Discount Store/Dollar Store Cobra Trooper (Running Change)

The Cobra Trooper is such a core piece of the G.I. Joe mythology, I always remain surprised that it had some difficulties finding a perfect plastic representation. The original '82 and '83 versions were, of course, iconic, but dated and didn't necessarily fit with modern displays. Pushed aside by the Cobra Viper in 1986, the Trooper would be relegated to Python Patrol appearances, and then pretty much nothing all the way up until the Valor Vs. Venom line.

In that series, Toys "R" Us put out the pretty much perfect Infantry 6-Pack, which represented O-Ring Cobra Troopers in a nearly perfect light. Classic elements from the vintage releases, with new heads and different arms, that made them more current and improved them 110%. Then there were tooling issues at the factory, and as soon as we had the new perfect vintage Cobra Trooper, it was gone again. Then we saw an okay version in new sculpt format, built off of the Ghost Bear tooling that didn't really work all that well for what it was intended.

Frankly, the less said about the original 25th Anniversary Cobra Trooper the better. Non-poseable arms, funky bald heads... yeah, no good.

Later on in the 25th Anniversary line, things looked better, when we got the excellent Resolute Cobra Trooper, and the Battle Pack #5 Cobra Trooper, but again, that last Battle Pack was almost impossible to find at retail so that didn't do much good either.

Then came the Pursuit of Cobra, and the world of the Cobra Trooper would be forever changed. Using existing Shock Trooper and Snake Eyes tooling, Hasbro developed what would become, in many eyes (mine included) the perfect representation of the Cobra Trooper. Extremely well articulated, great detail in the sculpt, the newer 25th Anniversary head sculpt. Yeah, it was pretty much perfect. With the original Dollar General figures, I was a bit surprised that we got a straight black repaint (reminiscent of the Sideshow Collectibles Sniper version of the Cobra Trooper) instead of...say... a more standard Cobra Officer. With the financial restrictions involved, though, I could see how they might want to save a more traditional Cobra Officer for retail release, and heck, with the webgear used on the Sniper repaint, collectors could create their own Officers at home, using the soldiers for the base body (even though the Cobra symbols would remain red).

Then we got to this repainted version. Yes, it wears the Cobra Officer webgear and helmet logo, even if it labeled as a Cobra Trooper, more through semantecs than anything else. But many folks questioned the coloring. Yes, it's very reminiscent of the old school comic pack deco Cobra Troopers and Officers, with with the blue masks, blue gloves, and blue boots, it didn't have the real accuracy to the source material. Well, here's the catch with running changes, as I understand them. You can't increase paint applications on the running changes. They're not "variants" which are produced differently. They must involve the same production process. What that means is that since the original Cobra Trooper was the same color throughout the mask, the body, etc... this version had to be as well. But that doesn't mean it's not accurate to the source material. The trick is finding the right source material.

Early television ads featured a very unique Cobra Trooper. A Cobra Trooper with a blue facemask and blue gloves:

So, in spite of the figure not looking just like it stepped out of a comic book or cartoon, there was a basis for it, which is pretty neat.

Now that I've wasted like 700 words talking about the history of the Cobra Trooper, perhaps I should talk about the figure itself? I mean, it's not any different, construction-wise from what we've seen before, but that's okay because the construction is awesome. As I said, it has great range of motion and articulation throughout the figure, with the new wrist joints, and even though the colors are bright, I think they're pretty great. I'm a sucker for animated model figures.

Like his darker colored older brothers, this Cobra Trooper has a nearly flawless base construction, and I'm glad Hasbro is still getting these figures out to retail in some fashion.


The Cobra Trooper doesn't come with many accessories, but he's got just the right ones. The blue helmet, the fantastic yellow webgear, and the gray AK-47 all suit the figure perfectly and were fantastic choices. No, he does not come with the pistol or knife for his sheath or holster, but at the budget price these figures are selling for, hopefully fans have gotten over that. He comes with a great blank battle stand, too, either for this figure, or for other figures you may want to plop on there.

Grading these figures is pretty tough, to be honest. You have to remember how much they cost at retail and the constraints that went into producing them. No, they are (by and large) not the quality of main line releases, due to less paint apps and fewer accessories, but the fact that they exist at all is a credit to the Hasbro design team who conceived of them and made them happen. That deserves some credit unto itself.

I love this version of the Cobra Trooper, I love the animated aesthetic, and I'm a big fan of the magic that went into getting a figure like this into collector hands. Lots of great stuff here.