Night Adder (Rise of Cobra)
I love when new characters are introduced into the Joe brand. While Rise of Cobra was mostly about reinterpreting classic characters into a new aesthetic, the last wave of figures brought in some brand new characters. Though they weren’t all gems, from the moment I saw Night Adder I was hooked. Cobra’s never had a dog handler and while the look might be a little stereotypical, Night Adder really looks like a terrifyingly imposing gang banger who got hooked up with Cobra…maybe through the Headhunters. Night Adder is a great new character, but unlike some of the new characters introduced, it was very easy to incorporate him into my Joe- verse and I’m glad that Hasbro was able to breathe some fresh air into the line before the shift over to the Pursuit of Cobra brand.
Night Adder is a big, scary dude so it’s fitting that he uses the biggest mold Hasbro had at the time, the at-that-point-unreleased Resolute Roadblock. This was technically the first time we saw these parts and they’re really great. Everything about this design is imposing. His legs give him some towering height and the upper body looks quite strong. Being so ripped, I see Night Adder as a guy who’s been in and out of prison for most of his life and one day in the prison yard, he met with someone with ties to Cobra and he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse. The body is great, but I’m still a little unsure what to think of his head. The head is shared with the Rise of Cobra Ice Viper (complete with the holes for the visor) and while it’s a somewhat intimidating visage, I’m not sure how well it works for Night Adder. First of all, the head seems just a little too small. It looked fine on Ice Viper since he was built like an average person, but with Night Adder being so huge, his head needs to be just a little bigger to look proportional. Plus, considering this is supposed to be a metal helmet of some sort, it looks a bit out of place to be so small. Unless Night Adder decided to go the full Destro route and permanently bonded his helmet to his head, it’s a bit too small to be believable as something that he’s wearing over his head. The front of his helmet does remind me of a muzzle and I think that’s a nice touch, but I would rather have seen a new, possibly unmasked, head here. Secondly, he’s also got a bit of a giraffe neck going on. If the head were a little larger or seated down on the neck a bit further it wouldn’t be a problem, but as it stands, Night Adder’s upper body looks just a little bit disproportional. While there are a few design flaws, Night Adder still has an eye-catching and imagination-catching design and I really like that Hasbro was able to give me a very scary-looking urban operative. He’s also an interesting addition to the ranks of named Cobras because I don’t recall that many African-American Cobras period, so it’s nice that someone in the Cobra urban division may have actually been someone from the inner city of a place like Los Angeles or Detroit. Over the Roadblock body, he’s also wearing the vest designed for Resolute Roadblock. It’s a very imposing design. It’s big and bulky and looks like it would protect him from just about anything short of a .50 caliber round. He’s got a lot of pouches on it, but I can see Night Adder being a guy that hauls around a lot of ammunition so it makes sense to have pouches. Plus, I love the large caliber bullets on the straps on both his shoulders. The detailing across the board is impressive. Hasbro made a really great, Joe scale bullet proof vest, complete with all the straps and pouches that can be built into them in the real world. It’s a great aesthetic fit here and that shouldn’t be a surprise considering the body and the vest were designed together.
While Night Adder’s design is good, what elevates him from good to great is his paint work. The color scheme makes it clear that Night Adder is an urban operator of some sort. I can see him as either the head of a security detail at an undercover Cobra urban facility or as the leader of a Shock Trooper assault squad. The dark blue pants are similar to the color that Hasbro later used on the Shock Trooper and his gray and maroon vest screams urban operations to me. Night Adder’s skintone is very dark. Having grown in a part of the country where there was a surprisingly large Somali immigrant population (seriously, you wouldn’t think a lot of Somali immigrants/refugees would end up in South Dakota—one of the whitest places on Earth), the color used here reminds me quite a bit of the Somali people I would occasionally run into while out and about. The only reason I mention it is because I think it’s important to note that there are African-Americans with a skintone this dark and it’s nice to see Hasbro adding in some variety to the African-American characters that reflects the real world variation in African-American skintones. My only real complaint is that because it’s so dark, the skintone does slightly obscure his very cool tattoos. Hasbro did create a paint variant where the tattoos were light blue, but I never saw that one at retail and I think, even though they’re obscured, the black tattoos look more realistic. Night Adder has a lot of ink and that’s part of why my brain latched onto the ex-con angle. I can see him picking up all sorts of tattoos either in prison or on the streets. On his left arm, he has a Cobra sigil, some barbed wire and the scales of justice. The Cobra sigil is an obvious choice, a barbed wire armband is a very common tattoo and the scales of justice are rather common among the criminal set from what I understand from watching Gangland