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REVIEW: G.I.JOE COBRA B.A.T. 6-PACK
By Thomas Wheeler

It's been known for months that Hasbro intended to issue a special six-pack of traditional-style Battle Android Troopers for the G.I.Joe line, that would only be available through select online retailers. It's even been known what those figures would be. Given how infrequently traditional-style 3-3/4" G.I.Joe figures come along these days, the anticipation has been torturous for longtime fans of G.I.Joe that look forward to such things. How bad?

Even though I've got a number of sets on order with SmallJoes, when another online retailer that I had done business with, Big Bad Toy Store, announced that they had a limited number of sets IN STOCK that they had specially FLOWN over from the Orient (instead of waiting for the proverbial slow boat from China), I decided that I could afford one more set if it meant not having to wait to have the androids in my collection any longer than I already had.

So, were these figures worth both the wait and the added expense of ordering one additional set to get them a little sooner? OH, yeah!

This set of six B.A.T.S breaks down into three groups -- you get three standard B.A.T.s, two Inferno B.A.T.s, and Overkill, the B.A.T. Commander. Let's review them individually, shall we?

The basic B.A.T. is an interesting amalgam of two previous incarnations. It's basically the second B.A.T., the 1991 version, but with the color scheme, mostly, of the original 1986 version. I have no argument with this whatsoever. I always felt that the 1991 B.A.T. looked more robotic than his predecessor, but the rather garish color scheme of the 1991 B.A.T., bright green and orange trim on a black body, was a little peculiar. I had a feeling that if something close to the original B.A.T. color scheme was applied to the second B.A.T., the results would be highly impressive -- and they are.

The new B.A.T. is molded in black, has a reddish copper "collar", yellow orange belt and boots, pewter grey faceplace and gloves, and silver trim on the legs and boot tops. Now, I might've prefered all silver trim, since it would've been a bit more unifying, but the results are not bad at all and I'm not complaining. And this new color scheme is certainly more menacing than the original 1991 B.A.T. while retaining the more robotic appearance over the 1986 B.A.T. that this set of molds affords. The B.A.T. file card reads as follows:

COBRA B.A.T. groups are expendable cannon fodder for COBRA. Components are manufactured cheaply in foreign factories and assembled in secret plants by COBRA VIPERS on punishment duty. Final assembly is expected to be completed by the COBRA B.A.T. troops themselves, who are handed a screwdriver and soldering gun as soon as their arms are attached. The new improved COBRA B.A.T. trooper contains a chip pirated from a popular console video game, which allows for better target locking and accuracy. The Battle Android Trooper is a "fire and forget" weapon, in that once it is turned on and pointed at the enemy, it jkeeps seeking out targets until the battery dies or it runs out of ammunition. Weight considerations limited the amount of armor these robots could carry on the motor and gears section, so when hit from behind they brst into flames.

Quote: "Now the COBRA B.A.T. Troops have come to town, the G.I.JOE Team is going down!" (Digital vocal track programmed into COBRA B.A.T. internal sound system.)

Sounds like they have Major Bludd writing their stuff, too. And if these chips pirated from popular video game consoles allow better target locking and accuracy, why am I still such a rotten video game player!?

Anyway, the B.A.T.s are superb. The right lower arm pops off, and the figures each come with a weapon that can be popped into place. There's also a new lenticular motion sticker in place on their chests, which looks to me like a glowing, sparking power source of some sort, with an android rib cage in the background. Not sure if that was the intent, but it looks pretty cool whatever it's supposed to be.

Now let's review the COBRA INFERNO B.A.T. The fact that these are robotic characters allowed Hasbro to do something that you couldn't really do very effectively with a figure that's supposed to represent a human -- they molded it in colored transparent plastic. In this case orange-red transparent plastic. The effect is incredible, as you can see the internal molding of the figure, and as a result it looks more robotic than ever. The Inferno B.A.Ts have yellow collars, gold belt and boots, and black faceplates, gloves, and trim. A friend of mine has said you can have great fun and create a great visual effect sticking a red laser-pointer in the hole in the back of the figure.

The file card for the Inferno B.A.T. reads as follows:

COBRA INFERNO B.A.T. troopers are advanced versions of standard issue B.A.T. V2 models. The "advancements" consist of increased aggressiveness programming, which makes them more combative in battle but also overrides their group awareness function: in other words, they'll automatically mow down even fellow B.A.T. troopers to get a clear shot at their target. The G.I.JOE Team not-so-fondly calls them "those flaming tin cans" because the androids glow red-hot in battle. DR. MINDBENDER designed their internal processing unites to generate intense heat, allowing them to send out bursts of heat and fire. A platoon of INFERNO B.A.T forces coming at you gives off the same heat waves what rise up from hot tarmac on a desert airstrip in August. Unfortunately, they are no mirage. But as some of the G.I.JOE Soldiers have been heard to say, "They still make that nice pinging sound when you hit them, just like when you blast tin cans off a fence post." After a battle, COBRA forces usually wait for the B.A.T. troopers to cool before retrieving them, because they are too hot to be transported in standard vehicles.

