Yes, I know, I’m pretty unabashed in my love for the G.I. Joe: Classified line and I’ll readily admit that I’ve enjoyed pretty much every figure they’ve released so far.
But, from time to time, one figure rises above the others, and evven in a line full of great toys, there is a new one that stands above the crowd. The G.I. Joe: Classified Zartan is just about as close to a perfect G.I. Joe toy as you can get.
Zartan has always been one of my favorite characters in the G.I. Joe lore. The way he walked a narrow line between good and evil (he was always better evil, however) his near-supernatural shape shifting abilities, his twisted sense of honor and loyalty, as well as the way Larry Hama interwove his backstory into Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.
Zartan was the epitome of everything I loved about G.I. Joe. Just the right hint of supernatural, just the right hint of futuristic sci-fi–a mix of weaponry and martial arts skills. I love Zartan and I really, really love the G.I. Joe: Classified representation of him.
Very much like Destro, the design for Zartan leans heavily into his vintage look, giving him the familiar brown hood, eye make up, layered chest armor, etc… But also like Desro, they’ve gone an extra step in adding some really interesting modern flair throughout a pretty familiar looking design.
In some cases, the changes are subtle, like the layered texture throughout his hood that really gives it a third dimension. Other changes are more obvious, like the reinforced armor on his forearms and the spectacular snakeskin texture on his gloves.
The figure is a nice, solid size, though not as big and bulky as Gung Ho or Roadblock. I thought at first he might be built on their buck, but in fact it appears as though his bare torso and arms beneath the armor are completely new tooling. Paint applications are very familiar, with brown pants, black armor (though some of that armor has a great, understated metal “sheen” to it).
Again, the benefits of the larger scale really show through with the vast amount of sculpted texture that really bring the figure to life. You can see where there’s metal, where there’s fabric, and even the different changes in fabric texture. Though the figure is mostly two colors – brown and black, the variant shades and sculpts beneath those textures tells a really great story.
Like most Classified figures as well, Zartan can carry every single accessory he comes with, between a great sheath on his belt and a peg on his backpack (more on that awesome backpack later), not to mention the snake’s head and monkey’s paw that adorn his belt as well.
From a design perspective, Zartan is an absolute home run.
As with the other Classified figures, Zartan’s articulation is pretty much perfect. The armor is sculpted in a way to not hinder the way he moves and he’s capable of achieving almost any pose you’d want. His large shoulder pouldrons are een designed in a way to move with his arm movements so he can look imposing standing still, but also stretch his arms out in nearly any fashion.
My goodness, the accessories Zartan comes with a pretty close to perfect. No, he doesn’t come with a ton of gear, but he comes with just enough, and you get a fantastic combination of warm nostalgia and cool new touches to go along with it.
The backpack is, just as it should be. Very evocative of his original 1984 version, it even holds the mask just like that previous figure did. The mask fits perfectly and while of course it won’t fool anyone, it really leans heavily into that classic toy functionality and I love it. Zartan comes with a pistol that’s very much like his original version as well, plus the bad ass knife that slips into his holster.
New additions are both the monkey’s paw and the snake head, which are elements that tie him into his swamp background and give him a bit of a cool “voodoo” edge. Such a neat touch. He comes with the same scarf as the COBRA Viper, only in brown instead of gray, which is removable if you don’t like it. The hood also comes off, yet it stays on his head perfectly well, too, for some added variability.
How much praise can I heap on this figure? It ticks every single box you’d want it to tick. You like the vintage look? We got it. You like the modern “G.I. Joe: Classified aesthetic”? Got those bases covered, too.
I honestly cannot think of a single complaint about this figure. In a line that has already impressed me with nearly every single offering, somehow they just managed to one-up themselves. Not only that, but this is a standard release figure, which should make it easier to acquire. I know when first announced there were pre-orders across the board at Pulse, BBTS, Entertainment Earth, Gamestop and others. Word is that the figure can already be found at Walgreens as well.
Hopefully this is a sign of things to come as far as avaialability goes.
Meanwhile, I am thrilled to add this figure to my growing roster of COBRA agents. Classified is once again gaining ground as perhaps my favorite iteration of G.I. Joe since the classic days. Watch out, Sigma 6, it might be gaining on you!
G.I. Joe Classified COBRA Infantry
This figure is just about as perfect as you can get. A great, timeless character, some nice vintage throwbacks, but with some really great modern twists. The perfect allotment of accessories, fantastic articulation– yeah, Zartan is where it’s at.
