Cobra Viper (2004)

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.



  • I always wondered what that pod he came with was for.

  • Steven B. Williams

    I wonder if the ‘Retaliation’ Cobra Commander head could be used to make a modern version of this figure? Maybe something for the folks at the G.I. Joe Collectors Club to think about for a future JoeCon exclusive.

    • I hadn’t thought of that particular reuse. I’ve repainted a black Retaliation Cobra Commander in its entirety for an Interrogator, but that head would also work really well for these.

  • I don’t know why, but I really have a soft spot for the red version of this Viper. He was the first VvV set I ever found and it happened while I was home over Christmas so I think it’s for that reason he has a fond place in my collecting heart. The red is just really striking and while I generally prefer my Cobra troops in blue, it just looks really great on this guy. The detailing is good and his proportions, while maybe a little off, are far better than some of the offerings at that time and I appreciate that fact.

  • Interestingly, the helmet, with its flared neck-guard and scalloped cheek-plates, is strongly reminiscent of the Roman “Italic” legionary helmet.

    Some unsung designer decided to make the “Cobra Legions” meme a little more literal, it would seem.

  • The shape of that faceplate is nice. It looks like Cobra teeth, getting ready to bite. Fierce look. A welcome revision in my book.

  • I didn’t like the Heli-Viper due to this same color combination, IMO red and purple don’t go together.

  • Other than the head being a wee too small in comparison to the body, it’s a nice update for its era. Like JD, I don’t much care for the combination of red and purple, but the repaints are there for traditionalists.

  • Guess I’m a traditionalist then. I use a couple of these as Crimson Guard Vipers and then army-built a squad of the blue ones.

  • I consider them a good upgrade.

  • I thought about getting this guy but got a transformers energon Inferno instead. Yeah i’ve never regretted that [sarcasm]

  • Head was too small. Should’ve had swivel wrists to hold weapons better, it wasn’t common at the time but it wasn’t unheard of.

  • Seeing this guy again reminds me why I’ve largely blocked the jvc and Bibb eras from memory.

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