G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)
Alright, so, for my seventh entry in my crazy, insane “Day of the Vipers”–wait a minute! It’s not 2018 anymore, is it? I…I already made it through the Day of the Vipers, didn’t I? Right. Sorry. The “Day of the Vipers”, it did things to me, you guys. I still haven’t fully recovered. When I last left off with the Vipers, it was 2003, and the Joe line had just done a re-brand into it’s Spy Troops incarnation. That line would lead into Valor Vs Venom, which got its own brand new Viper mold. After VvV, the 3 3/4 inch line went on another hiatus at mainline retail, and moved to Direct To Consumer markets, until returning in 2007 with the 25th Anniversary line. The Viper would gain an additional seven figures from that line (the first of which I reviewed here back in 2016), and then another revamp in the Pursuit of Cobra/30th Anniversary style. The 3 3/4 inch line again went into hiatus following the franchise’s 50th anniversary, but Joes have returned once more, now in a 6 inch scale, and with an all-new Viper figure to boot. What could possibly go wrong? Yeah, about that…
THE FIGURE ITSELF
The Cobra Viper is the other half of the second “Special Misions: Cobra Island” assortment of G.I. Joe: Classified Series. He’s officially figure 22 in the line, the highest numbered figure so far in the line-up. He follows the trend set by the Cobra Trooper of standard Cobra army builders being exclusives, which isn’t very cool. Hopefully he’ll also get a second release in the main line, just like the standard trooper, because as of now, he’s even harder to find than that one was. The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation. The Viper’s design is unquestionably an update on his V1 design. Most Vipers since the ’00s have worked from this same reference material, so there’s been a lot of smaller tweaks to it over the years. This one follows suit, with its own handful of tweaks, but does honestly stick closer to the original design than a lot of the Classified figures so far. Most of the tweaks are of the rather minor variety, changing up some of the specifics of design, to modernize and somewhat utilitarianize the look, while still kind of hitting the same ending mark. Things like the ribbed section of the shoulders on the original figure have now been adjusted to be straps holing things in place. Same end result visually, but a more practical rational for it, and one that fits a bit more with the aesthetics of the line. The biggest change to the character’s visual is on the arms; rather than the tightly rolled up sleeves of the original figure, this one’s arms are almost entirely covered in the default set-up. The changes that cause this are two-fold. Firstly, the new add-on pieces for the wrist guards are designed with removing them in mind, so they wrap solidly all around the arm, rather than leaving most of the forearm exposed like the original design. Secondly, the sleeves come much further down the arms than the original, almost exactly meeting the guards. This bit is caused by the figure’s only re-use; namely, he has the upper torso and arms of the Duke figure. It’s not the worst choice of re-use, even if the sleeves aren’t quite right; it changes things a little bit, and removing the guards entirely helps to sort of simulate the old look in its own way as well. He also gets Duke’s holster for his leg, giving the Viper a side-arm he doesn’t classically have. The rest of the figure’s sculpt, apart from the arms, is all-new. It’s a pretty solid sculpt, with quite a bit going on, and quite a few layers. The helmet is a very clean piece; its shape is slightly sharper and more stylized than the classic helmet, but it fits well with the rest of the figure’s design. Much like the 25th Anniversary figure, this one’s goggles are a separate piece, and much like that figure, there is some difficulty keeping them in place. With a little bit of doing, you can get it to sit a little bit more securely, but I’ve heard that it’s prone to breakage, so I was quite careful. Even so, mine’s started to split a bit at the back, so I don’t foresee it holding out terribly longer. Ultimately, the removable goggles are an intriguing idea, but much like the 25th, I’m hoping Hasbro uses later releases to offer up a version with the goggles attached directly to the helmet. The goggles are an interesting experiment, but they always seem to introduce extra problems, and honestly, how many people are really looking to display the Viper without the goggles? It winds up as the one really annoying feature on an otherwise enjoyable figure. The paint work on this figure is pretty decent. It follows the usual set-up for the color scheme on a Viper, with a touch of extra red detailing worked in. The flesh tone on the arms is a little sloppy around the edges, and misses the mark, as well as having a spot in the middle of one arm. These parts aren’t really meant for being seen, I suppose, so it’s not the *worst* possible place for issues to occur. The Viper’s accessory selection includes the previously mentioned goggles, a removable bandana piece, a back pack, Duke’s pistol (to match the holster), and a rifle with a removable clip. The rifle’s not quite the distinctive silhouette of the classic Viper weapon, but it’s not an awful looking update either, and is a cool looking gun on its own merits.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Readers of the site may have *slightly* picked up on the fact that I’m quite a fan of the Vipers. I’ve been anxiously awaiting their addition to Classified, and I was…less than pleased about the Target exclusive move. Nevertheless, I was determined not to miss this one, but also not to pay scalper pricing. I wound up stalking Target’s site for a couple of hours the day these dropped, and was actually able to get one pre-ordered in the less than 5 minutes they were actually in stock. It wasn’t fun. What also wasn’t fun was his delivery getting pushed back three separate times, all the while people were finding them in-store, and the aftermarket price was skyrocketing. Fortunately, they actually came through, and he actually arrived, but Target *really* needs to work on that pre-order system…or maybe just not carry quite so many exclusives? I don’t know. It just seems like a bad set-up. At least the actual figure turned out pretty nicely. The goggles are annoying, but otherwise, I really like him. And I’d really like to be able to have a few more of them, so maybe a mainline release?
*The classic Viper rifle above was actually given to me, along with a few other classic Joe-esque designs, by Mark2Designs, whose work is quite impressive, and can be seen on his Instagram page!