I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say that COBRA Commander is the most important character in the G.I. Joe mythology. It’s likely without COBRA Commander, the entire Real American Hero universe simply would not exist, which is why it’s puzzling to me that Hasbro struggles to nail the essence of the character so often.
I would argue that in the vintage era, after ’84 COBRA Commander was not given justice again until the mid 90’s, though I know a lot of folks love the Battle Armor look. I’m not necessarily one of them. In Rise of COBRA, the character essentially didn’t exist (Rex was a poor substitute) and in the Pursuit of COBRA, while I totally love the armored skullface bugsuit look, it doesn’t necessarily jive with the spirit of the Commander.
What about this one? Well, I’m happy to say, Hasbro, you did a good job this time around.
COBRA Commander is deceptively difficult to “get right” because the character means so many different things to so many different people. Sunbow fans see him as a bumbling moron who is barely able to lead a global terrorist organization, while comic fans see him as a sinister ringleader of a secret cabal of domestic and international terrorists.
Hasbro themselves would probably prefer to wipe the term “terrorists” from COBRA’s vernacular entirely, so you need to have a design that works for any of these elements (or all of them).
The Classified COBRA Commander utilizes the Battle Helmet style, which is certainly the most iconic, and while there has been some strangeness with this initial release (a lighter blue “regal” version vs the darker blue retail version) the end result feels like the right choice.
As mentioned, COBRA Commander is the battle helmet version and that ‘s a great choice. It’s mostly the same look at he’s always had, but with some minor changes to the helmet design, looking a bit more streamlined than he did back in the 80’s. I like that they also gave him a sculpted riser along the top of the helmet, which mirrors the Sunbow look nicely.
The figure itself remains pretty regal in appearance and actually takes some visual cues from the vintage Crimson Guard (which of course opens up the question about whether or not we’ll see Classified-themed Siegie’s somewhere along the way). There’s a separate strap and shoulder pad with cape that adds a nice flair to the underlying design, which makes me think they could use this figure as a Crimson Guard easily, just by putting a different secondary on top of the existing body.
I love the looks of the layered gauntlets with sculpted COBRA logo’s and like many of the six inch scale figures, Hasbro takes advantage of the larger canvas to introduce some really cool different textures throughout.
The material at the bottom of the coat and the shoulders is an awesome break point in the smooth texture of the dress uniform and resembles snakeskin in a way, which is a pretty awesome touch to the figure that adds some great detail.
I know there’s been some disagreement about the best color scheme for COBRA Commander, I’m really happy they chose this muted, darker blue shade over the “Regal” variation for the mass retail release. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the regal version as well, and have one on pre-order, but this darker blue meshes with the COBRA Troopers more effectively and feels a bit more real world than the more vibrant colors of the regal variant.
COBRA Commander’s articulation is fairly effective. The secondary strap limits his torso a bit, and the jacket limits his legs, but it’s not like COBRA Commander is doing head-high side kicks or anything. I will say the elbow articulation for COBRA Commander feels a lot more poseable and functional than others. I’m not sure if there’s an actual structural reason for that, or if the narrow sculpt of the arms just works really well with the elbow joint.
Regardless, the extra bend of his elbow allows for some much more interesting arm poses, which is a neat touch.
Unlike many of the other Classified figures, COBRA Commander comes with very few accessories. Pretty much all he comes with is a snake-themed knife, a snake-themed pistol, and two replaceable hands. Granted, COBRA Commander doesn’t need a ton of accessories and the ones they’ve chosen work really nicely.
I love the nasty curved blade of the dagger and how seamlessly it fits into the sheath on his strap. I’m not 100% sold on the pistol, its design is a little clugey, though I get what they were going for with the snake-themed sculpt.
What I REALLY love about COBRA Commander are the hands. There is so much potential for a wealth of interesting combinations that I’ve started to wonder why they don’t just include replaceable hands with everyone. They make a huge difference with the index finger, the closed fist and the opened fingers. It really adds some fantastic character to the figure. A small addition that makes a huge difference.
As with all other Classified figures, there’s unique artwork on the box and while I was a bit on the fence about this approach up front, those fears have been proven unfounded. The unique art on each box goes such a long way towards improving the presentation of the figure, though it seems clear by looking at the art that it was initially commissioned for the regal variant of the figure. Regardless of that, Dan Mumford did some fantastic work on the artwork for the figure and it adds a lot to the look of the figure’s package.
COBRA Commander is a central pillar to the G.I. Joe mythology and Hasbro has done a good job translating the character to a somewhat different format and different scale. He’s got plenty of classic old school vintage cues, but some really great modernization as well.
I find myself really enjoying this update– they’ve really done a good job with most of these updates and COBRA Commander is no exception.
G.I. Joe Classified COBRA Commander
I absolutely love this COBRA Commander. Some great inspiration from the vintage version, but with a nice modern touch. His removable hands are a great bonus.