#1820: Cobra Vipers



“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 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.


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.

#1461: Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow



Heyo!  As all my faithful FiQ-fans are undoubtedly aware, today marks four years of reviews here at the site.  In honor of this momentous day, I wanted to take a look at a pair of figures that are somewhat important in the grand scheme of my collection.  I’ll be setting my sites on G.I. Joe, a franchise that I feel I don’t look at quite as often as I should around these parts.  I mean, it is the *original* action figure, after all.  The line definitely deserves some respect.  Today, I’ll be looking at two of my favorite characters from the franchise (as well as two of the most popular characters in general), Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow!


Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow were released in Series 1 of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe Vs Cobra line. This series served to bring brand-new 3 3/4-inch Joes back to mass retail after a one year absence and a few years of repaints.


“SNAKE EYES learned his top combat skills in missions around the globe. A tragic helicopter mission took away his voice and scarred his face. That’s why he communicates with sign language and never removes his mask around others. He studied mystical martial arts with the Arashikage clan, which is also the family of master ninja STORM SHADOW, SNAKE EYES is an expert in all disciplines of martial arts and silent weapons. He can move silenty and without being seen. At one time, he and STORM SHADOW were sword brothers, linked by spirit and tradition. Now that STORM SHADOW is part of the evil COBRA organization, there is no escape from a final battle between two of the world’s greatest martial arts fighters.”

As perhaps the most popular Joe ever, it was no surprise that Snake Eyes turned up here in the first series.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall (he’d be taller without the wide stance) and he has 14 points of articulation.  The first series of Vs were distinct in their construction.  Hasbro abandoned the more typical O-ring construction, and went for a more solid construction.  This results in figures that are a little sturdier than their predecessors, but slightly more limited in their posability at the hips.  It wasn’t a perfect solution, and that’s why Hasbro ended up going back to the O-ring build in the next series.  This Snake Eyes had a unique design, which made use of elements from all of his prior figures.  I may be a little biased, but this has always been a favorite look of mine.  His sculpt definitely shows its age….or an age.  Given the sheer size of this guy’s muscles, he looks like he should be straight out of the ’90s, not the early ’00s.  Guess Hasbro was still shaking off a little of the Extreme days from the ’90s.  That being said, whoever worked on this sculpt was certainly having a good time of it.  The details in the wrappings, the straps, and the pouches are all really well rendered, and indicate real attention being paid to this figure.  The head’s my favorite part of the figure, as it’s probably the least affected by the stylization.  I like that you can clearly see the face under the mask, but it’s not quite as ridiculous as the sculpted lips from Rise of Cobra.  The paintwork on this figure is a bit more involved than most Snake Eyes figures tended to be.  He’s actually molded in a very, very dark green, allowing his visor to be made straight black and still have contrast.  The rest of the work is all in the accents, which all go pretty well.  He’s got some color without it getting too garish.  Snake Eyes was packed with a pair of swords, a backpack to hold them, a knife, and a sub-machine gun.  After 15 years, all my figure has left are the swords.


“STORM SHADOW grew up in the Arashikage clan of ninjas.  During his training, his sword-brother was SNAKE EYES, the commando and martial arts master of the GI JOE team.  The evil COBRA organization recruited Arashikage members.  This corruption split the clan in two.  After a COBRA agent killed STORM SHADOW’s uncle, he went undercover within COBRA to find the assassin.  When the killer was revealed, STORM SHADOW joined the GI JOE team to get revenge.  But now, STORM SHADOW is back with COBRA.  Are all Arshikage ninjas evil? Or does COBRA COMMANDER hold some special power over STORM SHADOW?  Whatever the reason, the anger is clear when he meets SNAKE EYES.  The battle between the ninja masters will be legendary.”