– Amazingly detailed sculpt
– Increased scale provides opportunity for nicely layered paint and sculpt techniques
– Right mix of vintage and modern
– Love the accessories — would have REALLY loved a compound bow
Army builders rejoice! The fandom was about ready to revolt when it came to the Target exclusive COBRA Trooper, but once the Infantry was revealed, I felt like at least some of the heat was off (at least for the few minutes before Hasbro revealed the COBRA Viper…)
The best thing about this figure is perhaps the realization that Hasbro is willing to re-release these exclusive figures at mass retail, and in paint schemes that closely resemble the other versions. While this COBRA Infantry is clearly quite different than the COBRA Trooper, it’s not markedly worse, it’s just– different. Although they did make some subtle changes, they kept it consistent enough that it still blends well with the previous version– in short I think Hasbro handled it pretty much perfectly.
While I suspected Hasbro would re-release the COBRA Trooper in an easier to acquire format, I was a little nervous about what they would do to the color scheme. I was worried about the potential of a black deco or even something stranger, and to my absolute pleasure, Hasbro elected to stay VERY close to the previous version.
No, it’s not exactly the same, but honestly, that’s okay. It’s close enough and while there are different paint applications, there aren’t necessarily less of them, so the figure looks just as nicely detailed as the previous version, which is a very good thing.
I find myself really loving the different flesh tone of the updated Infantry as well, and the colors are close enough that if you want to mix and match throughout the Troopers and Infantry, you can create a nice, eclectic mix of COBRA cannon fodder.
Comparing both versions, simply by looking at the paint deco I find myself appreciating elements of both. While I much prefer the metallic shine to the armor for the exclusive ersion, I don’t find the muted blue of the Infantry that much worse, it’s just different.
While I like breaking up the blue uniform with the black vest, the blue vest looks nice, too, especially with the added colors in the gray straps, it does a good job making the vest look more realistic and less monotone.
Design-wise, the COBRA Infantry has everything the Trooper does. Fantastic modernization in the head sculpt and face mask. A terrific looking tactical vest with holster (front and back) and knife sheath. Fully decked out combat togs, looking much more like a military operative than its vintage counterpart.
Interestingly, this shift away from “blue pajamas with black suspenders” kind of brings into question the need for the COBRA Viper. Back in the 80’s I always saw the Viper as more of a front line “ground pounder” sort, a trooper better equipped for an in the trenches firefight, while the old school COBRA was perhaps more behind the scenes.
These Classified updates seem to align the two infantry in a much closer way, which isn’t a bad thing at all, I still love them both and enjoy them both, just an interesting twist to the COBRA hierarchy.
As with the Trooper, I am almost astounded at the level of intricate detail work throughout the figure. Not content to be vanilla with the uniform sculpting, it seems like every inch of the figure is absolutely lathered in different textures, from the ridged shoulder pads to the dinged up metal forearm and shin guards, all the way to the tightly sculpted wrinkles and surface of the military pants.
Every inch of this figure is simply etched with spectacular detail that really brings it to life and shows what’s possible in a larger scale figure.
The COBRA Trooper, when it was first released, instantly rose to the top of the list for my favorite Classified figures, and even with the adjusted paint applications, the Infantry holds close to that position as well.
Like the Trooper, the COBRA Infantry has terrific articulation and the ability to drop into any manner of great poses, either firing or otherwise.
The drop-leg hips, butterfly shoulders and impressive knee and elbow joints completely redefine poseability and only serve to further accentuate the sculpt. The way Hasbro has been able to marry sculpt and poseability is really impressive all the way across the line, and COBRA Infantry is no exception.
This is perhaps the only real “detraction” I can point out about COBRA Infantry versus the COBRA Trooper.
Yes, the Infantry comes with fewer accessories. It lacks the cool sniper rifle, the red arm band, and what I think is the most glaring ommission — no awesome snake themed goggles. Honestly, I’m totally fine with the sniper rifle and arm band missing, those can be explained away by the fact that the Trooper is perhaps elevated in rank.
But the goggles? Man, I really wish they’d included those. I was fortunate enough to get a couple of the Troopers, so I’m more or less okay with this, but if I hadn’t gotten the troopers and could only get the Infantry, I would have been bummed that none of my COBRA foot soldiers came with those bad ass verticle slit goggles. Yes, I think they’re that cool. It may be a silly hill to die on, and I’m certainly not going to say you shouldn’t buy the Infantry because of that, but I do wish they’d been included.
