Wednesday, April 30, 2008

1991 Dusty

The original Dusty figure is a classic mold from the most popular year of the Joe line's original run. The Dusty character is fairly popular overall, too. During the vintage line, Hasbro was wont to keep their most recognizable names fresh. But, as the line progressed, many of the updated versions of classic characters produced figures that were less than memorable. In the case of Dusty, though, the updated version of the character is actually a high quality design that perfectly matches his specialty. Unlike the clunky original figure, this new version is rather sleek and looks more like a rough and tumble desert fighter. But, it's so obscure that most collectors simply gloss right over it.

There is no denying that the original Dusty is an iconic standard of the Joe line. The new sculpt renditions of Dusty were more true to the original design than any other and it is likely that if we do see a Dusty in the Anniversary style figure sculpting, he will hearken back to the classic '85 look as well. But, that doesn't mean that this newer version of Dusty isn't a solid figure in its own right. Many great figures from the line's later years were overshadowed by the original version of that character. But, this was often a testament to the incredible quality of the original design. Many of the figures created after 1982 were designed in the perfect storm of toy sculpting budget, increased awareness of the military and media exposure. The impossible to recreate standard takes many figures from ordinary toys and transcends them into iconic looks that are forever associated with particular characters. For figures like this later version of Dusty, it is an unfair standard of comparison. But, it has left this figure as a way for the modern collector to either re envision Dusty or to create an entirely new desert fighter.

As a figure, this Dusty isn't perfect. No desert survivor worth his skin would dare wear a sleeveless tunic leaving his arms exposed to vibrant desert sun. The folly of this uniform flaw is made more glaring by the fact that this version of Dusty features red hair. The fair skin that accompanies such a trait would be burned to a crisp in the desert sun if left uncovered. Really, this is a minor point, but one where the style of the figure was considered over the practicality of the design. The red hair is a rare feature in the Joe line and the subject of controversy. The original Dusty figure featured black hair and that is the look that most collectors associate with the character. The red hair, though, is a more distinguishing characteristic and gives the figure a bit more personality. (It also offers a way for the enterprising collector to use this figure as someone new and have him appear alongside the original Dusty in any adventures.) For me, it's something of note about the figure, but nothing that affects his characterization in any way. Beyond that, the figure mold is rather stark and simplistic. He features the standard straps and holsters with a molded chest grenade. The figure doesn't feature that many colors or paint applications. But, the look is still well enough designed for you to believe that he would blend into a desert environment. The final touch is the beret. It is a far cry from the cloth bearing battle helmet of the original. But, it makes this figure appear more sleek and modern. This isn't a soldier who will go into the desert for weeks to fight. He is a quick strike expert who is in and out rather quickly. It is a different look for Dusty and one that helps offer the diversity that many characters designed for such specific themes lack.

As I live in the desert, you'd think desert figures would have more use to me. Until recently, they were a larger part of my collection as my backyard featured desert landscaping. But, this has changed as I put down some grass to help with the heat. Now, most of my desert surroundings are in the front of the house. That has once again reduced the significance of desert figures in my collection. However, as you look at Hasbro's take on desert themed figures over the years, you realize how far the paint application technology has come. All of the desert figures in the vintage line, including those from the final years, had very basic cammo patterns applied to them. The figures were nice...but, they were not overly intricate. When you compare this Dusty to the desert cammo applied to figures from the Desert Patrol Set, you realize how much more Hasbro can do with paint applications these days. I'd very much like to see some of the vintage molds like the '93 Duke, this Dusty and even a few other, non desert figures, receive modern updates using this new cammo type. It is unlikely that will happen at this point. But it does show that there is still a great deal of untapped potential in many of the original figure molds.

