#1825: Red Skull

RED SKULL

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

“Trained by the black-hearted Adolf Hitler himself, the Red Skull and his fearsome visage were intended as a symbol of Nazi supremacy. During World War II, his unparalleled evil genius only could be matched by his arch-foe: the star-spangled Super-Soldier called Captain America. After failing to tip the wartime balance of power in favor of the forces of tyranny, the Red Skull spent decades in suspended animation – awakening in present day to enslave humanity and resurrect the power of the Third Reich!”

Nazis.  I hate these guys.

Back in 2014, when I was only 11 reviews in on Marvel Legends, I looked at the then-most-recent-version of Red Skull.  Now, four and a half years and 270 Legends reviews later, I’m going all the way back to the beginning, and taking a look at Johan’s very first Legends treatment.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Skull was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends.  After three series of the “chase” figure being a variant of a main figure from the line-up, they’d introduced the concept of a secret, separate character chase figure with Series 4’s Goliath.  But, while that figure was just a simple repaint of the Marvel Collector’s Editions Giant-Man, their next go, Red Skull, would be a brand-new character with a “new” sculpt.  Why the quotes?  I’ll get to that.  As the “chase” figure, Red Skull wasn’t actually advertised at all on any of the packaging, making him an unknown offering to a great number of collectors, I’m sure.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation.  Now, right off the bat, we run into the issue of articulation.  Toy Biz Legends were regularly boasting upwards of 30 points of articulation, so the Skull being below 20 is definitely notable.  What’s more, the distribution is really whacked out; 10 of those points are in the legs. Heck, he’s got toe joints, but no double joints on the knees and elbows, and even just cut joints on the shoulders and hips.  Why such odd articulation choices?  Re-used parts.  Red Skull is made up of a combination of the upper half of the X-Men: Movie Series Professor X and the Legends Series 3 Daredevil.  The Xavier body was three years old by this point, and from a line that was comparatively under-scaled.  And while the DD parts might have been a genuine Legends release, even the original felt out of place at the time of his release, and the parts also feel out of place for the Skull.  Red Skull also had a new head and hands, an add-on piece for his coat, and the Dr Doom holster stuck to his right leg, all in the name of separating him further from the figures that birthed him.  Unfortunately, even the new pieces don’t quite seem at home.  The head is too large for the body, and has no real neck to speak of.  The jacket piece, conversely, seems to sit too high on his body, leaving a good portion of his awkwardly designed hip joints still exposed, further exaggerating the largeness of the head, and the mix-and-match nature of the body.  On the plus side, the paint’s kind of decent, I guess.  The head in particular makes out pretty well.  Going for something other than a straight red seems to have worked out nicely.  Red Skull was packed with his peak cap, a pistol (borrowed from Dr. Doom), and the same display stand that was included with Cap, but in a different color scheme.  He also included a reprint of Captain America #16.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Series 5 is around the time that the magic of Marvel Legends was starting to wear off for me, thanks in no small part to this crazy “chases” thing that they introduced.  I was lucky with Red Skull.  My dad was at a comic show, and happened to find him for a somewhat reasonable price from a dealer.  Even new, he wasn’t great.  Toy Biz definitely made a lot of missteps on this one.  He’s a reminder that, as great as some of those figures were, Toy Biz’s Legends had some real stinkers.  Also, behold the start of the trend of crappy Red Skull Legends that perpetuates to this day.

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#1824: Superman – Quick Change

SUPERMAN — QUICK CHANGE

SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (KENNER)

“Danger arises in an instant – just the amount of time Clark Kent needs to transform himself into Superman, the Man of Steel.”

