Cobra Stinger Driver (1984)

Yesterday’s entry was one of the more obscure driver figures, and today’s is one of the better known. If you were around in the 80s for the small Joe line’s beginnings, you’ll remember this figure, and his vehicle. Though some of today’s collectors scoff at repainted figures and reused vehicles, I find that if they’re well done, the result can be as impressive as a totally new toy. I think that belief began with this figure.

I first caught sight of the Stinger and its driver, the descriptively named Stinger Driver, at a friend’s birthday party in 1984. I hadn’t gotten any of the year’s vehicles, so I hadn’t seen the insert catalog that showcased all the new GI Joe toys. I was surprised first to see the VAMP Mark II, and doubly surprised when another package was opened, revealing the Stinger. I had the original VAMP, and loved it, but these two new vehicles based on the same mold were fresh and exciting. The Stinger was especially amazing, with its black color scheme, red missiles, and new top, doors and bumpers.

Much like the tan Clutch, the Stinger Driver immediately emerged for me as a favorite figure. Within days of the party, I had hit my parents up for the Stinger, and had one in my own hands.

This figure still does something for me. I’ve always preferred the Cobra Officer mold over the regular Trooper, with its unique and detailed harness gear. When painted in grey, the figure has a whole new look, and the contrast of black along with a little color in the red details, makes for a vibrant and memorable Cobra. As a kid, I even used him as a higher ranking Cobra officer. I think the grey vs. original blue made him stand out as a special trooper. The grey color was very martial, and reminded me of the Marx World War II German troops that would often fight against my green plastic American army men at their Guns of Navarone playset (which by the way, were my first exposure to military toys).

Though later drivers would up the ante in terms of detail and exclusive new designs, this seemingly simple repaint continues to be a favorite.


  • I remember that Navarone Playset from old department store Christmas catalogs. I hadn’t seen the movie but was fascinated by the toy since I had a bunch of green plastic WWII guys.

    The Stinger Driver has always been a favorite. The grey does work very well here and makes him stand out from his mold mates. I got the figure’s mail-in version in the late 80’s along with the Stinger and used him as Cobra Commander’s personal chauffeur/body guard. Prior to that, the Commander had been riding in my old Pocket Super Heroes Batmobile until the steering wheel section broke off. Needless to say, the Stinger and its Driver made for a fine replacement.

  • The playset has very little to do with the movie, it’s a handful of plain clothed commandos and Greek partisans that are sent to destroy the guns, not some World War 2 GI’s with vehicles.

    Someone produced factory level customs of grey Stinger “troopers”. Sadly, I never got any.

  • I suprised he wasnt offered on a blister as a “snow” cobra. A pity so many vehicles these days dont come with drivers.

    On the subject of the Naverone playset. I dont remember David Niven and Gregory Peck using Churchill tanks to storm the guns.

  • So I wasn’t the only one to use him as a high ranking Cobra? Nice to know!

  • Ah, my first Stinger Driver is the 25th Anniversary version. D’oh!

  • This was the very first vehicle I ever bought. I remember taking it out into my back yard at night (because it was a night vehicle, of course) and playing with it. I loved how the driver figure was only a slight variation from the regular cobra officer- it made sense. ANd I liked that it was a generic trooper, not an individual character like Wild Weasel.

    My only complaint was that they could have come up with a better code name than “Stinger Driver.” But they hadn’t gotten into legion names like “Motor Viper” yet. (Same complaint with HISS tank driver).

  • The Stinger is by far my favorite vehicle from the whole line, and this driver has a lot to do with that! The black jeep, red missiles, and gray uniform all work together very nicely.
    I think that the ’89 Track Viper’s (another favorite) color scheme seems out of place in Cobra until you consider he’s a driver and colored the same as Stinger Driver here. Too bad the HISS II wasn’t black and red to match the overall motorpool color scheme.
    If I’d been in charge of the Dollar Store Cobra Trooper repaint I’d have picked this color scheme instead of the blue and gold. I know Cobra blue is the standard but you could make a strong case for the gray with black and red gear.
    Probably time to break out the gray paint to make a few customs…

  • Also, that Stinger box art is AWESOME.

  • I always really wanted the Stinger and I think the Driver was one of the things that really sold me on it. I do like the additional details on the Cobra officer mould, it looks very well.

  • I like the first photo. Looks like a person posing by their new car, like a photo the Stinger Driver would send back to his family, like “Look what I’m finally driving! I can finally wear something else than the dime a dozen blues”.

  • Has anyone ever seen the “custom” grey Cobra trooper done by the Black Major using the same color combination? Looks awesome….

  • That box art was EPIC! I love trying to recreate the box art in 3D. Check it:

    I never thought about how the grey made em look like a German trooper until you said that. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I loved this figure as a high level cobra trooper. There certainly was a more prestigious feeling from the dress greys than the dress blues.

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