It’s Cobra’s interplanetary attack craft that’s “hoppin” mad! It’s also sincerely “hoppin” you won’t notice it’s just an older toy, which no one liked the first time around, with a missile launcher glued to one of its legs!
The INVADER attacks by plummeting from the upper atmosphere and pouncing on unsuspecting victims dwelling on planet surfaces. That is, it would if its targeting read out was any larger or more sophisticated than a Sega Game Gear, and its pilot had even rudimentary military training. Instead, when you see the INVADER coming from a mile away, you’ll notice it looks like a big neon blender with legs, and you can just either take a few steps to the right or get into your car and go out for a pack of smokes.
Don’t worry, the INVADER isn’t going anywhere. Regardless, this ballistic battle ball features lunar landing legs, an opening command canopy, and a spring-fired missile launcher. So basically it fires one shot, it can fit a plastic spaceman in its neon green innards, and it can stand up on its three legs. And we use the term “stand up” in the loosest possible sense.
The 1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Invader and Shattered Dreams
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. I’m sure many of you can relate. I was born in the mid 1980s, so I was part of the ‘you can be whatever you want to be, as long as you apply yourself and work hard” generation.
So, I was obsessed with astronauts and space. I checked out books on Skylab, the Apollo missions, Sputnik, and the Space Shuttle Program at the library. I religiously watched any space-related TV show or movie I could find on VHS at the video store. For a while, I must have watched Space Camp once or twice a month.
But, at some point, my Mom had to break the news to me. My eyesight was too poor, my math skills were inadequate, and I was going to be too tall to fly a jet or a space shuttle. That’s what she said, anyway.
I’m not sure about the height requirements, but she was right about everything else– my math skills are lousy and my eyesight is at the “barely pass the driver’s license eye exam without having to wear glasses” level.
Still, that didn’t destroy my love of space and everything related to space. I was still a believer.
In 1989 or 1990, I received a GI Joe Crusader Space Shuttle. It was the pride and joy of my childhood toy collection. The problem was, however, there weren’t many spaceworthy GI Joes or Cobras at that time. I was too late for the Astro Viper. So, I had to make due with Payload and Countdown.
To me, GI Joe has always been about science fiction as much as it’s been about a military force fighting international terrorists. I grew up with GI Joe: The Movie and the Sunbow cartoon series. They’re all about science fiction.
So, when Star Brigade made its debut in 1993, I couldn’t have been more excited. Finally! GI Joe, in space! Done properly!
… kind of.
Even as a kid, I wasn’t keen on the figures whose space suits weren’t air tight. Using machine guns in space didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Still, I liked figures such as the Star Brigade versions of Ozone and Countdown, Payload, TARGAT, and some of the now-hated Armor Tech figures.
But, there was a more important aspect of the Star Brigade line– THE VEHICLES.
Finally, I had an escort ship for my Crusader with the Starfighter. And, crucially, a vehicle to maraud my space shuttle in the 1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Invader.
The Invader is a repaint of the 1987 Cobra Pogo Ballistic Battle Ball, which I was somehow aware of (likely from a catalog) as a kid. I was unaware of the Stellar Stiletto, and never knew the Starfighter was just that toy, colored in white, with a missile launcher glued on.
As a space vehicle, the Invader made total sense to me. I had a ton of fun pitting it against my Crusader, Starfighter, and Astronauts. Later, I had a blast sending it up against the Armor Bot and the Power Fighter.
But, it wasn’t meant to be for long. Pieces were easily lost. It sheds its legs, its missiles, its cockpit glass, its cannons, and its thrusters. It simply fell apart and I lost the pieces. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t well made.
In fact, my friend Alexx of Toys and Tomfoolery fame, told me he returned his childhood Invader because the legs were warped right out of the package. On Instagram, a few other people confirmed his experience.
I didn’t remember the quality being that bad, so I recently purchased a brand new, boxed Cobra Invader to review on this site.
A week or so ago, I opened it, put it together, and took some photos. Let’s see how it turned out.
1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Invader Review
This is my first GI Joe vehicle review for The Dragon Fortress. It’s kind of a special thing, so I wanted to review a special vehicle. I needed to find something that I had childhood memories of, something not a lot of other people had covered, and something I could find with its box and all of its pieces for a reasonable price. Normally I don’t care about the box, but I wanted to go all out for this review.
So, I settled on the 1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Invader because I found one boxed and unopened for a fair price.
I left it unopened for a couple of months, and planned to review it “at some point.” Then, I took a Twitter poll. Between this vehicle, Eco Warriors Flint, and the 1991 Cobra BATs v2, people overwhelmingly chose the Invader.
So I opened it and put it together.
What a piece of garbage!
That was my first reaction, at least. The pieces didn’t want to fit together. Tabs snapped or stressed when I placed the top of the hull onto the bottom of the hull. The canopy glass halves are loose, floppy, and don’t fit into their dedicated slots. The elaborate tubing doesn’t fit into the legs how the instructions show– I had to improvise.
But, worst of all, the legs were completely warped. New and out of the package. Just like Alexx warned. You’ll notice in these photos that the legs don’t sit flush against the ground. But at least it still stands up, I guess.
Would you like to see just how much of a waking nightmare this thing is to put together? Then check out Hooded Cobra Commander 788’s Invader assembly video:
This is a review, though, so I sadly have to be more analytical than “this thing sucks.”
