(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!
11 thoughts on “1992 GI Joe Cobra Rat Review”
Ah yes, this is my favorite kind of article- childhood memories. I can only hear about how rare something is or other Joe miscellany before I’m like “but how do you play with it??” When Rob talked about his narrow family car, I’m reminded of the time I rode to Florida in the far backseat (with clothes and bags encapsulating me) of the rental car playing Pokémon Silver- either that or when I found Fox and Gunner O’Grady in the hatch of our Nissan Quest. Good stuff!
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Thanks for stopping by, Cody!
I also agree that Robert did an awesome job. This is my favorite kind of toy review/article to read, too. A fun, personal take on a basic toy that anyone can attain and afford.
I have still never played Pokemon Silver (I played Crystal), but I spent a lot of time being crammed into the back of a car and playing either Tetris or TMNT 2: Back from the Sewers on an original Game Boy.
Great article!! I didn’t have the Rat as a kid, in fact I think I still confuse it with the Cobra Pirhanna, but after reading this I won’t do that any longer!! And I watched that long play, you my friend are a magician.
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Yeah, that long play is wild! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It makes me want to review the Piranha someday, as it’s one of my favorite Cobra vehicles.
This is the second positive review of the Rat in recent months. I had one about 20 years ago, but got rid of it as I thought it worthless. So, either you whippersnappers don’t know what a good toy is, or my memory of the what the Rat actually was has faded away. Guess which is more likely. 🙂
My main issue with the Rat at the time was that it didn’t seem like a G.I. Joe toy. But, it does have all the hallmarks of a Hasbro release. And, it’s got the details the play features that even many classic vehicles lacked. I seem to recall the figure not being entirely secure in the cockpit. But, it was a long time ago. So, I probably need to get a Rat to check out again. It’s times like this I wish I’d just held on to stuff (I probably didn’t get $1 for the Rat I sold.) instead of giving it away.
I enjoy different perspectives on the line. I was in college when you were on the roadtrips with your parents. But, a decade earlier, I was riding in the back of my parents’ station wagon, doing the exact same thing: playing in a confined space with small toys while we drove and drove.
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Thanks for leaving a comment, Mike! What was the other positive review?
I’ve always been a little ambivalent about the Rat, even since I’ve owned it. I saw the humor in it and thought it was a cool design, but the vehicle did seem a bit janky and half formed. Robert really turned my opinion around, though. It IS a good and durable toy.
But it’s still so reviled that I can see how it would have fetched one whole American dollar a few years ago.
Cool review. Fun memories. Great photos. Bad vehicle. Not the design per se. It’s due to the unfinished/half-assery of its time. The vehicles themselves were reduced to a thing to put gimmick action features on. So they were created with as few part as possible. The Rat suffers from be a single stamp. Put a bottom on the thing and it would very much redeemed.
I never had a Stinger or Vamp wheel come off. That would’ve sucked.
The Taxan game that Pixel Dan and his friend gave up on finishing Ha.
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Thanks for stopping by! In Pixel Dan and co.’s defense, that game is very difficult. I’ve never beaten it without help from a Game Genie or cheats built into an emulator. Same with the sequel, which I think is a fun game, as well. Storm Shadow with a laser rifle is a great combination.
The Rat does feel a bit “cheap” in some ways, but even at its worst I think it’s a better toy than the Patriot or the Attack Cruiser. And Robert’s review influenced me to admit to liking it more than I thought I did. It’s a pretty fun toy, at the end of the day.
I had never thought about this systematically before, but the 1992 vehicles were surprisingly good–IF you can get past their colors. It was probably a function of the age I was at, but I had tons of fun with the Rat, Parasite, Earthquake, Barracuda, and Patriot. I desperately wanted Super Sonic Fort America but it was too expensive. I take the point that they were cheaply made, but that didn’t destroy their play value. If they’d been Cobra blue and red, they would be lauded today. To my adult eye, the Barracuda and Patriot don’t hold up too well but the Cobra vehicles do. Envisioning the Rat and especially the Earthquake took some creativity. I think I have a spare Earthquake hulk stored away, and some day I would like to repaint it as a Techno-Viper field engineering vehicle.
The 92s were way better than the 1993 small vehicles, like the ninja cycle and the ninja raiders. The Mudbuster and Ice Snake were fine, but talk about cheap, they re-used parts from each other and other vehicles and they were supposed to be redeemed by rubber-band-activated roll-bars? I think I used that feature maybe once, then forgot about it. (The 93 large vehicles, with drivers, were admittedly better than the 92s.) I would argue 1992 also surpassed the 91 vehicle lineup.
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Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! I apologize for the delayed reply– the weekend (and Monday) kind of got away from me.
I adore the Parasite and I’ve always thought the Earthquake was really cool looking. I’ve never seen one in person, but I’d love to get one someday. It is exactly in my wheelhouse. I’m pretty lukewarm on the Patriot, as my friend had it when we were kids and we never figured out a good use for it. It was both too weird and too boring. I do love the Barracuda, though. It’s not the nicest vehicle ever, but it’s a cool looking one man submarine and I love underwater vehicles. Despite its problems, I will always love it.
Making a custom Earthquake into a utility vehicle is the coolest idea! I’d love to see that.
I agree that the 92 vehicles were better than any of the 91 vehicles. 91 is my favorite year for figures, but for vehicles it was not so hot. I really do love the Mudbuster and Ice Snake, as I think they both fill their specific roles very nicely. But I get why other people might not care for them, and the parts sharing is kinda cheap.
I had Fort America as a kid and was just kind of confused by it. I used it all the time since it was a big tank, but the transformation feature made no sense to me and the lack of any controls or a driver’s compartment was equally baffling. I’d get one again in a heartbeat now, though.
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Hey thanks for the review I watched a bit on toy Galaxy on YouTube and he gave the RAT a thumbs down but I think that a lot of those guys had all the big toys or had parents that could afford them. The RAT looks to be a format able vehicle if used in the right way so what if it isn’t all green or shiny. Those small vehicles can still bring a whole lot of damage in a fun playful way. I’m still looking to find a couple when I get the chance.
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