2004 Cobra Squad Leader (Scarface)

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.

Scar Face

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.

Scarface2004

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.

Scarface

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.

TRU Troopers

 

 

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4 Responses to 2004 Cobra Squad Leader (Scarface)

  1. paint-wipes says:

    one of the ARAH styled figures from this era that actually hold up. that release was one of the few times hasbro got a collectors set right at retail, even still the accessories were god awful, but there was enough red star AK-47s and dusty rifles going around back then that re-arming them wasn’t that big of a deal. still these figures are dated and don’t mix well with anything other than figures from their own era. i guess if you want a set up of a 2000 cobra commander leading a HISS 3 and about a dozen of these into battle you can do a lot worse.

  2. Mike T. says:

    You bring up a good point that I had pretty much overlooked in my own collection. When these guys came out, they were awesome as they were cheap army builders that didn’t turn to dust when you gave them weapons. At the time, I didn’t really prefer one head over the other.

    But, once Black Major came on the scene, I only use his Cobra Troopers for photos. There’s something about the classic look that just works better. I still don’t mind these 2004 figs. But, they haven’t stood up against time as well as I would have thought back when they were released. (Though, the shitty gear really doesn’t help these guys.) Had this fig been a real Scarface, he would have worked out much better. But, it seems that boat sailed.

    It’s become so obvious with BM and RL that collectors really wanted vintage repaints. Hasbro just couldn’t deliver in the 2000’s for whatever reasons. It’s appalling when you think about it, especially since Hasbro didn’t really repaint this mold and only used the Trooper/Officer mold twice more: both times in relatively uninteresting color schemes.

  3. A-Man says:

    The TRU 6-pack squad leaders/troopers have that head scaled for early 2000’s, so they look odd with vintage but their old o-ring/rivet construction and basic sculpting makes them look odd with NuSculpt, etc. They probably look best with the Comic Pack figures with new heads, ironically, the new mold was unavailable for the comic pack Officers/Troopers, though.

    I’m hard pressed to say if I like vintage heads better over this head. I guess my image of Cobra trooper was influenced by the first time I saw them in the original catalog photos, that used mock-ups made from Mego figures wearing simple army helmets. And no head sculpt ever recreated that look (someone made a custom using the 1994 action trooper head, and that was close)

    I never used scarred squad leader as a character. I was not giving up 1/6th of a trooper builder set for an inaccurate take on a long dead comic character. That’s the funny thing about the Cobra Infantry set, fans sooo wanted Cobra trooper pack but then they’d sell off the extra “Scarfaces” because he was a character to them. And some would get so fussy they’d sell of the dark skinned trooper (They think Cobra’s are white supremacist?) and even the other squad leader because his boots were dark brown and not black. Some army building collectors may have discarded half the set! Selling on ebay is much easier than getting a little paint and a brush, I guess. But hey, I got some more troopers for cheap that way, back when folks were dumping o-ring for 25th years ago. (Now prices on o-ring have gotten high)

    Oh, the usual ‘his accessories suck” and yes, good point about the Cobra logo (It also lacks the eyes). If Cobra chevrons are like the US army’s, they made hims a Sergeant First Class. The other squad leader is just a sergeant. No corporals in the set.

  4. Pingback: 2005 Comic Pack #7 Stalker | Attica Gazette

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