I can't quite recall a fandom firestorm like the one that the Rise of Cobra Cobra Commander generated, not just within the G.I. Joe crowd, but across the geek spectrum. Insults were hurled, childhoods were raped, and all over the internet it was evident that the Generation X crowd did not approve of this new direction for the leader of Cobra.
Even myself, being a devout Hasbro fanboy wasn't wild about the design. But I still thought he made for a pretty cool toy. Now that the Rise of Cobra has officially come and gone, I can say without hesitation that while I absolutely hate the revamped origin story for Cobra Commander (and thus, Duke and the Baroness) I find myself more and more drawn towards this toy version of Cobra Commander, especially with the Pursuit of Cobra tooling updates.
Of course, you need to take "tooling updates" with a grain of salt, because the only real new aspect of the figure is his head, but it's enough of a change to improve this figure drastically.
One thing that kind of gets lost on some fans is the fact that they were going for a snake motif, which is obvious. The large, empty eye sockets, the slender, reptilian sculpt...they really wanted to make his head look serpentine, but were only moderately successful. The first version had that semi-opaque facemask, too, which only barely concealed the Hamburglar face underneath. With the more modern update, we get a very nice retooled head, looking more menacing and even more snake-like, and it's vac-metallized which not only hides his burned face underneath more effectively, but also is a great tribute to ole mirror-dome from the good old days. The head sculpt is an improvement in pretty much every single way.
Beyond that, the changes are mostly cosmetic. He sports the same dress slacks and wingtips as his predecessor, which is an odd combination, though not necessarily a bad one. His cybernetic torso, which I think much more like battle armor than merely a Darth Vader-esque breathing apparatus, is shown off in fantastic detail with the shiney red vac-metallization effect. Sure, the figure still looks pretty weird without his jacket, and I must admit, the name "Cobra Commander" isn't necessarily the first thought into my head when I take a look at him.
It is interesting to note just how much more popular this version of Cobra Commander seems to be when compared to last years. The retooled head and the torso are really the only major differences, but it's enough to draw a lot of folks into the fold, which is nice. I think if this figure weren't Cobra Commander, but was perhaps a new Cobra general or "Cyber-Viper" type of character, the fans would be going wild for it. As Cobra Commander, most folks have a justifiably hard time rationalizing the new appearence.
For the Pursuit of Cobra, which seems to be a much more detail-oriented, gritty story line, I think this works in certain ways, and I can see Cobra Commander donning this "fear armor" to be more intimidating in the battle field.
As I've mentioned several times, a lot of the lure of the Pursuit of Cobra figures are with their accessories. But this is a place where Cobra Commander falls short. Originally slated as a mail away, the Commander was going to come with everything you see above, plus a bad ass miniature HISS Drone. Well, with the new packaging format for the Pursuit of Cobra retail release, there wasn't room for the drone, so instead we just got what was left over, which isn't a heck of a lot.
He's got his jacket and full color staff...the familiar Rise of Cobra pulse pistol, and then some strange two-handled weapon that is supposed to be some sort of next generation offensive rifle. I actually think it looks kind of cool, but ultimately there really isn't enough here, especially when compared to many of the other PoC offerings.
Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention the packaging for Cobra Commander as well... as was stated, he was originally planned as a mail away exclusive, with some very cool exclusive packaging to denote his special status. Well, Hasbro informed us at JoeCon this past year that he would no longer be a mail away, but would be a "chase figure" instead. The fandom was somewhat up in arms about this, but now that Pursuit of Cobra has hit retail, turns out he's really not so much of a "chase". He's coming packaged one per case (same as Alley-Viper, Firefly, and Snow Job) yet thankfully he still maintains this very cool new card art.
The Cobra logo is dynamic and colorful, and this package stands out remarkably well against the blue cardbacks that the other figures are shipping with. The back of the card also still keeps the cool "Pursuit of Cobra" theme going. All in all, this figure has terrific presentation that will hopefully lead to increased sales based on perceived rarity. I'm very glad that, even with the packaging format change, this figure still has a very cool look, when compared to the original:
Is this Cobra Commander as I would envision him? Probably not. Is it a bad ass looking figure with some great new deco and an awesome head sculpt? Yeah, it is all of that. Combine that with a very unique package, and you have a great figure, an excellent display piece, and a very cool addition to your Pursuit of Cobra corps. I do wish there was another nice accessory to make up for the missing HISS Drone, and I certainly understand fandom complaints about this new look for Cobra Commander, but by and large this is a fun figure that I really enjoy.
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