Heli-Vipers (Project: Downfall)
When the Sky Patrol theme was announced for 2016, I was excited by the prospects of what the exclusives could be since I was actually going to be attending for a change. I held out high hopes that the Heli-Vipers might be making an appearance. I know that’s an odd thing to hope for, but I’ve been kind of fascinated by that figure since I first discovered it when I was in high school. The vintage figure was a combination of Night Viper and Snow Serpent, and those are two figures I have liked since I was a kid. Pairing them together was pretty impressive. I figured since those parts all existed in modern form, there was a good chance they could show up in a con set like this one. I was very excited when the Heli-Viper three pack showed up on the Joe sites leading up to Joe Con and while I only have two since KansasBrother and I split the set, they’re great additions to my collection and I like seeing an interesting, relatively obscure 90s figure getting some attention from the modern line.
As I mentioned, the vintage figure was a fairly simple head swap between Night Vipers and Snow Serpent. The GIJCC follows the same path and the figure is quite successful for it. The Heli-Viper uses Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper’s arms and torso, Pursuit of Cobra Skydive’s thighs, knees and feet, and 25th Anniversary Night Creeper’s calves. If that recipe sounds familiar, it should, because those are the same parts Hasbro used to create the Retaliation Night Viper. When you place the Rise of Cobra M.A.R.S. Industries Officer webgear over that torso, it really does a great job looking like the vintage Night Viper body. This body works well for the modern Heli-Viper and the parts all move very well. This is a very playable figure and that’s nice to see in a modern Joe. Up top, the GIJCC grabbed the head from the 25th Anniversary Snow Serpent and as much as I liked it on an arctic trooper, I think it’s even better on a helicopter trooper. Its design is stout and protective and fits well for a trooper that spends his time flying around on a helicopter backpack. While the design is fairly simple, it works well as a modern take on the Heli-Viper and that’s all I’m really looking for here.
If there’s one slight downside to recreating the modern Heli-Viper, it’s in his color scheme. However, as a child who grew up with brightly colored 90s Joes, I think my brain may have been a little damaged by the constant exposure to the neonizer, because I don’t mind brightly colored figures like this. The base of the Heli-Viper is a dark purple while his armor, gloves, and shoulder pouches are a lighter shade of purple. Red is used for the webgear and kneepads, plus it’s used for the helmet’s facemask and goggles. It’s actually a pretty simple look, but the GIJCC executed it quite effectively. What little paint work there is has been applied crisply and while purple and red aren’t ideal colors, they come together quite well on the Heli-Viper.
What helps make Heli-Viper a great figure is the gear load that the GIJCC gave him. The Heli-Viper started his life as the second Cobra Battle Copter pilot. While I’m still a little bummed the GIJCC didn’t reference Interrogator’s Battle Copter piloting days with his modern figure, the GIJCC made sure to give the Heli-Viper a modern version of the Battle Copter. Rather than using the slightly overused 25th Anniversary Specialist Trakker helicopter pack, the GIJCC was able to grab the great helicopter pack from Retaliation Ultimate Cobra Commander. This thing looks great on the Heli-Viper’s back and it fits him fairly well. The slightly bulkier frame reminds me a bit of the vintage Battle Copter and the built in action features of the spinning helicopter blades and the droppable bombs add a lot to the Heli-Viper’s backpack. The Heli-Viper gets a pistol to fill his shoulder holster. I believe this is the same one that came with Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Assault Duke. It’s a nice small piece that fits in the holster quite well, and it’s one that we haven’t seen a lot, so it still feels fresh. The Heli-Viper’s primary weapon is a tricked out AK-47, though I’m not totally sure who it originally came with. I know I have this piece in my collection, but for the life of me, I can’t remember who it came with and apparently whoever it did originally come with isn’t on display right now. The rifle still has the standard AK-47 lines, but it’s got an added forward grip and a small sight on top. It’s a great looking piece and it’s one that makes sense for a helicopter assault trooper. Part of the advantage of the helicopter pack is that you can move quickly and a weapon like an AK-47 has a good firing rate, so a Heli-Vipers armed with an AK is going to be especially dangerous when it’s strafing its target. Once again, I find myself appreciating the Heli-Viper figure because its accessories give me some great play ideas.
The modern Heli-Viper is a fairly simple figure, but it’s hard for me not to like him. Yes, he’s purple and red, but that’s how the character looked back in the day. I’ve been fascinated with the Heli-Viper since I first saw them on YoJoe’s figure listings. I know I never saw either of the second year Battle Copter sets back when I was a kid. It was a neat discovery when I was in high school and realizing that it reused two great Cobra figures in its creation really appealed to me, and it still does. The Heli-Viper is a solid addition to my Joe collection and while the figure itself may be a tad bland, the great gear helps make him pop and turns him into a very great
piece. Much like the vintage piece, the Heli-Viper, on his own, isn’t the most impressive figure. However, when you equip him with a great helicopter backpack, it turns him into something
much greater. Using the Ultimate Cobra Commander backpack was a brilliant choice and it really makes this figure incredible. Hands down, the Heli-Viper was the first “musty buy” souvenir for me. A three pack of helicopter troopers is a great set and has a lot of value. The Heli-Vipers are solid modern recreations of their vintage counterparts and I like having a pair of them in my collection. Only one may be on display right now due to space considerations, but it’s a great souvenir and I’m glad the GIJCC went with a vintage-inspired route for them instead of trying to find a color scheme that looks a little less ridiculous on them. I think red and purple are part of the vintage Heli-Viper’s charm and without it, I think the modern version would lack that charm a bit.