2004 Cobra Infantry Forces Trooper

2004 Cobra Infantry Forces Trooper

I sometimes have wondered what there is for me to say about the Toys R” Us Cobra Infantry Forces, that hasn’t already been said more cogently by someone with more relation to it as an adult at the time. I was around 10 when this set came out, so perhaps the only thing relatively interesting I could tell you is some oddball kid-gripes that are mostly regurgitated sentiments I’ve shared on other topics regarding 2000‘s Joes. Though I guess other than that, Cobra Troopers are cool as crap aren’t they?

Cobra Troopers Infantry Forces 2004 Toys R Us 6-pack valor vs. venom

I didn’t buy many GI Joes as a kid. Mainly because I only had enough money to go after one or two toy lines, and for me that was mostly Transformers, Gundam, and ZOIDS (If you remember Zoids, bless your heart.). I didn’t dislike GI Joe either, but it’s lack of contemporary media and questionable retail offerings meant that I never felt compelled to buy new ones when for all intents and purposes, my brother’s tub of figures (along with my small collection of clearance figures) was plenty good enough.

That wasn’t to say I was content with the Joes we had per se, rather, just that the average New Sculpt figure had about as much appeal to me as the worst 90‘s redesign. Swapping Grunt V3 for Grunt V5 is a prospect with little appeal, even then. I knew the GI Joe characters only through Sunbow, which I managed to watch a few times though USA, Toonami and a few old VHS tapes. So the only two things I would want from GI Joe would be the characters I knew, and good looking generics that didn’t need a character, stuff exactly like the TRU 6-packs.

Which is how we get back around to the Cobra Infantry Forces, and why I never bought them as a kid: I never knew about them until they were gone! As egregious as half of them were, these 6-packs were exactly what I wanted from Joe back then. It’s just that I seldom ever went to TRU, so I didn’t even know about these until I saw the stagnant remains of the Green Shirts and Cobra Imperial Procession in late ‘05 or possibly ‘06. I really wanted some generic Cobras and Green Shirts to play with back then, since they were just fun soldier toys and a little more plausible looking than what I had. Instead though, these were made blink-and-miss-it collector items while kids were expected to be more concerned with the likes of Hi-Tech, Coil Crusher and Venomous Maximus.

Anyways, the figures are nice. As far as I’m aware more of the figure is newly tooled than not, as the torso and possibly the legs were new castings based on the original Trooper sculpt. There’s not much of a notable difference besides a bit of bulk on the new one. The arms were swapped for Thunder arms, which was a good choice both for looking the part and also for being some old sculpting from ‘84. Of course, the head is a new sculpt, and in the fashion of the Comic Pack figures, it’s way smaller than the original. It looks weird when you pose them with 80‘s figures, but they’re actually not such a bad match for some of the 90‘s sculpting, which provides a lot of novelty to me still.

The Cobras in the set have some new details, like little patches tampographed on the side of their arms. It looks pretty nice, though I wish they hadn’t done these and the Cobra symbol in such an orange tone. They’re also multi-ethnic, which is pretty cool. At one point I had wanted to collect a lopsided amount of black Troopers, to have as region specific troops in Africa. Never got more than one spare, but maybe one day I’ll go back and do that still. The Officer and Squad Leader from the set have more detail and color variety, though I think the Cobra Troopers may have come out best for taking a simple approach.

Infamously, every figure in the set came equipped with a Rock Viper PSG1 and a SAW Viper backpack. Really, that gun’s not even a bad sculpt, but the excessiveness of giving them to every Cobra Trooper in existence is mildly absurd, I think this is partly what gave the sculpt a bad reputation. It was a lot harder to get decent Joe guns back then, so you can probably thank this 6-pack for Marauder’s Gun Runners even existing today. At least there weren’t any Sound Attack tabs on these.

Cobra Troopers Infantry Forces 2004 Toys R Us 6-pack valor vs. venom

Taken from a current eBay auction.