Following up on the success of Batman: The Animated Series, the creative team moved onto DC’s next big offering, Superman.  Superman: The Animated Series wasn’t quite the smash success its predecessor was, but it’s remained my personal favorite of the bunch.  Sadly, it wasn’t quite as well treated by merchandising.  It got its own line of figures from Kenner, mostly made up of variants of the main character.  I’m looking at one of those today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Quick Change Superman was one of the handful of Superman variants from the first series of Superman: The Animated Series from Kenner.  He’s the second of two Superman variants in this first series that could pass for a standard Superman…in one configuration, at least.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  The mechanism that allows his “quick change” feature means he has no neck articulation, but he still has the waist movement, which puts him ahead of most figures of the same stylings.  The basic figure is actually rather similar to the Capture Net Superman.  The posing of his hands is swapped, and the cape is cloth, rather than plastic, but otherwise he’s the same basic set-up, with the same strengths and weaknesses as that figure.  As a whole, a pretty decent offering.  The paint also matches pretty closely with the Capture Net offering, but my QC Superman is from later in the run than my CN, so he’s actually got eyes this time, which certainly looks far better.  Of course, mine’s also taken a bit more of a beating, so I guess it’s kind of a wash.  To facilitate his quick change feature, he’s got four clip-on pieces: a head/torso combo, one for each of his legs, and a backpack piece that clips onto the torso.  The overall end appearance is of Clark Kent, with a polo shirt, khakis, and a back-pack.  Definitely a different look than we usually see for Clark.  Maybe he’s gone hiking or something?  It’s certainly better than most attempts at Bruce Wayne.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Quick Change Superman was the first figure I got from this line, not long after getting the show’s premiere episodes on VHS, so I was pretty pumped to find him.  It was on a late-night trip to Toys R Us with my dad, while my Mom was out of town for a bit.  I remember that I got this figure and the 1960s Batman: The Movie on VHS, and my Dad and I sat up and watched the movie while I opened the figure.  He remained my standard Superman for a very long while, and even now he’s definitely a favorite of mine.

#1823: Wonder Man

WONDER MAN

AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND (TOY BIZ)

“Simon Williams became Wonder Man as a result of scientific experiments that bombarded his body with tonic energy. Now his eyes glow with power and he possesses superhuman strength, speed and durability. Originally an enemy of the Avengers, Wonder Man soon realized he had been manipulated into attacking the team and now he uses his amazing powers as a full-fledged Avenger. Wearing his Avengers symbol ring, this mighty hero will always heed the call, “Avengers Assemble!””

