Wednesday, November 16, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe 30th Anniversary - Renegades Cobra Commander

Produced by Hasbro | Released September 2011

COBRA COMMANDER is the shadowy figure who runs COBRA Industries. To the public, he is known as the kind, generous Adam DeCobray. But the truth is that he is a ruthless megalomaniac who wants to rule the world, and will crush anyone who gets in his way.

GI Joe 30th Anniversary Cobra Commander
Rounding off the first wave of GI Joe: Renegades figures (yet confusingly released as Wave 2 of the 30th Anniversary line) Cobra Commander initially proved - at least for me - to be a rather difficult figure to track down. Everywhere I went, I saw an abundance of Fireflies and Dukes, yet Cobra Industries' shadowy leader proved quite elusive until very recently.

Was he worth the effort to track down? Read on and find out...

The weird mish-mash of styles forced upon Hasbro by - admittedly their own - decision to combine the lifelike 30th Anniversary range of toys with the animated GI Joe: Renegades figures continues to bother me. Whilst the front packaging is fine (if a little bland), the rear illustrates this odd approach perfectly, with the ''Collect Them All'' graphic being a very jarring combination of the two styles. No sir, I don't like it.

In terms of functionality, the packaging works fine and - thankfully - Cobra Commander isn't forced into a secure holding tray, so his limbs remain un-warped and the contents within are fairly well protected.

Sculpt and Design
The figure's sculpt is probably its own worst enemy, depending upon your views of the animated-look Cobra Commander. If you're not a fan of the redesign, you'll probably hate this figure, as it's a fairly accurate adaptation of the character's new look. For fans of the Renegades Cobra Commander though, this is a pretty accurate sculpt that captures the character's look fairly well.

All the costume foibles you'd expect is present and accounted for, with his double-breasted trench coat, cravat and jackbooted madness all being captured accurately. And whilst there's some nice detail - such as the creases and folds on his sleeves, his high collar detail and the ''skirt'' of his coat that gives him a very interesting profile - there are also some nasty-looking casting marks that mar the figure's look quite badly and really undo the initial positive impression the figure may make upon first viewing. I've seen independently produced toys and hobby kits that sported a better final quality this figure.

Cobra Commander also sports some rather problematic hand poses. Whilst both hands can (just) hold his pistol, getting the command staff to stay in his hands is a pretty major problem, which makes posing him rather difficult.

Characters with long jackets, skirts and trench coats will always have articulation issues. Whilst it varies as to how restrictive these pieces can be, in Cobra Commander's case it's pretty bad.

Hip movement is virtually non-existent thanks to the coat piece and although his knees and ankles are very nicely articulated, Hasbro could have simply cast his legs as a single piece, given how much the lack of hip movement impacts this figure's set-up. He can't sit down and his planted-foot pose options are pretty much limited to getting both feet on the stand's pegs. I know that's the price we pay for the figure's coat being accurate but it's a shame Hasbro didn't use a softer plastic to allow a little more movement.

His upper-body articulation isn't without its problems either. Whilst the arms are just fine (and include tilting wrist ball-joints) the coat's design again interferes with his articulation - in this case his collar prohibits a lot of head/neck movement, especially when the full mask head is used (see Extras and Accessories below.)

Hasbro's designers do have my sympathies, as - had they changed the figure's look to accommodate better articulation - this Review would be filled with complaints about how inaccurate the figure was. But at the same time, I'm sure they could have come-up with a more elegant solution that would achieve both the look and level of articulation this figure needed.

Things don't really improve when it comes to the figure's paintwork. Whilst the app is reasonably clean on the whole and the detailing on the Commander's buttons and coat details are all well-applied, the head is quite problematic.

For starters, his skin is white. Snow white. I know that Cobra Commander was suffering some unnamed illness in the show and he always looked pale but I never envisaged him having skin the colour of milk. It looks very strange when you place him beside a ''healthy'' Joe.

The other issue I have is that he's sporting a black eyebrow. The animated character appeared not to have any eyebrows or - if he did - they were not as starkly contrasted against his skin as they are here. The combination of the black and white paint makes him look less like a ruthless megalomaniac and more like a Mime. And although we all know Mimes are evil, that doesn't make them particularly good villains.

Whilst the full-mask head doesn't suffer from the problems the half-exposed face head has, my alternate head's paint app is very sloppy. Thankfully it's limited mostly to the underside - and so is hidden when placed on the figure's neck joint - but the issues are still present should you look closely.

Given how ''broad stroke'' the animation's colour work was, it's disappointing to see that hasn't translated to the figure.

Extras and Accessories
As previously mentioned, Cobra Commander includes a bonus/alternate head (the full-mask the Commander adopts later in the animated show's run) along with a pistol, snake command staff and a coiled cobra.

Both heads fall into that ''OK but not great'' category in terms of sculpt, production and paint app - odd palette choices aside. I personally think the full-mask has the edge in terms of looks, simply as the half-exposed head features such awful colouring but neither is particularly exciting.

Although the pistol is - I believe - a new accessory, we've seen the coiled cobra and command staff items before. Again, file under ''OK but not great.'' It's also disappointing to see that the snake's paint application is very messy with the paint being little more than a messy splodge on its head.

Cobra Commander also includes his own stand.

Final Thoughts
OK, here's the honest truth: I'm bored with this figure already and have been since about a quarter of the way through writing this Review. If that doesn't tell you what you need to know, then by all means read on (as it's only fair I explain why) but the fact that I'm having trouble mustering the energy to even finish this sentence speaks volumes about the Renegades Cobra Commander figure.

There's just a bland, half-arsed, lack-of-effort feel about the figure's design, implementation and production that leaves a very weak impression and whilst he has a few nice touches - such as the  way the sculpt captures his on-screen look pretty well (production issues notwithstanding) - the poor articulation and awful paintwork (both in terms of palette choice and application) make it incredibly difficult to recommend this figure to anybody. I know for a fact that he's going to sit on my display shelf - somewhere near the back - and I'll never go back and repose or look at him again, as he's just so utterly forgettable. And I'm sure I won't be the only one to feel that way.

I would say to even the most ardent of GI Joe collectors that should think long and hard before purchasing this figure. And if you do decide to pick him up, lower your expectations. Then be prepared for disappointment.

Blandness, thy name is Cobra Commander.

Sculpt and DesignB
Extras and Accessories B
Final ScoreC

Image Gallery


  1. I just have not made the move to buy any of these yet.

  2. The Duke is OK, Snake Eyes isn't bad (he'd be better with more accessories) but Firefly is really good.


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