Snow Serpent (1985)
As my area is beset with an unseasonably hot month of September, my mind goes back to the beginning of this year, to a day when 12 inches of snow was on the ground, and I brought out many of my arctic figures for an impromptu photo shoot. Among them was a figure I’m surprised I haven’t covered yet, 1985’s Snow Serpent.
Gear has always been the primary focus of my affection for this figure. 1985 was a year that saw several figures with numerous accessories, beyond the typical helmet, backpack and gun. Before the Snow Serpent, Snow Job had my favorite load of plastic accoutrements. In his case, it was skis and ski poles that efficiently stored on his backpack.
The Snow Serpent changed things up in the cold weather gear department, going for a more heavily outfitted look. If Snow Job had the appearance of a fast and light arctic attack trooper, the Serpent seemed more geared toward a heavier assault role. With snow shoes, parachute pack, a mortar and a wicked assault rifle, this imposing Cobra trooper was ready for anything to go down in the snow. He makes Snow Job look like a ski bum on his way back to the lodge by comparison.
While there have been many subsequent reimaginings and updated versions of Cobra’s first trooper, none of them quite capture the magic of the original. Even with all the modern improvements in sculpting an articulation, this guy remains a favorite figure. You can say it’s nostalgia, or whatever you want, that’s coloring my opinion, but there’s no denying the impact that the 1985 Cobra troopers had on the line. The Snow Serpent left his big snowshoe print on the GI Joe landscape almost 30 years ago, and it hasn’t melted away yet.
This guy took me a little time to complete after I got him in one of my flea market hauls.
I just realized a pretty good use for one of the reuses of his backpack mold. You all know that the 2002 Zartan came with a black version of this backpack, right? Well, I know the perfect figure to give it to–the Sonic Fighters Tunnel Rat from 1990. Why? Because he comes with a black version of the original Snow Serpent’s mortar and stand, and since it can attach to the backpack……
Cool! Gotta try that!
Probably the best Cobra arctic figure and easily my favorite. This is a great looking figure all around. Too bad Cobra never had any arctic-specific officer figures. Just troopers. Unless we’re counting the Chinese Major Bludd as arctic. In which case, that’s the best. 🙂
I have the spytroops version and he is nowhere near as good as this guy. I’d army build this guy if he werent so expensive
A classic. I only managed to find him at a toy outlet store in Chicago soon before the ’87 figures began to show up. I found Snow Serpent, Tele-Viper, and Quick Kick just as the ’85s were being retired. Snow Serpent was one of the first figures which came packed with stuff and remains the definitive take on a Cobra polar environment trooper.
Going further with that, you can give the Accessory Pack versions of his accessories to the 1993 Arctic Commandos version, which would work just as well.
Could not agree more. This figure is and will always be one of my all time favorite designs.
Nice insight on how he looks like a slow trudging infantry trooper, as opposed to Snow Job’s fast attack look. You hit the nail on the head there.
My Chicago area experience was that Snow Serpent was the 2nd hardest 1985 figure to find (behind Snake Eyes). While Snake Eyes never showed up (except an empty card where the figure was stolen from once), Snow Serpent I believe I saw only 2 times, Alpine about 3 times. Tele-Vipers were one of the more common 1985 figures (Bazooka, Airttight, Crimson Guard were more common or about as common IIRC). Even into 1986, these 3 figures rarely ever showed up. Believe me, I was looking for them. Same goes for Storm Shadow who was teased by being on the backs of the 1986 cardbacks.
Snow Serpent looks well-geared for the arctic. Interestingly he says out-in-the-Arctic more than he says soldier by the amount or look of his gear (kind of conveying how difficult the terrain is to be a soldier in), where nature/the weather is his greatest foe, requiring the most gear, followed by the Joes (the weapons). I agree with the contrast with Snow Job. The latter looks like he does short-runs out in the cold. Snow Serpents look like they build igloos to hunker down at night in. The accessories were part of his appeal too. The snowshoes and everything else really fueled the imagination, just as Alpine’s grappling hook and climbing line (and mountaineering nature, perfect for bedsides, furniture) did. The Snow Serpent is one of the coolest Vipers (yeah, they lack the name, but I consider almost any Cobra generic who has a specialized combat role, be it terrain (Astro Viper, Toxo Viper, Snow Serpent, Eels) or technology (Tele-Viper, SAW Viper, Laser Viper, Techno-Viper), whether support or active. or just specialized infantry (Viper) combat a ‘Viper’ (with the specialization differentiating them from older, classic Cobra Troopers & Officers). Certain window washers also get included too :D.
I agree no later versions had the magic. The 1991 Snow Serpent had several good details, but just didn’t seem as sinister or imposing as the 1985 one. I think they fared better then other characters new styles in the early ’90s. Eels undergo a pretty dramatic shift (though those 92/93 Eels could fit in with brightly colored coral reefs. They always had more of a tropical, exotic look than the cold gray waters of the north look of the Eels).
And Rob, it’s hot here too. A few days of low-mid 90s, definately not what you’re getting, but hot enough to be an extreme outlier for September here (just recorded our hottest post-Sept 1st nighttime high low). Continental weather maps show the cold building up in northern Canada. It should be coming at some point.
Ultra cool mold!
Great figure. A classic favourite. The DTC and modern 25th version are great too especially the Officer version.
Just picked up this great piece!