Last year, there was a toy, comic, and collectable show held in some strip mall, on the other side of town. I’ve been to numerous collector oriented events, so being able to look at tables of random pop culture artifacts from the last 45 years, placed in the corridors in front of a dry cleaner, travel agent and a Safeway was probably the most surreal one I’ve ever been too. It kind of seemed like a premise from inane early 90s TV movie where a kid is going to have to do something bad to impress the “cool kids”. Of course in that After School Special, it wouldn’t be a bunch of vendors selling Transformers, it’d be a bake sale or craft fair that helps veterans or a church or something.
Since the set-up was so bogus, I decided I was going to buy “the dumbest G.I. Joe stuff I can find or a 1983 Head Quarters, whatever shows up first”. Since this is titled “1987 COBRA Earth Borer”, you can tell I succeeded at buying some dumb G.I. Joe toys! However, I’m not sure if a Motorized Action Pack is a worse purchase than the multiple completely bare Hydro Vipers I bought. However, I think the fact G.I. Joe is a toy line deep enough that you can legitimately purchase something as stupid as a motorized action pack, have it be able to interact with the majority of your collection, and leave you feeling content with a purchase, is a testament to how well that line was done.
The Motorized Action Packs were one of the first steps at putting action features that removed imagination from the play aspect of G.I. Joe. The problem with that, wasn’t so much the idea behind them, but rather the fact these toys kind of suck. The Earth Borer is probably the best of all of them. It’s design is pretty reasonable, and the usage of it makes a lot of sense, as COBRA would be doing all sorts of tunnelling and fortification building, and they’re not going to care too much about proper OSHA guidelines.
The design of this is actually pretty hilarious, as it’s placement of the stabilizer legs wound up being a total Astro-Mech Droid rip-off. I was surprised at how blatantly it was done. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I doubt it. The toy looks good, but it’s something that likely wouldn’t be able to drill that far or deeply, but whatever. Colouring on the Earth Borer is actually very solid. It’s got a chromed Drill bit, silver attachments, and a very nice COBRA blue body. I was actually surprised at how good a blue it was, as it’s a good match for the classics from 82-86, which is surprising considering how COBRA toys were going in a “Purple or greyish-blue” direction by 1987. The fact it matches so well, was nice, because when it ties in so well with other figures and playsets, it’s likely to get more use.
The motorized action is fairly typical of wind-up toys, you twist the knob on the back, and the drill spins. Pretty much all that’s required, and it does the job pretty well! I’ve never really cared all that much about wind up toys, as I’ve always been more amused by the noise the gears make rather than the actual spinning aspect! The nice thing about the Earth Borer, is it’s stationary. Things like the Rope Crosser were intended to move figures across the foot of string it came with, which means it’s going to be an awkward and shaky mess. The Earth Borer doesn’t require the figure to be precariously put on to it, so it’s far better for photos or dioramas.
All of the Motorized Action Packs, could be worn by figures as a backpack, it’s not the greatest look, as there’s nothing that can be done to turn it into a backpack, so you’re left with some poor COBRA Trooper walking around with a 4 and a half foot power drill strapped to his back. It’s a neat way to give the thing slightly more interaction with figures, but it also damages the suspension of disbelief. Plus, since the packs are so much larger and heavier than the typical G.I. Joe backpack, there’s a different size to the attachment peg, which doesn’t always fit every figure.
The Action Packs made appearances in the Dutch Catalogs, and the Earth Borer was in one instance used with Snow Serpents, so due to the fact I knew I had some of the new Black Major Snow Serpents coming, I picked this up, because I tend to associate the two. Augering up in the arctic would be a thing that would happen, so it’s a nice tie-in accessory for a very specialized figure. Though, it’s versatile enough to be used for whatever ridiculous “COBRA NEEDS TO DRILL FOR GOLD” Sunbow style scenario you can come up with.