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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Defense of Cobra Island: Modern to Vintage Review and Comparison

My posts with the league have been giving my mind a workout and I've been having some great fun but I think it's high time I get a review done. So it wouldn't be anything worth noting if it was any one figure or one vehicle so instead I'm doing a boxed set of 7 figures!!! But wait, there's more! I’m also incorporating comparisons of the set's modern renditions to their vintage counterparts.... 14 figures in total with some extras as well!

Cobra's Finest!

What I'm talking about is the Defense of Cobra Island boxed set from Hasbro which was released as part of the G.I. Joe 25th anniversary wave collection in 2008. This is the second set of the 2 part set originally constituting 14 figures; 7 Joe - 7 Cobra. I lucked out and got two of the Cobra sets for Christmas (thanks Amazon wish list!) I clearly wanted the Cobra edition not only because Cobra is just all the more superior design-wise but that this set included a trove of super sought after redux editions of classic not so mainstream Cobra troopers.
In all honesty, it is a great set but I can't say this isn't without some nitpicks...hence the need for comparisons and a review. I try to keep these reviews objective and don't want everything to just be "I love this Speeder Bike; I love that Rattler, etc."

Decent illustrations but I felt it needed something more...
I just gotta say the box art is so-so.... There actually really isn't any to speak of besides the kind of generic jungle/beach background behind the figures. The back of the box has copies of the characters file card illustrations with a little write up about Cobra Island...eh. Although I like that they are new illustrations and not recylced from the vintage set.  This is the common case with the 25th anniversary collection... The Rattler, Flight Pod, RAM, HISS all seem to have this issue with the clear window on the front showing the toy instead of an illustration. (The Sky Striker was different possibly because it was a Pursuit of Cobra line model however that illustration left much to be desired...as with Ace's remodeled body, lack of two seats and parachutes) I definitely would prefer the illustration considering the 25th anniversary’s primary existence is to reignite nostalgia value for us who collected as kids or are trying to pick up some of those sought after items we might have missed in our youth. The over the top, excellently drawn box art was a hallmark of GI Joe packaging and it's a shame it wasn't utilized here especially with a chance to have so many great Cobra troopers together.

The set consists of the following figures; Dr. Mindbender, Strato Viper (Air Viper), Lampreys, Range Viper, Battle Android Trooper (B.A.T.) with battle damage, Night Creeper, and Alley Viper.

We'll start with Dr. Mindbender. I actually had him as a kid with no accessories or cloak which made a shirtless, purple pant wearing figure never a real deal breaker when it was time to pick your figures for a game of war. His character was a bit so-so for me on the show and in the comics however his role was certainly necessary as a mad doctor for Cobra. His story went something like him being a skilled dentist who tested brainwave anesthetic on himself and drove himself crazy evil. Okay then. The figure is a well made representation on both counts with nice detailing, a fabric cape with metallic silver cobra logo ironed or embroidered on depending on the model and a dental drill weapon(the vintage figure has a tube and generator attached making him extremely awkward to stand much like soldiers with dogs on leashes or scrap iron with his missile launcher) The mold works for this figure and the 25th anniversary has the extra chest poseablity and separately molded shoulder straps and waist harness. Most of the 25th figures took this step to add removable vests, armor, helmets as well as added base plates and increased the size of the figures by a quarter inch.

Strato Viper (they renamed him Air-Viper for whatever reason) is one of my all time favorite figures. He was the first 25th anniversary figure I ever bought back when I was briefly content to have "a few figures on my computer desk" Ha. A big complaint is his the 25th's pistol... it falls out of his hand constantly which is a common problem I find with many of the 25th anniversary figures. Besides the weapon I loved every bit of design about this guy however for time's sake I'll say I already reviewed him at the end of my Night Raven review so follow the bump if your interested in reading my first toy review. . I'll just say he's one of two vehicle drivers packed in this set, the second one is coming up next.

Lamprey was a shocker with this set, I couldn't believe the extra mile they put into such a background figure... honestly, I can't even recall seeing a Lamprey on the show and only remember seeing a little write up on him in the G.I. Joe Order of Battle comic from Marvel. I had him as a kid and never even knew what side he was on as he didn't have a giant Cobra logo splashed on his gear and the silver and blue kind of puzzled me on his uniform design. After discovering YoJoe, pairing him up with his awesome sub-machine gun and getting my hands on a Moray Hydrofoil (I will review this one for sure as it probably is my absolute favorite piece in my collection) I appreciate his vintage figure likeness so much more. For the newfound appreciation I have for his old school version, the new one is mind-blowing.

The tubes and backpack can unhook

Nicely sculpted face under the removable mask
He has a removable facemask which is expertly molded in transparent blue plastic, a fully molded life vest, attachable air tubes and backpack, fully molded gearboxes and diving watch and a functional holster with cover flap and removable pistol!!!! This guy alone is worth grabbing the set. His modern version really makes him seem so much more like a diver and aquatic trooper than the old one which was just pretty much a pack-in vehicle driver.

Range Viper...I always had torn feelings about this guy. He (and Night Creeper, and Alley Viper) all came from the D.I.C. production of G.I. Joe and thus crappy animation and lousy stories. I remember this crazy story about a female Range Viper who was involved with Ambush and how they knew each other before joining Joe and Cobra...okay story but it was cool to realize there were female Cobra troopers.  The toy was cool but it was part of the modernization of G.I. Joe...88 to 90 still were good years with some very nice designs but these waves definitely have some figures I will have to "get around" to getting as they are kind of hokey to say the least. I got him and Downtown from a Hills department store as a child for 2 bucks and piece and I couldn't believe how many accessories they were jam packed with. Even as a vintage figure, he had a survival knife, tubing, huge backpack with what looked like M-70 rounds on it, a heavy duty machine gun, grenade launcher with detachable barrel clip and a L.A.W. with removable round! This was par for the course with late 80's Joes. His skull face really has a "army of two" look to it... didn't really scream "wilderness trooper" to me as his assignment is described and seems more like an urban assault trooper.

