Tuesday, December 22, 2020

2005 Cobra Imperial Guard - By Past Nastification

Return of the Jedi gave us our first really good look at The Emperor (I’m talking about the time before the prequels).  Sure, he was cool.  But cooler still were his helmeted and cloaked personal bodyguards.  The Emperor’s Royal Guard were badass yet stoic*.

Someone at Hasbro saw value in the concept and imported it to GI Joe.  

Replace the Emperor with Cobra Commander, and replace the Royal Guards with Imperial Guards and you’re good to go.  The Imperial Guards (four of them!) were included in 2005’s Cobra Imperial Procession set, which also included a Cobra Commander figure and a Baroness figure.  Like the Royal Guards, the Imperial Guards are encased in their uniforms from head to toe, with no visible hints of humanity.  The Royal Guards’ uniforms are crimson and burgundy, and the Imperial Guards’ are not too far off, featuring mostly dark metallic fuchsia with dark bronze elements.

The Imperial Guard is a far better concept than it is a figure.  

The figure, in ARAH format, is made up of a Range-Viper head/waist/legs, and the chest/back/arms of Cobra Commander V3 (Battle Armor version).  Dropping CC’s personal bodyguards in a recolored bastardized version of his own armor is somehow fitting, but the Range-Viper head is far too iconic to work as anything but a Range-Viper.  A Cobra Officer head, with a retooled neck, might have been a more interesting choice.  

As far as accessories, Hasbro disappoints.  Each Imperial Guards got a flag.  Yes, a flag.  Because you can use a flag to defend your leader from assassination attempts.  The flags feature nicely done flagpoles.  So there’s that.

Although it would have been overpriced, I’m sure the GI Joe Collectors’ Club might have been able to do something interesting with this concept.  Hasbro tried, but not enough.  

*It’s important to point out the Royal Guard (or whatever the hell they were called) later shown defending Snoke in Star Wars The Last Jedi were horrible.  Disney tried to hybridize the Royal Guard with Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, creating some truly rancid designs.   

2005 Cobra Imperial Guard


  1. What I remember about this set was when only the name was leaked/known, some big shot "everybody listen to me" GI JOE fans at the swore up and down that IMPERIAL PROCESSION had to be a Star Wars set and not GI JOE, despite it being listed as such.
    And of course, did everyone make them eat crow after its reveal? No. People kept on listening to those schmucks.

  2. The Crimson Guard were inspired by the Imperial Royal Guard, I think. Some early designs had the "Elite Troopers" wearing blue, though. The Emperor's guard were cool but absurd if you thought about it, as they couldn't move their heads!

    No weapons, obviously this was not Hasbro beeing skimpy (yeah, right) but the fact the guards are human shields, notice they lack any weapons on their person at all. This is because they could be infiltrated by enemies. So the Imperial Guard's duty is to DIE protecting their leader not kill for him. I'm giving this set more thought than Hasbro did.

    Yes, it's hard to see past Range Viper's head. And one wonder where the heck the Crimson Guard Immortal mold was! It had been used recently. So the laziness or budgeting using all recently reused molds would've remained.

    Early unpainted test shows used Range-Viper arms. That might have looked better. There's something odd about the fully-armored arms compared to the rest of the figure.

    Funny these were eventually clearanced at $4 a pack! But now it can sell for $70 mint. Loose guards can go for $8. That's not a whole lot for a 15 year old toy, but consider Imperial Procession was the black sheep of the Cobra 6-packs, the current after market prices are finally pushing it up.

  3. The CGI mold was mostly used for the 2005 Convention Destro. Wasn't there some sort of arrangement that Hasbro wouldn't use a mold around the same time the Convention people did? That might be why the CGI was "unavailable" here.

  4. I actually really like these guys, and didn't have much of a problem with them not coming with weapons, I just gave them whatever seemed appropriate from the extra box, mostly clonetrooper rifles.
    I kind of think the Range Viper head was wasted on just the wilderness boys, so seeing it on a cool Crimson Guardesque re-release was neat.