Ah, the revolving door that is Storm Shadow’s affiliation.  Yes, one of the notable things done by the relaunch was placing Storm Shadow back on the side of Cobra, which was explained in the Devil’s Due comics of the time as the result of brainwashing.  The figure has the same height and articulation as Snake Eyes.  Thanks to a slightly straighter stance, that actually makes him a little shorter.  The sculpt for Storm Shadow as another all-new one, and while Snake Eyes would get another sculpt very quickly, Storm Shadow’s stuck around for several years.  It’s not anywhere near as exaggerated as the Snake Eyes sculpt, so I guess it had a slightly longer shelf life.  That being said, I can’t help but feel this sculpt is a little less inspired than that of Snake Eyes.  The details seem a lot flatter, less organic, and just generally a little less developed.  And then there’s that hood; what’s going on with the hood?  It’s all stuck to the head, and generally un-hood-like.  The Storm Shadow figure just prior to this one clearly showed that sculpting a hood was totally within Hasbro’s grasp, so this just looks…strange.  It’s as if they didn’t decide until the last minute whether they wanted the hood or not, so he just has this amorphous could-be-a-hood-could-be-a-mask thing.  Storm Shadow’s paint is alright.  It’s pretty basic stuff, really.  Red, white, gray, and black.  It’s relatively clean, and makes for a good contrast with Snake Eyes.  The white is all molded plastic, though, so he’s done some serious yellowing over the years.  The figure was packed with two swords, a backpack, a knife, and a sub-machine gun.  Apart from the backpack and knife, the pieces were actually unique to Storm Shadow, not shared with Snake Eyes.  That’s actually pretty cool!


These two are my very first small-scale G.I. Joes.  I had several of the 12-inch ones, but the smaller line was on the back burner for my earlier collecting years.  When the first series was first shown in ToyFare magazine, I was pretty excited, and I knew from the very beginning that Snake Eyes was the first one I wanted.  Storm Shadow sort of came along for the ride.  My dad bought these for me, as a reward for patiently waiting for flooring with him at Home Depot.  They aren’t amazing figures.  None of this era of Joes really were.  But they were my first, and they were fun.  I loved having them, and they got me into the whole franchise.  Now I have over a hundred of these little guys.  Lots of them are better technically than these two, but these two are still my favorites.

#0347: Snake Eyes & Agent Scarlett



In 1965, Hasbro invented the action figure with the very first GI Joe. The figure offered a take on the traditional doll idea, but meant for boys. He was 12 inches tall, had a cloth outfit, and was a pretty straight forward military man, offered in a variation for each of the four branches of the US military. After the end of the Vietnam War, soldiers and war were seen in a more negative light, so Hasbro had to change things up. This led to the Adventure Team era, which prevailed for most of the 70s. At the end of the decade, they faced another issue. Thanks to Kenner’s smaller scale Star Wars line, the industry was moving to smaller, less accessorized figures. Hasbro had to move quickly to reinvigorate GI Joe for a new audience, leading to the creation of GI Joe: A Real American Hero, which reworked the scale and made the line a collection of unique characters. It also provided the Joes with their first real foe, Cobra. It has remained the definitive take on the GI Joe concept pretty much since its inception. While the line never went away, after the 80s the line dwindled, until it was once again re-worked in 2002. That’s when I came on board. The line operated mostly on new sculpts, but there were a few re-releases mixed in. Today, I’ll be looking at one such release, with Joe mainstays Snake Eyes and Scarlett.


This pair was released as an exclusive two-pack through Toyfare magazine. They were meant to tie-in with the then current GI Joe VS Cobra.


This is the 15th version of the ever silent ninja/commando/everything but the kitchen sink, Snake Eyes! Snake Eyes is 3 ¾ inches in height and he features 14 points of articulation. He’s meant to be a slightly more high quality recreation of the very first Snake Eyes figure, so he unsurprisingly used a lot of the same pieces. He’s mostly built out of the version 1.5, after Hasbro added the now standard swivels to his biceps, but instead of the original, he’s been given that of the second version of Roadblock. Not sure why that is, but I assume Hasbro had a good reason. Anyway, it’s a pretty great sculpt, even if it does show its age just a little. Obviously, it’s a tad more simplistic than most modern day sculpts, but that’s not too bad. He still has his fair share of detail, and he looks pretty great! The paint is a key point on this figure, as the original Snake Eyes didn’t actually have any. For this one, they’ve added some additional details to the various pouches and straps on the body to give him a little more variety. There is also a shade of very dark gray applied to the visor on his head, which was so subtle I almost didn’t notice it at first. Overall, the paint is pretty good, but there are a few areas where he has some bleed over. Snake Eyes included a submachine gun, a sword, some explosives, and a back pack, which a pretty impressive accessories compliment!


