|Code Name: CRIMSON GUARD|
The Crimson Guard figure was released in 1985 to take over from the Cobra Trooper as the basic Cobra soldier type. In both the comics and the cartoons they were portrayed as a separate unit under the command of Tomax and Xamot, albeit reporting to Cobra Commander. In practice, there often wasn't much elite about them, though they were deployed differently in Marvel material. The American versions were used as cloned sleeper agents, all named Fred; they had a similar role in the British Action Force strip, but with less cloning and more terrorism.
The 25th Anniversary version of the Crimson Guard looks marvellous. The mould really brings out the sleekness of the design, while the detail is lovingly rendered - silver painted poppers on the jacket, moulded epaulettes and gold braid on the shoulders, and the plastic captures the texture of the uniform perfectly. Articulation is typically superb, with the black gloves and open cuffs a great way of allowing the wrist joint to function without breaking up the arms unrealistically.
The Crimson Guard comes with a rifle (with fixed bayonet - great for me, as for some reason this arrangement really sticks with me from the opening of the 1987 film), a backpack (complete with sculpted Cobra logo) and a revolver. Sadly, the latter two cause the only slight problems with the figure. The backpack is hollow, and thus looks rather cheap peeking over the shoulders of the figure. The revolver is holstered in a loop of plastic on the right leg, which not only looks a bit bizarre, but doesn't actually work - the gun wobbles around too much.
these are only niggles - the figure is really nicely done, properly
realising a great basic design. As per usual for Cobra types, Hasbro
have made several variants, including the Fred Series figure (removable
helmet), one with a silver visor, one with a silver mask and braid,
and an officer with a large silver design on the chest, meaning it's
possible to have a bit of variety in patrols - and that's without mentioning
the Python Patrol or Extreme Conditions desert versions. Just avoid
the Hall of Heroes version, which fails to match the helmet colour to
the rest of the body.