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By Thomas Wheeler

There have been a whole lot of Battle Android Trooper types for Cobra over the years. First introduced in 1986, the B.A.T., while somewhat fanciful in concept, gave Cobra a fearsome weapon -- a humanoid robot, heavily armed and ready to be pitched against the G.I. Joe Team, no questions asked. And in the animated series, it gave the Joe Team an enemy entity to turn into scrap without the usual concerns over showing "actual people" getting blown up.

The B.A.T. proved popular enough to receive quite a few revisions over the years, not just repaints, but entirely new types. There was the B.A.T. II in 1991; Overkill, initially supposed to be a third version of the B.A.T., also in 1991, the Armor-Tech B.A.A.T. in 1993, and during the newsculpt era, we were also introduced to the B.A.T. v. 3, v. 4, and v. 5, as well as the Inferno B.A.T. Most recently, B.A.T.s were part of the 2008 G.I. Joe Convention Set.

So it's hardly surprising that the B.A.T. became part of the 25th Anniversary G.I. Joe line. Technically, it's not really being hailed as strongly as "25th Anniversary" as it used to be. That logo from the front of the card is gone, in this instance replaced by a new emblem which reads "From the G.I. JOE Comic Series!" Although the back of the card still says, "Celebrate 25 Years with the Ultimate Action Team!"

These days, "25th style" has come more to refer to the specific figure type, the design and construction of the current crop of G.I. Joe figures, which were first introduced for the Real American Hero's 25th Anniversary in 2007. It's a convenient way to differentiate them between the traditional-style figures, or RAH (Real American Hero) style, that was the original design from 1982-2001, and the so-called "Newsculpt" figures, the design that was prevalent from 2002-2006.

Obviously, the 25th-style take of the original B.A.T. from 1986 isn't a new design. However, one thing I noticed right off the bat (and you have no idea how badly I wanted to fit that phrase into this review somewhere) was the package illustration.

Hasbro has, to the best of their ability and whenever possible, taken the original package illustrations from G.I. Joe figures and incorporated them onto the new package, which for the most part is intended to resemble the classic line. There are some instances where this is impossible. Figures such as Wild Bill or the HISS Driver, who were not available on individual cards, or the black-uniformed Storm Shadow, who didn't exist in the original line, must have new artwork created for them that is as close as possible to matching the classic style. Generally this works out quite nicely.

But with the B.A.T. art, what we have here is a little bit of long overdue color correction. If you take a look at the artwork for the original B.A.T., it looks as though the robot has an all steel-colored head. In fact, the original B.A.T. had a black head -- same color as its uniform -- with a silver visor/faceplate. That little glitch on the original artwork always bugged me just a little bit.

Well, it's finally been dealt with. The B.A.T. artwork for the package card this time around looks very much like the original, and indeed is probably the same artwork (I lack a package card on hand of the original to make a direct comparison), but the head is in the proper color scheme this time. Nicely done, Hasbro!

The most obvious difference between the two B.A.T.s is that the new one doesn't have the lenticular motion sticker in its chestplate. I sort of miss this, as it is a neat feature on several versions of the Battle Android Trooper that are derived from the first two incarnations, but Hasbro nevertheless created an interesting substitute in that they sculpted the portion of the B.A.T.'s "interior" previously made evident by the lenticular motion feature, and placed a clear plastic plate over it. Although it tends to lack the apparent visible depth of the original sticker, the sculpted interior is a reasonable likeness of the original interior, at least to the degree that the new B.A.T. matches its predecessor.

With regard to other comparative notes, the head of the new B.A.T. is both proportionately smaller with regard to the entire figure, and just plain smaller than the original's head. Of course, it has been remarked that the original B.A.T. has a pretty large head. The shape is more or less the same, although the head of the new B.A.T. is more narrow and somewhat more angular.

The colors are pretty much the same. Both B.A.T.s have black uniforms. There's not a lot you can do there. The yellow trim and boots is more yellow on the new B.A.T., and more yellow-orange on the original. Obviously there is the height difference. The original B.A.T. is about 3-3/4", as would be expected. The new B.A.T. is a fairly tall 4-1/4", but again, this doesn't create the sort of incompatibility issue that one might have with one of the "human" figures from the new line vis-a- vis the originals, since there's no reason that Cobra couldn't just build really tall B.A.T.s, and indeed the first newsculpt B.A.T.s, the v. 3 B.A.T., was pretty tall as well.

One other comparative feature of note -- both B.A.T.'s have two grenades hanging from a strap near their chestplate. On the original B.A.T., these are the same color as the strap. On the new B.A.T., they've been painted. But in a rather peculiar color choice of dark turquoise green. I'm not saying they look bad. But it's sort of an odd color for a B.A.T.