The 25th says Wilderness Trooper a bit more than the old school edition

Pretty kickin' mask

His modern counterpart simply updated the features of the old version with removable mask and vest, chest holster with detachable pistol, smaller backpack, a SAW gun with bi-pod and ammo chain and a reissue of his barrel clip grenade launcher. Great accessories, kind of missed the knife and rocket launcher but the new weapon and ammo belt is a nice touch. (although it makes him pretty tough to position around other figures)

The Battle Android Trooper or more commonly B.A.T. is a third edition for the 25th anniversary that Hasbro released. Previously he came as a classic reboot and also came in a red edition. This one features battle damage but doesn't have the quintessential changeable arm that the figure is so well known for.

Now THAT is some battle damage!
Cleaned up and ready to fight!

I kind of chuckled with the addition of battle damage because it was such a ridiculous feature on older toys like the TIE Fighter or X-wing when it pretty much was just stickers to make it look dirty, however they really make this robot look beat up with bullet holes and cracks in his chest plate and a half-blown off head which are both interchangeable with extra "fixed" pieces. Those poor B.A.T.s really took some blows on a show where nobody can die. Because of that they kill the hell out of those android troopers.

I am a sucker for those holograms! (as well as interchangeable hands)
The original has a special place in my heart because of two things. His obvious interchangeable arms which was such a cool feature (as it was with the Master of the Universe "Trapjaw" figure) but also he was a figure who had a very unique feature: A holographic chest piece to make his inner robotic workings look like they were 3-d and in motion! I could look at that all day! I was a total sucker for this stuff and although I never had any, always wanted Visionaries and Supernaturals figures for this very reason. The new one actually had a hollow chest with separately painted and molded gear pieces, nice detail but not nearly as cool.

Not a fan of this feature
Battle Damage!

The modern B.A.T. has a weird tube back pack that opens up and has three little purple grenades that look more like Ugly Fruit than anything else. I could do without it completely as the backpack opens on its own spilling the stupid things constantly.

Cool Ninja figure... I dunno how "stealth" he can be with that monster crossbow but it's Cobra so what do you expect?

Night Creeper, the Cobra Ninja trooper, was a pretty cool edition as well. Part of the 88-90 waves, he's a standout figure. Coming in full force with the Ninja craze of the 90's and well before the "Ninja Force" figure line; he made a good counterpart to Storm Shadow, Jinx and Snake Eyes. He came in a burgundy/grey camo theme with a cool helmet/headset and some nice accessories. These being; a barbed sword, a curved scimitar looking sword, a backpack with notches to hold the curved sword and a huge multi-arrow auto-crossbow. His modern edition is complete with matching accessories minus the barbed sword and he has an entirely different (and better) head piece with an actual head dress and externally molded chest armor.

Looks like slightly different head sculpts... I prefer the Rise of Cobra one personally.

I also have the Rise of Cobra special two pack figure featured which is just a blue repaint, with a slightly different head piece. He came packed with Shockblast (Shockwave). I never had him as a kid but he was one I always wanted as was the case with the next figure, Alley Viper.

Finally, we're ending with super cool and very pricey Alley Viper. He jokingly is featured as the number one most "Garishly dressed Cobra Viper" on toplessrobot.com due to his orange and blue camo pattern. Despite his colors, I think he is all bad ass!
Visors up!
The vintage edition featured a Removable visor, riot shield, crossbow backpack and sub-machine gun and everything about this guy reminds me of why I loved the 80's and G.I. Joe. I paid quite a bit to get him complete and even the modern double I had sold for nearly 20 bucks as he is a very sought after 25th anniversary figure. His 25th edition looks amazing and also has an added feature of a riot stick which attaches to the inside of his shield (nice touch) as well as has two removable knives on his vest and wrist but is not without flaws. His really can't hold his gun, his helmet is removable but way too loose, and his backpack (that now has a removable crossbow instead of the vintage one piece mold) can't hold the crossbow in place without a rubber band helping. Granted, he is on my shelf for display so his holding issues don't really affect me but for a kid trying to play with him, I could see this as a problem.

I also have him next to his Pursuit of Cobra edition figure which is a 25th anniversary repaint in a more suitable urban maroon, charcoal and black, he also came packed with a gas mask and non-visor helmet. The POC version is another pricey figure that costs around 15 on the aftermarket before shipping. Glad to see, people recognize Alley Viper for the great design he is.


  1. I'm not a fan of the ME Joes, but that Range and Alley Viper are pretty dang cool. Also where is your spot to get good figures in Scranton?

  2. Actually nowhere.... Most of my stuff comes from ecrater, ebay or amazon. TRU and Walmart are never stocked with any Joe stuff (same for Star Wars, I've been checking TRU every week for the past 3 months), it's crazy like 3 rows of pegs with maybe 6 Renegades Cobra Commanders and 3 Scarletts for the past 6 months Joe-wise. On very rare occurances, I've found a few figures worth getting.

  3. Yea, I lived in Scranton a few years ago and came up empty every time i tried Toysrus or walmart. The only decent place to find anything was Comics on the Green downtown.


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