Aside from that minor complaint, the Infantry comes with the same knife, pistols and non-sniper rifle (and of course the helmet) which suits me fine. Yes, the pistols and the rifle are pretty “science-fiction” but I’m okay with that. They look like they could potentially exist in some real world “ten years in the future scenario” and are certainly no more ridiculous than a good number of the vintage accessories we’ve seen over the years.
I love that this figure exists and that it exists so close in color and aesthetic to its exclusive predecessor. Hasbro is in a sort of a no-win situation. It’s becoming clear that in order to ensure a line’s place in certain retail establishments, those retail establishments want exclusives. Yes, at this point, with the six Target figures, there is a very high ratio of exclusives to standard figures. But I am in such love with the Classified line, I’m okay with that, because it’s six figures we likely wouldn’t have at all at this point , and to me, the more the better, at least for now.
Make no mistake — Target exclusives are the bane of my existence. I have no local stores and the website is useless, but I’ve still loved every single one of those figures and have managed to acquire them with little difficulty.
That being said, I’m thrilled that Hasbro is doing things like the COBRA Infantry, and giving folks easier access to those awesome figures while still maintaining a pretty awesome design aesthetic.
This COBRA Infantry army builder will fit in seamlessly to your COBRA ranks, and I find myself actually looking forward to seeing what Hasbro has in store for the inevitable Viper repaint, not to mention Beachhead, Baroness and Firefly. I bet they’re coming.
G.I. Joe Classified COBRA Infantry
For many collectors, this will be their first opportunity to acquire this particular figure, and I think Hasbro has done a terrific job of releasing this update in a great color scheme while still maintaining the unique elements of the Target exclusive version. While I really, really love the Target exclusive version, there is absolutely no reason not to army build the Infantry to your heart’s content. A lot to love about both.
– The same great sculpt and design as the Target exclusive
– Lots of subtle paint detail that brings the figure to life
– Army build without buyer’s remorse!
– I prefer the metallic colors of the exclusive version’s armor
– Comes with fewer accessories and I do miss the awesome goggles
Ah, so we’re starting to see a theme here– take what are certain to be the most popular army builders in the line and make them difficult to find exclusives. Got it. Solid plan.
In fairness, if designing exclusives for Target is what gets Target to carry the line, then I’m okay with that, even if it’s a feat of frustration and acrobatics to try and get the figure. Actually, I have a confession to make when it comes to the COBRA Viper.
I broke. I did it. I paid scalper prices (at least for one of them). What other choice did I have? Yes, I know it only encourages them, but without a local Target store accessible to me and with none of my friends even able to find one for themselves, it was time to face facts– I got lucky with the COBRA Trooper, Roadblock, Beachhead, Baroness and Firefly. That luck was not going to get me any further on the Viper.
That being said, about two weeks after I clenched my teeth as I was clicking the buy button on eBay, Robot Kingdom got a two pack of Firefly and COBRA Viper in stock, that while certainly not MSRP, wasn’t exactly what I would call a “scalper price.” Thus, I’ve got two. Eventually I’ll have more.
The reason I’m not so twisted up over it is because Hasbro’s track record, at least at this early stage, is that they will eventually release the army builder in the main line assortment. The colors may be a bit different, but not terribly so (if COBRA Infantry is any indication).
Heck, they already have card art for the Viper on the back of the package with red boots instead of black– could that be an indication of what we’ll see in a normal retail assortment?
I feel like I have to specify — I do not regret spending scalper prices. I am 100% in love with the G.I. Joe: Classified line and if I have to break the bank for a figure, I’m prepared to do that. The rest of my figures have been more or less purchased at MSRP, which considering where I live, is pretty impressive. It always boggles my mind when people complain that these figures are impossible to find. If you shop online, it’s actually quite easy.
I have TWO (2) Wal-Mart’s and ZERO (0) Targets within a 70 mile radius and I’ve been able to buy every single figure I wanted (while needing a little extra effort for the Target figures). I haven’t been dependent on brick and mortar for my toy collecting in– maybe ten years? Why start now?
All that being said– I suppose rather than harping on how easy or hard it is to find a Viper, I should talk a little bit about the figure itself.
After all, I paid more money for this figure than I have any other Classified figure to date. Was it worth it?
Oh, yes. Oh my goodness– yes.
