Cobra’s elite street level guards, the HEADHUNTERS, are ruthless, highly trained, and picked from the best Cobra has to offer. In order to meet the daunting Headhunter qualifications, a Cobra soldier must have a high school diploma, a GED, or any Warsaw Pact equivalent. Vetting for Headhunters is so extreme that candidates must pass a gruelling algebra test, know where the safety is on a 9mm pistol, be able to name four Bob Marley songs, and have a valid driver’s license. Former food service workers with more than four customer complaints are also heavily considered. Once a Cobra soldier becomes a Headhunter, they can look forward to standing around behind HEADMAN in a variety of dark alley and nightclub situations. The only thing Cobra Headhunters love more than sticking it to GI Joe is selling weed to undercover cops.
Qualified Expert: Shotgun, Knife, All NATO and Warsaw Pact Leather Jackets, Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy, and Alcohol… C-C-C-C-Cocaine
From the files of Cobra Commander: “Headhunters? Oh, yeah. Those guys are okay. You can hit them up on their beeper at 3am, and they’ll be at your house in under 30 minutes with whatever you need. And I do mean whatever you need. Well, kind of. I usually just end up with a bag of dirt weed (mostly seeds and stems), some prescription cat valium, and a frozen Tony’s Pizza. But, let’s be honest, that makes them more elite and dependable than 90% of my forces. That Headman guy, though? Fedora, ponytail, goatee, or bandit mask– you only get to pick one! Cripes, what a doofus.”
1992 GI Joe Cobra Headhunters and Me
I got my original Cobra Headhunter in 1992, along with DEF Shockwave. I loved both of these figures, as they looked great and had cool accessories. I still have both of my original figures to this day (they survived the house fire I talked about in a previous post, thanks to a GI Joe Collector’s Case).
Somehow, I was even able to hold on to most of their accessories. I still have Shockwave’s helmet, and I had the Headhunter’s backpack and shotgun after the fire, too. The summer after the fire, my family lived in a hotel for about four months while our house was rebuilt.
All I could really do at night was watch Nick at Nite on the hotel’s TV and play with either GI Joe or Beast Wars figures. One night, the Headhunter and Headhunter Stormtrooper were the main adversaries for my Joes (as they often were). I was thirsty, so I left my room to get a soda from the vending machine outside. When I came back, I couldn’t find the Headhunter’s shotgun. I frantically looked around the room, but never found it. I assume the cleaning staff found it the next day and threw it away.
Even without his shotgun, though, Headhunter remained a favorite.
I think he’s still fairly well-liked by the GI Joe community at large, even though he came out in 1992, and he came from a substeam. And what a subteam it was! The War On Drugs was in full swing in 1992, and drug dealers were the ultimate cartoon bad guys.
You had games like NARC, which was the bloodiest and most violent game I ever played until I had a few moments with Wolfenstein 3D at my mom’s friend’s NYE party in 1993 or so. We had DARE officers driving up to our schools in murdered-out Dodge Vipers, telling us the evils of even having one single puff from a jazz cigarette. And we had the GI Joe Drug Elimination Force (DEF).
(Here’s an excellent NARC-related music video from Wordburglar)
It’s no secret that I love DEF, Eco Warriors, and Ninja Force. As toys, I think they all hold up. And most of the concepts are great. But, as I get older, the overall theme of of DEF doesn’t sit as well with me. I understand that in our fictional plastic army man world, we don’t want Cobra selling drugs to kids. But I can’t say I’m a big supporter of the War on Drugs, or the fetishization of militarized police using machine guns and rocket launchers to take down your neighborhood weed dealer.
Still, the toys are great, and you can make up your own stories where Lt. Falcon smokes a joint to help with his chronic back pain and then takes out an entire Python Patrol platoon in Sierra Gordo. After the mission, he buys clean urine from Tripwire, who won’t touch anything harder than uncaffeinated Diet Coke. Damn you, Hawk, and your randomized drug testing policy!
Speaking of Lt. Falcon, we need to talk about the DIC cartoon. I’ve still never seen the DEF episodes, but I remember feeling tremendously perplexed as a child when a friend told me he saw a new episode of the GI Joe cartoon where Falcon got addicted to drugs. I was a hardcore goodie two shoes back then, but it seemed like a real stretch– even at the time.
