Cobra Alley Viper (2003)
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.