Deviant Mech and Cyber-Viper
I figured since I covered the Joe mech suit, I should really cover the Cobra one as well. The Deviant Cobra mech suit shows just how cool and different something can be with just a few simple changes. While some of the changes don’t work well, the Deviant definitely stands out.
The main body of the Deviant is exactly the same as the Steel Marauder, however, there are a couple of important changes that help it stand apart. First of all, the legs are put on the other way. I think it’s my inner Star Wars geek, but I’ve always loved the look of a walker with backwards knees like the AT-ST. It’s a nice stylistic choice and does a surprisingly good job at making the Deviant feel different from the Steel Marauder even though they are essentially the same mold. The other change is in the canopy. While the Steel Marauder’s canopy was pretty basic and streamlined, the Deviant has a few additional pieces molded onto it that break up the design quite a bit more. The canopy’s glass is also molded out of a nice translucent red color and it really does make it look like a Cobra vehicle even if it does make the display stickers a little harder to see.
The biggest difference between the two mechs is in the weapons and here the Deviant really loses out. Where the Steel Marauder had a nice close range weapon in its claw and a killer long range weapon in its Gatling gun, the Deviant gets a battering ram and a grappling hook launcher. The battering ram looks like a pretty wicked mace and I like it, but with the other arm being a grappling hook launcher, the Deviant looks severely lacking in the offensive firepower department, having only its pair of small front guns to provide any long range attack capabilities. While I like the idea of the Deviant shooting out its hook to grab its opponent, pull them in close and then hammer them to pieces with its mace, in a one-on-one fight with the Steel Marauder, the Cyber-Viper is really going to need to work hard not to get his mech shot to pieces before he can pull of that little maneuver. What’s even more maddening about the poor weapons choices is that there was one other weapon they could have borrowed from the original Sigma 6 Iron Hammer to give it some offensive firepower—a really cool looking twinbarreled laser cannon. While I wasn’t familiar with the original Iron Hammer’s weapon load when this was first released, I recently read a review of it and learned there was a weapon Hasbro left behind and I just couldn’t believe it. Though it may not have been the best weapon, I still think anything would have been better than the grappling hook option, especially since they had to make a brand new tooling for it. Those tooling dollars definitely could have been put to better use in this set than a spring-loaded grappling hook launcher. Truthfully, the lack of good weapons is why I always passed on the Deviant before it went on clearance and it colored my perception of the Steel Marauder as well.
The red and gray color scheme definitely has a Cobra feel to it and I really like some of the stickers the designers chose. I’ve always been a big fan of the slithering snake Cobra logo that I think was originally used on the Cobra Moray and has since shown up as a tattoo on Road Pig’s chest in his modern iterations. It gets the Cobra point across while looking more aggressive and it really looks nice on both sides of the canopy. The sticker on the back of the canopy that has “Back Off” and “Hail Cobra” graffitied over the Cobra logo also makes me smile. I can just see some Cobra pilot busting out a can of spray paint and adding that to the back of his ride even though it’s not regulation.
The other place where the Deviant gets hurt pretty badly is in its lackluster driver. When I first saw that the attached pilot was called “Cyber-Viper”, I was really excited. While I never got the original because its colors were just a little too weird for me (I think it was the random neon green on the arm and leg that just broke up the color scheme too much for me), I always thought that design was really cool. I was excited to see what the Hasbro design team could do to make a new one reusing some parts and (hopefully) creating a new cyborg head for him. What we got as a Cyber-Viper, however, was a pretty weak FrankenJoe that just doesn’t really cut it for me. Using a combination of Wild Weasel’s head, the first Zartan’s arms and legs, the Night Creeper’s removable chest armor, and the M.A.R.S. Industries Trooper’s torso, the Cyber-Viper really has very little to tie him to his namesake or make him look that unique. I like Wild Weasel’s head, but something about the mold just seems a little dated for a high-tech, cyborg Cobra trooper. I do appreciate that they went the extra mile and added a targeting reticule on his visor, but it just seems like too little an addition. Then of course there are the Zartan arms and legs. While I can sort of get behind the armored Zartan legs (with a holster for the included tiny knife) and the boots do look similar to the ones that the original Cyber-Viper had, the arms don’t work as well for this figure. First of all, the chains around the wrist work for a Dreadnok but not for any other purpose. Then when you have the commando sweater look of the M.A.R.S. Industries Trooper on the torso, that detail missing from the arms makes it seem a little off, though that is mostly obscured by the Night Creeper armor. However, the Night Creeper armor being used here really doesn’t make a lot of sense. It doesn’t really look high tech, it just looks like it’s there for the sake of being there. I think Hasbro could have made a better-looking Cyber-Viper using an arm (and communicator) from Tomax, an arm from the armored Cobra Commander, and the torso from the PoC Arctic Destro with a newly sculpted head. The colors on him aren’t bad and do mesh well with the vehicle, but the overall figure is pretty weak. Like Kickstart, it also would have been nice to see him equipped with the “D57-A extreme environment tactical rifle” listed on his filecard as mission equipment.
Overall, the Deviant is a good mech, it’s just unfortunate that it got paired against the far superior Steel Marauder. Without a good weapon, it just pales in comparison to the Joe’s mech suit and really doesn’t do a lot. Taken on its own, it definitely has some good features, but sitting right next to a superior product on the shelves, it really doesn’t surprise me that the Deviants shelfwarmed far more than the Steel Marauders. I think switching out the grappling hook launcher for the remaining cannon from the original Iron Hammer would have helped greatly, but even with that switch made in my mind, neither of its weapons is that imposing and that kind of hurts the set. Add in a really weak pilot who looks kind of cobbled together rather than designed and the Deviant loses a lot of points in my book. I’m still glad I have it and it’s a fun toy, but it takes a lot more time playing around with it to love than the Steel Marauder and when you’ve got to hook someone into the idea with a glance at the product on the toy shelves, that’s not good.