B.A.T. (25th Anniversary)
I’ve always loved the science fiction elements that are a part of the G.I. Joe brand. Cobra La came at just the right time for my kid brain to latch onto it and I think it’s pretty darn cool even if most Joe fans think it was a terrible idea. Another element I’ve always loved was the idea of disposable robot soldiers. Cobra really jumped forward in technology when the B.A.T. debuted and I loved the idea. I never had the original B.A.T. but when the second version came out in 1991, I was all over it, even with its neon orange and neon green. However, I do have to admit, it’s hard to beat the design of the first Cobra B.A.T. and in the 25th Anniversary line, Hasbro gave us a really great, modern version of the classic Cobra robot soldier.
The B.A.T. has always had a unique look, so it makes sense that this figure is made of entirely new molds. These new pieces all look incredible and the detailing is identical to the 1986 figure. The legs are covered with pants and boots with metal bands at the top of each boot. The left leg has a functional holster that connects up to the belt just like on the original figure while the right leg has some sort of tech pouch on it. I’ve never been sure what it is, so I kind of see it as an auxiliary battery pack that can be plugged into the B.A.T. on the field should the internal battery run down. My only criticism on the figure’s legs is that the crosshatched texture on the strap that holds the holster to his left leg didn’t get applied all the way around. There’s a blank spot on the front near the holster and another one that pretty much covers the entire back of his leg. I get that the back of the leg might not get that detailing, but it surprises me that the front of the leg doesn’t have it. Beyond that, though, the legs are great. The belt is extremely well-detailed and has not only the original belt buckle but the small power cable that hooks into as well. His chest is a very interesting piece. The original B.A.T. had the tech details in its chest window provided by a cool lenticular sticker. However, for the modern figure, Hasbro decided to go all in and make all the technical details in it molded pieces. I loved the lenticular sticker in the 1991 B.A.T. as a kid, but I have to say, the molded details on the modern figure are just amazing. I do wish there was a little more detailing on the back of the panel itself just because it looks a little blank back there, but otherwise, it’s a great look. Its shoulders have armored panels on them and a strap with two grenades comes down from the left shoulder and attaches on the chest at about the bottom of where a human’s rib cage would be. The neck has exposed mechanical detailing and this figure really benefits from being able to use a larger canvas due to it being a slightly larger figure than the original toy and that toy-making technology has improved a lot in the 22 years between these two versions of the B.A.T. I love when robots have exposed robotic structures. It really adds to the inhuman aspect. The back also has some exposed technological elements, though they’re covered by the backpack most of the time. I like being able to see some of the inner workings of robotic figures and the B.A.T.’s front and back both really add to that love. The 1986 figure just had silver up there to give the idea of it, but this version really sells it well. The arms are the classic short sleeves with clearly robotic arms coming out from under them. The robotic details here are absolutely amazing and in an improvement from the 1986 version, both lower arms can be swapped out for weapons attachments. The standard B.A.T. hands remind me a lot of the T-800 endoskeletons from the Terminator films. It’s a great reference to make and considering how dangerous the Devil’s Due Publishing G.I. Joe series made the new B.A.T.s, I’m perfectly okay with a bit of a Terminator vibe here. Topping off the figure is a great new head sculpt. While the original B.A.T.’s head was a bit more bulbous and off scale with the body, this B.A.T.’s head is compact and honestly may be just a little smaller than a human head. However, that’s fine since he’s a robot. It reminds me of the moment from Iron Man 2 when Whiplash is working on Hammer’s knock-off suits and the first thing he does is cuts down the head size to make them drones instead of suits since drones are better. A robot’s head doesn’t need to be as big as a human’s so I’m fine with the B.A.T.’s head seeming just a little smaller than a standard head. The B.A.T.’s head is sleek and rather imposing. The t-visor is a bit smaller than the original B.A.T.’s, but it’s still got the classic look so I’m fine with it. Honestly, I’m okay with a slightly smaller visor because the danger of using a t-visor is that if you make it a little bit larger, it starts giving off more of a Boba Fett vibe than I’d like from the figure. The B.A.T. is a great update of the original 1986 figure and it really benefits from all the advances made in the toy industry. It’s a great design and it really looks like it stepped off the pages of the DDP “Malfunction” story line that turned the Cobra B.A.T. from a disposable soldier (something I always thought was a bit of a waste, to be honest) to a robotic force of nature.
