The Power of Packaging: Cobra Officer

There were cardbacks that I used to stare at over and over again as a kid collector. If there was one subject to which my eyeballs were often affixed, it was the Cobra Officer. I preferred the figure itself to the Cobra Trooper, and its more ornate details piqued my interest. Not to be too simplistic, but the Officer just looked…cooler.

Cobra Officer

Cobra Officer-back


  • Series 1(1982)G. I. Joe Action Figures, Always looked good to look at, especially when you happen to be a child of the 1980s.”

  • Much like the MOTU oil paintings on the vehicle boxes & figure’s cardbacks – the GIJOE paintings also captured the imagination back then in a way that Star Wars’, TransFormers, and other toy lines just didn’t quite accomplish, despite being good lines in their own right. Nothing was like a hand-painted rendering though…

  • Everything about the card art just clicks and comes together so perfectly; it just screams badass henchman. From the dark colors, to the trademark bad guy mask, to the sinister stare of those cold eyes with clearly bad intentions, to the evil empire’s AK-47; the Cobra Officer is ready to stir up some trouble for the GI JOE team.

  • I’m the exact opposite. I’m a Cobra Trooper guy all the way and feel the same way about the Trooper as you do about the Officer. Still, that’s some fine card art.

    I won’t go so far as to say the early artwork was the best as there are lots of later figures who’s art is excellent, too. But, these early figures being my gateway into the line gives them an emotional connection that puts them higher on my preference list.

  • The 80s had the best box/card art for figures. Each successor line couldn’t recapture the glory of the line’s heyday (GI Joe, Transformers). Both GI Joe & Transformers had memorable packaging, great art on distinctive backgrounds (either the painted explosion or the digital explosion. 1993’s lasers are meh, but better than later years. TF’s red or purple field with the grid, art in front of that was iconic as well). Revived GI Joe, Beast Wars, Beast Machines, RID, Armada etc had mediocre packaging by comparison. Usually the art was cool, sometimes it did the figure a disservice though (Sneak Peek has some of the worst art, Lady Jaye’s isn’t good either).

  • It’s a great image. Coincidentally I just received in the post today vol 1 and 2 of Collecting the Art of GI Joe from the 3D Joes Kickstarter. Anyone even remotely interested in Joe art should check these out – beautiful artwork, beautifully presented.

  • The explosion/fireball behind the characters really works. Later releses that used the pixelated version didnt quite have the same effect

    • As a kid, the pixelated explosions seemed more futuristic, seemingly fitting in well with the roster of 1986- a more futuristic looking laser trooper (Sci-Fi), a robot army (B.A.T.), a computer expert (Mainframe), a mad scientist (Dr. Mindbender). The painted explosions looked old fashioned, looking like it belonged to an earlier time. It went together with the new 3-D logo (though 1985 re-releases in 1986 had 3-D logos on painted explosions, with the filecards turning gray). Also consider the NES, in all its pixelated glory, came out nationwide during 1986 (it was just in NYC in late ’85, test market and all that, then LA in February 86). As a kid, it all kind of went together. Pixelated explosions also seemed to look much better than painted ones on vehicle boxes. Older, I can appreciate the aesthetic value of the painted explosions. As I said, GI Joe had some great cardback formats- painted explosions, pixelated explosions, or lasers on black background all beat later styles. Each has their own merit and some figures’ art seems better suited to one style than others (like, Storm Shadow 84, Quick Kick, and a few others would seem out of place on pixelated backgrounds).

      It would be cool if there were a program to mix and match cardback art with the backgrounds (painted ex., pixelated exp. with a black background, pixelated exp. with a blue or red background, lasers, etc). I wonder which early figures’ art might look better on the laser background or the pixelated explosion with blue/red, which later figures’ art might’ve really popped out more on painted explosions.

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