Monday, December 9, 2013

1984 Stinger

There are staples of the Cobra army.  Certain designs in figures and vehicles were so well done that they are iconic to the Cobra brand.  Cobra Commander, Destro, the Hiss Tank, Cobra Troopers, Vipers and BATs all come to mind as items that are instantly identifiable as Cobra not only to collectors but to average people who grew up in the '80's.  The 1984 Stinger Jeep is another of these iconic vehicles.  Sure, it is based on the VAMP design and is not completely unique to Cobra.  But, it's perfect meshing of color with the Hiss Tank and complementary nature to the classic Cobra blue has created a vehicle that has taken on a life of its own as an essential part of any Cobra army.

The Stinger is pretty straightforward. It is a black jeep that holds two figures. The upgrades from the base VAMP body, though, are the brush guard on the front, an updated interior, the sleek doors and roof and the large missile launcher on the back that would turn the two troopers riding on the foot stands and holding the handrails on the back of the jeep into crispy critters the first time they were fired. Practicality aside, though, it is one sleek looking vehicle that blends perfectly with the FANG and HISS which comprised the bulk of the Cobra vehicles available at the time.

When I was a kid, the Stinger was in pretty heavy play rotation. It was a nice supplement to the HISS Tank and worked well with many of the Cobra figures of the era. In the fall of 1984, I took the Stinger to my Aunt and Uncle's home in Ohio. They had a tiny backyard that consisted of a brick pathway that surrounded a raised flower garden in the center. It was a great place to play with Joes since there was open dirt, lots of plants and rocks and the whole setting was raised up so it was easy to kneel down and not have to sit on the cold, fall ground. The Stinger was a huge component of the adventure. As I grew more and more animated in the play, my older cousin and her friend were watching from her upstairs window. I heard her friend remark how weird I was to play with toys. (I was 10 at the time.) It was a stinging comment and one that's stuck with me to this day. It was this experience that painted my view of the Stinger for a few years.

As such, the Stinger fell out of favor with me. In time, the vehicle was broken and got rather run down. At some point, I removed the bases from my original VAMP and Stinger and swapped them so the VAMP had a more detailed interior. After that, the Stinger remained relatively unused for a long time. As an adult collector, though, I gained greater appreciation for the Stinger. The solid design and great colors were enough to get me past the bad memories (As an aside, years later, one of my best friends in college turned out to be the high school boyfriend of the girl who made the snide comments about me years earlier. His stories helped ease some of the baggage.) The Stinger has since become a staple of my classic Cobra displays. The design is just too perfect with classic Troopers and Officers to not use.

The Stinger mold was used all over the world.  It was repainted in its entirety in 1986 as the Sears exclusive Dreaknok Stinger.  Other than that, there are decal variants from around the world.  There is also a mail in Stinger with slightly different colored doors and roofs.  (It is actually quite hard to find.)  Hasbro reused the mold in 1998 (paired with Vypra), but kept the basic black coloring.  After that, they never released it again.  During the repaint era, a Cobra blue or Crimson Stinger would have snatched up in huge numbers by the army builder crazy collector community.  But, it never came to be.  As such, while the Stinger remains iconic, it also has great potential that was never realized.

Stinger prices fluctuate quite a bit.  There was a time when you could get them mint and complete for under $15 with no problems.  Collectors got interested in the mold in the late '00's and prices spiked to a point where it was difficult to acquire a mint and complete version for under $50.  But, that peak was short lived.  Today, you can get them in the $25-$35 range depending upon whether it includes the driver or the blueprints.  It's not a terrible price, but one that makes it more expensive to army build than something like the Hiss Tank which has never really appreciated on the secondary market despite its popularity.

1984 Stinger, Stinger Driver, Stormshadow

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