Tuesday, February 20, 2024

2005 Comic Pack Cobra Commander - Clear

The Star Wars line has long been about scene specific figures.  Collectors clamour for their favorite characters as they appeared in just a few seconds of screen  time.  For the first 20 years or so of the Hasbro Stars Wars renaissance, Hasbro was happy to oblige.  One of the weird offerings, though, came in the line's earliest days.  You could buy some Lay's chip brands and send away for a clear "Spirit of Obi-Wan" figure.  Personally, I didn't really see the appeal of such a limited figure.  But, I was a sucker.  And, I mailed away for one of the figures.  (And, like everyone else, I actually thought the figure would have some future collectability due to the obscure release method.  Oops.)  The translucent blue plastic that was used was a pretty solid representation of the character's appearance on screen.  And, over the next decade, Hasbro would release a cornucopia of "spirit" figures using the same basic plastic.  Finally, in 2005, though, the concept was brought to the G.I. Joe line.  Instead of the figure representing a ghost, though, we were given an interpretation of Cobra Commander as his image is projected through a camera.  For a figure mold that had been a bit overdone by 2005, though, this approach of a clear Cobra Commander was an interesting and refreshing choice for a figure release.

Of course, the real question is what can you do with a translucent version of Cobra Commander?  With no paint, you can't really pretend it's a stealth suit.  (Like you can with the clear, Arctic Mirage figure.)  So, you're really left with the figure as a projection of the Commander who can gloat in front of his enemies and inspire his troopers: all while he is safe inside a basement bunker where he can feel safe.  Cobra's armies, in their brainwashed glory, fall for this cowardice.  Which, speaks to the gullibility of those who the Commander recruited from small town America.  The issue with a projection figure is that you need something to project the image.  This can be accomplished in various ways.  But, the best is just to use a Tele-Viper and his camera/gun.

And, that's about the end of the use for this figure.  But, like the figure's Star Wars cousins, the appeal lies not in the quality of the actual toy and it's playability, but the possibility of filling a very niche purpose.  In the right setting, this figure can look great.  Some Star Wars collectors have built amazing displays using the holographic figures.  But, you don't really see these set pieces in the Joe world.  Joe fans will display their figures standing on parade.  Or, maybe, on vehicles or in the few bases.  You don't see too many custom scenes that are built, specifically, to showcase a small selection of figures.  It's just a difference in the collector base.  And, is why there wasn't a huge upswell of support for more translucent Joe figures.

Originally, the Comic Packs were going to continue their numerical procession.  And, this Comic Pack #9 was planned for a much earlier release date.  But, the Comic Packs were kind of DOA by the end of 2004.  The Oktober Guard packs were under-produced.  And, Hasbro had to quickly retool and move up some more interesting packs in the release schedule.  While these diversified the figure releases, they didn't really help improve the lot of the Comic Packs at retail and all of the non-October Guard waves were pretty much clearance and discount store fodder.  For a while, it appeared that the pack with this Cobra Commander, Scarlett on her skis and a lame attempt at "Breaker" would end up cancelled.  But, Hasbro was able to pigeon-hole it into the initial waves of the DTC launch after the Joe line failed at retail in 2005.  

Collectors were lukewarm to this pack, though.  The contemporary packs to #9 featured some less used molds and had more potential for great figures.  But, none of the releases actually caught on with collectors.  And, instead, they all ended up clearance fodder, too.  I only acquired this pack because they were half price or less at the old Hasbro Toy Shop.  The Breaker in the set was useless.  Though, the Scarlett actually turned out kind of nice.  Sadly, though, she badly discolors and is near impossible to find in decent condition these days.  I kept the Cobra Commander because he was unsellable in 2010 or so.  No one wanted him.  So, he remained in my collection even as his contemporaries were dumped for pennies on the dollar.  Now, though, I'm glad I held onto the figure: if for nothing more than a conversation piece.

Did you know that even translucent plastic can discolor?  Well, it can.  And, you'll often find this figure with darker upper arms than lower.  The upper arms of the 2000's figures are always the first to go.  So, it's likely that other parts of this figure will discolor, too.  And, it's pretty much guaranteed that no mint versions of this figure will exist in another two decades.  The darkening isn't really detrimental to the appeal of this figure.  The main issue is that the figures don't discolor uniformly.  So, you get two tone figures that don't look all that good.  Once all the pieces go, though, it will be back to a solid looking figure.  The soft plastic that Hasbro uses in the 2000's doesn't hold up all that well.  And, it likely that vintage figures will hold up better into the 2040's and 2050's than these newer figures from the same century.

