Rise of Cobra Neo-Viper
I know some of the choices made in Rise of Cobra were pretty contentious. I didn’t love everything Hasbro and Paramount did either, however, I thought that, on balance, there was more good than bad there. One of the best decisions I think they made was tapping the Cobra Neo-Viper as the primary Cobra foot soldier. I have very fond memories of the Neo-Viper, having come out while I was in high school and at a point in my life where I was happy to rediscover the joys of the Joe line. While the movie Neo-Viper is pretty different from his vintage counterpart, it’s still a good choice and Hasbro made a pretty neat figure of him. That’s good, considering how many Neo-Vipers we saw by the end of the Rise of Cobra line.
Despite being packaged in a lot of figure sets, I think I only wound up with two Neo-Vipers, one from the K-Mart four pack and this one—the original carded version. From the neck down, the Neo-Viper shares his parts with the preview release M.A.R.S. Industries Trooper. Considering how hard that set was to find (seriously, I finally found it two years after the movie came out), to me it’s almost like the Neo-Viper originated those parts. The legs are fairly basic, with simple pants but relatively fancy boots. There are straps around the front and back that really do catch the eye quite well. The torso is a basic commando sweater with a patch over the right shoulder. However, you won’t see this because the Neo-Viper gets a movie-specific armored vest that covers the entire torso. That’s good for two reasons. First off, it helps distance the figure from the M.A.R.S. Industries Trooper. Secondly, it also means the figure doesn’t look strange since the commando sweater texture isn’t carried over to the arms. The arms look more like a regular shirt with armor plates on the shoulders and armored gloves. After all these years, I’m still not wild about these arms. The elbow articulation isn’t great and it’s partly because of the armored gloves, so you can’t do the Duke spin trick to get more articulation out of them. I’ve also never been a big fan of it when Hasbro puts the wrist joint at the mid-forearm to accommodate long gloves. It just looks a little unnatural. Yes, I know when you turn your wrist, it also turns your forearm, but the movement point is definitely at the wrist and not the middle of your forearm. Up top, the Neo-Viper gets a great new head. While the overall look was very different from the Joe Vs. Cobra Neo-Viper, I really loved what Hasbro and Paramount did here and I think a big part of what made the Neo-Viper work for me was the helmet. The helmet was just so sinister and it really made the Neo-Vipers feel like a real threat. The helmet definitely has a skull vibe to it, with the large empty eye sockets and some vague facial anatomical details to it. It honestly appeals to my brain like the vintage Range Viper’s helmet did. It also helps make the Neo-Vipers appear literally faceless, which is important in a minion character. This could be literally anyone underneath the helmet. Overall, the figure looks great and like he stepped right off the screen and that’s something I like in my movie-based figures. His look may be a little different compared to my non-movie Cobras, but there’s still enough of a Cobra vibe that he doesn’t look totally out of place next to guys like Major Bludd and Cobra Commander.
Once again, when I talk about the paint work, you’ll hear a similar refrain: he’s a Rise of Cobra figure and that means he’s really dark. Honestly, I’m probably getting just as tired of typing that as you are of reading it when I talk movie Joes. The base of the figure is black but there’s a lot of dark silver detailing. It’s on the boots, gloves, vest and helmet. It does help brighten the figure a bit, but it’s still a very dark figure. Plus, I’m never a fan of it when Hasbro just doesn’t paint details it wants you to ignore, like the Neo-Viper’s shoulder armor. I think the shoulder armor makes sense in the context of the figure and it’s still pretty easy to see, so why not just paint it? Unlike the Joes, the Neo-Viper’s vest does have a nice black wash over the vest and I think that helps the Neo-Vipers look a little more battle worn than their armored Joe counterparts, which helps the look. Once again, it’s a screen accurate look, but I kind of wish Hasbro and Paramount would have decided against the theme of Rise of Cobra being the color black. It makes for a relatively un-eye-catching action figure line.
Like a lot of Rise of Cobra figures, the Neo-Viper gets quite a few great accessories. All of the Neo-Viper’s accessories are based around the pulse weapons, but they’re all great pieces. The Neo-Viper comes with a small pulse pistol and I’ve always liked the look of these. I don’t know why, but the pulse pistols just look cool. The Neo-Viper also has a screen accurate (if somewhat too large) version of the standard pulse rifle. It’s an okay piece, but it does look just a bit too big for him. It also has a two-handed pulse rifle that I don’t recall from the movie, but I do like its look just a little more than the standard pulse rifle. Yes, they’re both a tad out of scale with the figure, but it makes more sense for the larger two-handed “pulse cannon” to be a big bigger piece. Rounding out his gear load, the Neo-Viper has a relatively simple backpack that both pulse weapons can be plugged into for storage purposes. It’s nothing fancy, but I do like it because it means the Neo-Viper can carry all his gear on him at once. Of course, the Neo-Viper also comes with the requisite Rise of Cobra missile launcher that I didn’t bother taking pictures of. It’s not a bad piece, and it actually looks like a scaled up version of the two-handed pulse cannon, but it’s also nothing that exciting to me. I didn’t even really like spring-loaded missile launchers when I was a kid, so as an adult, they’re something that just goes in the storage bag right away.
The Neo-Viper is a solid entry in the Rise of Cobra line. It’s nothing terribly fancy but it still gets the job done. It’s an accurate representation of the movie’s primary Cobra trooper and that’s all I can really ask for. It’s definitely defined and somewhat hindered by the overall movie aesthetic, but it’s still a figure that comes together well and both plays and displays well. Considering how many times the Neo-Viper was released during the movie line, it’s a good thing this was such a good figure or it would kind of suck that it got re-released so many times.