In my collection, this figure has remained relatively forgotten. I acquired my first version back in the late '90's. He went into a baggie and was put away. I acquired another version shortly thereafter, but sold him off back in 2000. Since then, I have not had another of these figures come my way...even though I was notorious for buying large collections of 1990-1993 figures during my heavy Joe buying days. Since this figure remained relatively unavailable to me, I don't have much in the way of stories regarding the figure. My main memories surround the modern, non desert versions of this mold. I do have difficulty, though, seeing this figure as Dusty. I still prefer the original version and find it hard to replace many of the '85 characters with later renditions since that was probably the main year of my childhood Joe collection. As a new character (named Sandstorm rather than leaving that name for a coyote....) this figure works better for me. It allows me to use the high quality mold and accessories without precluding the appearance of the equally well done original Dusty figure. But, the truth is that this figure hadn't been out of his baggie since the turn of the century when I opened him up for this profile. So, while the figure is good, it isn't one that will likely ever occupy a prominent place in my collection. And, since you don't see this figure appear in too many pictures, dios or stories in the community, it seems I'm not alone in that.

This figure includes decent accessories. At the time, the gun with a movable stock was quite innovative and it is the only example of such technology in the vintage line. However, Hasbro has made Dusty's rifle, pistol and backpack the de facto standard for their modern renditions of Cobra Troopers and Officers. As such, these days, it's hard to see Dusty's accessories as anything other than somewhat common. (His weapons have also been reissued with a variety of other figures in various sculpt types. So, black versions of the gun, pistol, stock and pack are EXTREMELY common.) It's hard to realize that, at one time, these weapons were as distinctive to this version of Dusty as the FAMAS with bi-pod is to the original version. Dusty also included a coyote named Sandstorm. This cur has been repainted a few times as the modern take on Snake Eyes' trusty wolf companion Timber. So, all of this Dusty's accessories were reused in the modern line for a large variety of purposes, factions and figures. The original versions, though, remain the only uses of these molds in the desert brown. So, at least this figure retains that bit of originality.

This Dusty mold has seen decent use. After it was used to make this figure, the body was used around 1994 to make the Chinese Flint figure. After that, it was pulled into production in 1995 as part of the Street Fighter Movie line where it was used for the under appreciated Rock Fighter Guile. Hasbro dusted the mold off again in 2000 where it was part of the A Real American Hero Collection and again in 2002 when then head was used for the Night Rhino Dusty and the entire body was used by Master Collector for the highly underrated and very hard to find Paratrooper Dusty. At some point, this mold was also considered for release in 2001 as the driver of the Desert Striker. This mold in new "chocolate chip" cammo was seen at an early 2001 toy convention. The figure surfaced again as part of a diorama at the 2002 G.I. Joe convention. But, it was never actually released and there are no known versions of this figure outside of Hasbro. For fans of this mold, this is probably enough. While the mold is decent, it is now available in the solid desert scheme as well as colors that are more conducive to other environments. As such, if the mold remains retired, I think that collectors have enough versions of it available to feel the mold's potential was fulfilled.

Mint and complete, this figure is actually somewhat hard to find. All of the 1991 Joes save the few that included spring loaded weapons were only released during that one year. As such, they are not as common as most other figures. As this Dusty is a well done figure and includes two easily broken or lost accessories, dealers tend to charge around $12-$15 for a complete version. But, if you're patient, you can get the figure for about half that from online auction sites. Even for that price, I have yet to add another version of this figure to my collection. I have the one and it's good enough for me at this point. But, even if you have the original Dusty, this is a figure worth getting. The overall quality and design is just a perfect blend for this character and gives you a more sleek version of Dusty that can be used in conjunction with the original. This figure is a prime example of how obscure the 1991 lines remains in the modern collecting world. It is a year full of great figures with solid accessories and this Dusty just drives home that point.

