Ultimate Battle Pack Cobra Commander and Trubble Bubble
Hasbro made some pretty great exclusives during the 25th Anniversary line. While I thought it was a bit overpriced considering how much of it was stuff I already had, the Ultimate Battle Pack from Target was pretty impressive. You got six figures, two large vehicles, one small vehicle and a JUMP pack. I couldn’t afford it at its initial price point of $63 dollars, but holy crap did Target discount this set after Christmas was over. I’m pretty sure I found the Ultimate Battle Pack for around $20 shortly after the first of the year (I know I was back in Kansas after Christmas and that year, K-State had a pretty early spring semester start date) and at that price, it was a no brainer. It was a really nicely thought out set and I’m sure if I were a kid, I would have loved getting all that stuff in one nice big box for Christmas. While everyone focused on the MOBAT in the set since it was the only vehicle in the set that hadn’t been previously released, I really found myself loving Cobra Commander and his own personal Trubble Bubble.
The 25th Anniversary Cobra Commander figure was one we saw a lot of when the line relaunched. Counting this version, there were eleven Cobra Commanders released during the 25th Anniversary line that all used the same body and just varied between the use of battle helmet or hooded head. I was really tired of this mold by the time we got to the Ultimate Battle Pack, but it’s really not that bad of a figure. While it pales in comparison to the Ultimate Cobra Commander from the Retaliation line, the 25th Anniversary Cobra Commander is an amazingly faithful update of his classic look. The mold is nicely detailed and it was one of the few early 25th Anniversary figures that managed to successfully disguise the mid-torso joint by putting it in a little lower and using the natural break in the body at his ab belt. As such, he’s a much nicer-looking figure than a lot of the early figures. I don’t quite understand why someone would wear a belt at his abs and have one to hold up his pants, but that’s neither here nor there. That’s what Cobra Commander did back in the day and that’s what he does now. The overall design is good, but there are still some flaws. First of all, I hate his legs. I realize Cobra Commander’s pants were really tight in 1982, but I really hate that look here. The lower legs don’t look too bad, but his thighs make it look more like he’s wearing tights or yoga pants rather than actual pants. I realize wearing tights as pants or yoga pants everywhere is fashionable now for some unknown reason, but it really kills the intimidation factor when Cobra Commander looks like he’s taking his fashion cues from women leaving the gym. The upper body fares a lot better. Hasbro did an amazing job recreating his original look. The overcoat that buttons off center is a classic Cobra Commander element and it actually looks a bit more realistic this time around because there’s not nearly as much of his undershirt visible as there was back in the day. The back of the torso is also designed to carry his pistol like it did back in the day. I think that’s some great attention to detail and I’m glad they went to the trouble to include it here. The arms do deviate (and always have considering how many times they reused this look) a little from the 1982 Cobra Commander because back then he was wearing short black gloves instead of the long ones he’s got now. I don’t really mind it all that much, but it’s a little surprising that considering how much Hasbro tried to perfectly recreate everyone’s original look with the 25th Anniversary line, they went with long gloves instead of short. My only real complaint with the arms is that his left hand is closed. Yes, it’s great for an intimidating “the world is mine” gesture, but it pretty well sucks for anything else. I’m of two minds about the head. While I like that they made the outer helmet removable since it let them include a nice nod to the comics on the back of his head where he’s got the anti-tamper explosives there, I think the helmet looks like it sits too low on his head. Maybe it’s just because there are no facial landmarks to base it on and I just stink at judging distance, but it really looks like the brim of the helmet covers his eyes. Yes, you can tweak its position a little and minimize the problem, but then the helmet sits rather loosely on his head so it’s not a great solution. Plus, the head, even with the outer helmet, on looks a bit too small to realistically fit a head inside there. Cobra Commander may be a pinhead if you take your interpretation of him from the cartoon, but he definitely shouldn’t be pin-headed.
Though I got very tired of seeing this mold during the 25th Anniversary line, the paint team did find a way to make it interesting and I really appreciate that. I honestly hated the color scheme for the original 25th Anniversary Cobra Commander and this figure really addressed most of my criticisms very well. Most of the color scheme is achieved by molding Cobra Commander in the necessary color of plastic. That’s fine, since it makes for a really clean figure. This version of Cobra Commander is still wearing a lot of blue, but it’s a few shades darker than it was the first time we saw Cobra Commander in the modern line. It’s not as dark as the single pack hooded Cobra Commander was, but he’s also not wearing powder blue like the initial 25th Anniversary figure did. My father wore a powder blue tuxedo at his wedding…it’s not an intimidating color and it’s not a regal color. Cobra Commander’s color scheme should not remind me of my father’s 1976 wedding tuxedo. Ultimate Battle Pack Cobra Commander really splits the difference between the slightly too dark hooded version and the obnoxiously light blue first battle helmeted version. His pants belt picks up the paint details that they used on the multiple “cartoon accurate” figures and I like seeing them here. The logo on his belt buckle adds just a little more panache to the figure. His ab belt is silver and the trim on the tops of his gloves is silver to match. The 25th Anniversary figures went back and forth between silver and red for his glove trim and I find myself preferring the silver because it pops a little more and makes him a little more visually interesting. The buttons on his coat get attention and the paint team did a great job placing them accurately. Cobra Commander’s face plate is, of course, silver but they also added the silver stripe on the top of the helmet. I didn’t realize how much a silver stripe really helped the look of the helmet until I got this version of the figure. I kind of rolled my eyes and passed on some of the other releases of Cobra Commander that looked to be the exact same figure just with a silver helmet stripe, but it really does look pretty nice here.