After the success of X-Men: The Animated Series, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, and the Iron Man and Fantastic Four segments of the Marvel Action Hour, in 1999, Marvel tried their luck again, with a cartoon based on The Avengers.  Titled Avengers: United They Stand, the show placed its focus on the typically more supporting Avengers, rather than the likes of Cap, Thor, and Iron Man.  Also, unlike prior Marvel cartoons, it leaned heavily on selling the toys, leading to some…interesting design choices.  It wasn’t incredibly well-received with the fanbase, and only ended up lasting a single, 13-episode season.  But, like I said, it was definitely designed to sell toys, so it got a pretty decent run of those.  Today, I’m looking at my favorite member of the team from the show, Wonder Man!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The initial assortment of Avengers: United They Stand figures were spilt into two series.  Wonder Man was officially part of the second, but they were all released at the same time, so it didn’t really matter in the end.  Anyway, Wonder Man was a big guy on the show, and that’s reflected with this figure, who stood just shy of 6 inches tall and had 9 points of articulation.  Wonder Man’s movement is an interesting mix.  He’s got ball-joints hips, and hinged ankles, which weren’t standard issue at the time, giving him a leg (heh) up, but due to his two separate action features, the arms are limited just to cut joints at the shoulders, and rather restricted ones at that.  On the plus side, his sculpt was actually a pretty good one.  The only other figure I’ve looked at from this line, Ultron, took some liberties with the show’s design (to the figure’s benefit, in Toy Biz’s defense), but Wonder Man follows the trend of the rest of the line, crafting a fairly show accurate figure.  He still departs from the show design a little bit, just so he can fit in a little bit better with some of Toy Biz’s other figures from the time, but you can definitely see where the inspiration for the figure came from.  He’s definitely a stylized figure, but I feel it works pretty well.  The head in particular really seems to get down the character’s personality quite well.  Wonder Man’s paint work is actually pretty impressive.  Not only is the base application very clean, but he’s also got some nice variation in the finish on areas such as the boots, and some very well-rendered accenting on his legs, arms, and face.  They even included the distinctive red reflection on his sunglasses!  Mine’s taken a little bit of beating, of course, but has certainly held up better than other figures from the same era.  Winder Man was packed with a life-sized version of his Avengers ring from the cartoon (not entirely sure why, but there it was), and nothing else.  It makes him one of the lightest packed figures from the line, but he’s also the largest, so I guess it works out.  He does have the two action features previously mentioned.  The first is a light-up feature, which lights up his hands and sunglasses.  Why?  Not a clue.  I’d say it was related to his ionic abilities, but those are usually purple, and these light-up red.  The second is a punching feature on his right arm.  It’s rather basic; push down the lever on his back, and the arm swings up.  Again, I have to ask “why?”  Certainly there were better, less-articulation-restricting features to work in?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I am an unabashed lover of United They Stand.  I vividly remember awaiting its premiere, and, of course, its accompanying toys.  I wanted the whole line-up, and made detailed lists of the exact order I’d be buying them in.  Wonder Man was at the very top of the list; my absolute most wanted figure in the set.  Unfortunately, United They Stand marked the first time I really ran into troubles with distribution and scarcity on such a line, so I kind of had to take the figures in the order my dad was able to find them for me.  Wonder Man ended up as the fourth figure I added to my collection, procured for me by my dad after he stopped at lord knows how many stores on his way home from work.  This guy remained a favorite of mine for quite a while.  Ultimately, he’s not without his flaws. Most of them are related to those shoulders, and just how locked in place they are.  That said, I still kinda love this figure, and I still kinda love the show he’s from.

#1822: Black Panther & Ebony Maw

BLACK PANTHER & EBONY MAW

MARVEL MINIMATES

“Hear me, and rejoice. You are about to die at the hand of the children of Thanos. Be thankful, that your meaningless lives are now contributed to the balance…”

It’s black on black in today’s set, as Black Panther faces off against Ebony Maw!  Prepare to imagine a world where these two characters actually met…

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Black Panther and Ebony Maw are part of the second assortment of the Infinity War-themed Marvel Minimates.  These two were supposed to be the Toys R Us exclusive set for this round but…well, we all know how that one went, right?  The set actually still has its TRU-exclusive sticker, presumably because it was too late in the process to get it removed before it started shipping to specialty stores.

BLACK PANTHER

Black Panther has been no stranger to Minimates.  Heck, this is his fourth just this year alone. Since Panther’s IW design was the same as his suit from his solo outing, this figure uses that same design, and is quite similar to the basic Panther from those tie-ins.  He’s built on the usual body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Like his solo counterpart,  he’s got an add-on for his mask, as well as Cheetah’s clawed hands.  The paint on Panther is pretty solid work, and again, virtually identical to the last one.  The biggest difference between the two is what’s under the mask.  We’ve gotten yet another Chadwick Boseman likeness, this time with a much angrier expression than we saw even on the more energetic powered-up Panther.  I guess he’s taking things more seriously with it being the end of the world and all.  For accessories, Panther is packed with an extra hair piece to display his unmasked look, as well as the standard clear display stand.