1991 Dusty, 1989 Python Officer, Trooper, Copperhead

1991 Dusty, 2008 AWE Striker, Desert Scorpion, 1987 Mercer

1991 Dusty, 2005 Desert Patrol Snake Eyes, Tunnel Rat

1991 Dusty, 2005 Desert Patrol Snake Eyes, Tunnel Rat

1991 Dusty, 2005 Desert Patrol Gung Ho, 2002 Night Rhino, Night Watch Trooper

1991 Dusty, 2005 Desert Patrol Gung Ho, 2002 Night Rhino, Night Watch Trooper

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

2008 AWE Striker

The AWE Striker is a mold that I have liked since I was a child. I first acquired it in the summer of 1985 and it became my de facto jeep: surpassing my aging VAMP. It was immediately put into action and was the main small vehicle I used during that time. Unfortunately, that original AWE Striker didn't last too long in my collection. And, for some reason, the AWE Striker was one of the few vehicles that I did not re-acquire during my heavy Joe buying days in the late '90's. As such, this vehicle remains a sentimental favorite of mine and is a piece that I've long wanted but never obtained. Now, a retail version in colors similar to the original has become available for the same price as the last straight re-release from 7 years prior. That was a deal too tempting to pass by and, for the first time in more than 2 decades, I have a nicely conditioned AWE Striker in my collection.

This version of the AWE Striker is a much brighter green than the original version. If seen only in a distant picture, the green could easily be mistaken for the Funskool AWE Striker that is rather common in the collecting community. It is definitely a brighter color than most collectors would have chosen, but still works in the context of the vehicle. Hasbro also did some retooling of the base vehicle. The main difference is that the footpegs in the side rails have been redone to fit the feet of the Anniversary sculpt figures. They are far to skinny for ARAH style foot pegs and this does impact the usability of this new version with vintage figures. Fortunately, the seats were not affected and ARAH figures are still the same tight squeeze in the seats they have always been. There are other slight modifications to the mold, but they are not the type of thing that really impacts the toy one way or another. The vehicle is true to the vintage design (which the 2004 version was not) and retains the spirit of the original release.

As a toy, though, the AWE Striker is somewhat fragile. Shortly after I first acquired the AWE Striker, I was playing with it in my room. At the time, we had these ancient beds. They didn't have covered box springs since the metal coil springs were directly underneath the mattress and were part of the basic bed frame. For sleeping, these were terrible. For playing, though, they were great. The coiled springs worked perfectly as jail cells for Cobras or Joes. Hidden underneath the bed was a platform where figures could hide and that could serve as the command center for any faction. Naturally, this became my default Joe base. On this day, I had my fairly new AWE Striker trying to outrun a HISS Tank. The Joes were heading straight for the bed "base". I zoomed my AWE Striker as fast as I could and had it just make it under the bed ahead of the HISS tank's cannons. Unfortunately, I forgot to measure the clearance under the bed in relation to the height of the AWE Striker's cannon. When the AWE zipped into safety, the bottom of the bedframe sheered the top cannon right off. Fortunately, the toy wasn't completely broken. But, the clasp that holds the cannon in place was damaged and my AWE Striker's gun forever drooped after that. For a time, this wasn't much of an issue. But, the more I used my original AWE Striker, the less integrity the gun mount retained. Within a few weeks, the top cannon would simply fall off. Back then, I wasn't too keen on gluing things into place, so this defect lead to the AWE Striker's ultimate popularity demise.

The missing gun wasn't enough to deter my younger brothers, though. They still used the AWE Striker somewhat frequently. Ultimately, the broke the front axles that allow the front wheels to move. This lead to the wheels resting in different directions. However, one of my brothers did come up with a rather ingenious way of fixing this problem. He took the steering mechanism from an old Ferret and inserted into the front of the AWE Striker. It actually fit and he then had a jeep with the wheels and front axle from a Ferret. It was an odd combination of colors and the smaller Ferret wheels make the AWE Striker look like one of those jacked up custom cars you see in magazines. My original AWE Striker remained this way until I finally stripped the usable parts and threw the main body into the dumpster just a few months ago.

