HEAT Viper (2014)
It’s good to see new GI Joe product on the shelves. Earlier this year, no one really knew if Hasbro was going to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the seminal action figure brand. All corners of the fandom have weighed in with opinions on the makeup of the Toy R Us exclusive line, and I won’t belabor the usual general observations about the release. I’ll just say that I’m happy to see something. Look for more 50th anniversary entries all this week, by the way.
I found the old HEAT Viper figure to be quite odd. Maybe because it fell in those years that were unfamiliar to me, a time that I was out of toy collecting. For me, if there isn’t a childhood connection to an older toy, I just don’t quite seem to vibe on it the way I do with the playthings of my youth. Cliche as it may seem, the nostalgia factor weighs heavily in my mind. Well, at the gut level at least. I’ve found that having a child has allowed me to reconnect more with that old sense of wonder that came from obtaining a new toy. Many times, as an adult collector, I opened a toy, analyzed it for a bit, then either stuck it on a shelf or in a baggie for storage. That all changed when my son reached the age at which he could safely play without fear of shoving every accessory into his tiny mouth. Now every toy gets playtime with its targeted demographic, and as a toy fan, I’m all the better for it.
Unfortunately, the modern style of GI Joe figure construction just isn’t as conducive to the play patterns of little ones. I think that an older age group of kids, (and adults) would find a lot to love in the articulation and amazing detail. Younger kids might just get frustrated. My son certainly did. After all, the figures tend to get a bit fiddly, especially when it comes to arming them with weaponry. There are little nuances of annoyance here, like the too-soft backpack that doesn’t quite plug in, and the main weapon’s hanging hose. The HEAT Viper’s main accessory launcher mimics the old, but without a place on the helmet to plug it in, the hose just dangles. You don’t want to leave your heavy weapons units hanging in the breeze.
Nitpicks aside, the figure looks cool, and it’s a lesser known later Cobra to boot. The more I check out the 50th sets, I just can’t see kiddos getting into these toys, which is a shame, but not surprising. They’re squarely aimed at us old guys.
The gold accented stand is a nice touch, though.