Quote: "Heat 'em up, boys - it's time for a REAL firefight!" (Digital vocal track programmed into COBRA B.A.T. internal sound system.)

Okay, first off, let's get something clear. Hasbro is based in Rhode Island. I am based in Arizona. Hasbro -- you don't even WANT to know from "hot tarmac on a desert airstrip in August" around here. It doesn't take a desert airstrip to cause that kind of heat at that time of year. Generally all it takes is the parking lot in my apartment complex. This is why I try to bail out of here for a week or so around then and go visit relatives back in Maryland!

Like I need a reminder of our most grueling weather on a G.I.Joe file card... sheesh...

Anyway, I should add that I think it was a nice touch for them to find a way to explain the Inferno B.A.T.s transparent red color on the file card. And this is a truly super figure, quite probably the highlight of the assortment. Like the basic B.A.T., he comes with a weapon that snaps onto a peg on his lower right arm, as well as a battle stand.

Finally, let's consider OVERKILL. This was a rather peculiar figure when he was first released in 1991 as part fo the Talking Battle Commanders line. He was supposed to be a B.A.T. Commander, but although he did look distinctly robotic, he didn't look especially like either previous version of the B.A.T. It could be argued that the new version has a more consistent and subdued color scheme, mostly blue and turquoise. But there's a gaping flat slot in his back where the Talking Battle Commanders backpack was originally installed. Several figures that Hasbro used for that line have made reapparances since then, and it's a molding problem that in my opinion should really be rectified. However, since this is a robot, it's a little more tolerable.

The filecard, I have been told, was lifted directly from the NEW Overkill, which is described as a cyborg, NOT a complete android. As a result, the file card doesn't quite match the rather entirely robotic appearance of this traditional-style Overkill, but it still makes for fairly amusing reading when you get into Overkill's personality quirks. It reads as follows:

Being the leader of an entire unit of android troopers comes quite naturally to OVER KILL, since more than fifty percent of his body had been replaced by mechanical parts. He is also equipped with integral body-armor, a self-contained breathing unit and a wireless modem implanted in his brain. His vision has been enhanced with image intensifiers and infrered scanners. A targeting computer is hardwired between his right eye and his trigger finger. Having command of a small army of mindless robots has affected his mind, making him overly sentimental and protective of his "troops". OVER KILL sees them as individuals and gives them secret names, picking out some for special attention. This is why he has a grudge against members of the G.I.JOE team who, in the course of a sabotage mission, poured sand into the supply of 30 weight motor oil for the B.A.T.s, effectively disabling more than half the unit.

Quote: "Of course I have feelings. They may be digitally enhanced, but they are still feelings."

Between the modem in his head and the targeting computer, this doesn't sound like anyone I'd want to challenge to a video game, but he might be able to sign me onto my ISP a little quicker.

The figure comes with a battle stand and two weapons that snap onto a post when his right hand is removed. One of the weapons is a rather clever-looking thing, an elongated claw with a gun in the middle. Presumably you could pick up someone by the neck with the claw and have a dead-on shot right between the eyes. Nasty...

I have one and only one extremely minor complaint about this entire set. The upper leg details on the BATs (regular and Inferno) were rather obviously painted by hand. They're a little sloppy (understandable given the sheer volume) and you can see the brush strokes on some. Methinks Hasbro lost a couple of spray painting stencils somewhere. But this is NOT that big a deal and can easily be repaired by someone with sufficient skill and a good paint brush. Flat black will work for the Inferno BATs, and a friend of mine has told me that Citadel Colors' "Mithral Silver" is a dead-on match for the regular B.A.T.s, although he warns that it doesn't work well overpainting the pewter-colored details elsewhere on the figure.

Overall, this B.A.T. six-pack is a superb offering from Hasbro, a great army-builder for anyone that wants plenty of Battle Androids (although you'll be stuck with a bunch of Overkills). Hopefully it will do well enough -- and I am confident that it shall -- so that Hasbro will continue to offer traditional-style G.I.Joe figures and sets on a regular basis.

I give the G.I.JOE COBRA B.A.T. six-pack my highest recommendation. If you don't already have some on order, find an online outlet that's offering them and get some! I'm probably going to order more myself.