The original body mold for this Cobra Commander debuted in 1992 on the Talking Battle Commanders Cobra Commander figure.  In 1993, the figure was repainted in black and also given a new back piece that wasn't the flat version used to accommodate the talking backpack.  In 2000, the figure was repainted in dark blue.  But, the flat back from 1992, somehow, returned.  The same mold was used in the 2003 convention set.  In 2004, Hasbro sculpted the new head sculpt that you see on this clear figure.  It debuted in a Comic Pack and was then repainted in a coppery red color in the Imperial Processional set.  Then, finally, this translucent figure appeared.  The flat back ruins many of the figure.  Though, the 2003 and Processional figures were aided by the inclusion of capes that hide the multi-holed backpiece.  I don't really consider the new head to be an improvement or a detriment when compared to the original head.  It's just different.  But, I do think that it looks the best on this translucent release.

For some, unknown, reason, Hasbro also updated this figure to have 1984 Roadblock arms.  2000's era Hasbro loved the 1984 Roadblock arms and used them way too often.  They are scrawny and undefined.  And, when paired with a rather bulky mold that debuted in 1992, they look out of place.  Just months before this Comic Pack figure was released, Hasbro used the original arms on the Imperial Processional figure.  So, there was no real reason why they couldn't also have been used for this Cobra Commander.  It's less of an issue since this figure has such a limited purpose.  But, it's just one of those weird choices that Hasbro made in the early 2000's.  And, we really don't know why.

This Cobra Commander includes his classic 1983 hair dryer pistol.  While it's not a great fit with the bulkier mold from 1992, it is iconic to Cobra Commander.  But, in another baffling move, the weapon is cast in black plastic.  So, you have a translucent figure holding an opaque weapon.  You just can't reconcile that.  The upside is that black hair dryers were never all that common.  So, extras were always welcome...especially since the Processional Cobra Commander didn't come with a weapon.  It would have been nice to have gotten the classic weapon in translucent blue plastic.  But, it doesn't make much sense for a projection to be holding a gun.  A staff or pointer?  Sure.  But, the gun isn't necessary.  So, it's one of the weird inclusions that's useful to have around, even if it's useless with the actual figure for which it's intended.

This figure has turned out to be kind of hard to find.  It wasn't a pack that collectors army built.  And, it was released during one of the lowest points in Joe fandom.  Today, this is a $22 to $30 figure based on timing and the number in the market.  Dealers tend to get closer to $30.  But, the figure has cachet and sells for a slight premium just due to the uniqueness of the design.  It's certainly not a figure that you need in your collection.  But, it is a neat set piece that can help define a display.  I, certainly, wouldn't pay a premium for one, especially with the spectre of discoloration looming so large in the figure's future.  But, for a cheap buy, the figure is worth owning.  I've used mine three times in almost 20 years.  But, I paid, maybe, $3 for him.  So, the price was worth it.  I'll leave it to you to determine if today's market also makes him a worthwhile acquisition.

2005 Clear Cobra Commander, Translucent, Comic Pack, 1985 Tele Viper, Crimson Guard, 2004, Operation Crimson Sabotage, Hiss Tank, Fred

2005 Comic Pack Cobra Commander, 1991 Super Sonic Fighters Psyche Out, Comic Pack, Clear


  1. Cobra Commander's ghost!
    $30 for this figure is laughable. But so it much of the aftermarket.
    The Roadblock V1 arms...I really grew to hate them. If something had happened to the CC arms, why not Shockwave V2 lower arms or Headman.
    I disagree about Breaker. The Breaker makes an okay greenshirt. And I considered get extras when HasbroToyShop clearance them out for super cheap. BUT...like many comic pack figures with swivel heads, his torso cracks over time for some reason. So just as well I didn't.
    For the Comic Pack #9, I'd have skipped Breaker's inclusion and done a rolled up sleeve looked for another pack. Instead the pack would be this Cobra Commander (because comic packs are ideal for novelty figures like this), the ORANGE COBRA FROGMAN that appears in a few panels (Action Sailor body easy reuse) and either kept Scarlett (if only for the skis, she could otherwise appear in many other potential packs) or made the Brian Hassel, Cobra's spy character from the issue that Larry Hama disavowed because he didn't write the story. The problem with Holo CC, frogman and Hassel is it's really too much novelty and obscurity in a 3 pack, even if fans do like Cobra. And the usual "army builder with two characters complaint" because someone, somewhere has to have 10 of any and every army builder in a row on a shelf.

