G.I. Joe: The Pursuit of Cobra Steel Brigade

I have no idea how Hasbro does it, but somehow they do. They take a concept I really had almost no appreciation for (the Steel Brigade) and merge it with another concept I have absolutely no appreciation for (G.I. Joe faceless troopers) and manage to make a figure that really works and actually encourages me to army build.

Army build. A G.I. Joe figure. Wha-- ?

I've been known to army build some Cobra troopers in the past, but I've always stood adamantly against the mere notion that G.I. Joe would employ an "army" of green shirts or nameless troopers...that kind of went against the whole "best of the best" notion. Yet over the past several years, both Hasbro and the G.I. Joe Collectors' Club have teamed up against me and made me love the Steel Brigade. Made me love it so much that it now places a critical part of my G.I. Joe dio-story universe.


Yes, like any other kid in the 80's, I sent away for my very own Steel Brigade figure. I named him "Maverick" (yeah, I was a Top Gun fan back then, so sue me) and he was of course, an expert sniper martial artist loaner who was the best field commander Hawk had ever seen. But as cool as the potential for the Steel Brigade idea was, the figure was unfortunately pretty crappy. Especially in the mid 80's after the main line Joes had undergone the whole shift to bulkier, beefier body types, the Steel Brigade figure looked remarkably underwhelming. Combine that funky helmet and those weird colors (powder blue and tan? Really?) and you had a figure that really held little appeal for me as a kid. And that lack of appeal lasted all the way until 2005.

Then the G.I. Joe Collectors' Club got involved, and basically single-handedly ignited my love of the Steel Brigade idea. See in their corner of the world, the Steel Brigade was an International Special Forces group, comprised of men and women from all corners of the globe. More of a security force and less of an "Action Force" type of combat squad, the Collectors' Club brought Gung Ho and Dragonsky together, and also managed to introduce the idea of G.I. Joe "Troopers" in a way that didn't totally piss me off. Imagine that.

This idea carried over into my Dio-Story universe where the Steel Brigade works in conjunction with the "Renegades" (no real relation to the cartoon or to Sgt. Slaughter) and ends up as a completely off the books Black Ops team who works both with and against G.I. Joe. And when a global threat emerges...well, you gotta figure they all work together to fight it. Anyway, my own ego aside, Hasbro has done their own share of cool Steel Brigade related items, including the DTC 6-Pack, the Pit Commandos from the Rise of Cobra line, etc... but this guy definitely takes the cake. He is the primo Steel Brigade bad ass, and makes me a fan almost unconditionally.

The base tooling for the figure relies heavily on the Cobra Shock Trooper figure, which I opined was a great figure, though not especially "Cobra like". Well, turns out that somewhat generic sculpting allows these awesome parts to be reutilized for other figures, and reutilized very well. Besides the PoC Wave 3 Snake Eyes torso, Steel Brigade here is all Shock Trooper, and he wears it well. Very poseable, very modern, and a fantastic update. In looking back to the original as well, Hasbro elected to pay some tribute with some smatterings of powder blue throughout the figure, but they didn't go overboard, and they balanced it off with some darker blues that brought the whole color pallet down to a more reasonable level. Along with this, the heavy load of awesome dark green on the flak vest (also belonging to Shock Trooper) and the tan of the legs just gives this figure a great urban look, while still bearing some resemblance to the original.

Along with the revitalized tooling and the improved colors, this updated Steel Brigade is absolutely loaded with punishing weaponry. He sports Airborne's M4 rifle with the bayonet, as a callback to the original weapon he came with back in the day, and the same can be said for the backpack. The Shock Trooper vest looks incredible with the standard military color scheme, and slinging Duke's bandolier over it once again gives him a slightly more familiar look. The Resolute collar is a great final touch, too.

With the standard assault rifle, he also has the huge Squad Automatic Weapon with tripod, and Zap's awesome rocket launcher with removable missiles in the backpack. Now, one might ask why load him down with all of these weapons? Simple really...if you're army building this guy, the more different weapons you have the better you can load out your squad. Makes sense to me.

Perhaps the coolest aspect of this figure to me is actually how he looks without his gear. Just as a straight up figure, I love the way Steel Brigade looks, and I think it could easily pass for a generic "base uniform" for any Joe out there. When Joes aren't out in the thick of battle, and are in support roles in The Pit, I could see them all dressing kind of like the Steel Brigade here, with a basic commando sweater and khaki pants. It is a very good look, even underneath all of the window dressing.

Five years ago I would have scoffed loudly at the idea of a G.I. Joe "green shirt" trooper. It was something that always bugged me about the Sunbow cartoon. But with this re-envisioning of the Steel Brigade concept, I see the whole idea working well, and it just happens to fit into my personal G.I. Joe canon pretty seamlessly.

Like what you see? Buy this figure now at BigBadToyStore!