Sigh. Let’s get on with it.
The Invader is a repaint of 1987’s Cobra Pogo, with a spring-loaded missile launcher added. That means it’s basically a cylinder (more shaped like a cheap ice cream cone, really) with three legs, a bubble canopy, a bunch of tubing, three missiles, a launcher, an antenna, and a combination thruster array/gun turret at the bottom.
While there is a “front side” the pilot faces, each side of the Invader looks basically identical. You can point the bottom turret in any direction, so any side can look like the front.
So, now you’re beginning to get the point. And so am I.
When I was taking these photos, I got the point enough that I started to change my mind about this vehicle. I started to hate it less. I started appreciating its silhouette, with the four missiles and one antenna pointing upward. I started appreciating its cool neon green canopy glass, and appreciating the way the laser cannons can rotate 360 degrees, as well as elevate up and down to cover most firing positions.
And, if you know me, you know I fell in love with the colors. Black and neon green is my favorite color combination, and the added brass hardware works pretty well with those base colors. The decals (even the one I put on upside down, whoops) are sparse, minimal, and look nice with the overall aesthetic of this impossible space contraption.
I even started liking the spring-loaded launcher itself. It’s something I never once used as a kid, but I had fun with it as an adult. The launcher simply plugs on to either side of any of the Invader’s legs with a circular peg that fits snugly in the craft’s pre-existing “hip joint.”
It’s actually a clever design that didn’t require them to change the Pogo’s legs much at all, and allows the launcher to rotate a fair amount for better range. Better yet, you can completely remove it if you want to, and it won’t leave the craft looking incomplete.
The cockpit itself is cramped, and requires you to bend a figures knees all the way to seat them in the command chair. The clearance between the control console and the seat isn’t great, so it can be difficult to get a figure in or out of the vehicle.
Once they’re in there, though, most figures look pretty good– especially Astro Viper v2, Star Brigade Cobra Commander, Blackstar, and TARGAT v2. I like those first three figures enough that I don’t want them hidden in a vehicle, and TARGAT v2 drives my Cobra Imp (only God can judge me), so I currently have a Lanard Star Force Guy piloting my Invader.
Generally, as long as the figure is wearing a spaceworthy suit, they’ll look good in the Invader’s cockpit.
But, for me, the real fun starts to happen with the Invader once you turn it onto its side. It is a space vehicle, after all, and those thrusters should allow it to fly through space like any starfighter.
And, with the shape and format of the legs, it even looks pretty aerodynamic when it’s coming at you face-first. Plus, that makes the missile launcher (which points “up”) more practical.
To me, the Invader/Pogo makes more sense as a spacecraft than it does as a land-based assault vehicle. With those springy pogo legs, its thrusters, its omnidirectional firing capabilities, and its bubble cockpit, it’s well suited to attacking space stations, moonbases, space shuttles, and satellites.
It’s not just a flying porta potty with weird legs. I mean, it totally is that, but it’s also a pretty good space assault craft for Cobra. And they need all of those they can get.
Allow me to make a blasphemous statement: When the Cobra Pogo Ballistic Battle Ball is repurposed into a spacecraft, it’s actually a sensible and practical vehicle.
Tell my friends and bill collectors I love them, because a bunch of angry dudes who think GI Joe ended in 1985 are going to show up at my house any day now and run me over with their leased humvees.
RIP, Dragon Fortress: 1984-2018.
But, before you kiss your mint on card Storm Shadow v1 (whose o-ring has since disintegrated, so it looks absolutely ridiculous in the package) goodbye and come over to my house to murder me in cold blood, just know that someone else agrees with me.
Take it from respected YouTube reviewer formbx257:
See??? IN YOUR FACE.
Anyway, back to the toy. It’s made of slightly worse plastic than older vehicles (at least by my estimate), it doesn’t fit together well, and its little weird pogo feet don’t even sit flat on the ground. Hasbro was obviously past the point about caring about the actual quality of their vehicles by 1993. Which is a shame.
So, I hated putting this thing together, and I initially hated the vehicle itself. But, the more I played around with it, looked at it, and photographed it, the more I actually started to like it.
I think it looks good on a shelf, just because of its unique and striking silhouette. But I also think it’s flimsy, frustrating, prone to falling apart, and overall poorly made.
It’s just not a good toy. And aren’t “good toys” the whole point of something like GI Joe?
To me, that is the entire point. And the Invader missed it entirely.
Verdict: If you want one of these things, be aware of their common quality control issues– poor parts fit, bad plastic, and warped legs. The color scheme is good, it serves a cool and underrepresented purpose in Cobra’s arsenal, and it’s a fun toy in theory. But, there’s so much holding it back. You’d be safer just buying a 1987 Cobra Pogo, which also has good colors and can be used as a space vehicle, instead.
I’d say I’m Neutral (verging on Avoid) with this toy, unless you can find a loose, already assembled version so you can see if the legs remain unwarped. If that’s the case, then I’d scoot it up to the low end of Mildly Recommended.
- Here’s the Invader at YoJoe.com.
Closing Thoughts on the 1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Invader
I really don’t have much to say here. But look out for another big, collaborative feature piece (much like my Corps! article) sometime in march.
You can look forward to my first Exo-Squad review next. Thanks, as always, for reading.
Let me know what you think of the Pogo, and using the Pogo as a space vehicle, in the comments.