There’s an alternate set of head sculpts for these that would’ve had removable helmets. Sounds like a cool gimmick, but they looked way worse for it. The first heads were noticeably more pencil-necked than the ones that replaced them, and the helmets looked really wide and lame. Here’s a Forgotten Figures post on some loose samples.

A large appeal of these figures is that they’ve always been Cobras for poor people, essentially. You can get carded sets for around $50, and loose figures (usually sans the PSG1) for $12. Twenty years in and these don’t seem to be spontaneously degrading like a lot of figures from the period, so that’s something you might not have to worry about. They cost a little less than a squad of Troops from The Black Major, and imagine his figures have probably helped keep prices relatively low on these.

Cobra Troopers Infantry Forces 2004 Toys R Us 6-pack valor vs. venomCobra Troopers Infantry Forces 2004 Toys R Us 6-pack valor vs. venomCobra Troopers Infantry Forces 2004 Toys R Us 6-pack valor vs. venom

2004 Cobra Infantry Forces Trooper Links:

Forgotten Figures

Half the Battle

Joe A Day



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4 Responses to 2004 Cobra Infantry Forces Trooper

  1. Mike T. says:

    I think we lucked out by not getting the removable helmets. It was definitely a case where the original design was improved, even if it removed more parts.

    Black Major pretty much mooted these guys. With originals available in both classic blue and every other color in the rainbow, these guys are far less relevant, now. And, their stiff joints really limit their usefulness.

    It’s still baffling that Hasbro didn’t paint these up in at least one more paint job to cash in on the army builder craze.

    • A-Man says:

      The molds were trapped in some Chinese factory, remember? Or that was the rumour of the time. Or maybe from Hasbro’s Deryl DePriest himself.

      The comic pack #1 presell images showed the trooper in comic colors.

      So he brand new molds were “lost” and the originals mostly found, filed under “python patrol”. Yet, the Thunder arms and recast trooper legs reappear on Urban Strike and comic pack Scrap-Iron along with the NEW trooper legs. Also, Anti-venom Mutt reused the recast trooper legs, too. Were only the legs transferred to another factory?

      Oh, we definitely lucked out not getting the removable helmet versions. The giraffe neck troopers are terrible. Everyone would be losing the helmets, assuming they even fit well. Or wondering why they all have officer crests.

  2. A-Man says:

    Yeah, KNOCK ON WOOD, these haven’t gone to c-r-a-p like some other figures I’ army built back then (the Vipers, Alley-Vipers, gas mask Troopers…) Maybe it was the new tooling or different factory?

    These Cobra Infantry sets were scalper bait when first released. I guess enough were made that scalpers lost interest.

    I think Mike T ^ once said these would’ve been the follow up to the BAT mailer box style trooper builder set, but since that set kinda bombed, the Cobra Infantry went to TRU. Lesson, never lead with 90’s neon and translucent robots.

    The figures aren’t perfect. I’d swear their shoulder joints look to be softer plastic. And I heard some had glued together torsos. And the weapons suck, which stranger because they were recast. Why pick two of the worst accessories currently in production and recast them?

  3. HitandRun says:

    I recall being very excited for this Cobra Troopers 6 pack when it was announced. I bought 2 sets back in 2004/2005. I appreciated the attempt Hasbro was making to get some army builders into the hands of us collectors and I always thought the set was solid. I liked the details, rank insignias, different skin tones and colors used to differentiate the squad members. The accessories did stink though and over time the plastic which stayed stiff and rigid started to get to be. Despite those small complaints I ended up building my collection of Cobra Infantry Forces to about 30 or so figures by 2022. As I was going through my collection and with the release of the CO/CT two pack I decided to part ways with most of the infantry forces figures in this set – selling them off to make a smaller army of the Cobra Trooper from the recently released 2 pack. I also ended up giving a few of the figures to my son.

    Part of me wants to re-acquire on set just to give my Cobra army a bit of variety in the troop ranks. As mentioned in the original write-up these figures seem to be withstanding some of the issues that affect other figures released in the era. I was unaware of the removable helmet variant of this set so that was cool to see. Another idea that appeared to be better on paper than it was in execution of the product.

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