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By Thomas Wheeler

You know, I distinctly remember seeing the black-uniformed 12" Cobra
Commander figure, which as I recall was a Toys "R" Us exclusive when it
came out. But I certainly don't recall ever seeing this blue-uniformed
version anywhere before, and yet he, along with a superb 12" Wild Bill
(see separate review) turned up at a K*B Toy near me in late March,
discounted to $7.99. Given the detail on the figure and the full cloth
uniform, I have to believe that his original retail price was somewhere
in the $14.99 bracket, so basically I got him for half price.

I hardly think I need to explain Cobra Commander. He's the leader of the
terrorist organization known as Cobra, the organization the G.I.Joe Team
is dedicated to destroy, even as Cobra is determined to rule the world.
So far, they haven't succeeded, but then, G.I.Joe has never entirely
destroyed them, either. If one believes the comic book origin of Cobra
Commander, he was once a used-car salesman who went around the bend after
his brother was killed in a tragic automobile accident. Raising funds
through pyramid marketing and telephone solicitation (I mean, really, how
evil can you get?!), he built the Cobra organization into the global
threat it is today.

This 12" Cobra Commander is actually a very traditional representation
of the character, with a considerable resemblance to the original 3-3/4"
Cobra Commander figure, which was released first as a mail-order figure
in late 1982, and was brought into the regular line by 1983. The blue of
the uniform and helmet is exactly the right shade. The helmet and
faceplate may be a little on the large size, but heck, the man's got to
breathe in there somehow. The helmet is removable, but the face plate is
not. Pop off the helmet, and you'll see a network of hardware encasing
the head. The message is clear -- nobody sees Cobra Commander's face
unless he wants them to.

While Cobra Commander traditionally has a large Cobra insignia on the
front of his jacket, that would've been a little difficult with this
uniform design. Instead, there are Cobra emblems on both sleeves. The
four pockets on the jacket are actual pockets, although I think you'd
have a hard time stuffing so much as an M&M in any of them. And you
probably don't want to do that. Chocolate stains rather badly.

The cape is the only rather odd part of this outfit. It's not really
designed to unfurl as one might expect. It's harnessed around Cobra
Commander's arms, and is rather narrow until it gets below the waist, and
then it expands a bit. It doesn't really look bad, but it does look a
little peculiar. The gold braid of the uniform is attached to the cape.

A belt with an actual metal buckle holds dual pistol holsters, complete
with pistols. These, along with Cobra Commander's eerie staff, which I'll
explain shortly, are the only accessories.

The design and fabric of the uniform are both interesting. There's
something about the cut of the coat, the high boots, that vaguely
resembles a Nazi uniform. But the Nazis never wore blue. Still, the
symbolism is there, intentional or not. The fabric is a material that I
might normally expect to find on some brands of raincoat. It's almost
like a woven plastic, and has a slight sheen to it. This does not mean
that I recommend leaving your Cobra Commander figure out in a
thunderstorm to see if the outfit is waterproof.

The hands are molded in black, to resemble gloves, and the overall image
is one of a complete mystery man. No skin is exposed. No facial features
are visible. This is someone who is presenting the image of himself that
he wants you to see, and is in total control of that. He won't let you
know anything about himself that he doesn't want you to know. Scary, frankly.

This Cobra Commander is part of the Venom vs. Valor collection, and as
such comes with a large staff that contains the venomizing formula. It's
a cute gimmick. The clear chamber at the top of the staff appears to be
filled with a thick green fluid, and yet if you invert the staff, the
fluis seems to disappear. Of course, the fluid actually only fills the
perimeter of the chamber, so there's not as much of it in there as it
appears, so it can easily drain into the top of the staff. The only real
problem with the accessory is that it's too top-heavy. Cobra Commander
can't really hold it up that well without his arm coming down.

The situational report on the back of the package card for Cobra
Commander reads: "Cobra Commander was furious when Sand Scorpion troops
returned to the base, groggy from sleeping gas that the GI Joe Team had
fired on them. Brandishing his venom-tipped staff at the troops' human
commanding officer, Cobra Commander snarled, 'If you can't lead them,
then you'll join them!' He sprayed the officer with hybridizing liquid
and watched the results with great satisfaction."

Boy -- tough-love. To find out just who exposed those Sand Scorpion
troopers to the sleeping gas, read the review of the 12" Wild Bill
figure, posted separately.

Cobra Commander's file card reads as follows:


Primary Military Specialty: Intelligence
Secondary Military Specialty: Ordnance

COBRA COMMANDER is the ruthless egomaniac who leads the evil forces of
COBRA in their bid for world domination. Devoid of conscience or
scruples, he will stop at nothing to achieve his terrible goals, going so
far as to order the twisted genius Dr. Mindbender to experiment with
combining human and animal DNA to produce more savage warriors for his
legions. A roiling mass of contradictions, Cobra Commander is
intelligent, yet oblivious to reality; passionate about his nasty aims,
yet cold to people; perceptive of the minor faults of others, yet blind
to his own foibles. He is basically a small-time hustler and card-cheat
who has risen to greater power than was ever expected - but the same
could be said for many infamous dictators of the past.

"The G.I.Joe Team has no chance against us. What do they stand for,
fairness and honor? Euphemisms for weakness!"

So, he's not the nicest guy on the block. Or the planet. It's still a
cool action figure, and if you're going to have any supply of 12"
G.I.Joes based on their 3-3/4" counterparts hanging around, then you
really sort of need to have their main enemy, right? So check out your
local K*B Toy and see if they got any of this Cobra Commander in like
mine did in late March!

Good luck, and YO, J -- I mean -- COBRAAAAA!