COBRA C.L.A.W.S. v.6 (2004)
The new sculpt years of G.I. Joe from 2002- 2006 either get hated on or completely ignored by a lot of Joe collectors. I understand why as there were multiple things wrong with many of the figures released during that time but I personally have a big soft spot that era of Joe toys, especially the very first wave. In my review of Neo-Viper v.1 I talked about how excited I was when Toyfare magazine first previewed the figures from upcoming relaunch of G.I. Joe. I had lost interest in the brand in the early 90s when it was bogged down with neon ninjas but I never stopped loving the characters I grew up with; if anything I grew to love them more as I got older and nostalgia kicked in. I was collecting mostly Marvel figures in the 90s because the 80s properties I was nostalgic for were dead in the water. There were no G.I. Joes, G1 Transformers or He-Man figures for me to waste my money on back then. Dark times indeed.
That issue of Toyfare had me giddy with their announcement that G.I. Joe was coming back to toy store shelves. The article featured unpainted prototypes of the upcoming figures. There were many familiar faces such as Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Duke, and Cobra Commander but there were also new characters when it came to Cobra’s rank and file troopers. Cobra’s new army consisted of Neo-Vipers for infantry instead of blue shirts, Morays for frogmen instead of EELS, and a brand new heavy weapons trooper called C.L.A.W.S. (Combat Light Armored Weapons Specialist).
I loved the designs of all of the new troopers. None of them have been revisited in the modern era yet but I have my fingers crossed that we’ll see new versions of all 3 of them at some point in the future. The original 2002 Cobra CLAWS had a great design. I loved the evil looking mask which recalls Darth Vader and Bane. And I like all of the sculpted details like the multiple straps and collar. Unfortunately it was poorly executed. First off all of the figures from that first wave had the much maligned T-crotch. Hasbro had decided to do away with the rubber O-ring that held 80s Joe figures together and gave them their unique flexibility. The O-ring was an often copied feature of G.I. Joe which elevated the brand above other toy lines of the time like the uber-stiff Star Wars figures. I’m not sure why Hasbro decided to replace the O-ring with the Star Wars-esque T-crotch in 2002 but I suspect figures were cheaper to produce without it. Also, the O-rings deteriorated over time which is why I have so many half-figures in my vintage Joe bin. Most fans hated the T-crotch and Hasbro rectified the situation quickly. This version of CLAWS, the sixth, has the same upper half as the 2002 original but he has the improved O-ring style construction.
I didn’t like the T-crotch because it limited articulation but that wasn’t my biggest problem with the original CLAWS. I hated how buff he looked from the waist up and how scrawny he was from the waist down. He was one of the biggest offenders of proportion issues from the new sculpt era of which there were many. It’s as though the CLAWS troopers were recruited from the circus; like you had to be a midget/strong man to qualify. This O-ring version doesn’t look quite as freakishly proportioned as the original but it still looks off to me. His arms are just so beefy and his legs are too skinny.
One thing I loved about the original was the color scheme. It was maroon with black and gold highlights. It had an air of formal dress. CLAWS would have fit right in with Destro’s Iron Grenadiers. He was repainted black, blue, purple, then red before we finally arrived at this version. I think version 6 is supposed to be dressed in an urban camo but I suppose you could also argue that he’s dressed for snow conditions. I don’t like it. I didn’t like this color scheme on Neo-Viper version 7 either. All the formal elegance of the original is gone. It’s not a horrible figure but it’s not great. Most of the CLAWS repaints were pretty disappointing actually. This particular one is lacking in the accessory department as well. He has a pretty cool submachine gun that you can see in the pics but other than that all he came with was a rifle. I would recommend you either pick up the original maroon one or the black version 2 figure and that you steer clear of all the others. 4 out of 10.