1986 Vipers are the darlings of vintage army building collectors. I have a few; enough for a squad. I never bought dozens and dozens of them to stand in neat rank and file, even when they were plentiful and cheap. Such is not the case with the Valor vs. Venom Viper mold. I went nuts on buying this figure. Why? Maybe because I just wanted to give army building a try. Regardless, my career of buying oodles of Cobra troops was short lived.
I’ve said before that I’m all for taking a well-known design and taking it in a new direction. I’m also amazed at the ability of some designers to reinterpret what has come before. It’s something that happens so regularly that we sometimes don’t even notice it. Just look at the label on your ketchup bottle, your favorite candy bar or even the current iteration of any number of costumed superheroes. New versions of existing brands can’t stand still, looking as they did when they were first made decades ago.
While all the hallmarks of the classic Viper are here; faceplate, goggles, paddedshoulders and arm guards, they’ve been filtered through the look of the era. Yes, that means the shoulders are large and the torso is short, but there were a few things about this figure, even despite the lack of the typical Viper blue, that hooked me. The redesigned helmet and faceplate are a big part of it. The added side portions of the helmet create a very menacing shape to the visor. This is now one mean looking Viper. I’d like to see this helmet design on a modern figure. He’s also equipped with a greater amount of pouches than the old version. It’s just enough to still look good, without passing into Liefeld territory.
The mold was recolored twice, once in a Python Patrol color scheme, and two more traditional blue releases (in a two-pack and the DTC Viper Lockdown set). While it was nice to see the mold done up in the old colors, I still consider this unique first release to be the definitive new sculpt Viper.