The spoiled offspring of wealthy European aristocrats, THE BARONESS is one of the few anti-government radicals to ever put her trust fund where mouth is. She graduated from student radicalism to international terrorism, and grew more and more ambitious with her plans to subvert international capitalism and the military industrial complex. Her parents still think she’s going through a phase. Despite her librarian glasses and privileged upbringing, The Baroness is a qualified fighter pilot, assassin, espionage operative, and intelligence analyst. If Cobra Commander ever dared to pay her 70% of what he pays Major Bludd or Zartan, he knows he’d wake up with one fewer kidney and his secret identity revealed on the front page of TMZ. Ruthless, cunning, smart, disciplined, and ambitious, Baroness put her college degrees to good use in service of COBRA.
Qualified Expert: M-16; AK-47; RPG7, Standard Issue Early 00s Laser Rifle, Leather Pants, Warby Parker Coupons, Uzi, All NATO and Warsaw Pact Fashion Magazines, H.I.S.S. tank operator, Fixed Wing Aircraft
From the Files of Cobra Commander: “Though my forces made extensive use of the scoped high-density laser rifle when we were suffering a budget crunch in the early 2000s, Baroness used that weapon before it was cool. Though it pains me to admit it, I often listen to her advice. After all, it’s either her or Destro– and who are you going to trust? The college graduate with glasses and a sophisticated-but-vague Eastern European accent, or a guy with an open collar and a disco medallion? And, unlike most of my command structure, Baroness does more with her spare time than snorting crushed up prescription cat valium, watching reruns of Home Improvement, and prank calling Storm Shadow. Though, to be honest, I wish she’d prank call Storm Shadow more often. She’s a master of silly voices! He’d never catch on!”
1997 GI Joe Baroness, The Late 90s, And Second Chances
In my review of the Movie Edition Sonya Blade figure, I talked about how my house burned down in the summer of 1998. Not much in the way of personal belongings survived the house fire, but a collector’s case full of GI Joe toys did. Still, that meant I lost my 92 Destro, my talking Battle Commanders Cobra Commander, my Ninja Force Zartan, and most of the rest of my “Cobra Command” figures.
If you grew up with the GI Joe cartoon and comics, and slavishly read over each figure’s filecard like I did, you probably agree that the characters, the setting, and the overall universe made GI Joe just as interesting as the plastic army people and their vehicles did. The toys were great, but the lore was even better.
That’s why I counted myself fortunate to find the 1997 Cobra Command pack at Toys R Us sometime in 1998. It gave me a new Cobra Commander and Destro, and even more importantly, it gave me a Baroness.
Growing up in the very late 80s through the 90s, I never had a chance to own a Baroness figure. She was released in 1984, and was far gone from shelves by the time I was old enough to not choke to death on a GI Joe figure’s rifle immediately after opening the package. I was born the same year the original Baroness figure was released at retail.
It may seem odd, but it took Hasbro 13 years before they released another Baroness figure. That’s the focus of this review– the 1997 Baroness.
I primarily grew up on the GI Joe cartoon. A thorough reading of Larry Hama’s masterful Marvel GI Joe comic came much later. And in the cartoon, Baroness was one of the best characters on the evil side. She always seemed more competent than Cobra Commander, and she always seemed to be one step ahead of Destro (see the classic episode Skeletons in the Closet for a good example of this).
Plus, she busted the hell out of Cobra Commander’s chops in the opening scene of GI Joe: The Movie, which is still one of the best parts of that film. And I never had a Zarana figure, either, so Cobra was composed of all masked, angry men all the time. (Although my childhood friend did make his Create-A-Cobra into a female Cobra operative, but that’s a story for another day.)
So, I was always a bit sad as a kid to not have any plastic representation of the Baroness. She would have been great in any of my childhood GI Joe adventures, which ranged from Flint and Shockwave swimming in a sea of bullet casings to the Joes befriending a Toxo-Zombie, who I cast as a misunderstood monster.
I’ve not gotten any less weird with age.
Thankfully, 1998 came along and gave me a Baroness figure. And, wouldn’t you know it– I still have her! Let’s take a look at the toy.
1997 GI Joe Baroness Review
When you look at this figure, the first thing you’ll probably notice is that she looks pretty nice. The second thing you’ll notice is that her outfit is blue instead of black. Holy snopes!
Take a look:
Hasbro really went all out with the paint on this figure. While the 1984 Baroness looked sleek and elegant in all black with a single red Cobra logo on her chest, the 1997 Baroness is a lot more complex.