EBONY MAW

As the member of the Black Order with by far the most dialogue and the most focus, Ebony Maw certainly stood out.  However, for whatever reason, it was Proxima Midnight who got all of the initial focus in the toy realm.  Fortunately, at least in the case of the Minimates, Maw wasn’t too far behind.  Ebony Maw is almost a completely vanilla ‘mate.  The only thing that mixes him up a bit is his skirt piece, which is a new offering.  It works well enough, adding the extra tails to his torso, while avoiding bulking him up too much.  I’m not for overly building up a ‘mate if you don’t have to, but I do feel Maw is missing…something.  Maybe a sculpted collar?  Certainly a hair piece of some sort.  His hair may have been thinning in the film, but it certainly wasn’t close-cropped, and it doesn’t look right being relegated purely to painted detailing.  I think something along the lines of Morgue’s hair piece would have really helped this figure out.  Maw’s paintwork is certainly his strongest suit.  The face is definitely the best part; it’s a pretty perfect recreation of his features from the movie.  The fact that he already lacked a nose probably helped.  The details on his uniform seem perhaps a touch bright for my eyes, but they are at least cleanly applied, and quite extensive.  Ebony Maw’s only accessory is a clear display stand.  It might have been nice to get some of those funky glass daggers or an energy effect of some kind, especially since he’s already light on the sculpted pieces as it is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There’s no denying that this Black Panther feels more than a little bit redundant. There were two costumed versions of T’Challa in his own line, both of which are still quite readily available.  This one does attempt to be a little bit different, but not by much.  If you didn’t get any of the Black Panther movie Minimates, then I suppose this one’s a nice addition.  If you did?  Well, you’re really just here for the other half of the set.  As I noted with Corvus, the Black Order are really the only “new” part of the Infinity War assortments, which places some extra weight on them.  Unfortunately, I think Maw is another design that doesn’t translate all that well to the aesthetic, making this ‘mate somewhat middle of the road in terms of quality, and unlike Corvus, he doesn’t have a stronger pack ‘mate to carry him.

#1821: Cobra Viper

COBRA VIPER

G.I. JOE: SPY TROOPS (HASBRO)

“Ripping up the roads on their COBRA VENOM CYCLE vehicles, COBRA VIPER members like to think of themselves as a biker gang with the most technologically advanced hogs on the planet”

Here we are at the finish line.  Just one more entry in my insane 6-in-1 Day of the Vipers reviews!  Oh yeah, I did it!

In 2003, the G.I. Joe line once again rebranded, taking on the heading “Spy Troops.”  Joes and Cobras were given infiltration gear and disguises, and it was all very spy-y.  Well, it was mostly spy-y.  Some of it was not at all spy-y at all.  The the Viper’s one release during the line’s run fell into that non-spy area.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cobra Viper was released as a pack-in figure with the Cobra Venom Cycle, a small-scale vehicle from the Spy Troops line.  The cycle was undoubtedly the selling point, but I don’t have it, I just have the Viper.  For I am a mad man.  He’s the same basic figure I’ve looked at three previous times today, the tweaked V5 Viper mold that Hasbro would continue to use for another three years after this.  Hey, they had a good formula down, right?  The big difference, of course, was the paint scheme.  He’s got this olive sort of thing going on, which is right in line with the overall look of most of the Spy Troops figures.  At first glance, he looks a little bit like the Turquoise Viper from ’02, but if he’d been left out in the sun.  That being said, I do actually quite like this color scheme, and have generally found myself kind of drawn to this figure.  Since he was just a pack-in with a vehicle, the Viper didn’t come with any accessories of his own.  Maybe he’s like the pacifist of the group, or something?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This was the last figure I dug out of the collection at All Time.  I had just about called it on getting any more Vipers, and I looked down and saw this guy staring at me.  With no accessories of his own, he was an easier grab than some of the others, and I’ll admit, I was just thoroughly broken at that point.  There’s not really anything to distinguish him from the rest, but he’s a Viper, and a kinda neat one at that.  He rounds out the set nicely.