In 1987, my interest in the AWE Striker was re surged when I started buying the Action Force comics that my local comic shop was importing. Action Force ran about 2 years behind the American line and at that time, the 1985 figures were being featured in all the original stories and toy advertising that was in those comics. I distinctly remember a short dio on the back cover that featured the AWE Striker. By this time, though, the AWE Striker was gone from American retail shelves and I was left with my beat up, old version that had been retired 2 years prior. This made me want an AWE Striker more than ever. But, I was not able to acquire one before I pretty much quit collecting in 1988. When I returned to Joe collecting, though, complete AWE Strikers were relatively expensive. As such, it wasn't an item I went after since I was focused on buying up figures and vehicles that I had never owned rather than trying to replace the broken items my childhood. By the time the 2001 release came around, though, I was in a bad spot and couldn't buy it. I managed to trade for the included figure, so that was enough. The 2004 version was just too terrible for to have any interest. So, the chance to acquire this version was one I decided to take advantage of. Now, I have an adequate display model for my 1985 figures. It is nice to have this vehicle back in my collection. Now, I just have to find the space to display it with the appropriate figures.

These days, I'm more interested in vehicles that display well rather than those that, necessarily, play well. As such, some great vehicles like the Whale and Mauler don't make the cut in my display collection because they take up large amounts of space and only display a few figures. The AWE Striker, though, does not have that problem. It adequately displays 4 figures (at least two of whom can be fully accessorized) and only occupies a small footprint in a display case. It is the type of vehicle that I enjoy since it isn't a space hog and allows the focal point of the figures to be adequately viewed. In this regard, it surpasses the VAMP since the VAMP can only hold 2 figures and they are not as exposed as the driver and passenger in the AWE Striker. (Though, in combat, I could see the VAMP being the preference since the driver and crew are not nearly as exposed as they would be in the AWE Striker.)

It is no secret that I'm not a fan of the Anniversary style figures. In total, I don't really care about them as they don't really affect me either way. However, one of the things that irks me to no end is the constant praise heaped upon these figures by collectors. You would think that each and every figure was a pristine piece of art. Nowhere to do you see people taking Hasbro to task for the mistakes and poor quality that does appear in the line. I think that many collectors feel that the constant praise will either make Hasbro notice them and allow them to be become an "insider" or that any negative comments will end the line and we will be back to more peaceful days of late 2006. Regardless, the Crankcase figure that is included with this vehicle is simply terrible. That isn't bitterness or spite talking: this is just a bad figure. Now, it could be that this is a result of the fact that this figure was cobbled together on the cheap to meet a price point on a low production run. But, the other 2 figures in the exclusive vehicles are straight up repaints and it makes no sense why some of the parts were chosen. When compared to the other Anniversary figures I've sold off, Crankcase is a complete loser. First off, the figure's right fist is molded shut. This not only means that he can't hold an accessory, but it also means he can't grip the steering wheel of his vehicle. Were this just a single carded figure, it would be one thing. But, this figure was specifically included in a vehicle that features a molded steering wheel. Using a mold that precluded the figure from gripping the wheel is a tremendous mistake and one that simply can not be excused in this modern day of toymaking. Aside from that, the figure looks like he has a pot belly. The horrid chest joint matches with the torso to create a bulge and Crankcase looks like he ate too much at Thanksgiving. Aside from these 2 glaring defects, the figure is at least true to the original spirit of Crankcase and it is nice to see such an obscure character make an appearance in the new line.

The AWE Striker has seen a good life. After it was discontinued at retail in the U.S. in 1986, it showed up in Brazil. The mold reappeared again in 1991: only this time in Eco-Warriors colors. Hasbro dusted the mold off again around 1995 when they retooled it slightly for use in the Stargate Movie toy line. Subsequent to that, the mold was sent off to India where it was released by Funskool for many years. Hasbro either re-acquired the mold or had another one available and released the mold to retail in the U.S., only this time in all black, in 2001 as part of the A Real American Hero Collection. It was then released again in 2004, this time with a retooled top gun and with Dial Tone as the driver. This 2008 release marks the 3rd time we've seen this vehicle at retail in 7 years. Frankly, that's enough. There are enough other vehicle molds that have yet to appear at retail since the vintage days that would be much more exciting than yet another AWE Striker. But, of the releases of this mold, we have yet to see an AWE Striker really live up to to its "All Weather and Environments" tag. I could stand to at least see this make one more appearance in desert colors since the dune buggy aspect of the toy's design would lend itself to desert terrain. We've seen from other lines as well as the recent Joe releases that Hasbro isn't shy about repainting usable vehicle molds. So, it is entirely possible that we'll see another AWE Striker before too long.