marathons. On his chest, he has a skull and crossbones, some purposefully-illegible text, a spider that looks similar to the Stinger logo, a group of three stars (which I believe also means something in gang culture, I just can’t remember what) and my favorite Easter egg, Cobra LA (Cobra-La, anyone?). The tattoos here clearly tell a story. I guess Night Adder must have gotten his start in the Los Angeles branch of Cobra’s inner city gangs. His right arm has a Cobra infantry logo and a large black cat. I don’t understand the significance of the cat, but I like the Cobra sigil with the crossed rifles like an old Infantry badge. That makes me think that this is where Night Adder got his start in Cobra proper. I now see Night Adder as a Viper who was deemed to be too mean to be just another Cobra grunt and they transferred him over to the Shock Trooper division where he really made an impression and he was given charge of Cobra’s urban security operations. Finally on his back, across his shoulders he’s got “Springfield” written up there and a crest that looks like a skull surrounded by a frame with wings. Full disclosure, my Night Adder’s back tattoo was pretty shoddily done. I can kind of see the skull in there now, but I needed to check out another Joe site’s reviews to figure out just what on Earth it was back there. I thought maybe it was some sort of phoenix, but that’s clearly not what it was. I think part of the difficulty in identifying this tattoo was that I have the one with black tattoos and they don’t stand out that well, but the tampo is clearly also slightly misapplied. Night Adder’s helmet is a nice metallic gray and I do find myself liking the red eyes. It looks pretty sinister. Even if he weren’t built like a professional fighter, just seeing a guy with a helmet like that would make me think twice about pissing him off.
Night Adder’s accessories also help sell the urban trooper idea. It’s nice that everything about this character ties in nicely to his specialty. That can’t be said for all modern Joes. Night Adder’s primary weapon is a combat shotgun. We’ve seen this piece a lot over the years and while I’m a little tired of it, I’ll have to admit that it really does fit well with Night Adder here. It’s a big gun and I don’t know why, but a shotgun in the hands of a bad guy always screams “evil badass” to me for some reason. Plus, it’s a weapon that’s very useful in urban situations. I can see Night Adder having been adept with this weapon in his criminal life before joining Cobra and picking another one up when he was moved over to Cobra’s urban operations. As a backup piece, Night Adder also has a pistol. In his hands, though, it seems a little underwhelming. He’s a big guy carrying a really small-looking Glock. I’m sure it’s an accurate representation of the Glock, but Night Adder’s just so big that it looks too small in his hands. I’d like to see him carrying something that looks a little more imposing and has a bit more stopping power than your basic 9mm pistol. For close up work, Night Adder also has a knife. I do wish he had a sheath to carry the knife, but the Roadblock body wasn’t built for that so he doesn’t have one. The knife looks like a standard K-Bar and once again, I can see it being something Night Adder may have had some past experience with. It’s always nice to keep a knife handy for quieter killing and while everything about Night Adder screams “shock and awe” to me, I can see him understanding the tactical advantage of quietly dispatching someone. Of course, the biggest accessory Night Adder comes with is his dog with a leash. The dog himself is a repainted Junkyard, but it’s impressive at how different the mold looks with a slightly different paint job and a new to him leash and collar. The leash and collar were first used with 25th Anniversary Croc Master, but I really like the idea of Night Adder’s dog being so fierce that a regular leash wasn’t going to keep him in check so he’s using a heavy duty chain. Plus, it’s another detail that adds to the gang-banger characterization I have developed for Night Adder. When you see dogs in crime movies, the gang lord usually has a big, scary dog chained up outside. That’s what Night Adder has here and I really love it. All his accessories really help sell Night Adder’s scariness and I really do love how well everything comes together on this figure.
The Joe brand won’t survive if all we see is rehashes of guys like Duke and Cobra Commander. The line can continue with nostalgia as long as they’re revisiting figures that haven’t gotten revisited before. However, to stay fresh, new characters need to be added every now and then. While Hasbro hasn’t committed to new characters quite as much as they did back in the day, the new additions to the Joe line have been some pretty great figures. Night Adder is a great figure because he’s something we haven’t seen before. While Cobra has had an urban assault trooper since 1989, outside of putting Storm Shadow and Scrap Iron in Urban Assault Division set, there really hasn’t been a named Cobra specifically devoted to urban operations. While I don’t necessarily see Night Adder as the head of all Cobra’s urban operations, I see him as an urban version of Copperhead. He may not be officially part of Cobra’s command structure, but he’s so good at what he does, he’s a de facto leader. Night Adder looks a bit more mercenary than other Cobras, but that’s fine. Cobra isn’t going to be an organization full of true believers. Night Adder is there as long as the money’s good and being a part of Cobra’s urban operations with his hand in smuggling and drug running means the money’s good.