The Baroness is known for her black leather armor plated “cat-suits”, her thigh high boots, and her dark framed eye glasses which when combined give her the look of a dominatrix crossed with a librarian. There have been many action figures of Cobra’s vivacious intelligence officer released over the years but this one is like no other. For her 11th release she’s shed her catsuit and boots in exchange for a wetsuit and flippers. Luckily her signature glasses remain; otherwise how would we even know it was her? This would be a terrible Baroness figure if it were your only one. Permanently dressing her in a wetsuit really limits her use. It’s not such a bad thing for Joes and Cobra’s whose primary military specialty is diving as is the case for Wetsuit, Torpedo, Undertow and Eels. I really love all of those aquatically themed figures but they look pretty silly charging into a desert battle or even sitting around the headquarters. Any environment specific figure looks pretty out of place once removed from the environment in which they belong. Bathtub battles were few and far between in Doug and I’s Joeverse and it was too cold to spend any significant amount of time playing in the snow. Most of our battles took place in the environmentally neutral background of our bedroom which I generally imagined to be desert or urban terrain. Blue and white blankets often filled in as ocean and arctic tundra but rarely did an entire mission take place there. After all it’s much easier to rationalize Snow Job as a weirdo who refuses to take his snowsuit off while at the Joe’s desert headquarters then it is to explain why he’s the only one dressed appropriately while the other 40 Joes fight it out with Cobra in the South Pole while wearing tank tops and football jerseys.
The practice of releasing established Joe characters in environmentally specific outfits didn’t really start until after I got out of buying Joes as a kid. So luckily I never had to deal with Flint in a clunky space suit. The only limited purpose figure rerelease that I can recall from my childhood is when they released the second version of the Joe marine, Gung-Ho in his formal dress wear. Sure the figure looked cool and was unlike any other Joe figure we had but he looked like a knob on the battlefield. Nowadays it’s a little more common to see name characters like Duke, Snake-Eyes or in this case the Baroness released in climate specific gear. I don’t mind it when done in small doses but what I’d like to see more of would be characters like Snow Job and Wetsuit released in a more general use outfits.
I got off track but I reiterate that this would be a terrible Baroness figure if it were your only one; but if you’ve got a dozen of them like I do then this figure becomes kind of awesome. After all, how many sexy European chicks in black leather does one guy really need? This figure was released in one of the cartoon themed Battle packs in 2008. These sets featured multiple figures and accessories along with a component of one of Cobra’s elaborate doomsday devices and a DVD featuring 5 classic Joe cartoons.
This particular set included scuba Baroness, Stalker with a jet-pack, a Cobra Trooper with a cart full of dangerous elements, an irradiated Snake Eyes, the computer console portion of the MASS device and a DVD of the first 5 episodes of G.I. Joe ever released, the mini series titled: The M.A.S.S. Device. The Snake Eyes in the set is similar to the Baroness in that I would hate to own it if it were my only Snake Eyes figure. He’s painted a flat bluish gray, has bare hands and is partially sculpted in translucent orange plastic. He’s weird looking. And yet he’s totally awesome in the same way that this Baroness figure is totally awesome because of how true they are to the cartoon series.
I know I just lauded Larry Hama with praise a few posts ago for fleshing out the Joe and Cobra characters in the pages of the Marvel comic book but I have to also praise the writers of the animated series. It was much more childish than the comic and doesn’t hold up nearly as well but I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t love that goofy cartoon when I was a kid. That 5 episode 1983 mini series, The MASS Device probably influenced how I played with my Joe figures just as much as anything Larry wrote. The basic premise was Cobra develops a super weapon that’s able to teleport “mass” anywhere in the world. The Mass Device is powered by three extremely rare elements. To combat Cobra the Joes decide to track down the elements which are scattered all over the globe, in order to build their own Mass Device. Snake Eyes heads to the great white north to acquire the necessary radioactive crystals but sadly suffers radiation poisoning in the process (Don’t worry, he got better). Baroness heads to the ocean depths to retrieve the “heavy water” element which is in a pool on the ocean floor, surrounded by gigantic deadly tube worms. The third element ends up in a volcano, deep in the jungle. Every episode featured a select team of Joes racing to a unique environment to collect the element before Cobra got their hands on it. This “let’s find the scattered pieces of whatever” was a theme that Doug and I used repeatedly when playing with our Joes. To actually get figures based on these specific episodes 25 years later is kind of a thrill. Since I already have dozens of Black Snake Eyes’ and Baroness’ these versions are a nice change of pace. Perhaps the greatest things about the Battle Packs was that they finally gave collectors toy versions of the MASS Device and Weather Dominator. I can’t tell you how many Kleenex boxes doubled as those items for me when I was a kid. The accessories included in the pack also fill me with nostalgic joy. The trooper has a wheeled cart stocked with clear cubes containing the 3 elements. Snake Eyes has a glowing canister to contain the radioactive crystals and Baroness has her strange dust buster like containment unit used to hold the Heavy Water element.
The Baroness figure is cool but far from perfect. The main issue is that her entire body is a repaint of a previously released Scarlett figure. I wasn’t happy with the body then but it actually looks a lot better here. The additional straps added for the scuba tank and the replacing of Scarlett’s high heels with flippers makes the body look much more natural. The straps also help to hide the mold’s shoulder pads which would’ve looked kind of odd on a wetsuit otherwise. The bright red suit with maroon accessories and silver highlights looks really good and is a good representation of what appeared in the cartoon, although it has admittedly been a while since I watched the included DVD. A great set full of fun nods to the cartoon. A pretty nifty figure as well. She looks great displayed with the generic Cobra diver that was released separately. 6 out of 10.