So, there you have it: nine new Vipers, courtesy of my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for old Joes (provided that you don’t want Vipers, because seriously, I’ve cleaned them out) or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1820: Cobra Vipers

COBRA VIPERS

G.I. JOE VS COBRA (HASBRO)

“COBRA VIPERS are the grunts of the COBRA legions.  If there’s a dirty job that needs doing, these guys are first in line.  They wear multi-layered body armor and wrap-around helmets with built-in radio telecommunications gear, and carry multi-burst laser pistols, commando rifles and grenade launchers.  They know that they’re looked down upon by the more elite COBRA groups, but that just makes them fight harder so they can prove to everyone that plain rottenness gets the job done as well as fancy training.  They’re ready at a moment’s notice to cause harm and do damage anywhere that COBRA COMMANDER sends them.”

For part 5 of The Day the Vipers, we move to 2002.  An important year for G.I. Joe, as it returned fully to mass retail, relaunched under the G.I. Joe vs Cobra banner.  The first assortment of vs Cobra figures sported all-new sculpts, of a radically different styling than the vintage line.  However, when the initial line-up proved successful, Hasbro wanted to follow-up as soon as they could, and re-purposed a number of vintage-styled sculpts for a quickly thrown together second assortment.  Included amongst those figures, was the Cobra Viper, who had been absent since 1997.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The three Vipers here were available in two different ways.  Turquoise was available at mass retail, with Indigo as his color variant, both of them packaged with Mirage.  The Crimson Viper, on the other hand, was packed with 11 identical Vipers, a Tomax, a Xamot, and a Baroness, as part of the 2002 Joe Con-exclusive Crimson Strike Team boxed set.  All three figures were built on the V5 Viper mold, but now used a slightly higher quality of plastic than V5 and the Officer/Trooper did, resulting in figures that not showcase the sculpted details better, but also stand up a little better to play.  All three are sporting wholly unique paint schemes.  Turquoise and Indigo are the more similar two, mostly just palette-swapping from each other.  Turquoise’s overall lighter coloring means the handful of details that have gone unpainted are a little more obvious than they are on the much darker Indigo.  Both of them leave the hands unpainted, which don’t hate, but I do which they’d have at leas painted the edge of the glove to make it look like a strap, rather than some weird skin tag, but that’s quite minor.  I dig Indigo’s blue visor, as well as the swirly, molded camo on the fatigues portions of their uniforms. Crimson rivals only the V1 Viper in terms of quantity of painted details.  Just about every sculpted element is properly painted, and very sharply handled at that.  He’s definitely a very good looking figure.  In terms of accessories, Indigo and Turquoise are each packed with a sniper rifle and a back pack, both different from the originals.  Crimson gets the same backpack as prior Vipers, but yet another rifle, which is probably one of the best when it comes to his ability to actually hold it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After finding the original Viper in the collection that All Time Toys bought, it was actually the 2002 bunch that really grabbed my interest.  2002 was the year that got me into the small-scale Joes, and though I never actually owned these figures, I’ve still got a soft spot for them.  In particular, I’ve wanted at least one of the Crimson ones for quite some time.  All three figures here are a lot of fun, and while the original Viper might be objectively the best Viper I got, these three are my favorites.

Thanks goes to All Time for helping me out with these.  If you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1819: Cobra Officer & Cobra Trooper

COBRA OFFICER & COBRA TROOPER

G.I. JOE: THE REAL AMERICAN HERO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“The COBRA Officers are “officers” in name only.  The only real rank they have is over their own little squad of Cobra Troopers.  They are among the meager handful from the teeming ranks of COBRA Troopers that, for some reason, whether it’s previous experience, personal ambition or dumb luck, manage to show some level of initiative, organization or leadership skills.  Ultimately, somebody has the keep the ranks together and moving with a purpose, so that even these bottom-of-the-barrel COBRA forces can achieve their given objective, because nobody else wants the job.

