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Hasbro: G.I. Joe: Custom
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Tomopop Original: Creating my own 'Create a Cobra'

4:00 PM on 05.15.2015 // Soul Tsukino

Customizing on a budget

Many of you know about those items that are just a smidge outside our regular budgets. Those special items that are cherished by collectors and the people offering to sell said items know how much they are worth. For me, as a collector of GI Joes from the '80s and '90s, there are a few figures that fit this bill. The Steel Brigade figures, Rumbler, Starduster and anything to come out of a convention usually go for much higher prices.

The figure that I've seen go for the highest prices consistently is one that really doesn't have a name. It was only available, by mail order, for one year in 1993, near the end of the original run of G.I. Joe. It was the "Create a Cobra" figure.


(image via)

This figure was the Cobra answer to the Steel Brigade figure. You filled out a small form where you gave your character a name, a primary specialty, a secondary specialty, and a few other bits of info about their personality. After a few weeks you got the figure along with a sheet of paper that was a bio with all the info you had filled out for an official dossier. Since the figure was a mail-in available for only a short time, its not a figure that readily comes available on the second hand market like eBay. And boy howdy does its price reflect that.

I also think this is the most stupid-looking figure I have ever seen. It's a Crimson Guard Immortal head put onto a TARGAT body, slathered in bubblegum pink, baby blue, and black. This figure seriously looks like it would be a cake topper for a baby shower in 1984. And he is supposed to be THE BAD GUY. In looking at this monstrosity, I literally said to myself that if I tracked down the parts for this, I could make my own figure for a fraction of the price and it would look better than the real thing. So I did.

I tracked down a cheap TARGAT figure. I picked the better looking 1989 version. There was a repaint done in 1992, but its color scheme wouldn't look any better for this project than the pink and blue mess that inspired me to write this. For the head I went with the original 1991 Crimson Guard Immortal figure since the later Blue and Silver version is both harder to find and doesn't really match with the body.

So let's get this started! First, here is what you'll need. The figure, the head, a small Phillips head screwdriver (Usually found in small screwdriver sets), and a new rubber O-ring.

The TARGAT figure itself is not in premium condition, the O-ring is old and stretched out, the knee joints are loose, and the paint on the helmet is worn.

Honestly though, it won't matter. If I wanted to I could have bought replacement legs with tighter joints, but I'm fine with it as-is since the TARGAT head doesn't matter and we are replacing the O-ring anyway. First we take the screw driver to the "backscrew," or the small screw that holds the front and back of the chest together. The screw here is rusty, but still in good enough shape not to require a drill to remove.

 

Once the screw is out, pull apart the chest and break down your figure to its parts.

Yup, that's what a Joe figure looks like when it's taken apart. Pull out the old O-ring from its hook and toss it. Take your new O-ring and place it in the small metal hook holding the legs together.

Slide the O-ring with the legs attached through the bottom of the waist piece. You probably need to use the screw driver to help feed it through and get it together (This can be a real moment of cussing rage sometimes).

 

Next, hook the O-ring around the cylinder on the back piece of the figure and pull back a little so that it holds together by itself. Since I am using an O-ring that is slightly smaller than the factory ones, the figure at this point will fly apart easier if not set right.

Now comes the "fun" part! Take the chest piece and connect it too the back piece, but not all the way in. Ya need to leave space to get in the arms and head.

Remember what I said about the figure wanting to fly apart? This is the point where that can really show itself. Wedge your way into the arm holes with each arm. It takes a little hand dexterity and a few silent prayers to get both arms set without having the whole thing come apart. Once both arms are in place, you can push the chest and back piece together a little more to keep things in place, but again, not completely closed.

AND I'LL FORM THE HE- oh wait, wrong 80's show. The heads of G.I. Joe figures from the '80s an '90s are always tricky since some head pieces do not fit with certain body pieces. In this case, since the "Create a Cobra" figure used recycled molds, it's not a problem. The head fits and doesn't wobble around on the body.

Now we are ready to finish this bad boy out. Close the front and back chest pieces together and place the screw back in its place. Use the screw driver to make sure the backscrew is actually in the hole that connects the pieces together. Tighten it up (Righty tighty).

And we are done! Now, the red paint on his helmet isn't a perfect match to the ones on his gloves and boots, and if you want to get hardcore customizer on it, you can certainly get some paint from the hobby store and go wild.

Me, I take 'em as is. Give your new agent of evil a weapon and there ya go!

BUT WAIT! Part of the deal with the Create a Cobra figure was having his own bio with name, specialties, and all that cool stuff. But, once again, I found something that is cooler than the goofy sheet of paper that came with the old figures. I just went to Joecustoms.com Filecard Creator. It's quick, easy, and makes more official looking file cards you can download than that grey piece of paper Hasbro would slap together and send you.  The best part of this is, your Create a Cobra doesn't actually have to be a Cobra!

Evil sunovagun isn't he? And the cost for this simple little project? $14.23, and you can probably do even better with that since I paid a little more for the headpiece than what individual parts tend to go for in most cases. Sure beats paying 400 bucks for something that looks like it should have been packed with a set of baseball cards.



Soul Tsukino, Contributor
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Soul Tsukino lives in the state of Maine. When not enveloping himself in a new fiction story he also comments on happenings in the animation and Otaku fan scene. A creative writer since he was yo... more   |   staff directory





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