Field Report: Ultimate Cobra Commander
Ultimate Cobra Commander is one of the reasons I was glad I just bought the entire Retaliation super wave online. I’m not sure what I would have thought of him the first time I saw him in person. He was a bubble figure. I wound up with a lot of versions of “classic” Cobra Commander (both helmeted and hooded) from the 25th Anniversary line. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed when I first learned that the Ultimate Cobra Commander was going to be vintage inspired rather than a screen-accurate version of Retaliation Cobra Commander. However, ever since I’ve opened this version, all that disappointment has gone away. This is the classic Cobra Commander should have done all those times during the 25th Anniversary line. This is an amazing update of Cobra Commander’s original looks and I’m extremely glad that he’s in my collection. Like the other vintage-inspired “Ultimates”, I really hope Hasbro does decide to just let us bask in the awesomeness of these pretty much perfect versions of classic characters and free up some space for other characters that haven’t had limitless, and at times redundant, versions of their old looks.
Ultimate Cobra Commander benefits from being made of almost all new molds. The only thing reused is the head for his battle helmeted look, and mercifully it’s from one well done 25th Anniversary Cobra Commanders, so it looks great. The helmet fits on it snugly and the vac-metal finish looks great on it. The 25th Anniversary Cobra Commander mold was definitely a relic of its time and unlike some of those early molds, its flaws (aside from its originally too small head) never got fixed in a subsequent re-release. Ultimate Cobra Commander looks like he’s wearing pants with stirrups on underneath rather than the skintight number he was wearing through basically the entire 25th Anniversary line. This look is far superior and his pants look very dictatorial. They also decided to up their game and make the knife sheath on Cobra Commander’s left hip functional, which is surprisingly the first time Hasbro’s done this for him. The 25th Annversary version was extremely careful in replicating Cobra Commander’s torso very faithfully, from the high second belt to the jacket that closed on the right rather than in the middle like jackets often do. However, that look always looked a bit funky to me and for the Ultimate Cobra Commander, they decided to take their cues more from the cartoon design which had the jacket close slightly off center. It’s a great look and everything fits together really well here. The jacket is even sculpted in a way that the fabric on the button side of the jacket has distorted very slightly because the fabric has to twist a little to fit into a button hole. This is some amazing attention to detail. The arms are plain, but they work very well with the jacket and both hands are open! While I initially liked 25th Cobra Commander angrily shaking his fist at me from my display shelf, after I had one Cobra Commander, I kind of wished that hand was usable. This time, the designers split the difference. The left hand is open and usable, but he’s holding his hand in such a way that when you have the palm pointed up, he’s doing the sinister “grabbing the world in his hand” gesture. Neither weapon fits perfectly in it (though the pistol does work okay), but it’s still better than a closed fist. The gesture is more eye-catching and it leaves his hand still mostly usable. Declaring a battle helmet-wearing Cobra Commander the “ultimate” version would have likely irritated half of Hasbro’s purchasers so they decided to also give him a newly-sculpted hooded head. Hooded Cobra Commanders never got treated too well in the 25th Anniversary line either. The mold either had the hood being swept to the left at all times or left him looking rather giraffe-necked and pinheaded. This time, though, they really got the hooded look right. The hole in the bottom of the head is rather deeply recessed but the hood still sits pretty naturally on top of his shoulders and the head underneath the hood definitely appears to be proportional. He’s got a relatively stern glare and looks like an evil terrorist leader. However, I have heard some reports of Cobra Commander neck ball snapping while swapping heads. Mercifully, mine didn’t break, but it was an exceedingly tight fit and I haven’t really swapped heads that frequently for fear that I will damage him. Forewarned is forearmed, so you might want to keep that in mind, especially since he’s going to be a hard figure to replace. Plus, there’s a nerdy part of me that likes having the hooded head sitting on the ground next to Cobra Commander. It looks like Cobra Commander made friends with Inky from Pac-Man.
