No action figure playset is complete without a base or headquarters, and No headquarters were better than the G.I. Joe/Cobra headquarters. From a selection of these vintage toys, we’ll go over the main bases in the toy line. Some of these are pretty old, and few are new, but still very popular.
G.I. Joe Headquarters:
This was the first G.I. Joe headquarters: If you look hard enough at the price tag, it said $14.99. It had an armory, prison cells, helipad, and vehicle bays. The base definitely had to be backed up against a mountain, because the rear of the base was exposed to Cobra’s weakest vehicles.
Here is a a video describing the base:
There was a 1991-1992 follow-up with a new and improved headquarters, but we’ll go over that later.
Cobra Terror Drome:
This was also a large base, which was produced in 1986. Having a Firebat, small jet was a nice addition. As you can see through the top of the drome, there is a plastic aperture-like doorway that opens when you press down on a lever, allowing the Firebat to rise up from the launch bay.
Assembling the Terror Drome:
There is a small triangle on the base which lines up with a triangle on the upper part of the assembly which is lined up to lock together in place. Pay special attention to the instructions, if you do own a Cobra base. (Lucky!) There are many doors to assemble on the bottom half, to separate the fuel bays, jail cell, and launch bay.
It’s big: 18 inches high and 2 feet in diameter. There is 4 red tilting seats on top, computer panels, and the cannon barrels ratchet up and down. Rooms on the bottom half, have doorways which lead to adjacent doors. All seats have a back peg meant for vintage figures only.
You can retro-modify the base by storing small vehicles inside some of the rooms in the bottom section.
Here is another interior pic from the top:
Of course there were smaller, more affordable (way back then,) bases produced over the years.
1982 Cobra Missile Command Headquarters: Sells for about $2000 on Ebay.
One of the very first Joe/Cobra bases:
Includes: 3 action figures: Cobra Commander, officer, and common soldier.
As this is rare, it was only sold through Sears. This is a 100% cardboard, 2D playset. It didn’t serve any function, but as a backdrop, it mainly promoted the sale of the action figures. There are, however raised platforms which help incorporate the action figures into the playset. The artwork is very nice, and the cruise missile moves up and down.
The cruise missile is non-removable, and there is an elevator car that can hold up to 4 action figures, which you can move up and sideways. In order to do that, you just need to move the cruise missile out of the way. There is a control panel in front that can be moved around. Also, the playset comes with a file card holder which is really neat.
The figures that came with the playset were released in 1982 without the swivel arm battle grip. A Cobra figure with the Mickey Mouse looking symbol on the chest is rare, and is definitely a must-have for die hard collectors. This may have been included with the Cobra Commander in the playset.
As there were many Joe/Cobra playsets, there are definitely a couple more worth mentioning.
G.I. Joe Defiant Launch Base Complex:
This was the ultimate spaceship, which beats any shuttle or spaceship by today’s standards. This playset came with 2 action figures/drivers. The pilot, a.k.a “Payload”, and gantry driver, a.k.a “Hard Top.”
Definitely not as big as the U.S.S. Flagg, but it’s definitely BIG. There is a crank on the back of the crawler, so you can raise and lower the shuttle complex. It was expensive when it came out, because the gantry and the other 2 launch vehicles, (Shuttle and booster) worked as separate playsets. When the whole vehicle complex is closed there are a number of pivoting cannons. There is one on the front, 2 on the back, and 4 quad cannons on top of the gantry doors facing forward. After removing the space shuttle booster rocket, another quad cannon will be revealed. It can only be used when the crawler is in launch mode. There is a driver cockpit on the left-front side which has a cannon on top that only swivels. The cockpit holds 2 action figures. On the sides of the crawler, there are 2, 180 degree cannons.
When the launch complex is raised with the crank, you can open the blue doors of the gantry. Inside there are service elevators where action figures can be placed. There is an engine room and control room at the bottom of the crawler/gantry. One downside to owning one of these, is it’s fragility. It was made light to lower shipping costs, and has to be handled very carefully.
Here is a view of it opened:
The Defiant shuttle is almost as long, and wide as the G.I. Joe Skystriker. Underneath the cockpit, there are laser cannon bays that house lasers that swivel outwards. The bay doors on the top of the shuttle are tricky to open, because of the fragile hinges. This requires use of both hands. The bay interior has foot pegs on the floor to hold Joe’s, and there is a pivoting, swiveling robotic arm in the bay. The claw on the arm is moved open and closed with a ratchet. The landing gear is operated manually, an there levers on the base to open/retract back wheels, and a tab to flip landing gear up and down in the front. There are rear hooks on the back of the booster, and a latch on the front which makes it easy for the shuttle to attach to the booster.
G.I. Joe Headquarters 1992:
It holds over 50 figures, and has a search light. It also comes with missile launchers and a removable rapid-fire gun.
G.I. Joe Transportable Tactical Battle Platform:
The legs extend from the base, and small helicopter/plane vehicles can sit on the platform. There is a bridge in the front that allows vehicles to enter the platform. The bridge folds upward. There is a control tower, weapons storage room, hook/rope, and search light.
Also known as “Cobra Temple”. It was full of guns, turrets, and housed vehicles, action figures.
Check Point Alpha: