Cobra Alley Viper (2003)

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It’s army builder time again. I remember pretty vividly picking up several of the Viper/Alley Viper packs that were released during the army builder wave of the Spy Troops series. Those fill-in troop builder waves of the time were quite a good idea, by the way. It kept product flowing to the shelves, and provided some interesting variations on both new and old molds.

The Alley Viper had a storied few years in the late 90s through mid 2000s. First making a reappearance as the driver of the re-released Cobra Rage, he was missing his original bottom half, replaced by that of 1983 Duke. I’m a huge fan of the 1993 and 1994 releases of the Alley Viper, and I’ve bought multiples of all the later versions of it. While the Battle Corps version’s legs are certainly missed, I haven’t had a huge problem with the replacements, aside from their tendency to perform high kicks. This one also struck me immediately since it was molded in a variation of Cobra blue.

Instead of the distinctive assault rifle seen in previous incarnations, Alley Viper is stuck with the Tomax/Xamot laser pistol. This thing was the bane of many a Joe collector at the time, appearing much too often. I didn’t care for putting this gun in the hand of the twins back in 1985, much less giving it to an urban assualt trooper over fifteen years later. It’s in sort of a no man’s land between a pistol and a rifle, and since there’s no stock, the figures can’t hold it straight. It just sort of flops to the side. I’ve replaced mind with more suitable weaponry. The 90s Cobra shield made another appearance, and while on the ridiculous side from a realist perspective, in a pure toy sense it’s excellent. Along with the snake visor, the Alleys live up to their reputation for intimidation.

Being part of the Spy Troops series, the figure had to incorporate some sort of disguse element, and that was filled via the cloth ghillie suit. These things also ended up en masse in many collectors’ spare part bins. The soft goods approach within GI Joe accessories wasn’t entirely new, as a few old figures came with capes. I was hoping in this case it would have continued into other themes like desert and winter. 
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8 comments

  • The Alley Viper has always been one of my favorites and it looks amazing with this black and blue paint scheme. Great looking figure.

  • I like this version. You know, I’ve always wondered if Hasbro had other replacement leg ideas before settling on the Duke legs.

  • Perhaps this version of the Ally vipers are Shockwave’s enemies?

    Speaking of Ally Vipers from the 90’s. I liked that bit in the ninja force/Transformers G2 crossover in which two Ally Vipers were playing chess [in full kit]

  • At the time, I couldn’t get enough of this figure. But, with time, this version has really fallen off my radar as I’ve grown to appreciate the blue 2002 version and the all black 2004 Urban versions much more. (The army building era really lead to some silly accumulations on my part.)

    I don’t mind the Duke legs that much. They work well enough and the true measure of the figure is the chest and distinctive head.

    I’m waiting, though, for someone to bootleg the V1 Alley Viper and release him in the 1997 color scheme shown on the back of the Rage box.

  • The Tomax & Xamot gun sure does suck. I don’t mind soft goods in the Joe line since they’ve always worked nicely as accessories or enhancements.

    Cobra blue suits the Alley Viper best. A deep crimson would also work far better than orange since these guys are basically armored stormtroopers.

  • I recall reading the Duke legs on Alley Viper were something the factory in China did in 1997 without asking and Hasbro didn’t have time to change it. Now, as to why they never changed them back or found a more suitable replacement? Laziness? They never changed 1997 Snow Job’s rolled sleeved upper arms (until the complete RoC recast of the vintage mold) or 1997 Snake Eyes’s awkward looking Roadblock waist when those were recolored, either.

  • Alley Viper looks good in Cobra blue. I like the bull-nosed snake face plate.

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