The COBRA Viper is a key example of what sorts of cool things are possible with this tooling re-use formula that Hasbro is utilizing with the G.I. Joe: Classified line. I believe the figure uses Duke’s tooling from the waist up, with a fresh secondary on the torso as well as the forearm guards that slide over the existing arms. It saves some money on tooling, but completely reinvents the figure in a perfect way.
While the COBRA Trooper was almost a total reinvention of the old school COBRA aesthetic, the Viper leans a lot more into its vintage roots, but still manages to look nicely modernized and updated to fit into the near-future Classified design scheme.
Key design elements like the textured forearm guards, thigh pads and boots are very much a COBRA Viper hallmark, and they’re portrayed well here, giving the figure a unique look.
The COBRA Viper’s headsculpt is again, a nice throwback to its vintage look with some added texture and a nice mirrored finish on the facemask. The goggles are removable (though I added a dab of super glue because they tend to fall of at a moment’s notice).
I find myself really loving the tactical vest as well with its elaborate straps, textures, ammo pouches and a sculpted COBRA logo near the bottom of the vest, all providing spectacular modern twists to a familiar vintage aesthetic.
Back in the day there were some questions about how the COBRA Trooper and COBRA Viper- co-existed. Clearly, back then, the COBRA infantry was clearly a less armored and less “tactical” operative while the Viper was geared out for real front-line combat. In G.I. Joe: Classified the lines get a little bit more blurred as both the Trooper and the Viper appear almost equally tactical. That being said, it gives me great pleasure to heave both within my COBRA roster, I think there’s definitely room for both.
In a way, it seems odd to have a section in these reviews for articulation — after all, nearly every Classified figure maintains the same high standards for articulation and COBRA Viper is no different.
The COBRA Viper manages to balance fantastic design aesthetic and almost flawless articulation, with none of the great range of motion impacted by any of its various secondaries. Butterfly shoulders, double jointed knees, elbows, rocker ankles, the neck joint, hips– this tactical COBRA soldier can achieve nearly every pose you’d want.
I feel it necessary to point out that there is just something different about the way Classified figures are engineered that I’m really drawn to. Whether its a result of the gear they’re typically wearing, I’m not sure, but they feel larger, bulkier, and almost more solid than the typical Marvel Legends releases, yet in spite of that thicker buck, they maintain an impressive array of articulation that is prevelant throughout each and every figure release.
So here’s another double-edged sword.
One item of note about the COBRA Viper accessories — the goggles on his helmet are removable. In fact they are so removable that I elected to use glue to hold them to the helmet. That’s why you don’t see them in the image above. Of course, his removable gray scarf is also easily removable, I just plain forgot to include that in the above image.
Beyond those two items, the COBRA Viper comes with a pretty vanilla weapons compliment, including a backpack that’s nicely evocative of the vintage version (with some great updated colors rather than the plain, drab black). He also has a futuristic rifle and the same pistol that Duke and Beachhead both come with, only this one in pure black. With the same leg holster as Duke, this figure can hold his pistol very well, and interesting, the rifle has a removable magazine for a nice little extra touch.
The accessories lack the creativity of Firefly and yes, the rifle is a bit more “laser rifle” than assault rifle, but as with other examples, I’m cool with that. This rifle doesn’t look wildly space-aged (like Roadblock’s) and it’s a design that I’m more than happy to live with.
Considering how close the standard COBRA Trooper is to a “tactical” special operations kind of soldier, I’m honestly quite surprised Hasbro dipped their toes into the “Viper” waters this early in the line. With COBRA Trooper, Red Ninja and now COBRA Viper, it’s getting easier and easier to grow an army (well– it would be easier if you could– you know– actually buy the Viper somewhere). There are still some key core characters in the COBRA hierarchy missing, but you can rest assured when guys like Major Bludd, Scrap Iron and others arrive, they will have plenty of troopers to command and control.
I’m happy to say, though, regardless of how much I question the choice to go with a Viper this early, the fact remains that Hasbro absolutely KILLED this figure from an execution standpoint. Sculpting is flawless, the combination of new parts and re-used tooling blends to give us one hell of an update to the vintage figure.
I’ve said it hundreds of times already, but I just want to reiterate — G.I. Joe: Classified is hitting every single high point for me. I understand some folks are frustrated with availability (which, I should note, is likely a good deal due to the global pandemic that people seem to comfortably forget about when complaining) but the figures that have been released are just about as close to a perfect combination of vintage and future aesthetic as I could ask for.