Target ordered roughly 16,700 of each of the three exclusive vehicles. To put this into historical perspective, previous exclusives like the Operation Crimson Sabotage, the TRU VAMP and the TRU version of the AWE Striker all saw production runs of around 10,000 units each. As such, these Target vehicles have been produced in larger numbers than we have historically seen. But, we have also not seen vehicles released under the 25th Anniversary banner. However, it seems that the hallmark of the 25th Anniversary toy sales is the packaging hearkening back to vintage days. While single carded figures seem to sell strongly, items that feature non-vintage inspired packaging like the comic packs languish at retail. (The box sets were even clearance fodder while single carded versions of those same figures released during the clearances still sell strongly.) I know that my local Target store had an endcap of 2 cases of these exclusives by the registers. On the third weekend they were there, I bought this AWE Striker and it was the first vehicle they've sold. (The cashier who works in front of the endcap even remarked as such.) As such, I don't think these items have strong long term value potential. Usually, it is the figures that drive aftermarket pricing and Hasbro has already proven they are very willing to re-release 25th Anniversary style figures ad naseum until market demand is sated. As such, even if one of the figures from these sets become popular, it is pretty much a given that we will see that figure either singly carded, repacked with a new vehicle/comic/gift set or retooled into a superior version at some point in the future. As for the vehicle itself, this is the third modern release of the AWE Striker and there is no indication that it will be the last. Hasbro has the mold and will continue to use until it simply won't sell anymore. For me, $10 was too good a price to pass up for a new AWE Striker that was true to the original. While this vehicle could be released many more times, it will certainly not be at a price point below $10. So, for that type of bargain, this vehicle really is a no-brainer for even a hard core vintage fan like me.

2008 AWE Striker, Crankcase, 1989 Night Force Lightfoot, TRU Exclusive, Target Exlcusive

2008 AWE Striker, Crankcase, 1985 Flint, Heavy Metal, Footloose

2008 AWE Striker, Crankcase, 1989 Night Force Lightfoot, TRU Exclusive, Target Exlcusive, 2007 Convention Exclusive Clutch

2008 AWE Striker, Crankcase, 1989 Night Force Lightfoot, TRU Exclusive, Target Exlcusive, 1991 Dusty, Desert Scorpion, 1987 Mercer

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

1983 Cobra Trooper

Sometimes, the original is simply the best. In the case of the Cobra Trooper, there is an understated excellence to the figure design that simply was unsurpassed in the subsequent history of the line. Sure, other figures had more detail, better accessories or more intricate paint applications. But, none were so simply effective at portraying their purpose than this original Cobra Trooper. It remains the iconic look for the basic Cobra...even if it is not the combat ready outfit that evolved to the Viper. It features the faceless enemy clad in a dominant dark blue color using Soviet weapons during the height of the Cold War. It was the perfect enemy to the group marketed as the Real American Hero. Today, the figure remains among the most popular and well liked molds ever produced. It has remained relevant while most of his contemporaries have faded into obscurity by their later incarnations. The original Cobra Trooper personified the evil of the Cobra organization and conveys the incredible danger this group poses to the free world.

My first encounter with this mold was in the summer of 1983. I was just getting back into Joe. Naturally, my focus was on acquiring the Joe figures who were released that year as well as the Cobra characters. A neighbor of ours, though, had both the Cobra Trooper and Cobra Officer. Being young and not knowing the difference between the 2, I took the Cobra Officer with his AK-47 to be the more standard Cobra soldier and thought the trooper to be the more elite since he had a sniper rifle and a much more intricate mold. I was a bit dismayed to learn the opposite was true but still feel that the trooper should have been outfitted with the AK as that was the more infantry related weapon that the standard troops would have carried. To this day, it doesn't make much sense for an infantry soldier to carry a sniper as his default weapon. However, the look of the Dragunov in the Trooper's hand is one of the indelible images of the line and I simply can not use any other weapon with these Troopers.

