Over the years, some of my best profiles were in regards to Cobra Commander. I always felt the character had more depth than most anyone in the Joe universe and was among the most interesting. Now, though, I have eliminated that character from my Joe world. He was replaced with a character that I liked, but didn't really have a use for. The introduction of this figure, though, has changed that. While this isn't the best Cobra Commander figure, or even the best use of this Cobra Commander mold, it is a figure that has stuck with me and become an integral part of my collection.
Really, this figure isn't that good. He's a straight repaint of a pegwarming figure that just appeared about 1 year ago. On top of that, he's a tired mold in a color that's not exactly true to the character. Yet, I like this figure. That comes as a shock as my opinion of him after seeing the first online pictures was one of disdain. However, once I had the figure in my hand, I found myself liking him. Maybe it's the cape or the copper color, but something about his figure caught my eye. It could be just that I had such low expectations of the figure. But, I have found a new use for the Cobra Commander character in my Joe world now that this figure is part of my collection.
If you look at him, this figure suffers from some issues. First, he has the flat back from the 1991 Cobra Commander. However, the inclusion of the cloth cape helps soften that as it hides the flawed mold. The main issue, though, is the black forearms. They are molded black and don't mesh well with the figure's upper arms. This is the most glaring flaw of all as it does detract from the figure. His accessories work for what they are, though. His throne is a neat addition to a collection, even if it isn't very regal and the figure doesn't fit all that well into it. The other figures in the set have the same issues. The Baroness isn't that interesting as she's been done so many times. The Processional Troopers are a neat amalgamation of molds, but the colors make them less useful than they could be. Plus, they come with no accessories except for a flag. So, if you buy one set, you have some figures with flags. If you buy two, that's still all you have. As such, this isn't a set that is very rewarding with multiple purchases. 2, maybe 3 sets are about all anyone would ever need due to the specific nature of the figure designs.
The main reason I'm profiling this figure is because of what's currently happening in my Joe world. Every now and then, I get on a major plot roll due to the most minor thing. In this case, an early morning realization that the Processional troopers looked really good with a sniper rifle coupled with my contempt for the Crimson Guard lead me to the latest plot developments in my Joe world. As you may or may not know, my Joe world revolves around a Cobra that is very different. The original Cobra Commander was killed in combat a while back. A new Commander was promoted from within. This character was previously named Rector and had been the second highest ranking Cobra in the organization. He was elected to power unanimously and has begun to develop his power base. During Rector's rise to power, he relied heavily upon the Crimson Guard. This politically powerful group on Cobra Island gave Rector his backing and allowed him to climb the ranks. However, near the end of the original Commander's life, the CG's had begun to grow complacent. They had become lazy, corpulent synchophants who spent their days plotting and backstabbing other politicos inside Cobra Island. To a CG, their seat at a state dinner was more important than the training of the Cobra security forces. As such, the rank and file Cobras have grown to despise the CG's and their power base was beginning to erode.
In the meantime, the major Cobra player in my world, Ramen (portrayed by the Brazilian Flying Scorpion figure) had been winning major victories in South America. He and his utterly loyal commanders had won a respect from the core Cobra constituency and were highly regarded by almost all Cobras outside the CG ranks. With this popularity, Ramen was able to remain insulated from the changes in the Cobra hierarchy when Rector ascended to power. This was, naturally, of great distress to Rector as there was now another Cobra leader who actually had control of more Cobra forces than Rector did. What was Rector do to....?
This lead me to my most recent plot point. During a routine parade stop in his parade uniform (which is this figure), Rector narrowly avoided an assassination attempt by a low ranking Crimsonguardsman. This immediately brought down the house of cards and a huge plot called the Crimson Guard Rebellion was uncovered by Rector's secret police. (The Processional Troopers) Within hours, dozens of top ranking CG's were rounded up. In a matter of days, most were publicly executed by firing squad. During this, Cobra Island was under lockdown as the secret police searched for the ringleaders of the Rebellion: Tomax and Xamot. As Tomax and Xamot had once been Rector's most powerful political allies, this was shocking news.
As Tomax was about to escape the Island in the Baroness's plane, a cabal of assassins from Rector's inner circle found him. After killing his entourage of half a dozen of the most prominent CG's, the ninjas took Tomax and the Baroness prisoner. Two days later, Tomax was beheaded in a public square. The Baroness (long disassociated from Destro) awaits her fate. Xamot, though was not found. In his zeal to find the missing CG Commander, Rector revoked all Xamot's diplomatic immunity and placed a $1,000,000 bounty on Xamot's head. All of this has been in vain, though, as Xamot remains at large....
In the aftermath, Rector demanded that all remaining Crimson Guardsmen swear new allegiance to him. They were then sent back down to re-enter Cobra basic training as new recruits. They were completely at the mercy of the drill sergeants they had once commanded. These acts brought Rector a new sense of power as the base Cobra constituency felt that he was no longer a stooge of the CG's. This re-energerization will help Rector retain his power, even though during the hullabaloo, Ramen quietly launched Operation: Dark Cloud....
The history of this figure mold is varied. First released in 1991, the body still retains the remnants of the sonic backpack that adorned that figure. The back was fixed in 1993, but was lost again when the figure was repainted in 2000. In 2003, the mold was used for the Convention Cobra Commander in the Operation: Anaconda set. It was then given this new, more detailed head in 2004 when the figure was released in the 1st comic pack with the Baroness and a Cobra Trooper. It now appears in this set, though with a new, regal cape. That doesn't much help the fact that the mold is a bit stale. It has pretty much been used as much as it can be used and thee isn't much of a future for it. As such, I would prefer to see this mold retired. In fact, I think that the character of Cobra Commander could be retired from the ARAH-style re-paints for several years and collectors would not complain. He has just been done too many times and there aren't that many other molds out there of the character in ARAH-style that would do him justice.
The long term reality is that this figure will be very easy to find. That isn't to say that he necessarily deserves his fate. Hasbro produced less than 20,000 Processional sets for Toys R Us. Historically, this in a minuscule number. Were this figure produced in this quantity in the '80's, he be worth triple digits today. However, the fact is that there aren't many Joe collectors out there. As such, anyone who wants this figure will be able to acquire one at retail for an ample period of time. After that, there will have been enough collectors who army built this set with extra Cobra Commanders that the figure will always be very available on the second hand market. So, this figure really doesn't have much potential to ever rise in price much above the current retail cost. If you want this figure, the Processional set is available nationwide right now. You can also order it from Amazon.com now. Personally, I was very surprised to find that I actually liked this set. While it isn't the heavy army builder that the Infantry, Crimson Guard or even the Urban set was, it is the type of thing that lends itself to most collections. Even with the flaws, I recommend picking up one of these sets.