film was only available at SDCC or Joe Con. The Doctor’s fashion sense may be a little odd, but it’s still a relatively striking look, even if it’s not that eye catching because he’s wearing so much black.