The base of her leather outfit is blue, with a nice red and black Cobra symbol on her chest. Her gloves have silver highlights and painted Cobra logos, while her thigh-high boots are black with red highlights on the back. Her belt is also painted.
Couple this excellent paint job with a brilliant sculpt, and you have a winner. Baroness stills looks intelligent, deadly, and contemplative all these years later. I think it’s an 80s sculpt that can hang with any of Hasbro’s best 90s work.
The blue also nicely matches Cobra’s various troopers and Vipers, so she seems like a frontline Combat/field commander version of The Baroness, whereas the first version seems more suited to stealth missions, espionage, and assassinations.
Here she is with her gear:
Sadly, all she came with was a single high-density laser rifle. It’s the same weapon she came with in 1984, and it suits her well. But the original version also came with a backpack, which this figure is missing.
Here’s a look at the rifle:
It’s a good weapon for The Baroness, and she looks good holding it in either a firing position or at rest. But it’s not a rifle that’s popular with collectors. That’s because it was reused and re-released with every got dang comic book three pack, box set, and vintage o-ring figure repaint Hasbro released in the early and mid 2000s. And it does NOT work well for anyone other than The Baroness.
Go ahead and put it in a Night Viper or Low Light’s hands. I’ll wait. See? It looks silly. But, when the 1997 GI Joe Baroness has it equipped, it looks like a great, pseudo-futuristic sniper rifle.
But, I probably have 8 or 9 of these guns and I never display with with anyone but Baroness. They’re about as useful to me as an Eco Warriors water cannon is to an 80s GI Joe purist.
So, that’s the 1997 GI Joe Baroness. If you’re a GI Joe fan, you need at least one version of the character in your collection. She’s one of the most important Cobra characters, and easily one of the best characters in the franchise.
This is the only version of the character I own in vintage, o-ring style. So I’m happy it’s a good one.
Verdict: This is a great version of The Baroness. Quality control is generally good, and she comes with her trademark rifle. Her paint is much more complex than the 1984 original, but you still may prefer the all-black look to this blue getup. Still, if you’re looking for a version of the character for your collection, you could do much worse than this one. I adore the character, and I’m glad to have her. Highly Recommended.
- Here’s the 1997 GI Joe Baroness at YoJoe.com.
- As usual, Mike T. has a great profile of this Baroness over at Forgotten Figures.
Other Thoughts on the 1997 GI Joe Baroness
Earlier in the review, I talked about how I think Baroness is one of the cooler characters in the entire GI Joe mythos.
The notion of a European aristocrat becoming a socialist or a communist in college, and then dedicating her life to tearing down the established system and order of things is a cool concept. Many rich students “grow out of” this sort of thinking and fall back on their money, but the Baroness did not.
She also had some great story arcs in the old GI Joe comic. But even if you never read those, the actual text from her 1997 file card is pretty cool:
“The Baroness was the spoiled offspring of European parents who made sure that she and her brother, Eugen, had the best of everything in life. During the time of the Southeast Asian conflict, Eugen had abondoned his aristocratic lifestyle. Using hsi power and influence, he delivered medical supplies and other needed items into the war-torn region. On one tragic occasion, Eugen’s sister, Anastasia, accompanied him on what would result in a deal gone bad. Eugen was fatally wounded just a another soldier burst in and apprehended the saboteurs. Anastasia, who had been in another room, believed that the soldier had destroyed both her brother and his supposedly peaceful contacts. This set her on a course of revenge that would lead her into a life of international terrorism. She joined the ranks of COBRA rising to its top intelligence agent. The Baroness is a highly intelligent and ambitious individual, and often enjoys pitting Destro, her companion, against Cobra Commander even as they all plot the overthrow of G.I. Joe and the conquest of the world.
From G.I. Joe Files: “The Baroness is probably the most dangerous agent within Cobra. She is ultimately loyal only to herself, and serves Cobra only because it is in her best interest to do so. She has an unrelenting hatred towards established governments that she believes are rules by military machines. Since G.I. Joe is the ‘best of the best’ in the military world, she despises the Joes most of all.”
Though I don’t care for how both the original and 1997 filecards paint her as basically a master manipulator and nothing more, the story of her seeing her brother gunned down for delivering medical supplies in Vietnam does lend extra credence to her character.
Anyway, what’s your favorite version of the Baroness? Does she rank in your top 3 Cobra characters? For me, she’s right behind Zartan and Cobra Commander. Let me know in the comments!