Range Viper (1990)
I still have a tough time wrapping my head around the Range Viper’s look. Specifically, the head, but the rest of the figure kind of mystifies as well. I’ve always read the sculpting on the helmet as brains, which is symbolically odd, if that’s what it’s meant to represent. Why would Cobra, an organization known for symbolism in its uniform and vehicle designs, put a brain on the outside of a helmet? I have no earthly idea. Then again, maybe it’s not brains. Whatever the case, I’m probably overthinking it. I always found the helmet dang weird. Intimidating and creepy to be sure, but weird.
The rest of the figure doesn’t really seem to me to suit a wilderness trooper. I would have expected something closer to Ambush’s look. Then again, the Joe team had their own survivalist dressed only in a white tee, so maybe I shouldn’t expect too much. Cobra Commander must have been feeling particularly flamboyant when he gave the okay to outfit wilderness troops in anything but green and brown. Just what wilderness would they be operating in, Candyland? Later releases would be done up in more subdued colors, and a modern version included in a movie based cancelled Target exclusive set, is quite nice.
Judging solely by weapons, one might think the Range Viper’s specialty to be a grenadier. He’s equipped with a missile launcher and multi-round grenade launcher. But hey, they did throw in a knife. I know that can be used to good effect in the wild. All in all, the look doesn’t make a damn bit of sense, but I still dig it, mostly for the skull face and the colors. My favorite bit? It’s the first Cobra troop to sport an old school Batman utility belt–and it’s yellow! Sold!