Friday, September 22, 2017

28mm COBRA From GI JOE (Planning My Next Army)

Much to my Mother's chagrin, from the very earliest of ages, I was obsessed with GI JOE as a kid. Over the many years of my childhood, I accumulated a massive collection of the action figures and vehicles but these were not the root of my interest on the subject.

I loved the comic books. The often gritty and witty writing of Larry Hama captivated me. I bought and played with the toys that fell in love turning those brightly coloured dog eared pages. It drove my parents crazy!

In hindsight, it is easy to see that this behaviour laid the groundwork for my later love of toy soldiers and wargaming in general. I guess I just never grew up!

A few years ago I had an interesting epiphany when looking at Arctic Skunk's Shapeways store. What if I could merge my love of table top war-games AND my childhood love of GI JOE? To that end I started slowly acquiring the bits and pieces I might need to create a COBRA themed army. I figured it would be an easier place to start than a GI JOE force comprised of one off individual uniforms and colour schemes. Besides COBRA often had the cooler looking gear and vehicles! (In my opinion anyway)

I should probably say that it is the end goal of this project to create a playable army that I can use on the tabletop. I am planning to use it in games of Bolt Action or Konflikt '47 using the Germans rules (they have assault rifles).

I thought that the easiest place to start this project would be with the basic COBRA trooper, which happened to be the first GI JOE action figure that I ever owned. I thought I would go for a slightly more modern look than the classic 80's uniform and chose this more "tactical" uniform style to base my soldiers on.

I spent a fairly ridiculous amount of time trying to find a 28mm "perfect match." Frankly, I was being too pedantic and the project hung around in limbo for years. I found quite a few reasonable matches using various "modern"miniature ranges but I always came back to needing to replace the heads with the elongated helmets/facemasks to give the troopers their signature look. This lead me again and again to back to German WW2 plastic miniatures. This eventually got me thinking and after a friend gifted me a pile of mostly assembled Blitzkrieg Germans from Warlord Games. I thought I would try something different. Using the Germans as the basic trooper and change the weapons. I did this for a variety of reasons, the biggest being that working with plastics makes converting and repositioning models much easier. This prevents the army from becoming a million repetitions of the same four dudes (something that I have hated in the past).

To make a long story short, I shaved the helmets down (to resemble the COBRA ones) on these existing Germans and I trimmed the excess pouches and bags off the back of the models. Before I paint these I need to add more modern looking pouches but that is a hurdle that I have not had to cross yet.

I also switched their arms and weapons around using metal assault rifles and RPG's from The Assault Group to give the models more dynamic poses and modern weapons... After all COBRA doesn't issue bolt action rifles to their goons!

The end result ended up looking like this:

At the moment I only have three squads of six troopers but as I get my paws on more assault rifles and modern submachine guns, that number will grow.

I am also experimenting with adding liquid green stuff face-masks. My bottle of LGS was dried out so I added water to get it going again but I am afraid that it is too thin now to obscure the mouths on these guys so I will have to buy a new bottle on the weekend before adding a second layer.

You might also notice the light machine gunner in each squad carries a SAW. This is a nod to a figure from much later in the GI JOE range than I plan of covering in this force... The SAW Viper. Plus, the ammo boxes look cool!

I was also luck enough to get in on someone else's private commission when they had a tiny run of COBRA personalities sculpted up, and even more luckily, these scale perfectly with my troopers. 

I gotta say. This project has me more excited about an army than I have been for years. Stay tuned for more progress soon!


  1. Excellent look forward to seeing your force grow.

  2. Another G.I. Joe/Cobra project - welcome to the ranks! :)

  3. Absolutely LOVE this idea, LOVE IT. Can't wait to see how it goes. Any chance of photos of the other GI Joe figures?

  4. Cheers guys!!!

    As for the other figures... Definitely! I will post pictures soon!