By now, most of you are probably sick of me profiling foreign figures. I've tried, though, wherever possible, to only showcase those foreign Joes that I think integrate nicely with the standard, American figures. As international exclusive Joes are where my collecting focus has been of late, though, those are the figures that I'm most inclined to be using, and therefore, be profiling. Today's figure follows the tradition of many of the other foreign releases I've showcased here. He is a dramatic repaint of a classic American Joe that was released in Brazil as a Cobra: Relampago or the Python Patrol Ripcord.
In Brazil, 2 exclusive Python Patrol figures were released. Relampago was one and Gatilho, a repaint of Airborne, was the other. Both of these figures fill in the one gap that has always existed in the Python Patrol subset, a named leader. It didn't make any sense to me to have this cool unit of specially colored Cobras who had no named leader. In the comic, Darklon, was kind of connected to the group, but that was more of a way to work Hasbro's '89 figure offerings into Joe media that it was any kind of sensical plot device. Without a definite leader, I've always relegated my Python Patrol armies to the back burner. Sure, the Python Viper got some use, but the rest of the figures were obscure and unused. Now, with the addition of Relampago, I no longer have that problem. This guy has become the Python Patrol commander and allowed for some previously unused figures to have some new prominence in my collection.
However, I also see another use for this figure. I envision him as a new, very young, up and coming commander. He is an expert marksman, but a novice commander. As such, he is currently relegated to leading the Python Patrol and Cobra's sweeper forces. He is the guy who heads Cobra's security divisions. He is very low on the totem pole in the Cobra world, but he is very ambitious. Of course, he has allied himself with the character portrayed by his fellow Brazilian exclusive figure the Flying Scorpion. The character portrayed by that figure sees great potential in the young prodigy and constantly challenges him to further his career. As he advances, I see this guy becoming another of my new Cobra legions who will eventually rise up and take over Cobra Commander.
This figure is very nicely done. As you can see from the pictures below, his cammo pattern fits in perfectly with the American release Python Patrol figures. In fact, there is really no way for this guy to be distinguished in any way from a normal, run-of-the-mill American figure. That's what I look for in foreign Joes. Oddly colored monstrosities that have straight arms and vac-metal parts and are high priced don't compel me. I'm after figures that I can use alongside my other Joes and have them fit in. Were you to look at my Joe collection, you would see figures from the U.S., Europe, China, Argentina, Brazil, and India all co-mingled together. The reason is that I like Joe figures. Any figure from any country that is cool to me is something I want. If I see a use for a figure in my collection, then I'm going to go after them. Value, or perceived value, and rarity become less important when it is the figure itself you want: not the prestige of owning it.
It seems that Ripcord was a popular mold for South American companies. Not only was a slightly repainted Ripcord available in Argentina, the mold was redone in tan to create the Argentine exclusive Sokerk figure. The mold then showed up in Brazil for Relampago. Most collectors know that Ripcord was originally supposed to be included in the American Tiger Force subset. He and a newly named figure called Sabretooth, an '84 Firefly repaint, were pulled from the set, however, and replaced with the figures we are all now familiar with. This is pure speculation on my part, but the reason Ripcord may have been pulled from the Tiger Force assortment was because the mold was missing. Most likely, Hasbro just mocked up existing molds for the Tiger Force figures. They had a Ripcord and thought he looked cool. When the time came to produce the figure, though, the mold was down in South America and there was no way to get it back in time to meet production timetables. Again, this is pure speculation, but I think it would help explain why a figure as cool as Ripcord never saw re release in the U.S. while losers like Bazooka did.
As Brazilian figures go, Relampago is kind of tough to find. I've seen very few of them ever offered for sale. Of those, the only one that was in mint condition and complete with all his accessories is the one now in my collection. I've seen a couple of these guys with broken crotches and broken thumbs. Like the American Ripcord, Relampago is subject to broken crotches. After holding the figure, though, I've also realized that him holding his gun puts undue stress on the thumbs. That would help explain the horrid condition most of these loose figures are currently found in. Like all Brazilian figures, this guy takes some searching to track down, especially if you want him complete. While figures like the Cobra De-Aco fetch $300+ for a loose, mint, complete sample though they are fairly easy to find in the U.S., guys like Relampago don't have the name recognition for people to really search them out and pay high dollars for one. That is good, though, for if you have the patience, you can actually acquire this guy for a fair price that will not force you to store him in a safe deposit box. Again, that's the way Joe figures should be.
While what I wrote about this figure's availability back in 2001 was accurate, we are now 6 years removed from that and Relampago has become easier to find. Now, mint and complete figures appear with regularity and they can be purchased for as little as $50 plus shipping from Brazil. For that price, the figure is still a bargain as it is a great way to grown an American Joe collection with figures whose look fit in with the line as a whole. As such, I wouldn't waste this figure's availability. A few years, there were always 2 or 3 mint, complete Relampagos available. Now, you only see a couple every month. While I don't see this figure rising in price as his availability dwindles, I certainly don't see him getting any cheaper. So, the time to act is now.