Rock Viper (2003 Python Patrol)
Talk about frustrating. How can a toyline go from presenting a pack of great, seldom seen army builder remakes (with all their accessories present to boot) to an abominable set like the Heavy Assault Squad? Whatever the excuse was: limited molds, rushed schedule, etc., I would have rather seen some of the Python Patrol set peppered into later offerings.
The Rock Viper is one of those later molds that I think stands up well next to any ’85-86 Cobra troops. It’s got that menacing element to the design, along with a specialty that’s more than a trooper but not too much of a niche figure. Cobra could have used a mountaineer to counter Alpine earlier in the line.
Which brings up a question: was the first Rock Viper actually designed as a named character? I ask because of the prominent facial hair. Maybe Cobra Commander just requires all his Rock Vipers to wear the same mustache. Man, can the guy be a stickler, or what? If the facial hair was a goof up, one would think it could have been fixed with this release. Not so.
Unexplained mustache aside, the figure is still one of the greats. I’m glad that the softer plastic of the modern Joe era was in use, since vintage Rock Vipers have a tendency toward broken crotches. The mold also benefits from the updated Python Patrol color scheme, which more closely resembles the vehicle paint schemes of the 80’s. Black, red and gold give off a look of menace that the old sub-team was missing. The detail is wonderful, and the smaller scale of the modern crosshatch pattern works so much better than its predecessor.
The original accessories are here too, thankfully. The figure could have been sunk had the new sculpt era tendency toward weapons randomization been applied with this pack.