The Cobra Fang is a classic one-man gyrocopter first introduced to the G.I. Joe world in 1983. It was, to some extent, the combat counterpart to the much larger G.I Joe Dragonfly helicopter. Like all gyrocopters, it is a bare-bone aircraft with little defense and a lot of exposure. The back exhaust pushes Fang before the blades can lift it up. Gyrocopters need more room to lift off than helicopter but less than airplanes. However, the are usually faster than helicopters while they are not as manoeuvrable when taking off or landing. Gyrocopters are used by the Chinese military, so it makes sense that Cobra has relied on them for decades. Hasbro released the new Retro Cobra F.A.N.G gyrocopter as a new mould and with a pilot referred to as Cobra Pilot as part of its Retro line, which reprises classic G.I. Joe toys from the 1980s.
LikenessThe Cobra Fang that was released in early 2021 is different from the original toy. It is larger, bulkier, and more angular. It is meant to invoke the original though. The Retro Fang is meant to invoke the original, but it is a completely new sculpt with the same one-person seat design, four side air-to-air missiles, a bomb, and a front-facing machine gun. It is unclear if Hasbro still has all the parts to the original mould, explaining why a new design was build from scratch. None of the parts of the Retro Fang reuse some of the 1983 craft. The design is much more realistic than the original Fang, with exposed engines on the front of the gyrocopter.
While the Cobra Pilot is new, he is not a new character. The first was introduced with the 2008 Cobra Fang re-release sporting a blue jumpsuit with a red one-piece helmet/mask. He could wear some straps and had a machine gun. The 2021 Cobra Pilot is reminiscent of the original character with the same removable red helmet but this time with a permanent facemask with a breathing apparatus that attaches to his chest gear. The blue of the jump suite appears a bit lighter with the 2021 Cobra Pilot.
Being bulkier, some collectors do not like this new Cobra Fang and do not perceive it as an improvement over the original. I find the blades, the tail rotor, and the stabilizers to be thick. It appears that the thickness is to curb the bending of these parts and make them more resistant to rough play than the original Fang. However, they do not look good on such a small craft. I wish that the blades and the main rotor were higher up. If the Cobra Pilot raises his hand while in the air, it will get chopped. Some gyrocopters are low enough, but the one on the Cobra Fang has to be the lowest that I’ve seen so far. The simulated bolts give the Cobra Fang a pleasing industrial look. The main problem with the sculpt are the holes in the front of the gyrocopter where one inserts the Cobra Pilot’s feet so that he can sit on the seat. It is very difficult to fit the figure there.
I like the sculpt for the Cobra Pilot. It is a better one than the one from 2008 who looked like a generic Cobra trooper. My main criticism is the helmet which does not fit the pilot’s head and tends to fall off. The figure looks a bit crunched and not very flexible.
There is minimal paint of the Cobra Fang with a red bar in the exhaust reminding us of the original gyrocopter and some painted front engines covers that look metallic. The original plastic is used for all other parts without any colour washes. What the Cobra Fang does have are many stickers that detail the craft. Their suggested position, as described in the blueprint sheet does not always match the toy. But the good thing about decals, is that collectors can apply them wherever they like. The decals do add to the realism of the craft.
There are few colour applications on the Cobra Pilot. Again, the original plastic is left untreated. However, the head does feature some thick and cheap looking paint for his mask, skin and hair. The classic red stripes found on the original Cobra Pilot’s vest are reproduced here. The gloves and boots are painted with a solid black and the belt does have some details.
The Cobra Fang fits with all 3.75 inches G.I. Joe action figures, vehicles, and playsets, although it was produced to fit in better with the updated 4 inches G.I. Joe action figures. This new Cobra Fang is larger than the original but still looks good next to it. As built, a Cobra Fang takes up as much place as a Cobra Hiss thank. It is a bit longer than a Hiss even if it is much thinner. By the way, the plain black look of the Cobra Fang looks incredible next to a Cobra Hiss tank. It feels like it is the same military force with the same industrial design team (Destro’s MARS Labs) behind the design of the vehicles.