I think people are pretty aware of my diehard love for Sigma 6… I know it’s still early in the line’s history, but these figures are nudging very close to Sigma 6 for one of my all time favorite iterations of the brand. Keep ’em coming.
G.I. Joe Classified COBRA Viper (Special Mission: COBRA Island)
Yes he’s only available in very limited instances through Target, but the COBRA Viper remains a highlight of the line and a figure I greatly hope to see Hasbro repaint and re-release at some point in the near future. He’s a fantastic army builder that every collector deserves to fill their shelves with, without paying the hefty after-market prices.
– Great sculpting, parts and a nearly perfect paint scheme
As if Hasbro wasn’t already creating controversy by going back to the well with the Target “COBRA Island” exclusives, but they had to go and split the fandom over their iteration of Firefly as well. That’s right, everyone, disagreements abound in regards to this version of the COBRA saboteur, yet for some reason, collectors are still beating down the door at Target to get their hands on one.
I will admit, Hasbro’s propensity toward Target exclusives seems dubious, especially considering their choices for characters. Both Baroness and Firefly are, without a doubt, core members of the COBRA cast of characters, yet so far, they’ve both only been available in limited numbers (and wholly unavailable via Target.com). Now, I’m not one of those people who throws barbs and insults and threatens to boycott the line, though I’ll admit, the Target hooplah is getting a little tiresome, especially for those of us who don’t even have a local Target within 70 miles of our home.
Thankfully, in the case of Firefly, someone has been able to hook me up (thanks, John!) but for people who don’t have those connections, I can see why frustration is mounting. At some point you simply either accept the fact that you’ll have to pay hefty secondary market prices, or that you’ll just be content without certain figures.
Granted, Hasbro has already demonstrated (at least with the COBRA Trooper) that they are willing to re-release store exclusives in the mass retail line, and evidently with few enough cosmetic changes that the figure is still highly desirable. Granted, the COBRA Trooper is the only case of that so far, but here’s hoping characters like Firefly (and the Baroness) get similar treatment.
Enough about that– what about the figure itself?
There are days when it feels like perhaps I’m following a completely different toyline that most of my collecting compatriots, especially when it comes to Firefly. I’ve heard no shortage of outrage about his “bomb suit” and how a sneaky saboteur would never wear such clunky armor and how it’s a complete and utter abomination to the spotless reputation of Firefly.
Hmm. Right. Well, I don’t buy it. First of all, Firefly doesn’t exactly have a track record of being super sneaky saboteur all the time. Certainly I’m not the only one who remembers the neon 90’s versions (which were AWESOME figures, by the way, get outta here with that hate) or the fact that Firefly bulked up for his G.I. Joe: Resolute version, G.I. Joe: Renegades version, AND his Pursuit of COBRA version.
Also– I mean– G.I. Joe and COBRA ain’t real world. There’s fantasy here and that’s okay, and personally, as long as the character looks bad ass and has awesome looking “near future” tech I’m generally okay without it being a slavish adoration of the real world or the vintage aesthetic.
Firefly ticks those boxes in a huge way. I really, really love this figure. First and foremost, I don’t see him wearing a bomb disposal vest.. it’s armored, for sure, but it allows plenty of range of motion, with a level of protection he might need just in case one of his bombs blows up in his face. It’s bulky and armored, sure, but I think it looks awesome, and that’s really all I can ask. The layered pouches and dinged up armor plate add some great versatility and character to his look, while his shoulders and hips remain fully poseable.
Head-to-toe, Firefly feels like a terrific evolution from his vintage aesthetic. I am absolutely in love with the head sculpt, the angry sneer, the hint of some sort of scarring, the layered fabric balaclava with a mix of standard gray and camouflage. It all looks terrific.
Beneath the armored vest, his gray camouflage is done amazingly well, given off a real urban camouflage aesthetic. I think most folks can tell that the underlying figure belongs to the previous COBRA Island iteration of Beachhead, with the commando-sweater style sculpt on the chest and arms, which suits Firefly to perfection.
As all the G.I. Joe: Classified figures are, the articulation, smoothness of joints and range of motion is simply fantastic, allowing Firefly to drop into all manner of great poses, either for firing, sabotaging, or whatever else you have in mind.
