All the way back in the mid 80s, during Season 3 of the Transformers animated series, the Sunbow writers made their clear link between the G.I. Joe and Transformers universes by introducing both Marissa Faireborn (daughter of Flint and Lady Jaye) and even more directly bringing forth the character of “Old Snake” a mysterious former terrorist who looked and sounded remarkably like COBRA Commander. Leveraging the whole idea of Synthoids only went to further that story.
Seems like forever that fans of both properties have been clamoring for some kind of official toyline joining the G.I. Joe and Transformers lines together. Certainly there have been some heavy homages over the years (including the Combiner Wars Viper figure just released last year) but this joint exclusive between the G.I. Joe Transformers Club and the G.I. Joe Collectors Club was the first time the joint effort was made somewhat official. Yes, there were ComicCon boxed sets (that were pretty awesome), but is the first real in Sunbow continuity attempt to make both universes gel.
Both this installment as well as the Marissa Faireborn/Afterbreaker pack use Season 3 of the animated series as a heavy influence.
Long before 80s nostalgia fans dreamed of ways for G.I. Joe and Transformers to co-exist, Sunbow tied the two universes together during Season 3 of the Transformers cartoon featuring the mysterious “Old Snake” an obvious connection to COBRA Commander. It only seems right that if the Collectors Club were to revisit a joint G.I. Joe/Transformers series that they start by building off of that old school connection.
Old Snake appeared back in the 80s as a man in a reflective mask with a hat and trenchcoat, with some easily identifiable COBRA Commander trademarks and just enough additional disguise to not be too obvious. The Collectors Club uses these trademarks in developing this figure.
COBRA Commander’s head with Rise of COBRA Storm Shadow torso/coat and arms give the figure the familiar face and trenchcoat. Underneath the coat they use Resolute Snake Eyes legs to represent a baggy pair of blue pants underneath. While the Rise of COBRA Storm Shadow jacket does restrict movement quite a bit, due to the nature of its design, the elbow joints and knee joints are nicely poseable and utilize some relatively modern parts.
The color scheme is gray throughout the coat and hat, with the pants a familiar blue, looking a lot like COBRA Commander’s original uniform from the 80s and from the Sunbow series.
There aren’t a ton of accessories here, with the RoC themed laser pistol (which fits in the holster) the backpack that originally came with Retaliation Lady Jaye, as well as a pair of Energon cubes. I will warn folks to be careful with the backpack. The straps are very thin, and one of mine snapped when trying to put it on Old Snake’s back.
The end result of the Old Snake figure is a pretty effective looking version of the classic future-COBRA Commander character that looks and moves the part.
I’ve always had a weird relationship with Transformers. I’ve never been especially attached to the familiar G1 aesthetic, mostly because I collected them as a kid and their restrictive movements always left me frustrated when attempting to “play” with them as a youngster. As a result, while I was captivated by Transformers for a short period of time, it was a hobby that went out of vogue around the same time as Transformers: The Movie killed off all my favorite classic characters. Hasbro’s marketing scheme backfired in that case, and instead of being inspired to buy a whole new cast of characters on store shelves, I merely retired my Transformers collection and moved on to other things.
However, in the 90s my Transformers love was reignited by Beast Wars and in the years since I’ve collected most Transformers that jived with their animated appearances. I didn’t do the Energon trilogy stuff, but I did collect Transformers: Animated and Transformers: Prime. Because of my interest in Transformers: Prime, I was already familiar with the figure that the Stealth B.A.T. is based off of, Transformers: Prime Soundwave. As a Transformer that uses a Predator type drone as an alt mode, it makes a lot of sense in the G.I. Joe aesthetic. The Soundwave figure doesn’t necessarily look a lot like classic fans view Soundwave, so there’s no conflict there with the classic G1 universe.
The size of the figures works well, too, because they are a little larger than your standard G.I. Joe figure, but not so large that they fall out of scale (or out of the price range) of the collectors who want to buy them. As with most of the recent Transformers offerings, articulation is pretty great here, too, with nice knee, hip, and elbow joints. Clearly the Club is using deco to translate this figure to a B.A.T. type android, using the familiar black and yellow paint scheme with a semi-translucent red face mask, as we often saw in the Sunbow animated series.
The transformation is relatively straight forward for an inexperienced rookie Transformers fan like me, and both modes work pretty well. The Predator-style drone looks like it would fit within the aesthetics of the modern G.I. Joe universe, and would be an effective COBRA weapon even in vehicle mode. I could see the Stealth B.A.T.s being used in vehicle mode as surveillance, then transforming and attacking in a devastating new way in robot mode.
The small detachable mini drone is a cool touch, too. With the original Soundwave figure it was basically a Transformers: Prime version of Laserbeak. Here it’s a separate spy drone component that adds a neat new element to the figure and is also a cool (if perhaps unintentional) throwback to the old school Night Raven.
At the end of the day, the two Stealth B.A.T. figures look like somewhat oversized attack robots that you might find in the G.I. Joe universe, and the paint scheme works as a B.A.T. type offensive weapon, too. It’s a nice combination of base figure and paint scheme and adds some interesting twists to the Old Snake pack.
These Stealth B.A.T.s manage to be a nice combination between Transformers design and G.I. Joe aesthetics and is a really nice marriage between the two in both robot mode and alt mode. It’s a fun and flexible toy that works as a bridge between two universes, but also is just a flat out fun G.I. Joe themed action figure as well.
All in all, there are some great vintage homages here as well as some great new elements. Something that appeals to many different crowds. This set is expensive, to be sure, but I’m finding it surprisingly enjoyable and a neat new take on the typical G.I. Joe stuff.