This figure, though, was not added to my collection until 1985. One summer day I went to a Kohl's store in a mall and found this figure and a Cobra ASP. These were not toys I normally saw at the local Toys R Us and Children's Palace stores. As such, I bought them both with my lawn mowing money, took them home and quickly made them central to my Joe world. Cobra now had a trooper that was capable of overwhelming the Joes while the ASP made Hiss tanks that much more dangerous. In this role, the figure thrived. By late '85, my original was heavily worn and I had broken his thumb. By '85, it was rare for a figure in my collection to get that type of use, but it showed how central the Trooper was to my collection. Unfortunately, when I went to replace the figure in 1986, he was gone from retail for good. This didn't much matter, though, as the Viper was released that year and it was an adequate replacement for this original figure.

Today, I actually prefer the old blues as my standard Cobra infantry forces. There is something about the simplicity of the blue jumpsuit that seems more Cobra to me. I still see Cobra as that underground organization shown in the early days of the comics rather than the full blown military-industrialist nation with a defense budget that would make the Pentagon jealous. I think that's why I prefer this look for the standard Cobra soldier. It isn't full of expensive, technological gear and perfectly portrays the wearer as a terrorist not be trifled with. Of course, I prefer the 2004 version of this figure just due to the fact that they are more pliable, newer and more readily available. This original figure, though, remains a personal favorite and one that still gets taken out from time to time. I prefer this original mold to the newer incarnations when I'm pairing them with the original versions of Major Bludd, Destro, Firefly or Cobra Commander. The Trooper complements those classics very well and always makes for a great photo when they are used together.

The Cobra Trooper mold is incredibly detailed. Originally conceived in late 1981, the figure was titled Cobra Commando or Trooper and features: a modified Russian Dagunov Sniper Rifle, a bayonet, a grenade launcher on his chest and 2 grenades for that launcher on his left arm. The most interesting item, though, is the piano wire that is sculpted onto the figure's right arm. This is a minor detail and one that many collectors simply overlooked or misinterpreted over the years. However, it is a ruthless reminder of the villain this figure is meant to portray. It also shows just how terrible the original designers wanted this character to be. There was no grey area as to his motives. This was a person of pure evil and the type of villain that would be difficult to integrate into a children's toy line today.

Take this figure, paint him brown and remove the mask and you have a reasonable portrayal of a Nazi. It is likely this was the intention of the designers. The Nazis are the one group whose symbolism marks evil and through the '80's, this was a common representation of evil in many mainstream properties. While Cobra couldn't be Nazis, the early visualization of the Cobra organization was very Nazi-esque. Many troopers were drawn in the early comics with buzzed blonde hair. The Cobra salute was eerily similar to the Nazi salute. The Cobra parade ranks that were shown in the first comic issue conjure up images of Nazi rallies. All of this was done to adequately portray Cobra as evil. It made the Joes that much greater heroes to be battling a terror that was reminiscent of the worst evil the world has ever known. As the line evolved, this imagery was downplayed and slowly went away as Cobra became more diverse in terms of colors, uniforms and characters. However, those early images were what defined Cobra to me. The fanatics who stayed aboard the doomed submarine in issue #8 of the comic showed the type of devotion that a mixture of heavy propaganda, outright brainwashing and intense fear of failure. I viewed Cobra Commander as a charismatic leader who could command this type of loyalty. As Cobra grew, this became harder to maintain in the comics. But, to me, it is the lasting image of Cobra and the basis for how I see the entity today.

In my collection, the Cobra Trooper is the basic backbone of the Cobra army. To me, these guys are simply the "relaxed" uniform for Vipers and I view the Troopers and Vipers as interchangeable. Recently, I've been on a heavy kick for Joe figures made prior to 1986 and, as such, this Cobra Trooper has become more central to my collection. Mostly, though, I still use the 2004 version of the Trooper as my basic grunt. But, that's mainly because I have three dozen of them and they aren't as brittle as this figure is. However, as I set permanent displays, I find that the original Cobra Trooper is my preferred version. The added detail on the arms simply makes this figure stand out and places him above his subsequent incarnations. One of the things I now lament is not buying many more of these figures when they cost about $12 each back in the late '90's. Instead, I was spending my money on newer army builders. While those new figures have seen price gains equal to the Cobra Trooper, I find that I don't have as much need for 6 Desert Scorpions as I would for 2 additional troopers. Oh, well.

