COBRA B.A.T. v18
The Cobra B.A.T. or Battle Android Trooper was first introduced to the toy line in 1986. ’86 turned out to be another great year for Joe. Not only did we get the BAT but also its wacky creator Dr. Mindbender, Cobra’s new leader Serpentor, Zartan’s twin siblings Zandar and Zarana, plus a slew of Joes who became instant favorites like Beach-Head, Mainframe, Lifeline and Wetsuit. The BATS first appeared in issue 44 of the Joe comic which was also released in 1986. Dr. Mindbender created them as a way to impress Cobra so that he could join their ranks. The BATS were portrayed as mindless drones incapable of thought. The file card on the back of the package described them as the perfect cobra troopers, they didn’t ask questions and they never surrendered. They were cheap and easily replaced however they could not differentiate between friend or foe on the battlefield so the real Cobra Troopers had to watch their backs. They showed up here and there in the comics and cartoons but not with any real frequency.
I loved the BATS from the first time I caught sight of them. I was already a big fan of the old clunky Cobra robot, the SNAKE, so this leaner and more lethal robot seemed like a no-brainer. He quickly became one of my Cobra army’s most dangerous troopers. Even though I only had one actual toy, in my head he was many. Every time a Joe blew him to hell or ran over him in a tank, another BAT was ready to charge the battle field in his place. I imagined the BATS to be a bit smarter than they were described but not too much more. My BATS would never turn on a fellow Cobra soldier and they were able to adapt to their surroundings but they were still kinda dense.
In the years that followed, Hasbro released a number of different styles of BATS including their squad leader Overkill. Some of the new designs were just plain dumb while others were pretty cool but none surpassed the original in my mind. Not until the release of the 25th anniversary BAT in 2008 did we get a worthy successor to the original. It was based on the look of the original 1986 release except it benefited from the modern sculpting. He was less melon head than the original which made it easier to take him seriously as a threat. Later the same year the updated BAT was rereleased in a DVD Battle Pack which included a few other figures and accessories along with a DVD of one of the animated mini-series’ from the 80s. The only real change made to the BAT figure was that this one had a red face instead of a silver one. For some reason the animated BATS always had red faces even though they had silver ones in the comics and toys. Since these Battle Packs were meant to represent the animated look of the characters the change in face color was an obvious choice for a cost efficient re-paint.
I think I prefer the silver face as that was what the original toy had so that’s what I grew up with. The red face does look super cool too though. I kind of imagine the red face to mean that this particular BAT is totally pissed off. Maybe Cobra Commander flicked a switch that set him to full-on exterminate mode or self destruct or something. Whatever the reason it does make for a cool alternate version of the BAT. When it comes to Cobra troopers I like to have small squads of them but don’t like to buy the exact same figure multiple times so I appreciate small variations like this that give me an excuse to pad my ranks.
The original BAT had a lenticular sticker on his chest to show off his inner workings. With the new version Hasbro has opted against the sticker but has quite accurately reproduced the look by actually sculpting the multi-colored gizmos in his chest. The original also had a removable right hand and a back pack full of weapons that could be used in place of the hand. This version has the same laser, blow torch and claw attachments except it one ups the original by making both hands removable. This is another near perfect update from the 25th anniversary line. Yo Joe. 9 out of 10.