Cobra Commander’s look gives him the potential to be a boring figure since he’s wearing primarily one color. Mercifully, Hasbro did a great job with this design and paint job so he looks striking, rather than monotonously blue. The base blue is a bit deeper than the 25th Anniversary version so it looks more like a light blue rather than powder blue like my father’s wedding tuxedo from the 1970s. I would prefer if it were just a shade or two darker, but it’s still a respectable blue. On the rest of the body, the paint details are very well done. The buttons are crisply painted and the Cobra sigil on his left breast is very clear. That’s also more of a nod to the cartoon look as opposed to the original action figure, which left it centered. His gloves are black though I do wish they’d kept the red trim on the back edges from the 25th Anniversary version. It just added a little more color and looked pretty sharp in my opinion. His belt gets surprisingly detailed paint apps. Not only does the buckle get painted, but the Cobra sigil on his belt buckle is red and the snaps on his pouches also get painted silver. That’s some incredibly fine detail work and they did it very nicely. His collared shirt beneath his jacket is a lighter blue, though I do wish they hadn’t missed the collar studs with the silver paint. They went as far as molding them, the least they could have done was paint them. Unfortunately, the paint work on his helmet is a little sloppy. The silver stripe down the center of his helmet doesn’t line up with the sculpted edges. This is something I could have done some quality control checking on myself had I ever found him in a store but with as hard as the last two waves were to find, I’m just happy to have him in my collection even if his paint isn’t quite perfect. The hooded head fares much better in the paint department. The Cobra sigil on his forehead is nicely done and the paint for his eyes and the little visible skin is cleanly done. The paint for his eyes definitely helps sell the idea that Cobra Commander is angry. It’s not an intimidating stare like Renegades Firefly has, but it’s still clear that you don’t want to cross Cobra Commander with the mood he’s in.
Cobra Commander also gets some great accessories. His two small accessories are his typical pistol and a new dagger. The pistol looks to be a newly sculpted piece, but it still looks his old school hairdryer pistol. It’s a great nod to Cobra Commander’s classic look and weirdly, I never get tired of seeing this thing in Cobra Commander’s hands. While it’s a relic of a bygone era, I still like my Cobra Commander with a kind of crazy-looking laser pistol. His dagger fits his sheath very tightly and I’m glad it’s removable, but I do kind of wish it looked a little more ornate. I kind of liked the ceremonial Cobra dagger that the Resolute Cobra Commander came with. I realize that wouldn’t have worked in the sheath, but even a snake-head pommel on the handle would have made me like it just a little more. It’s good and it’s functional, but if there’s any one character in the Joe mythos that I’m okay with carrying crazy, ceremonial weapons, it’s Cobra Commander. His final accessory takes up the bulk of his card, but it’s a great one. Ultimate Cobra Commander has an awesome helicopter backpack. Jetpacks are cool, but somehow, helicopter packs are even cooler. I loved them with the Annihilator and love this one too. It’s got a built-in action feature to turn its rotor that does unfortunately break up its look a little bit, but it’s not horrible, so I’ll let it slide. The design is supposed to evoke the look of the Cobra F.A.N.G. and I really like seeing a nod to that classic vehicle here. It fits tightly on his back and the rubbery straps on the front add an element of realism to the look. However, it does make it a little more cumbersome to remove. For weapons, it has four small red rockets (just like how the F.A.N.G. had four missiles on its landing skids) and can also carry a pair of blue biohazard bombs. I’d like to think they’re supposed to be weaponized Compound Z and that Cobra Commander himself flies over the area he wants to create chaos in himself to drop the Compound Z. It’s a great piece and while my custom Interrogator is currently wearing it, it looks pretty great on Cobra Commander too. It fits with either look he can have and it’s a great nod to Cobra’s history of experimental weapons and the classic Cobra gyrocopter.
A tiny part of me still wishes Ultimate Cobra Commander had been based on the movie look, but Hasbro managed to do something I never thought possible considering how overexposed the original Cobra Commander look was in the 25th Anniversary line—they made me actually like Cobra Commander’s classic look. I’ve always been more of a fan of the battle armor look since I have far stronger nostalgic ties to it. The classic hooded or helmeted looks never really captured my attention or my imagination until now. All the flaws of the original 25th Anniversary redesign of this look are gone and in its place is a great representation of Cobra Commander that is truly worthy of being called the “ultimate” version of this character. It’s a great figure and I do hope that Hasbro will let Cobra Commander rest for a while. The last thing we really need is more Cobra Commander figures, especially after the awesomeness they unleashed with this version.