The Power of Packaging: Cobra-La Team

It’s getting really close to Halloween, and I’m in a monstery/creaturey kind of mood. If you dig through the decades, there is actually a fair amount of creepy Joe-related subjects. It’s a shame though that Hasbro’s new action figure format didn’t get in on the mid-60s monster craze. Imagine 12 inch 60s Hasbro Universal Monsters complete with Basil Gogos box art. I’d buy all of that.

By the time Super Joe came on the scene, with the team fighting monsters from other worlds, things were in full sci-fi swing. In the 80s, it took a few years for things to get hairy and scary after the line was rebooted. My most vivid 80s Joe creep-out memories come from the Sunbow cartoon, with episodes like Skeletons in the Closet, and the Transylvania portions of the Serpentor mini-series. As we creep closer to that creepiest of holidays, expect all sorts of weirdness.

Is there a more monsteriffic set of GI Joe figures? I know when I first spied these guys in the 1987 brochure, I was taken aback. Sure, the line had its share of weirdness up to that point, but this set was comparatively off the deep end. I never owned the set (nor saw them in stores) as a kid, but I always wanted to pick them up, being a monster fan since a young age. I’m glad I didn’t get them back then, as I would have been sorely disappointed in the final version of Golobulus. A hybrid GI Joe/bendy figure? That’s a harsh bait and switch. Oh well, at least the art is interesting–there’s even a different, more dynamic image on the back.

Cobra-La Team

Cobra-La Team


  • I hated the Cobra La concept as a kid but I have come to appreciate them through my son’s eyes. He doesn’t see them as an end to the Sunbow ARAH as I did, just a cool sci-fi storyline.

  • ”1987 G.I. Joe: The Movie, brought out the Cobra -La Team to animated life, and gave many audiences, a taste of the voices , behind Golobulus( Mr. Meredith-1960’s Penguin, from ‘ ‘Batman”), Lt.Falcon(Don Johnson-”Miami Vice”).I would not be surprised, that many a G. I. Joe collector, got their mitts on one 3-pack Cobra-La Team set, after they saw the animated movie.”

  • I simply could not understand how this set was part of Joe when I found them and read the filecards back in ’87. They simply made no sense. However, I ended up liking the Royal Guard figure and found a place for him. The other two, though, never made it to any place of importance.

    In the 2000’s, it would have been cool to see a repaint of this set using the colors closer to the card art. They could have also brought Golobulus a different lower body to make the figure more useful.

  • I’d like to see someone switch Bergis Meredith’s lines from “Grumpy old men 2” with Golobulus’s. It would be amusing to hear him say “For lunch i have bacon; a whole damn plate” [and other lines]

  • I was young enough when the movie came out to go all-in on Cobra-La. I LOVED the movie, loved finally getting an origin for Cobra Commander (I didn’t read the Joe comic until much later), loved Serpentor making his shoulder-snakes into spears, and the idea of a bad guy with the lower half snake and another with big bat wings and weird forearms spikes? Sign me up! I had this set, and played with it to death (I was always bummed that Pythona never got a figure (until recently), as she was the secret badass of that group. I remember acting out her opening infiltration of the Terror Dome on the playground many, many times).

    Frankly, the bendy-body Golobulus was perfectly fine – it wasn’t terribly poseable, but it got the job done. I was always way more disappointed that Nemesis Enforcer’s big expansive bat wings were just a hunk of plastic that (poorly) fit into the hole on his back, and were barely wider than the figure’s shoulder.

  • I had no use for cobra la & time hasn’t changed that.

  • I think I got this figure set for Christmas that year. It certainly gets your attention on the pegs. But the figures are really lacking. I tried using them, but Golobulus can’t even stand up. The art evokes a Dungeons & Dragons feeling, but the figures just let you down.

  • I thought Cobra-La had a very horror theme as a set of toys and wondered if, while they had obvious anti-appeal to GI Joe fans, might’ve appealed to non-Joe fans, being one of those few Joe toys picked up by those into other lines.

    They do look like they belong in another toyline, a more mythical/horror-based one. All 3 look like a mishmash. Golobulus looks like a serpent man villain, Royal Guard looks like some strange alien astronaut or ant-man warrior, and Nemesis Enforcer looks like a 1980s attempt at creating a new Frankenstein, this one a bat-winged brute (kudos to the artwork. His eyes do look eerily lifeless). Of all three, Nemesis Enforcer felt he could fit in the easiest to GI Joe. Imagine if Dr. Mindbender played Dr. Frankenstein and created him. Their weapons are odd though. Besides the mantis claw scythe, Royal Guard looks like he has a caulk gun LOL and Golobulus a blowtorch. Also note, the backdrop is suited to the horror motif, the sinister looking desolate mesa with a narrow band of pixelly explosion/light behind it. It does feel like night is setting in and the creepy ghouls are coming out.

    As an adult, I’ve realized what incomprehensible nonsense their description is. 40,000 years ago was the middle of the ice age, a long way in either direction from an interglacial. And so, they flee the looming glaciation by… going into the Himalayas, one of the areas the glaciers came from. Brilliant. It even says they retreated to a “dark, glacial ice dome”. And it also says the ice drove them into seclusion but then later says human civilization drove them into exile. Cobra-La felt like a mess of ideas tossed out there with no effort to smooth it out and make it consistent. Heck, they couldn’t even make 23 lines be consistent. Yikes!

    The 40,000 years line I suspect was inspired by a line from Michael Jackson’s Thriller, read by Vincent Price.

    How bendable was Golobulus’ tail? As a kid, I could never get it to bend much at all, ending up as a tall green rubber stick with little use.

    • I’ve heard that Buzz Dixon intended to rename cobra la something less “silly” but he never got around to it.

      • I heard something about that too but I cant remember the story behind it. Cobra-la IMO was one of the worst concepts in Gijoe history.

  • It’s a shame though that Hasbro’s new action figure format didn’t get in on the mid-60s monster craze. Imagine 12 inch 60s Hasbro Universal Monsters complete with Basil Gogos box art. I’d buy all of that.

    I’m not sure what you mean by this (“new action figure format”), but in case you didn’t know, Hasbro DID make 12 inch Universal Monsters figures, including a boxed set of The Wolfman, The Mummy, and Frankenstein. Others in the series included Son of Dracula, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Phantom of the Opera, and the Creature From the Black Lagoon. All of which rarely show up on eBay and usually for around $20-$30, though you may get lucky and find one for around $15.

    • I meant that Hasbro didn’t make any monster figures in the mid 60s, back when Aurora model kits were big.

      I bought all of those 90s monster figures back in the day. Too bad they used the Hall of Fame style body. Hmm, that gives me an idea for another Halloween post…

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