The 2002 Convention Set was a highly controversial release, when it came out. G.I. Joe was at the time, not really a “Serious Collector” realm (and in many ways, still isn’t), so the idea that fans were to shell out 200 bucks for some repaints was kind of nuts. There was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth, but in the end, people sucked it up and purchased them, the figures were very nice, after all, plus they were limited, so people didn’t want to be left out.
What probably should’ve raised numerous alarm bells at the time, in regards to the “limited edition” aspect of the release, was that “accidentally” things were screwed up at the factory, and the figures weren’t actually Crimson, they were a lighter colour altogether. Having two separate runs should’ve let collectors know that maybe there’s going to be some hanky panky with the numbers, but that didn’t become an issue until later on, and even then, it was never something that fans really held the Club’s feet to the fire with. One more thing about the numbers for the 2002 set, was the fact Tomax and Xamot, and odd combos of the two were available from Chinese eBay sellers for years. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Baroness and Vipers were available in a much more hush-hush way.
While I don’t have any of the Crimson figures to compare, I will say this Baroness is actually quite a nice figure. The colouring used for the body is a nice departure from the Black or Blue that sculpt has mostly been seen in, and since she is the only Fuchsia figure in my collection, it does even more to establish Baroness as a unique entity in the G.I. Joe realm. The thing usually used to distinguish a convention figure from a regular retail figure was the amount of paint apps they would receive. This version of the Baroness has all sorts, from silver in the ridges of the torso and thigh armor, a gold belt buckle, and a highly intricate set of paint apps on her right leg’s pistol, which included leaving an open space where the holster’s strap splits. Though, despite all these added paint apps, there was a glaring lipstick omission, which is especially bad considering that the figure’s lips are sculpted in a sorta weird way, so that the lipstick paint app is showcasing detailing, rather than creating it.
While the figure looks nice, and is highly detailed, the figure still isn’t the most detailed or best or most usable repaint of the Baroness mold. The convention figures were often molds used recently (This is the third repaint of the Baroness in a 5 year span, two of which were peg warmers, it was used twice more after this.) and they often featured a lot of bright gold and silver in a way to make the figures feel like they were worth more than the average Joe, even though the 2002 set’s colouring wasn’t any different from the BJ’s Fast Blast Viper. I’m cynical enough to say the Club was likely trying some slick consumer psychology there!
Overall though, the red patent leather bodysuit is something, that works for me, in regards to the Baroness character. It’s the type of useless high fashion apparel that media portrayals of Euro Trash tend to depict them adorned in. At the end of the day, The Baroness still boils down to being some Euro Trash with a machine gun.
From a character standpoint, I feel there is a lot of value to The Baroness. She was portrayed as being more competent than a good portion of the G.I. Joe universe, since she was an excellent pilot, spy and tactician. Her importance in the running of COBRA Command was interesting, she was one of the few people who actually knew what COBRA Commander looked like, which allowed her an opportunity to cause the COBRA Civil War, with her own vying for power. The Action Force continuity, took more from her original Filecard where she was the “spoiled offspring of European Aristocrats”, which I find to be a great motivation for the character.
In my silly internal universe, she’s perhaps the most dedicated to the COBRA Organization, after COBRA Commander. She’s not entirely altruistic with her devotion, as if she could take overall command, she would. This devotion however ensures that she would never betray COBRA Commander in a way would ever seriously harm him nor COBRA Command. As both he and the organization, allowed her to graduate from rinky dink mailbox bombings and reading leaflets, to real deal revolution. COBRA Commander knew she was an extraordinary talent, and did his best to nurture her development, but also that she was worthy of being treated on a somewhat equal playing field.
I view her this way, as it provides some possible friction when it comes to Destro. If Destro was to attempt to take over COBRA by force, it would put the Baroness in a position of having to make a hard choice. I feel she’d probably use it in a way to get herself in charge of COBRA Command, a thing based off some of her behaviours in the early Marvel Comic. Where she uses Destro’s weakness for her as a way to get him to help her, but also not kill Major Bludd (Who’d gifted Baroness with new skin, clothes and last name)
I’m not sure if this is my favourite overall Baroness, but it’s one I tend to use the most. It’s not due to rarity, or to show off, but more because it’s the version of the character that stands out the most, because if you look at the overall COBRA Hierarchy it involves a lot of blue, black, and not much red as a base colour. However at the end of the day, there’s probably better uses of the mold (2000’s version being the best overall version, I’d say.)