The molding is great, but the paint work, in places, leaves a little to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not horribly done, but there are some spots that it has a little trouble. Most of the colors on the B.A.T. are provided by molding it out of the color plastic it’s supposed to be. The black looks sharp, but the yellow looks rather plastic-y. His yellow boots look more like galoshes than actual boots and I think that’s a little problematic. Yellow and red are notorious for being difficult to work with in terms of making it look realistic. The yellow boots and the add-on holster and belt have just a little bit of an unnatural sheen that doesn’t look right. Working with yellow paint over black plastic also poses problems as evidenced by his shoulder pads. There’s a bit of black bleed on both shoulder pads. I realize there’s no real solution to the problems of painting over black, but it’s still a shame Hasbro couldn’t figure a work around. The paint work up on the shoulder pads and the yellow leg strap is also a bit fuzzy. There’s no real crispness to any paint line. It’s not as noticeable on the shoulders until you get up close but it’s pretty visible even at a distance with his leg strap. Though I have been critical of the yellow paintwork, I do have to give them credit where credit is due and note that the yellow Cobra sigil on his left arm is crisp and solidly applied. The silver on his arms and neck looks good, though I do wish Hasbro hadn’t used quite as heavy a black wash on it. The wash does help bring out the details and makes it look a little more field-worn, but there are times the wash itself overwhelms the details it’s supposed to bring out and leaves the figure looking a little muddy. This is especially noticeable in the robotic details above the elbows. There are all sorts of little pistons and wires in there, but you couldn’t tell unless you’re right on top of them. The B.A.T.’s paintwork may leave a little to be desired, but they did an excellent job or recreating his classic look, so while it’s not perfect, it’s still a good enough figure that I’m okay with it.
Of course, the B.A.T. is one of those figures that is defined by his accessories. Without his interchangeable hands, he’s just your standard humanoid robot. You’ve seen that a lot in science fiction. However, the designers decided to go that extra step and turn the B.A.T. itself into a weapon. While the B.A.T. has always had a backpack to carry these attachments, I’ve always thought that was more a conceit to the nature of making toys. I see the B.A.T. as being constructed out of some sort of high tech alloy that allows the hands to form into different weapons rather than having to swap them out manually. Regardless of how you work the B.A.T. attachments into the figure, though, these are three great pieces. However, before I get to that, I feel I should mention his other weapon, the pistol to fill his functional holster. The pistol is rather small and sleek and I really like it even though I can count on one hand the number of times the B.A.T. has had a regular hand on to hold it. The three attachments are amazing pieces. The one I use the least is what I call a laser weapon. The main reason I don’t use it much is that I’m not 100% sure what it is. I like the other two attachments because it’s very clear what they’re both supposed to be. The laser weapon is compact but that makes sense since you’d want the laser generator to be as efficient as possible. His other ranged combat option for an arm attachment is a large flamethrower. I realize flamethrowers aren’t used much on the battlefield anymore, but I don’t care. It just looks plain cool attached to the B.A.T.’s arm. It looks rather intimidating and it’s a great weapon. His final attachment is my favorite piece, a large grabbing claw. It looks really wicked and it reminds me of a more compact and brutal version of Ripper’s cutting tool. This thing doesn’t have a constructive purpose. It’s designed to rip and tear and maim. Even the top of the claw is jagged so even if it can’t grab on to something, it can bash it with the top and still do some pretty serious damage. What’s even better is that the claw itself is articulated. It can open and close and I really like that. The arm attachments, by virtue of how they attach to the figure, also function as the figure’s wrist articulation. It’s a bit higher up than a normal figure’s wrists, but it’s still there so they didn’t even have to sacrifice a point of articulation to make it work. The B.A.T. has a large backpack that can carry the attachments that aren’t being used. While there are only pegs for two of them, there is a large enough hollow space in the bottom of the backpack that a standard hand attachment can fit in there without problems. Time has also addressed my only other real criticism of the B.A.T.’s hand attachments. Fresh out of the package, the arm attachments were extremely difficult to remove. However, now that the standard hands have been on the slightly larger pegs in the backpack, things swap out very easily.
Growing up, I always wanted the 1986 B.A.T. which I never actually saw in the stores but saw on the cards of some of my older figures. While I eventually settled for the 1991 version and was very happy to finally have one, I’m glad Hasbro decided to make a B.A.T. in the 25th Anniversary line. Looking back on it, the original B.A.T. was slightly unimpressive. It wasn’t a terrible figure, but all the photos I’ve seen of it show that its head is just a bit too big for its body and that kind of bugs me. This new modern-style B.A.T. perfectly captures the original figures look but really takes the detailing to a new level and turns the figure into a great looking piece. The paint isn’t quite as good as I’ve come to expect from Hasbro, but it definitely passes the on-display test. If it’s just hanging out on a shelf, it’s going to be fine. It’s only on really close examination of the figure (for the most part) do you see the problems. While I would like my figures to withstand super close scrutiny, I understand this is a mass-market product and that doesn’t always happen so it’s okay. It’s a great update of Cobra’s first android trooper and one of its earliest forays into the more fantastical technological elements that would later be their hallmark.