About five years ago I wrote a piece here at Branded about my adoration for the idea of crossing over two of my favorite 80s animated series. G.I. Joe and the Transformers. Both cartoons were produced by the same animation company, Sunbow, the toys were all Hasbro releases, and a lot of the merchandise and licensing also went to the same companies, namely Marvel comics for the adaptations or the fact that both had a series of Find Your Fate branded books. These shows just seemed ripe for a crossover, and at points this certainly happened along the way. First off, there was an 80s Marvel 4-issue mini that mashed up the properties in the same comic book series, and eagle-eyed viewers would note that there were some common characters between the two shows, like reporter Hector Ramirez, or Flint (aka Dashiell Faireborn) & Cobra Commander who make appearances in the Transformers series. Those these instances were cool, and the comic series was about as official as it gets in terms of crossover merch, what I really wanted to see were toys. At the time, Hasbro had just released a few great pieces, but the one that really captured my heart was a Cobra/Decepticon hybrid character named Viper that was a cross between one of the Cobra Rattlers & its pilot Wild Weasel and the Autobot Powerglide.
Viper was exactly the kind of toy that I’d always hoped I’d find on the pegs as a kid, and it was a great step forward for Hasbro in terms of creating product that was new for the aging fans instead of just retreading the same old figures time and again. But sadly, there really haven’t been any more new figures like this and Hasbro has gone right back to their old standbys. So to satisfy my desire for this kind of figure I’ve had to look elsewhere, specifically to the world of custom action figures. There are a ton of folks who have mastered the process of copying vintage toy parts into new molds they use to create all kinds of custom action figures. Whether you’re looking for alternate color schemes for army builder figures like Cobra Troopers or B.A.T.s, or custom figures that are painted to reflect specific cartoon episode appearances (like Snake Eyes and Shipwreck in Cobra Trooper gear), there are probably folks creating figures that will make the kid in you squeal with joy.
A couple years ago I ended up picking up a couple of figures that really spoke to me, which were customized Cobra B.A.T.s (the Battle Android Troopers that became prevalent in the second season of the G.I. Joe animated series) that were made up to look like a couple of my favorite Transformers Decepticon characters, Soundwave and Shockwave.
I had first seen a Soundwave Joe custom about a decade ago from a French action figure artist named Airmax. The customs were amazing, and he was working on them around the time that the 25th Anniversary Joe line was in stores, but being short-run art toys they were expensive as all hell and I just could never get my hands on one.
So when I found these custom Cobra B.A.T.s from an artist on Instagram known as the Red Laser Army, I was in love! Though they aren’t as intricate as the Airmax releases, the simple fact that they’re molded off of the original B.A.T.s figures makes up for that in spades. In particular I really wanted a Soundwave mash-up figure, and though the blue used on the figure may be a bit brighter than I’d like, this little guy fits the bill pretty damn well.
Rad Laser Army wasn’t selling singles at the time, so as part of a package deal I also received this Shockwave B.A.T. that is also really cool. He really makes use of the original B.A.T. flame-thrower arm well as it mimics Shockwave’s laser hand perfectly.
Anyone else out there picking up or making mash-up customs like these?