Black Dragon Trooper (2003)
Black Dragon has been a name to crop up somewhat regularly in the GI Joe mythos within the last 20 years. First, there was the original EXTREME! figure that carried the moniker in in the late 90s. Then the floodgates opened in 2003, with the introduction of a new, evil Black Dragon character within that year’s collectors club convention set. This new Black Dragon bore no relation to the be-pouched Joe ninja warrior of the previous decade. Along with him, Black Dragon brought his troopers, named (you guessed it) Black Dragon Troopers. 2004 brought us the mind-controlled Black Dragon Ninjas, who bore no affiliation with the second Black Dragon’s Black Dragons. 2011 saw the release of the Black Dragon VTOL, a Cobra vehicle based on the GI Joe Renegades animated series. It was piloted by a Cobra code named…guess what? Cobra Air Trooper. You thought I was going to say Black Dragon, didn’t you?
The Black Dragon Trooper is a very slick, intimidating and tastefully colored figure. Made up of two 1988 Iron Grenadiers molds, Ferret and Star Viper, the disparate pieces actually fit together quite well. It’s easy to recognize the unique Ferret helmet and chest molds, but the faceless, intimidating quality of the sculpt works well as a trooper, particularly one that doesn’t carry much of a backstory. Then again, the elaborate and decorative elements, along with the chest unit, bely the origins of the mold as an Iron Grenadier vehicle operator. I suppose that sometimes one shouldn’t analyze these things too much, lest the fun of what is simply a badass-looking action figure be lost.