This is the 6th version of Scarlett, or Agent Scarlett as she’s called here. She’s 3 ¾ inches in height and she has 14 points of articulation. Like Snake Eyes, she’s meant as a recreation of the original Scarlett figure from way back in the very first series of GI Joe: A Real American Hero. The figure is a complete re-use of swivel-armed version of the original figure, which is reasonable. Admittedly, the Scarlett sculpt is not as nice as Snake Eyes. Her arms sit a little bit far out at the shoulders, and the face is rather on the mannish side. It’s not terrible, but it’s not the greatest. The paint on Scarlett is a bit more intensive than that on Snake Eyes. All in all, it’s pretty good. There’s no real slop or bleed over, so that’s good. They’ve also made her a bit more colorful than her original incarnation, which is probably for the best. Scarlett comes armed with a crossbow and two swords, as well as a backpack.


GI Joe was mostly in a lull when I came into the world of action figure collecting. As such, my first real introduction to the property was GI Joe VS Cobra. Once I had gotten the newer figures, I began looking into the older figures, particularly those of Snake Eyes. Thanks to an article run in Toyfare magazine, I learned of the second version of the character, which I really wanted. It didn’t prove easy to find, so I had to go without it until recently.

In the meantime, I purchased this set from Toyfare to hold me over. I remember being extremely excited when I first saw the order form in the issue in which they were offered! My always supportive Mom was feeling particularly awesome, so she ordered the set for me. Since then, it’s easily remained one of my favorite pieces of my GI Joe collection. It’s a great set and I really love it!

#0152: Wild Bill



Today, I’ll be taking another look at the original Action Figure, G.I. Joe!  Once again, this is a figure from the successful A Real American Hero incarnation of the line.  This is another look at the re-launch of the line in the early 2000s, under the “G.I. Joe vs. Cobra” branding.  After the first few waves, Hasbro started offering figures featuring “sound attack” weapons, which generally meant that the figures’ weapons had these large tabs and could be inserted into a slot on a specially marked “sound attack” vehicle to get that weapon’s specific sound.  It was an interesting concept, I suppose, but wasn’t the most reliable thing.  Anyway, I’m actually looking at one of the figures from the sound attack line without a sound attack weapon.  Hang on to your hats, it’s Wild Bill, G.I. Joe pilot!


Wild Bill was released as part of the 2002 assortment of G.I. Joe vs Cobra.  He originally came packed in a two-pack with a repaint of the Neo-Viper, one of Cobra’s troops, but my research shows me that he also was released single carded later on, which I believe is how I got mine.  The figure is 3 ¾ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Like so many of the figures in the G.I. Joe vs Cobra line, the sculpt on Wild Bill is a little bit dated looking now.  He doesn’t quite have the “v” shaped torso that we saw on the Night Creeper, but he still has the long lanky arms, which look a bit odd.  The detail work still looks great, though, so there was obviously a fair bit of effort put in to the figure.  The paint work is pretty good.  Not hyper-detailed, but done well enough, with no slop or bleed-over.  Wild Bill had a decent accessory compliment, with two revolvers, a rifle and his trusty hat.  The hat is definitely my favorite piece, as it sits very nicely on his head.


I’m pretty sure I picked up Wild Bill single carded from KB Toys on a trip to the mall with my Grandmother.  I’ve never been the biggest fan of the character, but this was a pretty cool figure that I thoroughly enjoyed when I was younger.  He actually stands the test of time a lot better than most of his compatriots from the same line.