The seemingly inexorable tide of GIJoe figures has slowed a bit, of late, but the toys we are getting are some of the best ever.
Chief veterinarian at a national zoo, Link is a third-generation vet who grew up on a farm in northwestern Massachusetts. He joined the Navy after high school and became a SEAL, completing two tours of duty before hanging up his wetsuit to attend the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, where he earned a V.M.D. and Ph.D. He's a hardened soldier, with the steel discipline of a SEAL and championship-winning martial arts skills. He views his animal charges as priceless natural treasures, and personally investigates when DNA is taken from zoo animals by mysterious infiltrators. His skills as a vet, scientist, and combat-trained soldier prove invaluable to the GIJoe Team as they fight the venomization plans of Cobra Commander and Dr. Mindbender.
Link was a character introduced in the Valor vs. Venom movie. When the Joes investigated a break-in at the National Zoo (not "a" national zoo - there's only one), Link decided to follow them back to their headquarters. However, instead of being shot dead as a trespasser, he was apparently hired on to the team without so much as a game of 20 Questions. All you have to do is follow them home and wander into the barracks? Geeze, GIJoe's admission standards are even more lax than Yale's.
The figure is decent, but not great. He's wearing dark boots, green pants and a white tank top with yellow pads on the shoulders. To show us how much of a badass he is, he's got black elbow pads that have apparently been bolted directly into his flesh. This is the same mold, head to toe, as the first Dr. Link Talbot figure, though the paint is different.
Link adds some much-needed racial equality to the team; quick, name three black Joes from the original line. The sculptors gave him cornrows, though the way they're spaced and painted makes them look more like some stupid Dreadnok punk haircut than the real thing.
Articulation is the standard 12 GIJoe points: knees, hips, waist, elbows, biceps, shoulders and neck. Link comes with two accessories: a grenade launcher and some weird thing that plugs on his wrist. The launcher is detailed well, and sized nicely for him.
Now, Link's a good figure, but not one I ever would have bought by himself. However, you package him with the right guy, and he'll sell like hotcakes. In this case, the right guy is Cobra Commander.
Cobra Commander is the ruthless egomaniac who leads the evil forces of Cobra in their bid for world domination. Devoid of conscience or scruples, he will stop at nothing to achieve his terrible goals, going so far as to order the twisted genius Dr. Mindbender to experiment with combining human and animal DNA to produce more savage warriors for his legions. A roiling mass of contradictions, Cobra Commander is intelligent, yet oblivious to reality; passionate about his nasty aims, yet cold to people; perceptive of the minor faults of others, yet blind to his own foibles. He is basically a small-time hustler and card-cheat who has risen to greater power than was ever expected - but the same could be said for many infamous dictators of the past.
This Cobra Commander is obviously based on the CC who was available with Switch Gears, and that's a good choice: that was the best version of the character yet released. He's wearing a military dress uniform, perfect for commanding the respect of his troops or entering into battle. The colors are lighter on this version than the last, with a softer blue for the body of the uniform and white boots, belt and gloves instead of black.
So bascially the figure is the same - from the neck down. The one reason to buy this figure over any of the other Cobra Commanders is above his shoulders. No, it's not his military genius, but his choice in snazzy headwear.
Until now, every Cobra Commander has either had the silver-faced helmet, the cloth hood or that weird battle armor thing. This time is different - this time, fans get to choose. Included with the figure are removable versions of both the hood and the faceplate - both fit on the figure perfectly and look great in place. At last, there's one CC that's perfect for any occasion.
The helmet is based on the previous version, just as the uniform is. The Cobra symbol on the forehead is unpainted, but all the detail is there. The hood has a wind-swept look, rather than hanging straight down, which is a bit odd, but come on - the fact that they're removable more than makes up for any minor faults. Beneath the masks, Cobra Commander is wearing a blue mask that looks like he might have borrowed it from Stormshadow or one of the other ninjas - still no revealing that face, huh?
Incidentally, Cobra Commander's face has been revealed, in the old Marvel comics. Forget that cartoon nonsense about him being a Cobra-La snakeman - the guy's as human as they come.
One problem with this figure is that the blue of his uniform is lighter than the blue of his mask, hood and helmet. They look like they'd go better with the darker colors of the figure this one was based on. It may be time for a custom. Besides the hats, Cobra Commander's accessories include a gray handgun and a golden staff with a cannister of green liquid at the top - it's what he used to control the Venom-ized troops in the movie.
Paint issues aside, this is a great figure of Cobra Commander - I just wish they'd made one this good earlier.
Anyone know how to perform a GIJoe headswap? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.