The sculpted texture really stands out at the larger scale as we see several different styles of “fabric” on his arms and his legs (not to mention the armored vest). The result is a figure that, although is colored mainly in different shades of gray, really has some unique styling that takes a timeless character and infuses him with great modern styling.
If I have any complaints, I’m not a huge fan of the weird texture on the boots, I’m not entirely sure what Hasbro was going for either here or with Beachhead originally, but that seems like an odd, relatively minor quibble.
As I already touched on, Firefly has terrific articulation, even with the large vest he wears on his torso. His shoulders can still move thanks to flexible shoulder pads, and even with the front and back flap of the armored vest, his hip movements aren’t hindered in the least.
Firefly has double joints pretty much everywhere, allowing for fantastic poses and firing movements, making him a really great toy to either play with or pose. Certainly the vest hinders his ab crunch somewhat, but it’s not like someone wearing that vest would be able to bend fully over in real life either.
G.I. Joe has always revolutionized articulation, even from its 1960’s roots, and while the Classified line certainly borrows from Marvel Legends, I think it still takes things to a new level, really blending the articulation with the sculpting to the highest possible benefit.
So here’s another double-edged sword.
Firefly is both made and broken by his accessories, and in my opinion there is so much more good than bad. I’ve already talked about his vest, which isn’t so much an accessory as it is a part of him, but there are other pluses and minuses as well.
Firefly comes with a backpack, a bundle of old school TNT, a tablet control, a drone, night vision goggles, and a pistol. What truly continues to amaze me is the way the G.I. Joe: Classified design team goes above and beyond to make all of the accessories fit on the figure. The tablet control fits into the backpack while the drone connects to the top and the bomb connects to the bottom, all while Firefly holds the pistol and wears the night vision goggles.
The interactivity of these accessories is truly awesome and does a terrific job bringing the character to life. Many complaints that I heard throughout the modern era of G.I. Joe was that in many cases the weapons compliment felt just sort of thrown in. Everyone just came with a bunch of weapons, there wasn’t much uniqueness there.
That all changes here. Firefly comes with gear that feels truly uniquely his (though I wouldn’t be surprised to see it repurposed elsewhere at some point). The fact that he can control the drone with his tablet, pull the goggles over his eyes, etc… is all so great and gives him a wealth of “play value” even though people tell me I’m too old to play with my toys.
That being said, I’m not a huge fan of the pistol he comes with. I’m pretty forgiving with the “future tech” style weapons, but Firefly’s is just sort of– I dunno. It really does nothing for me.
As I continue to say with each of these reviews– the presentation is truly striking. At first the idea of multiple artists felt a little off. But Hasbro has proven me wrong time and time again and Firefly is no different.
Yes, the fact that this figure is only available in limited quantities at Target is frustrating. Believe me, I know. I don’t even have a local Target to shop at.
That being said thanks to the kindness of friends in the G.I. Joe community, I’ve had no issues getting every figure I’ve wanted from this line so far, and I’m thrilled for that. Firefly is yet another fantastic update and upgrade to the classic version who manages to look very much like his old school rendition, but with just the right modern updates.
Bulky tactical vest or no, I LOVE this figure. He’s versatile, fun to play with and makes a great addition to my growing COBRA roster.
G.I. Joe Classified Firefly (Special Mission: COBRA Island)
This version of Firefly is a terrific update from the original. I truly love his accessories and the sculpting, and while the paint applications feel pretty straight forward and not especially risk-taking, they work for the character. Wish he had a better pistol.
– Great sculpting and parts use
– Fun accessory compliment
– Head sculpt full of character
– Target Exclusive
– Not a huge fan of his pistol
– If you do remove his vest, paint apps are lacking
G.I. Joe: Classified has really endeavored, in it’s relatively short history, to try and walk that line between classic familiarity and new, modern elements. Gung Ho is a great example of how they try and marry those two different era’s.
Early artwork for Gung Ho on the back of the package indicated that Gung Ho might actually have a shirt. At the end of the day, Hasbro went with the more familiar open-vest concept, which has created its own share of disruption among the fandom.
At the end of the day, I think fans need to accept that while these Classified iterations are certainly inspired by classic characters, they’re not necessarily designed to be exact replications of those older school characters. During my reviews of these figures, I’m going to endeavor to measure them on their own merit and not necessarily in comparison to the character’s history.
Gung Ho is a perfect example of why I want to take that approach. It would be easy to rail on this figure because he doesn’t have the right tattoo (the USMC logo is now copyrighted..) or that he’s got the wrong hat (he’s not wearing a Marine cover as the old figure was) but at the end of the day do either of these things impact the overall coolness of this action figure?
