Retaliation Cobra Commander (2012)
Cobra Commander bears little resemblance to the character’s appearance in the Retaliation film, aside from some similarity to the helmet design. But I’m not going to rag on it, because it’s a dang cool toy. Cobra Commander was the first Real American Hero figure of my youth, and he’s always had a special place within my memories of what made 80s Joe a joy.
A few elements are at work here to make me smile. First, the bold design of the Commander that sets him apart from both his troops and the Joes. There’s always been a grandiose quality to CC’s outfits that I’ve enjoyed. Here, it’s the helmet, web gear and even the jodhpurs that say “maniacal leader,” not to mention the missile-firing snake head staff. Grade A super villain stuff. Next, the bright blue catches the eye. The Commander just looks better in blue. For me, these two elements combine for a more memorable figure than the Rise of Cobra line produced.
I can’t go without mentioning articulation. At this point in Joe history, we had been spoiled by improvements in poseability as well as fit and finish. The Retaliation line cut a few corners with articulation, and Cobra Commander came without ankle joints. I didn’t mind much, and in retrospect, this figure seems downright super-poseable compared to current Hasbro offerings like Star Wars.
Some folks didn’t dig the ninja/Rock centered packaging for the film’s toys, but I thought it was a fresh approach to go straight for the kid market. Without proper buy-in from the young ‘uns, GI Joe isn’t getting anywhere near the top of the boys toys heap. If you’re fine with a few dregs of Toys R Us packs here and there, that’s fine. But the line needs the kiddos in order to be a hit. That’s what sold all of us now old farts on this stuff. Am I saying that missile-firing snake heads are the answer? No, but I am saying that Hasbro can’t cater to a collector and a kid and please both.