Most G.I. Joe collectors have their own ultimate wish list, a glaring collection of missing holes in their collections that they pray Hasbro will one day see fit to fill. Back in 2011, the No. 1 missing person on my want list was G.I. Joe’s supermodel tank driver, Cover Girl. She never made much of an impression on me until she became a prominent member of the team in the Devil’s Due comics and quickly became one of my favorite Joes. I was briefly mollified when Hasbro finally released a great figure of her as “Agent Courtney Krieger” in 2006, but then the Modern era body style debuted a couple of years later and once again left me pining for a perfect Cover Girl.
Flash-forward to 2011 and I’m standing at a dealer table at the New Jersey Collectors Con, stunned at what I’ve stumbled across – a pile of what appears to be a Modern-style Cover Girl. It turned out it was that but not quite. The dealer was selling individual figures from the Official G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club Mission Brazil II box set, which had been available at that year’s International G.I. Joe Convention in Orlando, FL. The figure I was quickly falling in love with was not Cover Girl, but her Brazilian doppelgänger, Sparta. She didn’t wear Cover Girl’s traditional leather jacket, but otherwise was a great update and even seamlessly reused the 2006 Cover Girl’s head. Even though this was technically a different character, I didn’t care; I had found my Cover Girl. The $50 price seemed steep, but I was willing to pay it and ended up being thankful for this decision as the eBay prices grew by stellar bounds soon after.
As usual, the Club was very clever in the way it delved into obscure G.I. Joe history to create this new version of Sparta. Back in the ‘80s, the original Cover Girl (who was packed only with the Wolverine Missile Tank in the 1983 G.I. Joe assortment) was given a darker skin tone and a rifle and released individually carded in Brazil as Sparta by the Estrela Toy Company in its Commandos Em Acao toyline. Sparta also saw release in Argentina with gaudier colors by Plastirama (YoJoe.com). I actually had the Estrela version of Sparta (pictured in this article) and preferred its slightly different colors to the original Cover Girl. So the Club fittingly and creatively included Sparta in its new Mission Brazil set, although it was odd at the time to have her before an official update of the actual Cover Girl. It didn’t matter that much to me; although I still wanted a new Cover Girl, I was so happy with Sparta that I could have lived with her as Cover Girl or the separate character she was intended to be.
Of course, the Club did finally release a new Cover Girl in its 2013 Figure Subscription Service. I snapped up that Cover Girl and think she’s wonderful. But I have to admit that I still find myself favoring Sparta. Part of it is because I think her jumpsuit and boots looks dynamic; it’s a great mold and color scheme, and I also like the darker shade of her hair compared to Cover Girl’s brighter orange locks. But I think my favoritism toward Sparta also ties into the way I found her, unexpectedly and happily, as the No. 1 figure I had been craving finally ended up in my hands. Action figure collecting can be like a treasure hunt, and sometimes the greatest finds seem all the more valuable.