Maybe. But not in the ways you might expect.
From a pure “coolness” standpoint, Gung Ho is fantastic. In my mind, he’s almost the perfect blend of classic inspiration and modernized enhancements, with his open vest being layered with some great plate armor to give the figure a more 21st Century feel.
Grenades are on his shoulder strap, and while the base figure for Gung Ho is essentially Roadblock, there is some terrific additions that make this figure stand out. This is a perfect reason why using the rubber secondaries on top of the base figures is such a terrific formula.
First of all, the new head sculpt obviously goes a very long way to take this familiar base figure and give him a more Gung Ho look and feel. The high and tight haircut, the mustache and the determined scowl on his face are all great additions that manage to immediately separate this figure from the previous Roadblock version(s).
The familiar hat is removable here, which is a nice touch, too, even if technically the hat he wears is not a Marine hat.
The rest of the figure is nicely adorned with some of those additional secondaries I mentioned above. Many of these secondaries were also used on the COBRA Island Roadblock, so there’s some great consistency, but also a nice variation here as well. The wrist communicator especially is very cool, and the grenade strap on his thigh (on the opposite thigh compared to Roadblock) add great variation. I also really love the removable elbow pad on his left elbow.
One complaint folks have also had is with his tattoo. Understanding that the familiar USMC logo is now copyrighted and unable to be used on the figure, I think they could have done a bit of a better job on the tattoo, though this one doesn’t bother me too much.
I love the color scheme on this figure, too. Where many of the first releases had some bright, gold armor and some vibrant colors that many folks found jarring, Gung Ho is very muted and subtle, with some great camouflage on the legs and more blacks and metallics, making the figure feel a bit more real world and less “video gamey” than some previous releases.
From a design perspective, Gung Ho is an absolute home run.
Gung Ho’s articulation is spectacular. Using the larger figure buck, he feels solid and rugged, but retains exceptional range of motion. The open vest retains the chest crunch, and he has the same double jointed knees and elbows as other figures, the rocker ankles, swivel wrists and ball joint shoulders as well as the multi -jointed neck and head.
There is so much to love about this figure, and the articulation is a big source of my satisfaction with Gung Ho.
As great as the Classified line has already been, the biggest prevailing argument among fans is certainly focused on the weapons. There is a delicate line to walk between real world weapons, which might be frowned upon by retailers and buyers these days, and more sci-fi weapons that are more easy to explain away as fantasy.
The challenge comes in finding that right balance. Hasbro has struggled with this with some figures (see Roadblock) but has done fantastic work with others (see Duke). I’m happy to say Gung Ho leans far more towards Duke than he does Roadblock.
His three weapons would never be mistaken for anything real world, but do resemble those real world weapons, even if they are based somewhat on some of the Nerf gear Hasbro sells. The three weapons resemble a shotgun, a bullpup style rifle and what looks like an automatic style grenade launcher, which is a great tie-in to his vintage version who was well known for his own grenade launcher.
Along with the weapons, he’s got a backpack with places to store the guns, which is something Classified has done very well along the way, having an available spot to store all of the various gear. Lastly, I suppose you could also consider the removable hat as an accessory as well.
All things considered, I really like Gung Ho’s accessory compliment. A great blend of sci-fi and real world and some just plain fun weapons to boot.
Like the other figures in the Classified line, Gung Ho has some terrific and unique packaging art, this time courtesy of James Paick who does a really great job blending real world military with the future sci-fi artwork. Gotta love the Mamba in the background as well. Great stuff.
The moment I saw initial images for this Gung Ho figure, I was digging it. I really love the layered armor vest, the removable hat, the weapons, and just the overall look and feel of the figure.
No, he’s not powder blue, and no, his hat isn’t 100% accurate to Marine standards, but the figure is a whole lot of fun and has some terrific gear and makes for a nearly perfect addition to the G.I. Joe: Classified roster.
G.I. Joe Classified Gung Ho
Terrific figure. Takes the spirit of the original and adds so many neat, new twists that I just can’t help but love the end result. One of my favorite Classified figures so far.
– Larger Buck serves the character well
– Removable hat and accessories blend fantasy and realism well
– Great paint deco
– The tattoo could be better (or give him a shirt!)
– The hat doesn’t bug me, but I understand why folks don’t like it
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.