Extreme Conditions Snow Serpent
Growing up, I never had the original Snow Serpent, but ever since I got back into G.I. Joe in high school during the relatively early days of the Internet, I’ve always been strangely obsessed with the original version. It was impressively well-detailed. I liked the look so much, I instantly snapped up the Joe Vs. Cobra version and thought he was amazing despite his wonky hands and feet because the design was clearly based off the classic 1985 Snow Serpent. When the Snow Serpent was announced for the 25th Anniversary line, I was really happy because I knew it was going to be a great update, but I passed it up on the pegs. I realize that sounds strange, but there was a method to my madness. Shortly after the Snow Serpent was revealed, Hasbro announced they were going to be doing some “Extreme Conditions” sets and the arctic set was going to have three Snow Serpents. Why should I purchase a single pack figure when I could snag three of them in a really cool box set? Though it took me a little longer to run down the Extreme Conditions: Arctic set than I anticipated, the Snow Serpent was definitely worth the wait. Even better, I really enjoyed that they gave one of the Snow Serpents a totally different gear load so he could be a Heavy Weapons Snow Serpent.
From head to toe, the “Heavy Weapons” Snow Serpent uses the exact same mold as the basic, 25th Anniversary release. That’s fine because it’s an amazing figure. The carded release of the Snow Serpent used the torso, upper arms and upper legs of the great 25th Anniversary Arctic Snake Eyes figure while the head, lower arms and lower legs are all new pieces. The Arctic Snake Eyes is a great base figure for a cold-weather specialist. It looks realistic without being overly bulky. Hasbro adeptly used new pieces to create the Snow Serpents signature fur gauntlets and managed to beef up the lower legs of his snow pants while still keeping everything proportional. The add-on pieces also help disguise the parts reuse. Snake Eyes was just wearing a hooded parka. The Snow Serpent, however, wears a parachute over his parka and has the great fur collar. I passed on the arctic Snake Eyes quite a few times. I just didn’t see the need for it and I was kind of unimpressed with the design. However, putting a fur cape and the parachute pack over the basic winter coat really does make it look impressive. To top off this great figure, the Snow Serpent also has an incredible head sculpt. The 1985 Snow Serpent helmet is almost as iconic as the classic Crimson Guard helmet. It looks substantial and can protect the Snow Serpent from the elements. Since we’re working with modern action figures, the goggles on top of the helmet are a permanently attached additional piece rather than being molded into the helmet itself. That seems like odd decision until you realize that the goggles are cast out of translucent plastic. They really look sharp and they look more realistic. I do wish Hasbro had perfected their goggle technology to the point that they could be slid down over the Snow Serpent’s eyes, but I’ll take it. I’ve never quite fully understood why Snow Serpents had goggles up there anyway. The helmet looks to be substantial enough that it would have built-in eye protection. Why would you wear goggles over that? Regardless of that oddity, it is an incredibly faithful recreation of the amazing 1985 Snow Serpent design. Hasbro really knocked it out of the park here on the design side.
While I love the classic look of the Snow Serpent, the 25th Anniversary Snow Serpent does fall just a tiny bit short when it comes to the paint scheme. The Snow Serpent is decked out in mostly a very light gray and a cool blue color. Unfortunately, since the fur isn’t a different color than the rest of the figure it blends in too much. Even back in 1985, they managed to paint the fur he was wearing white. Why couldn’t they pull that off here? While the 2002 version got a lot of things wrong in its overall design proportions, I really thought the paint work they did on the Snow Serpent’s fur was amazing. The brown fur with a bit of frost painted on it looked sharp and realistic. I would have loved had Hasbro’s paint team done that here. Even the classic white fur would have been preferable to this overwhelmingly gray figure. The blue of the parachute harness helps break up the gray, but he still seems just a little bit bland.
What made the Extreme Conditions: Arctic set interesting was that while there were three Snow Serpents in the set, they were all equipped differently. The Heavy Weapons Snow Serpent definitely came with some great gear to help him live up to his specialty. First off, he comes with an AK-47. The Snow Serpent has been coming with an AK since 1985 and I love seeing that fact referenced here as well. It’s a great terrorist weapon and when I think of arctic operations, I think of Russia and when I think of Russia, I think of the AK-47 (well, that and vodka). For a little heavier firepower, this Snow Serpent carries around an assault shotgun. I always love a good shotgun in the Joe line and while this one’s been around since the 2000s relaunch, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great one. It’s a modern-style shotgun, but with the pistol grip and slightly shortened stock, it’s clearly more combat-oriented than your typical shotgun. For even heavier firepower, the Snow Serpent gets Bazooka’s backpack and bazooka. I didn’t pick up Bazooka during the 25th Anniversary line because I never really had any attachment to the character. However, I kind of wish I had, because his accessories are great. The backpack is appropriately bulky and it’s got storage space for all four of his rockets and his bazooka. I love it when figures can carry all their accessories with them and that’s part of what makes this heavy weapons version of Snow Serpent so great. The backpack also has a large pouch and a canteen molded into it. I can see the heavy weapons Snow Serpents having to cut back their survival gear so they can carry their extra firepower. They’re probably not happy about it, but it’s standard operating procedure so they do it. There’s still enough storage space for the essentials, but the bulk of their gear is still designed to haul around their firepower. The backpack is also designed to look like it can carry some serious weight. That makes sense considering how heavy his equipment is and I like that the backpack actually looks like it can do its job. Finally, no Snow Serpent is complete without a pair of snow shoes. Unfortunately, this is the one accessory that falls just a little short. They don’t really stay on his feet all that well and when they’re on his feet, even though they’re designed to have footpeg of the figure stand go through them, they don’t really work with the figure stand all that well either. It makes the Snow Serpent a little bit fiddly to display. However, I have found that there’s enough space between the back of the figure and the backpack that you can wedge them in for storage. It’s a decent solution, though a better option would have been to design the snow shoes to fit a little better on his feet in the first place.
I’ve never been much of an army builder, but if you give me a set of figures all with different weapons and specialties, and I’m in. I love building a good squad of soldiers. That’s part of what was so appealing about the Extreme Conditions: Arctic set. The three Snow Serpents included, while all the same mold, were equipped all equipped differently so I could see them as a squad. You got a squad leader, a heavy weapons expert and your standard arctic specialist. I can see this being a dangerous trio of Cobra troopers that could cause all sorts of problems for any Joes struggling to survive in the unforgiving arctic. It could be a sabotage squad or just a Snow Serpent fireteam. Either way, it’s a great grouping with lots of play and display possibilities. The Snow Serpent is, in my opinion, probably the best Cobra figure from 1985 and this modern iteration is equally as impressive. The detailing is incredible and it’s a great, point-for-point update of one of the best Cobra troopers Hasbro ever gave us. I’m usually not big on arctic figures, but the Snow Serpent is just so good that it’s hard not to like. Geared up as a heavy weapons expert, the Snow Serpent looks even more imposing. I’m glad Hasbro threw some alternate gear loads into the Extreme Conditions: Arctic set to make the duplicate figures a little more interesting. It helped a lot and really made the set feel more like a Cobra squad as opposed to just a random grouping of Cobra soldiers being led by Scrap Iron.