Let's consider some of the features of the new B.A.T. on his own. One thing the chestplate does, is to mask, more effectively than most G.I. Joe figures of this type, the mid-torso articulation point. This is perhaps my biggest grievance with the new G.I. Joes. I just don't like that mid-torso separation. While it may have worked on armored figures like certain Star Wars Clone Troopers, where it could be worked into the armor design, it's far less effective, and far more noticeable, on figures that are sculpted to be wearing cloth, and in my opinion, it doesn't work. I really don't understand why Hasbro took this design route and eliminated the waist joint, which would've looked much better. On the B.A.T., however, the chestplate (and, I think, the black uniform) does a decent job of concealing it, at least from the front.

The belt and holster should receive particular note. They are separate pieces, although I think the holster is glued to the left leg. Additionally, the pistol in the holster is "real" and can be removed, whereas on the original B.A.T. this was just sculpted detail. Fortunately, the length of belt that runs from the main belt down to the holster does not infringe on the articulation of the leg, and the pistol fits well enough into the holster that there's no real risk of it falling out and becoming vacuum cleaner bait.

One of the most notable features of the original B.A.T. was its interchangeable lower right arm. The most obvious robotic feature of the original B.A.T. was its lower arms, which were silver in color, emerging from the short uniform sleeves. The figure came with a number of accessories and weapons that could be carried in a backpack of sorts, and snapped into place as needed.

The new B.A.T. duplicates this feature. It is packed with a nasty-looking claw arm in place, and the claw actually opens and closes. I more humanoid hand is among the accessories, as are two additional weapons, and the aforementioned backpack.

Although the left lower arm of the B.A.T. turns, I don't believe it is designed to be removed and make use of these weapons. That wasn't the case with the original B.A.T., and I don't think it's the case with this one. I tried to pop off the lower left arm, and met with considerably more resistance than I did with the right arm. Not wanting to break the figure, I ceased my efforts.

Hasbro has opted to put a considerable amount of watered down black detail weathering on the silvery arms (and a few other exposed metal areas, including the neck and upper right leg device, as well as the boots) of the new B.A.T., and I have to say that this has never been a practice of which I approve. In my opinion - that does not improve the look of the figure.

Don't get me wrong -- the arms are very well-detailed. Although there's not a lot of painted detail on the B.A.T., but weathering notwithstanding, what there is of it is very well done, including the Cobra emblem on the upper left sleeve.

The file card for the Battle Android Trooper reads as follows:

Code Name: COBRA B.A.T.

B.A.T.s are the perfect Cobra Troopers. They never question orders, complain about the chow, shirk duty, or surrender. They require no leave time, sick pay or benefits of any kind, and they are cheap and easy to replace. On the other hand, B.A.T.s do not react very well to changes in field conditions, nor do they discriminate between targets. They will shoot at anything that moves, be it friend or foe. They also have an unfortunate tendency to burst into flames when hit from behind.

"B.A.T.s are dangerous to everybody. They'll shoot, bayonet, or kick anything in sight. Cobra infantrymen don't like to be on the same battlefield with B.A.T.s. When a Cobra unit is losing a battle, they will dispense B.A.T.s into the midst of the firefight in order to evacuate the area easily."

Ever get the impression that whoever wrote that file card within the Cobra universe was on the battlefield when he did it, and had just finished that part about B.A.T.s being perfect Cobra troopers when one of them started shooting in his direction and he wrote "On the other hand..." while trying to dodge and weave?

It's worth mentioning that this B.A.T. has proven extremely difficult to find in the stores -- even for an army-builder. Any number of 25th-style collectors have been bemoaning the fact that there just don't seem to be a lot of androids out there. For myself, I've only ever seen it once, and that was when I bought it. I'll occasionally thumb through a display of figures in a store, and have yet to see another.

Hasbro does has some further plans for this B.A.T. A slightly revised version is expected in the "Arise, Serpentor, Arise" DVD set -- with a red faceplate, much like the cartoon. And the B.A.T. has also made it into the forthcoming "Hall of Heroes" line.

Honestly, though, I wouldn't mind seeing a few more B.A.T.s. We know that Hasbro is prepared to make multiple use out of existing molds. They've already gotten a couple of uses out of characters such as Cobra Commander and the Crimson Guard, and the G.I. Joe Convention unveiled such special sets of recolored troopers as the Cobra Desert and Arctic Teams. Honestly, I think it's a bit of a shame that the B.A.T. didn't find his way into those. An Arctic B.A.T. or a Desert B.A.T. would have been very cool.

That having been said, this B.A.T. is a very decent figure, whose robotic nature, like his newsculpt predecessors, makes him well workable within a collection such as mine (and others) that is predominantly RAH-or-traditional-style, where the "human" characters of this new figure format would be a difficult fit at best. If Hasbro should choose to make some specialty recolored versions of this B.A.T., I would certainly give them consideration.

On the whole, this 25th-Anniversary-Style Cobra BATTLE ANDROID TROOPER is an interesting 25th-style take on the original B.A.T., and a cool figure in and of itself.