The COBRA Troopers are the most basic, bottom-of-the-barrel soldiers in the COBRA regime. They have to work their way up to even become Vipers. They come from all over the world. They are thugs, mercenaries, pirates and assorted lowlifes that have committed so many atrocities that they only organization that will have them is COBRA. They are given the most basic level of training, which amounts to little more than organizing a handful into a reasonably cohesive group, giving them the most basic of uniforms, handing them equipment, and telling them to go out and cause trouble. The COBRA Trooper divisions were the first of COBRA’s notable forces. They’re not specialists. They’re not qualified for anything than the most low level of infantry. They only advantages they have are pure nastiness and sheer numbers.”

For part four of the Day of the Vipers (!), I’m not actually looking at Vipers at all.  Weird, huh?  Yeah, there were *technically* no Vipers released in 1998, but I’m focussing pretty heavily on that “technically.”

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Cobra Officer and two of the Cobra Troopers were released as one of the three triple-packs of figures from the second year of The Real American Hero Collection.  That’s a lot of numbers going on there, isn’t it?  Don’t worry about it too much. The key thing about these two figures is, that despite the name they may be sporting, their both effectively Viper figures, using the Viper/B.A.T. hybrid body introduced with the V5 Viper.  Presumably, the original Officer and Trooper molds were lost, and, as with so many other figures in the 97-98 lineup, they had to improvise a bit, grabbing the just recently frankensteined Viper from the preceding year.  So, they’ve still got those square butts.  Poor guys. 

Paint is what differentiates them.  The Officer is grey, which was a change for that rank, but makes him easily distinguishable.  The Trooper goes for a more familiar dark blue.  The Officer has larger sections of silver, with gold accents, while the Trooper gets the reverse.  Curiously, neither of them actually gets a Cobra sigil.  Maybe they’re trying to be more covert?  Both figures included the same accessory selection.  A pistol, a rifle, a stock, and a backpack.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These guys are absolutely on the “Ethan was already buying a bunch of Vipers” train.  I wasn’t planning to get them, given their comparatively bland appearance, but I was already getting 7 others, so what difference did these two make?  I was actually a bit baffled by them at first, since I wasn’t able to find any reference to Vipers in this style, but eventually realized they weren’t Vipers at all.  So I didn’t have to buy them.  Great.  Nah, I’d probably have bought them anyway.  I actually ended up liking both of these more than I’d expected to.  That said, in my mind, I’m always going to consider them Vipers.

Once again, All Time Toys helped me out with these.  If you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1818: Viper

VIPER

G.I. JOE: THE REAL AMERICAN HERO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“Vipers are the backbone of the COBRA Legions. They are the bottom of the pyramid, which leads to the hierarchy of material wealth and power within the organization. When COBRA received word that G.I. Joe operations had been shut down by U.S. Government, he promptly began recruiting more soldiers. Within weeks, the most cruel, greedy, back-stabbing lot – joined the ranks; tripling the original size of their ground forces. All Vipers are issued a combination assault rifle/grenade launcher, along with a three day field pack. Multi-layered body armor and wrap-around acrylic/composite helmets with built-in radio telecommunications gear are standard issue. This equipment and a bad attitude makes them very dangerous opponents. Vipers are highly motivated, and superbly trained. However, to make them follow orders, the punishment for failure is to be left on the battlefield when the B.A.T.S. (Battle Android Troopers) are deployed. This is due to the fact, these Androids are programmed to shoot and incinerate anything that moves in front of them. That is the last thing any Viper would want, better to take his chances with the real enemy. Vehicle Specialty: COBRA Flight Pod a.k.a. “Trouble Bubbles.””

