Review: SDCC ’08 Exclusive G.I. Joe Cobra Commander

At the 2007 San Diego Comic Con, Hasbro’s G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary line was just beginning. Despite the line having only been on shelves for a few months, Hasbro still managed to roll out an exclusive figure for the con. This figure was Destro with a paint deco based on an error from the 1990’s, or the “pimp daddy” Destro as fan began calling him. It was a shout out to those fans who had collected the line for years, and they ate it up. This year at SDCC, the climate for the line was different. The 25th Anniversary line now boasts vehicles, five box sets, comic book two-packs and several waves of single carded figures. Hasbro decided to treat the fans to something special for their loyalty to the line with very unique version of Cobra Commander based on the character’s early appearance in the comics. This version of the Commander is just what an exclusive should be – the perfect version of a character available elsewhere, but an exclusive that was target to the loyal fan-base.

Hasbro continues the retro-style packaging of the 25th Anniversary line while also presenting some new artwork. The overall result will be appreciated by those who are ‘mint-on-card’ collectors. The bright yellows and reds contrast to the darker colors of the character art and the figure itself. The MOC presentation will display very nicely alongside last year’s Destro exclusive. Once the figure is ripped from his blister, its uniqueness among the other 25th Anniversary Cobra Commanders becomes more evident.

I won’t be unveiling any secrets by letting everyone know that this Cobra Commander isn’t even technically even a G.I. Joe. The body used was originally sculpted and tooled for the Toht figure from the second ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ series of figures. On this body is a new Cobra Commander head specifically for this version of the figure. Now, being that this construction is a bit of kitbash, some collectors may get up in arms about Hasbro’s re-using of parts and the impurity of the figure’s development. Sure, this is a kitbash, but so is a large percentage of the 25th Anniversary line. In fact, it is my estimation that a minimum of 45% of figures in the line re-use parts from existing ones.

This version of the Commander has a head that is not as dynamic as the one typically used for 25th Anniversary Cobra Commanders. However, this version of the character isn’t supposed to be on the front lines of battle, so the subdued and motionless mask works. As for the body, not using a typical 25th Anniversary sculpt sets this figure apart from the rest of the line. However, this difference is in places that are of little consequence. The key differences are in two areas; the legs are more stiff, but they are confined by the bottom of the jacket and the jacket offers a swivel instead of a rounded joint at the midsection. Indeed these are minor imperfections in a figure that is otherwise identical to the 25th Anniversary figures and he’s a unique and interesting addition this already extensive line.

While the figure itself is superb, the accessories that accompany this version of the Cobra Commander are unfortunately lacking. Looking at the podium in package, you’d think it was a solid plastic piece. It’s not and that was a disappointment for me. While the podium itself is plastic and solid, the Cobra emblem is a flimsy insert. Because I have not read the comic on which this figure is based, I was unsure if this was accurate. The removable mic is neat and, in defense of Hasbro, the podium can now be used in a variety of customized displays, if one chooses to remove the emblem from it. Given the body sculpt, the figure could be used to customize any number of politicians… in all sorts of creative manners.

Speaking of the comic, for a figure based on such a specific moment it would have seemed like an easy tie-in for Hasbro to give buyers a reprint of the issue on which the figure is based as an added bonus. After all, this was a Comic Con exclusive. Another accessory issue is the lack of a name base for the figure. This may seem like a small qualm, but for those who would have liked to display the figure without the podium, it is a noteworthy absence.

So there you have it. The figure is a mixed bag…. which in this writer’s opinion is perfectly acceptable for a SDCC exclusive. The exclusive model really exists for the die-hard collector, whose collections will still benefit from this addition despite its shortcomings. This figure is a unique version of Cobra Commander that will stand out among the endless repaints and re-releases in the 25th Anniversary line. Plus, he’s the only G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary figure thus far to re-use parts designed and sculpted for another line. Sounds like a pretty good exclusive indeed.

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Hasbro G.I. Joe Cobra Commander SDCC ’08 Exclusive!

You can read more of C.J.’s musings on film, toys and music over at stunksstage.com.