Rapid Assault Infantry Transport
Ever since the humble beginnings of Cobra, they were always in need of a dedicated troop transport. Hasbro put this off for years and when they finally made the Cobra Parasite troop carrier, it was a horrid neon orange and purple color scheme and not a very realistic design. The Parasite worked fine for the later figures, but it looked terrible with Vipers or original Cobra soldiers. I wanted something that would fit in nicely with the early generation of figures and vehicles, without being a simple repaint of the G.I. Joe APC.
I eventually decided to build a new vehicle using an existing Cobra vehicle as a base, but which one to use? I didn't want to use any vehicle that was too modern since this custom was going to be made for the early figures, something from 82-85 would be best. I originally considered using a H.I.S.S. for the conversion by removing the turret and a sizeable portion of the rear hull to add passenger space and then closing it in with a canvas canopy. In effect it would be a H.I.S.S. cockpit with a pickup truck bed and canvas top. Try as I might however I could not manage to come up with any concept art that looked right on the H.I.S.S. frame, and it ended being too bazaar.
Then it occurred to me that the Stinger could possibly be converted into a transport by removing the missile rack and extending the rear a bit. Since it already had a canvas style roof and doors, the troop canopy would fit right in and the end result would be more believable. The main problem was if I extended the rear out enough to fit troops in, it stuck out so far beyond the rear axle that it looked off balance and awkward. The solution was one seen on many existing troop trucks, I would add a second rear axle to the vehicle thus allowing me to extend the cargo area several inches without it protruding too far beyond the rear wheels. This would be done by cutting the rear end off another broken down jeep just behind the doors, then grafting it to the rear of the Stinger.
The two jeeps were disassembled and carefully cut apart once everything was measured out. I wanted the finished transport to assemble and disassemble just like the original jeep, so I built the new parts separately then assembled them afterwards. The inner cargo area was designed as two bench seats facing each other, just like in the Joe APC. Once the two halves of the rear end where fixed together and reinforced I started laying in the panels from measured and cut pieces of 2mm plastic card. The entire interior of the passenger compartment is now part of the lower hull as a single piece, and the newly extended upper hull fits down over it and snaps in place just like the hull of the original Stinger. A strap of black elastic was added to each side to hold the soldiers in place inside the passenger compartment.
Once I had the frame and body constructed, it was time to make the canvas rear canopy. I wanted this to be like the canopy on the Joe APC, with the look and texture of real canvas, but in the form of rigid plastic rather than actual cloth. This way it would be sturdy and could be handled without the cloth cover becoming misshapen or damaged. To do this I decided to use an actual piece of canvas draped over a series of brace bars and then saturate it with resin to make is firm and rigid while keeping the fabric texture. A steel wire frame was made to go around the edges of the cargo area so the ends of the canvas could wrap around it, then I attached four frame braces down the length to arch up and over the cargo area and hold up the canopy. Then I began coating the entire canopy with layers of thinned resin and allowing it to soak into the cloth until it was nice and firm. The resulting canopy was designed so the front end had a lip that slips up under the rear roof of the drivers compartment to hold the front of the canopy in place. The wire frame in the rear of the canopy has two pegs that extend down and attach to the tail gate area of the vehicle, firmly securing the canopy in place while leaving it easily removable.
To distinguish this vehicle from its Stinger counterpart, I decided to make it a dark blue paint scheme rather than solid black. The lower body was painted black along with the canvas parts and accessories, and the upper hull was painted dark blue like the A.S.P.. I left the drivers area unpainted so the driver wouldn't end up with paint streaks on him from squeezing him into place. For the final touch I made some custom stickers for it mostly based on the Stinger stickers with a few extras, and a striking snake logo for the side panels.
For the driver I wanted something similar to the Stinger driver. Since he was a Cobra Officer re-colored in light gray and red, a Cobra trooper re-colored the same way seemed like the perfect fit. The problem with this is the cockpit of these jeeps is so tight any custom painted figure is likely to scratch some paint off squeezing into that tight confine. To my considerable fortune, a guy somewhere in China was making factory produced Cobra soldier reproductions in a variety of color schemes, one of which just happened to be a Cobra soldier in the colors of a Stinger driver. Jackpot!! I had the exact driver I wanted for the vehicle, and he was made of light gray plastic with factory paint applications so there is no chance of his gray paint scratching off in the drivers seat.
End result was a Cobra transport with driver that looks quite realistic and also blends right in with the existing selection of early Cobra vehicles and figures. To complete the project a custom blueprint was made for the vehicle, along with a file card for the driver. Since the Stinger driver uses a Cobra Officer file card with a different picture and a few added bits about Stinger training, I did the same thing for my driver and used the Cobra trooper card as the base, so it would remain consistent with the other file cards of the period.
Vehicle Blueprint and the Driver's Filecard. The picture on the filecard is a temporary placeholder.
An example of the sticker sheet used for the vehicle.
Some action shots of the STRIKE loaded with Cobra troops.