Man, Hasbro really likes that thing about the Vipers being the backbone of the organization, don’t they?  It’s the Day of the Vipers part 3!  The Vipers, having been a regular feature of the line, made a reappearance every couple of years.  After 1989’s Python Patrol offering, the Viper’s tried out that bright colors thing in 1990, and then got their second new mold in 1994.  The less said about the latter, the better.  Fortunately, it was more or less a return to form for Version 5 of the Viper, which I’ll be looking at now!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Version 5 Viper was released in 1997, the 15th Anniversary of the A Real American Hero incarnation.  After a three year absence from stores, G.I. Joe returned, albeit in a slightly different form, all under the heading of The Real American Hero Collection.  The Viper found his way into one of the three Mission Packs, where he was released alongside one of the Flight Pods, or “Trouble Bubbles”, mentioned in the bio.  This figure marked an important change for the Vipers.  He uses the same upper body as the original figure, but for the first of many releases, the Viper is actually sporting the legs of the B.A.T., rather than the proper Viper gear.  In the years since the original mold Viper had been seen, it seems the mold for his legs had been lost, necessitating a replacement.  The B.A.T. legs work in a pinch, I suppose, though it does mean this guy ends up with a really squared-off backside.  He also got a brand new paint scheme, almost an inversion of his original.  It’s predominately a brownish red, with a blue vest.  It’s ugly is what it is.  Perhaps its due to my figure not being in quite as good shape as the other Vipers, but he just feels kind of washed out, ratty, and generally not as cool.  He reminds me of a supermarket on a Sunday morning.  He’s all florescently-lit, and pale, and full of that oddly dark and murky sort of despair…sorry, I went a very specific place there, didn’t I?  The V5 Viper mixes up things slightly on the accessory front.  He gets the same backpack as before, but a new, slightly less distinctive, sub-machine gun as his firearm.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The V5 Viper was not on the list of ones I was really looking for.  Truth be told, I didn’t actually know he existed.  But I found him while digging through all those Joes that All Time just got in, and at that point I was just too far into the Viper’s Den to say no.  He really lacks the flair of the last two, and I’d have preferred to find the V3 release, but another Viper’s another Viper, right?

Again, thanks goes to All Time Toys for helping me get this guy, and if you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1817: Python Viper

PYTHON VIPER

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“The PYTHON VIPER is the backbone of the Python Patrol. He is highly motivated, superbly trained, and formidably equipped. Due to the Pythonizing Process, this particular viper is equipped with stealth-like capabilities, whereby he can penetrate enemy areas undetected! His combination rifle/grenade launcher has been retro-fitted with a passive, infrared seeker and the barrel rifling has been changed to accept hyper-velocity discarding ammunition.”

What’s this?  Didn’t I publish a review earlier today?  Why yes, hypothetical reader, I did.  Here’s the scoop: back in my first year on the job—er, running the site, I was more lax with the “I personally must write a review every day” thing, which has been throwing off my review numbering by five days ever since.  With my fifth anniversary upcoming, I wanted to correct things.  And, as luck would have it, I just procured a bunch of rather similar figures, who don’t quite warrant a whole day to themselves.  So, I’m going to be running five bonus reviews today.  It is officially the Day of the Vipers!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Python Viper was the second iteration of the Cobra Viper, released in 1989.  He was part of the Python Patrol subset, one of six repainted Cobra troopers designed to be even more elite than the previously more elite Viper.  He’s the elite-est!  The Python Viper is the same exact mold as the standard Viper release, which, as you’ll recall from just a few hours ago, I really liked, like a whole lot.  So much.  Anyway, the paint work is the main differentiating thing.  The Python Patrol were all in grey, yellow, and red.  It’s not quite as nuanced as the standard Viper coloring, but I think the Viper definitely looked better in these colors than some of his compatriots.  That being said, I was a little saddened to see some of the nice painted details from the last figure missing, leaving a number of sculpted elements (like the straps on his wrist guards) completely unpainted.  The Python Viper gets the same assortment of extras as his standard equivalent, though his rifle is now in black rather than light grey.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After digging out the basic Viper from All Time Toys’ recently acquired collection of Joes, I kept digging through just to see what else I could find, and ended up coming across this guy.  I was only thinking I’d grab one or two of them at that point, so he got added to the pile.  He’s not quite as good as the standard Viper was, but I have to admit, I like this variant more than I’d expected to.