The Cobra Pilot may be a lighter shade of blue, but he also looks great next to other Cobra action figures in the 3.75-4 inches range. He is your typical troop builder.
The Cobra Fang sits on two skids, so it is very stable. The Cobra pilot’s ankles are weak so he can fall easily when standing up next to other G.I. Joe actin figures. However, because he is meant to be a pilot and always seating down, it is not as much of a problem. He does not come with an action figure stand.
The tail rotor’s blade is solidly encased but can spin. However, you will have to insert a tiny stick as fingers are too thick to move the spin. The top rotor blades do spin but you will have to propel them manually. They will spin for just a few seconds so there is a limited play value. It you want to make photos of the top rotor spinning, you will need someone’s help. One of you will have to spin the blades while the other takes the picture. A problem is the rotating turret of the front machine gun. In the old Cobra Fang, the turret could spin in any direction. With this one, it can achieve a full rotation but only in one direction at the time. I wonder why the original design was not kept. It was much more flexible.
The Cobra Pilot has more articulations that most 4 inches G.I. Joe action figures. He has thigh curls, a novelty for this line. He also has the typical ball-jointed head, shoulder, waist curl, wrist curls, double knee articulations and full ankle tilt and spin. His elbow articulations are not good. They are tight and thus cannot bend easily without breaking the toy. This is a common problem with collectors’ Cobra Pilots, not just with mine. The elbow joint also spins (theoretically). With the lack of motion in the elbows, he cannot hold the joystick of the gyrocopter.
The Cobra Fang is made of sturdy plastic that will resist kids’ tough play. However, the Cobra Pilot is made of soft PVC that bends easily. He will break before the gyrocopter does.
There are four detachable missiles and one bomb underneath the Cobra Fang. Inserting the missiles on the skids’ pegs is difficult. They also fall off easily. Hasbro’s designers should have used the old Cobra Fang’s peg design. it held missiles much better. The bomb is held tight though.
The cobra pilot comes with a helmet and a breathing apparatus that attaches to his chest. The helmet, as I mentioned above, is too large so it falls off constantly. You will have to peg the breathing apparatus to the pilot’s chest. There is even a small peg hole inside his chest as well as on his vest. Inserting the breathing apparatus to the vest is not easy as the former is much larger. You will have to turn it around, about like a key, so that it can fit sideways, before twisting it back to lock the mask in. But while doing this, be careful not to break the peg. The Cobra Pilot also has a glued-in gun holster where his removable pistol can be stored.
Of course, the packaging is the highlight of the toy. It features artwork in the same style as the original Cobra Fang from 1983, although it is a new illustration. The Cobra Pilot and the Cobra Fang are featured flying in the middle of an explosive background. It is incredible. There is a file card on the box and a front window showing the action figure next to the artwork. Hasbro now makes multilingual boxes instead of localized ones like when I was a kid. As a kid the G.I. Joe file cards and packages were in English and French, as I am Canadian. In the United States, the file cards had more details because they did not have to feature a second language. We are told that Cobra Pilots are like infantry grunts with wings. They pester in the summer like mosquitoes. In terms of branding, the Hasbro team really produced a winner with the retro line.
The Canadian price for the Cobra Fang was $32 CAD in Canada. I cannot verify the price for the Cobra Fang in the United States so if you know the answer, do drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can update this article.
As with all G.I. Joe Retro toys, the Cobra Fang is exclusive to Walmart, at least in Canada and the United States. I have heard that this toy was rare and difficult to find. This is odd to me as it is the only one that I have been able to find at my local Walmart in Canada. Granted, there is usually just one left by the time I come around. This worries me that scalpers are buying the toys en masse and reselling it on auction sites for a huge profit. This should not be. Scalpers are killing this hobby while at the same time preventing a new generation of kids to get to these toys. The Cobra Fang is perfect for a kid to play with.