The 2004 TRU COBRA Infantry Forces, was probably one of the few releases post-2000, where Hasbro really knocked it out of the park. They finally decided to listen to the cries of the fanbase for the classic Blue COBRA Trooper, after a ton of Viper repaints. There was a lot of heralding of these figures as some of the best ever, at the time, even though now that the newness has evaporated, it’s obvious there were some flaws to the figures. However, these figures were still an important release in the dying days of G.I. Joe.
The classic blue COBRA figure had been romanticized a great deal in the early 2000s. It’s a tremendous figure, but the secondary market pricing was insane, and after a half dozen iffy Viper repaints, and as the swivel neck figures were being viewed with more esteem, fans wanted a basic Trooper again, that wouldn’t cost $25-30 each on a good day. The 2003 convention showed that Hasbro was going far into the wilderness with the New Sculpt stuff, but also were willing to do far more collector friendly classic releases. The highlight of that convention was the Infantry Forces 6-pack. Fans went nuts at the idea of it, and were even changing website banners to say “THANK YOU HASBRO” beside pictures of hilariously shitty looking proto-type figures. Luckily Hasbro changed the heads.
The TRU 6 Pack featured entirely new heads, as well as a new torso, waist (and probably legs) based off of the original molds. They were bigger and slightly bulkier, but it’s not noticeable unless in hand. The arms were originally Thunder’s. It works well as a figure, it seems a little less clandestine terrorist, and more organized military, which I think would be COBRA’s M.O. in the third world. It’s nice that it’s different from the original figure, but still very reminiscent, there’s definitely a place for updating figures, so long as it’s done in a way that makes sense.
While this figure is for the most part fairly faithful to the COBRAs of yesteryear, there was one big change, to the overall design that was a big mistake. The COBRA logos on the the figures are this insipid orange colour, which doesn’t work all that well. I don’t mind the black outline on the logo itself, but the change from red wasn’t good.
The new Headsculpt, was one of the better new O-Ring headsculpts, it’s not tiny like a lot of them, and there’s some decent detail in it. For most of the mid 2000s, it was the preferred head, figures like the Comic and Night Watch Troopers, were subject to complaints about the old head being used. However time, and a million different Factory Customs, have shown that the new head really wasn’t all that preferable to the 1982 head. I always liked the 1982 head better, but that definitely wasn’t the prevailing thought. However it makes this figure stand out, which is probably the only thing that does at this point.
This figure, is a Red-Masked COBRA Officer, with a scar on his face, that really doesn’t match up with our favourite Courier, but it was a reference that made sense, and people were happy to accept. I’d still like to see a proper Scarface at some point, even if it’s through the Factory Customs, but for now this is a decent enough stand in. However, the Scarface character wasn’t really important in the scheme of things. He was more of a prop that had smart-ass dialogue. He was necessary to move the story ahead, and he served his purpose, but really he was no different from any other guy in a red mask.
However, I think my tune on the importance of Scarface would change, if this was the only example of this head being used. It’s a decent head, and different enough to separate the figure from any other COBRA Officer, but it loses it’s impact and uniqueness coming in a package with 5 other figures using the same head. As in a vacuum this is a very solid unique COBRA Officer, the red web gear was only seen on this figure, the brown boots look good but are shared with the other Officer. It’s kind of a shame, as you have a figure that’s different enough that it could really rise above the typical classic Blue, but being included in a really good army builder set, prevented that from happening. Still the scar and paint job this figure received was enough to make it a unique figure, that you rarely see more than one of in a photo.