Special thanks to All Time for helping me get this guy, and if you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1816: Vipers

VIPERS

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“Vipers are the backbone of the Cobra Legions. They are highly motivated, superbly trained and formidably equipped. All Vipers are issued a combination assault rifle/grenade launcher; the rifle part of which can function as a short burst assault weapon, a sustained fire cover support weapon, or a long range sniper rifle with an advanced light-intensification night vision telescopic sight with a built-in range-finder. Multi-layer body armor and wraparound acrylic/composite helmets with built-in RTO gear are standard issue.”

When G.I. Joe first moved to the smaller scale, Hasbro’s biggest concern was keeping down the line’s budget.  They came up with a handful of unique (well, unique enough…) heroes, but they needed some villains for those heroes, and they needed them to be cost effective.  Preferably, they needed to sell multiples of the same figure to the same consumer.  Enter Cobra (The Enemy) and Cobra Officer, G.I. Joe’s original faceless goons.  They carried the line for four years without much trouble, but then came the need for a more elite fighting force, an even more faceless selection of faceless goons.  Enter the Vipers, my favorite Cobra trooper of all time.  Yeah, they’re just that cool.*

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Viper (or Vipers, as the figure is specifically referred to on the packaging) was introduced into the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero line in 1986.  That was a good year for the line, at least by my count.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  The Viper was an all-new sculpt at its time of release (though most of the parts have seen some liberal re-use for other variants of the Viper as the line progressed).  It’s quite a good one.  There’s some some solid detailing going on within the various sections of the uniform.  You can clearly see all the pieces that add-up to the whole Viper look, and how they all attach.  The padded arm guards have two separate straps keeping them in place, the wrist length gloves jut out a bit to show a slightly looser fit at the ends, the belt and all of its pouches are individually detailed, the pockets on his pants have stitching on the edges, and, heck, you can even make out the pull tag on his vest’s zipper.  Real attention to detain here.  You can even see the loops on the helmet that are holding his goggles in place (a detail that Hasbro would miss on their 25th Anniversary version, who had infamously hard to place goggles), so that the Viper doesn’t lose them mid-mission.  And, while this sculpt has a lot of the stylistic hallmarks of the rest of the line from that era, his fully helmeted appearance means he doesn’t look quite as dated as some of his compatriots.  Perhaps the only drawback is that he’s still got those standard vintage Joe hands, meaning he’s not really optimized for holding and sorts of firearms.  Odd for a line of figures that are all designed to be shooting guns, but it’s not like the Viper’s alone in this.  The paintwork on the Viper is solid for a vintage offering.  He’s got some eye-catching elements, but doesn’t quite descend into the neon madness of later troopers. The dark blue calls back to the standard troopers, and the silver faceplate to the original Cobra Commander.  The application fo the paint is mostly pretty clean; there’s some slight slop here and there, but nothing too major.  The Viper was packed with a light grey rifle and a backpack.  The rifle does have some trouble staying in his hands, but its workable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, as noted above, the Vipers are a favorite of mine.  That said, in a rather interesting turn, I didn’t have a single one of them as a kid.  My first Viper was the 25th Anniversary one.  I’ve always loved the design, though, and in the last couple of years, I’ve been working my way into a vintage Joe collection.  My friends over at All Time Toys just got in a rather sizable Joe collection, and I was able to fish out a complete vintage Viper, amongst other things.  He’s an awesome figure, full stop.  I  really, really love him, and I’m happy I got one…but I may have found a new obsession.  More on that later.

While I can’t promise that anyone else will be getting their hands on any of these awesome Vipers (because they’re mine, all mine, I tell you!), as I noted above, All Time Toys just got in a rather sizable vintage G.I. Joe collection.  So, if you’re looking for old Joes or if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

*Okay, so there’s also the B.A.T.s; they give the Vipers a good run for their money, largely due to that whole cool robots thing they’ve got going.