(Editor’s Note: Today’s review comes from Robert aka RangeViper84, who was one of the earliest friends I made when I started this project. Robert’s childhood experience is quite similar to my own, as we were born in the same year. I always enjoy his take on GI Joe, and I’m delighted to present you with his take on the GI Joe line’s most unloved toys. You can find Robert on Twitter and Instagram.)
Review and Photos by Robert
I grew up watching the show, playing the NES video game, and collecting Joes from Kay-Bee Toys and Toys ‘R Us, but largely shifted out of any “collecting.” Between 2000 and 2017, I maybe purchased 10 GI Joe-related items (Cartoon DVDs, Storm Shadow Sideshow figure, to name a few).
Then, with the birth of my son in fall 2017 I started to retrieve all of my old Joes, Turtles, Marvel, and Spawn figures from my moms house. Many O-rings had deteriorated and it was that process of repair that re-ignited my love for the franchise and desire to “get back into” GI Joe.
I quickly sought out other media to fuel the nostalgia and came across the GI Joburg podcast and many an IG photographer, with Dragon Fortress being one of my favorites. Most of my childhood Joes were the same neon 90s that he featured and I also enjoyed his non-Joe blogging, in particular his Ecto Cooler taste test.
Four years back in the saddle, and my appreciation for these toys and unofficial “brand ambassadors” like Dragon Fortress is at an all time high.
On to the review…
1992 GI Joe Cobra Rat Review
Some might say that the vehicle is lackluster and uninspired, or that the color scheme makes no tactical sense, but the Cobra Rat is an excellent toy. Let’s start at the beginning…
Born in 1984, my childhood GI Joe collection started in the late 80s/early 90s, just when things were getting good, haha. Frag Viper and Range-Viper were among the first figures that I physically pulled from the pegs with my own hands, having acquired a few earlier figures (Battle Armor Cobra Commander, Wet-Suit, and Lamprey) from a neighborhood garage sale shortly before, thus igniting the childhood GI Joe fever. As the 90s progressed, the toys got brighter and whatever “military realism” existed in the early days had largely been forgotten. Didn’t bother me, though. How could it? I didn’t even know those earlier toys existed for the most part.
My one small glimpse into the earlier GI Joe toy years were the mail away slips that came with certain figures or vehicles. Not having enough money or flag points for a Whale, my brother and I were able to secure a pair of Cobra Stinger Jeeps (no driver included on the mail-away, though).
This is my favorite Cobra vehicle, no doubt (I think the Rattler is the “best” but was unaware of its existence till much later in life). As a child’s toy however, the Stinger had a fatal flaw…weak wheels. After just a few intense chase sequences in the hallway, the plastic cracked and a single wheel went rolling away. My mom’s hot glue gun was able to re-attach it (as well as the other wheels which would eventually suffer the same fate), but the Stinger was relegated to a background vehicle, or serving as cover during a ground assault, too fragile to face the fight head on.
Then one glorious day in 1992, I received a Cobra Rat. This high-speed attack hovercraft was roughly the same size as the Stinger, featured huge gatling guns, slicer blades, spring loaded flak, and was virtually indestructible. I eventually acquired a second Rat, along with a v3 Firefly (to go with the v2 that I already had) and these vehicles became the focal point of my missions.
The speed and firepower allowed them to easily outmaneuver the Patriot, the Attack Cruiser, and even the General. A pair of Locusts were the only real threat from the Joes, and many fierce battles ensued. The Stinger would fire off a rocket in support, but a fear of more wheel damage would force it into hiding while the Rats commanded the battlefield.
The Rat is far from an excellent vehicle, but I do believe that it is a great toy and a valuable part to any GI Joe collection. The aforementioned “durability” cannot be understated. This vehicle can fall off the highest bunk bed, get run over by the mighty wheels of the Battle Wagon, or plow through a field of ground soldiers without merely a scratch.
Plus, there aren’t really any small pieces to lose. The flak rotors, maybe, but mine were a pretty tight fit and leaving them off didn’t affect the vehicles appearance, so I could always just set them aside.
The small size and durability also made for a great travel toy. My family would take LONG drives up the east coast and space was limited. Only a handful of figures and a small vehicle could make the trip. And you can bet that I reached for the RAT first.
It may not have the sculpt detail, real world believability, or fine craftsmanship of the early GI Joe toys, and you probably wont be tempted to display it… but when your son/daughter starts to show some interest in the collection, the Cobra RAT is a great toy to introduce them to.
Get one today while they are still affordable on eBay and I doubt you will regret it.
Thank you, Dustin, for your continued inspiration!
–Robert (IG: rangeviper84)
This is probably my favorite kind of article, as it both defends the underdog and tells the story of what a toy means to someone personally. 80s toys and pop culture still dominate most fandom discussion and, aside from a few exceptions, the 90s are a bit of an afterthought. I love 80s toys, music, and pop culture because of VHS tapes, reruns, and the radio stations of my childhood– be the 90s stuff I got to experience in real time will always hold a more special place in my heart.
Huge thanks to Robert for showcasing one of GI Joe’s most unloved toys and passionately defending it. And, he’s right– you’d better jump on eBay and grab one before the price gets even worse.
One of my things Rob has ever done, by the way, was a longplay of the Taxan GI Joe game for NES with Steve and Paul from GI Joburg. You can watch it below:
What are your thoughts on the Cobra Rat? What are the GI Joe toys you love that everyone else treats as an afterthought? Let us know in the comments!