This mold has a long and distinguished history. So much so, that it is likely that Hasbro actually had more than 1 Cobra Trooper mold in their possession. The straight arm figure was released in the US. But, from there, that mold went to Argentina and then on to Brazil. While those figures were in production, the swivel arm Cobra Trooper was being released in the US (the Trooper was the rare 3 year release as he was produced through 1985, though in lower quantities in the final year) and Europe. In 1989, Hasbro dusted off the swivel mold again and released it in the US as a member of Python Patrol. (It should be noted, though, that this figure was actually named Python Officer.) That mold then surfaced again in Brazil around 1993 when the Python colored Trooper mold was released as Vibora. After that, the arms were never seen again. In 2004, Hasbro actually recast the torso for this figure and released it in the TRU exclusive set. Later in '04, though, the original head and torso were used for the Comic Pack Trooper. This mold was used again for the Night Watch Trooper in 2005. Following this mold around, it seems likely that the entire original swivel mold was lost in Brazil in the early '90's. Hasbro wanted to get the figure out to collectors, though, so they remade it. However, after that, they found at least part of the original mold...likely just the head and torso. This allowed them to reuse those pieces, only now combined with other arms and legs as the original legs were either lost, misplaced or simply deemed insufficient. There is no trace of the original swivel arms which is why I suspect they were lost in Brazil.

At this point, though, I don't think there is much reason for a return of this mold. While I would, personally, like to see a Cobra Trooper painted in grey to match the Stinger Driver or in crimson, I don't think that these are figures whose absence I would lament too greatly. The 2004 Infantry Team put a lot of high quality Cobra Troopers into the market and that was only augmented by the comic pack Trooper (many of which were clearanced for $5 each....) and the Night Watch (which lingered at retail for nearly a year...). There are always collectors who missed out on these figures and I'm sure that many of them would like to see the Trooper return. However, as ARAH releases are sporadic at best these day, each mold that is released takes on greater importance. As such, I don't want to waste a valued mold slot to just get a repainted trooper. There are many other figures I'd rather see done first.

Back in 2001 through 2003, a mint, complete Cobra Trooper was going to run you a minimum of $25. Incomplete and off condition figures would still go as high as $20. After Hasbro released the Cobra Infantry Team in 2004, though, secondary market prices on the Cobra Trooper fell to around the $15 mark. Today, that is about the price you'll pay, though, occasionally, you'll still see one crack the $25 barrier (usually, a perfect mint figure that is complete with filecard will reach this price). At the cheaper price, though, these guys are a no-brainer. Given the choice of two 2004 Troopers or one vintage Trooper for the same price, I'll take the vintage every day. This is a figure that simply must be army built. Of course, every other collector knows this, too. But, as Hasbro has offered many retail alternatives in recent years, many collectors are out of the market for the vintage figures. This keeps prices below where they should be for a figure of this rarity and quality. I just hope they stay that way for a while.

1983 Cobra Trooper, 1985 Flint, SOS, Medico, Argentina, Plastirama, Doc, 2005 Stalker, Comic Pack

1983 Cobra Trooper, Major Bludd, Hiss Tank

1983 Cobra Trooper, 2004 Comic Pack Trooper, Cobra Infantry, TRU Exclusive, 2005 Night Watch Trooper

1983 Cobra Trooper, Major Bludd, Hiss Tank

1983 Cobra Trooper, Major Bludd, Hiss Tank

1983 Cobra Trooper, Major Bludd, Hiss Tank

1983 Cobra Trooper, Major Bludd, Hiss Tank

1983 Cobra Trooper, Major Bludd, Hiss Tank

1983 Cobra Trooper, Major Bludd, Hiss Tank, Destro, Rock and Roll, Breaker