1992 GI Joe Cobra Headhunters Review
So, let’s talk about the 1992 GI Joe Cobra Headhunter as a figure, and stop waxing philosophical. He’s clad in black leather with a spiked shoulder pad, jackboots, an awesome gold face shield, and a helmet that looks like the kind of newsboy cap people wore in hip nightclubs in 1992. Basically, he’s New Jack Swing meets the Road Warrior.
It’s a simple, realistic look that’s just styled enough to make him believable as a Cobra soldier, a street-level enforcer, and a mid-level drug dealer.
1994 GI Joe Metalhead Review
Metalhead 100% looks like a guy who would buy a gigantic bag of weed from a Cobra Headhunter. End of review.
Back to the 1992 GI Joe Cobra Headhunters Review
It’s a good look. He looks big and mean, and the shoulder pad adds to his bulk. He also looks like he belongs on the street or in a nightclub, and the helmet/face shield combo really sells him as a menacing enforcer for a drug kingpin.
But, what really makes him are great are his accessories:
The DEF figures all had oversized spring-loaded missile launchers molded in a variety of translucent plastics. They lit up when you pushed the launching mechanism– at least until their batteries ran out. Overall, they’re a mixed bag. Shockwave’s battering ram tank is cool and makes sense, and Cutter’s grappling hook launcher isn’t bad, either. The 1992 GI Joe Cobra Headhunters, though, got the short end of the stick.
It’s a dorky missile launcher and it’s way too big and it’s clear and it’s purple.
Luckily, he comes with more accessories.
First, he has an awesome sawed-off shotgun. He holds it well, it’s an appropriate weapon for a character who works in urban environments, and it’s just a slick looking gun. He also comes with a super detailed backpack, which probably holds his beeper, his huge 90s cell phone, the newest issue of Cat Fancy, and his stash. The file card says there’s a computer in his backpack, too. Sure, whatever.
But, the coolest feature? The backpack can actually hold the shotgun! Such an amazing feature.
Here he is All Geared Up:
Another quick note on the backpack: if you lose the included sawed-off shotgun like I did as a kid, this backpack isn’t totally useless. It can hold a wide variety of other weapons, including the combat shotgun that came included with a ton of new sculpt and modern era figures. That shotgun actually fits perfectly, looks good with the figure, and is super easy to come by.
But the Headhunter looks great with any gun you want to give him.
The thing is, though, he does have a few problems. Mainly, the paint. It’s super easy to scuff, as you can see from my photos. The gold and black paint on the head comes off very easily, and the brown paint comes off of the hands easily, as well. I think he probably has the worst potential for paint scuffing of any 1990s GI Joe figure.
And, watch out for the thumbs. They’re brittle. I got 2 Headhunters in the mail last week, and one of them had a thumb break off just by putting its original shotgun accessory in its hand. Just be careful.
Verdict: This is an excellent figure. It’s one of the best Cobra troops of the 90s. The Headhunter works as a guard, an enforcer, a drug dealer, or just an urban combat trooper. He’s got a great gun and backpack, and he just looks super cool. But, he is kind of expensive, hard to come by, and prone to paint damage. There were some convention exclusive Headhunters, and a variant where the green replaces the brown, if that’s more your speed. Keep all of that in mind. Recommended.
- Here’s the 1992 GI Joe Cobra Headhunter at Yojoe.com.
- Here’s the Headhunter at 3DJoes (look at his lil plastic butt!)
- Here’s JoeADay’s look at the Headhunter.
- Here’s a great profile on the Headhunter from Mike T’s Forgotten Figures.
- When it Was Cool has an awesome, exhaustive profile on the Headman and his troops in the comics, cartoons, and toys.
- GI Joburg’s recent podcast has a choose your own adventure-style story featuring the DEF, and it’s creative funny as hell. I highly recommend listening to it.
And a special shout out to Injuface_Toys on Instagram for hooking me up with two out of my three Headhunters! The dude is always selling great GI Joe figures at good prices, and I 100% vouch for him.
Closing Thoughts on the 1992 GI Joe Cobra Headhunters
I got the bag of weed in these photos from a toy called Drug Dealing Shark. His actual accessory is “bag of weed” and it was very useful for these photos. It was a gift from a dear friend, and I don’t know much about it.
Here they are together (besties!):
And here is the Drug Dealing Shark in his original packaging:
Since we’re all in the mood for drugs, here’s a great song from a band called Drug Church:
Thanks for reading! What’s your favorite drug dealer toy? Let me know in the comments!