Aside from the removable helmet, Cobra Commander doesn’t really have much in the way of accessories, but he didn’t have that much back in 1982 either, so it fits. The one accessory they gave him is an excellent piece so I’m okay with them choosing quality over quantity here. Plus, considering he has his own vehicle, it’s not that out of line for him to not be carrying much else in the way of weapons. His only weapon is an incredibly faithful recreation of his funky 1982 pistol. Yeah, it looks more like a hairdryer than a gun, but that’s fine. It did back in the day and if anyone’s going to have a funky laser weapon, it’s going to be Cobra Commander. Remember, his filecard listed his secondary military specialty as “Ordnance (Experimental Weaponry)” so it’s a nice fit that he’s carrying something a little more out of the ordinary. The pistol is very well designed and it fits very well on his back as well.
If there was one thing that bugged me about Cobra Commander as a kid, it was that he didn’t have his own vehicle. Destro got his own ride, Overlord had one, Serpentor had one,
heck even Darklon got a vehicle that was specific to him, but the leader of Cobra didn’t have his own special vehicle? That’s nuts! While the Trubble Bubble isn’t unique to Cobra Commander, I like that the Ultimate Battle Pack finally rectified that childhood criticism and gave him a Trubble Bubble that clearly looked like it was Cobra Commander’s.
I think my favorite 25th Anniversary vehicle was the Trubble Bubble. The designers did a great job recreating this classic piece of Cobra hardware and making it work for the new style figures. At its most basic, the Trubble Bubble is basically a well-armed rocket chair. The operator sits behind a control stick with the main cannon mounted to it. There’s a little bit of protection from the sides to protect the driver from both enemy fire and missile backwash since the missiles are mounted on the side of the Trubble Bubble. The primary propulsion is provided by two large rocket engines mounted to the back. Over the top, the rider is encased in a large protective bubble. Should this vehicle work in real life? Oh, heck no! But is it still a cool- looking vehicle that just screams “Cobra”? Most definitely! All the classic Trubble Bubble details are faithfully created here. This thing looks like a slightly larger version of the 1985 version and I have to applaud Hasbro for how well they redid this vehicle. I do kind of miss the funky aerial mine that the classic Trubble Bubble had, but beyond that, everything that was there back in the day is here now. I love the directional vanes on the bottom of the jet engines. While I’m still not sure how the Trubble Bubble moves forward and backward since there aren’t any other directional jets, it’s nice to see that there’s a clear way for it to move side to side. I’ve always assumed the Trubble Bubble was partly steered by shifting your body weight, which is a little crazy for a jet powered vehicle, but let’s be fair, whoever designs Cobra’s vehicles seems to live by the mantra “We’re just a little crazy”, so I think it works.
The main change on the Trubble Bubble is its paint scheme. The colors help identify it as Cobra Commander’s personal vehicle and while I think that’s an odd tactical decision to make on the battlefield, it definitely looks sharp. The Trubble Bubble is a colored a great blue—one that matches the Ultimate Battle Pack Cobra Commander figure. Considering how well this vehicle lends itself to repaints, I’m honestly a little surprised Hasbro didn’t try to get more mileage out of it. Personally, as long as the drivers were interesting, I’d pick up just about any location-specific color scheme Hasbro could put on it. The sticker work is also very nice. First of all, they changed up some of the colors so they would stand out against the darker base. I love the silver Cobra sigils on the engines and the canopy. It’s something that makes the Trubble Bubble stand out a bit more and seem like a simple way Cobra Commander could add some flair to his own personal vehicle. However, some of the stickers don’t stick all that well. This was a common problem during the 25th Anniversary line. It’s especially noticeable on the missiles. Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t find stickers in the box I used to store the Trubble Bubble when I pulled it out for this review. Hasbro got better at this as the line went on, but putting stickers on curved spots on some of the vehicle was pretty annoying. I know I wound up supergluing a couple stickers on the AWE Striker down after I first applied them because it was clear they weren’t going to stick all that well. The stickers on the Trubble Bubble’s missiles are marginal, but they have held on better than I expected. The Ultimate Battle Pack surprised me when I bought it. I thought it was pretty badly overpriced. I realize you got a lot for $63 and honestly the way things broke down that price point was probably a little low, but considering how weak the 2008 economy was, I think a lot of people (myself included) really had a hard time justifying spending that much money on something that had a lot of previously released figures. While I was interested, I just didn’t want to pull the trigger on it. I kind of figured it would go on clearance after Christmas and thought that if it dropped to $50, I’d seriously consider it. Imagine my surprise when I saw it discounted down to $20 not that long after New Year’s Day. At that price point, it really was a no-brainer. I’m glad I got it because while I focused on the pretty cool-looking Destro and Short Fuze, this version of Cobra Commander was probably the best use of that mold, in my opinion. The paint scheme took all the things I liked from the various versions they released during the 25th Anniversary line and put them all together into one great figure. Add in the fact that Cobra Commander finally got his own personal vehicle and it’s hard to deny that it’s a great set. I know everyone was drooling over the MOBAT, and I was too, but the blue Trubble Bubble really is a pretty classy look for it and it’s as great a piece as it was when they released it in the vehicle two-pack with the RAM. It’s hard to complain too much about a small vehicle being included in a set when it’s something as well done and iconic as the Trubble Bubble.
Addendum—So, while I was trying to remove Cobra Commander from the clamp (which probably holds him a little too tightly) after reviewing this set, the Trubble Bubble pretty much came apart when I popped off the canopy to try and get at Cobra Commander a little better. I put it back together, but I hadn’t realized that the canopy hinge was basically the only thing holding this vehicle together. It was a little startling to have a Joe vehicle literally fall apart in my hands while trying to pry its driver out of its seat. It’s a rather unusual complaint, but holy buckets is the Trubble Bubble surprisingly fragile and seriously NEVER DETACH THE CANOPY!