  2. The comic packs always felt like they had to have a requisite dud figure. For a long time, that's how this Cobra Commander felt to me; a hologram was far, far too niche to have a role in my collection. Of course now the figure seems kind of cool, but I'm probably just getting desperate. I hate that so many of these figures are yellowing like they are.

    Can you imagine how Hasbro would charge for these comic packs now? $20 for each figure and then $10 for the comic (The Shattered Glass Transformers which included a comic, had a $10 mark-up over retail figures IIRC.), so around $70 for the whole set. Maybe they'd be nice and toss in some Wetsuit lights, HEAT Viper missiles and SF Major Bludd guns as a bonus, just to give it some value.

    1. Yes. The Oktober Guard packs were mostly dud free, even the recolored Stalker made sense with his pinhead. Let's just Dud List
      issue 1: Dud Baroness...because Velma glasses and inaccurate costume
      issue 2: Scarlett, lazy martial tournament...she was barefoot in the comic, but Jinx body will do.
      issue 3: Hawk, head too small. Some might say Clutch with his bulky Mace torso. I can't argue.
      issue 4: Tough one, SE is just a recolor. Zap has wrong torso. Grunt is useless without Wingfield or Hawk in same colors. The whole pack is kind of a dud.
      issue 5: Steeler with his ugly small head and thick torso, rolled up long sleeves.
      issue 6: none, I mean they cheated to avoid new body parts. That was a standard thing.
      issue 7: none...well...I dislike Horrorshow's inability to sit due to sculpt.
      issue 8: Short-Fuze...the hip surfer shades version.
      issue 9: Some say Breaker, some say CC.
      issue 21: I'd almost say Storm Shadow for not having a new head sculpt.
      issue 24: Destro, lazy 1992 body...small head.
      issue 26: Hard to say. Stalker for the pinhead?
      issue 44: Lady Jaye with her non-swiveling neck and bad tan.
      issue 49: Scrappy get it for discoloring. Technically Serpentor is wrong for the issue.
      issue 74: Some say Zarana...yeah. But I dislike Zartan's face sculpt.
      issue 75: None to me...all about the same level. They could've painted Thrasher's boots.
      issue 76: Flint for that new head, thought Hawk's V4 bulky arms with V2 torso is not good.
      issue 101: None really. Those rolled up sleeves on long sleeved Sgt. Misha. Dragonsky's lack of a helmet.
      Devil's Due #16: Hannibal, those awful elbows. And such a random Devil's Due only character to get made.

      I also I recall some Star Wars fans suggesting the return of SW comic packs. Great, even back then you'd sometimes be getting the two pack for one of the figures or one figure would be subpar with limited articulation. Now with current princes Comic packs would be $50 or more, because fans HAVE to have every figure vintage carded regardless of if they ever were. Nostalgia mark-up, even though it likely costs no more to produce than the new kid-aimed 4" star wars stuff.

      I saw the McFarlane Page Punchers marked down to $4 at Walmart. Teeny figures. Bleh. If they were GI JOE one I might have been dumb enough.

  3. You've basically summed up my feelings on this figure. Not great at all, but kinda neat to own and not worth the trouble to sell. Unfortunately I feel the same way about the majority of the comic pack figures. Some of the new heads were pretty bad, but the colors ruined them for me. Sure, they are sort of comic accurate, but they don't look very good in person. The OG figures always looked better, I saw little logic in making the figures reflect the look of the comic, which itself was held back by the limited color palette. I feel the same way about the new 'toon accurate G1 Transformer reissues.

    I felt at the time that hologram figures just work better for Star Wars figs, where holograms are rather common. I just don't consider clear figures 'real'. Aside from the three Jedi Spirits from ROTJ, I don't have any other hologram figures in my SW collection.

  4. I had zero interest in acquiring the clear Cobra Commander back when it was released and I still feel that way. For a long time I was a defender of the comic book packs and while the concept is cool I find myself being a little less enthusiastic in terms of figure quality control. The way you do use him as essentially a hologram is a cool and creative way to utilize the figure. It is kind of amazing that this figure fetches around $30 dollars on the after market.