1987 only produced one single carded Cobra army building trooper, the battlefield technician, or Techno-Viper. Some folks look at ’87 as the year things started to go downhill with the Real American Hero line, but I don’t agree. There was still a mix of Joe and Cobra personalities with new and different designs and specialties to keep things interesting. The year’s Cobra drivers also made a big impact on me, and are some of my favorite driver molds. It’s funny to think that the same year with only one single carded Cobra also had four army builder drivers.
The fact that these guys come up from the Viper ranks makes sense, as combat engineers are just as well-trained and capable combatants as any other troop type. Considering that they can also build, repair and place charges in the midst of a firefight brings them up a notch in my book. Talk about nerves of steel.
The Techno-Viper, as cool a trooper concept as it was, didn’t live up to the card art. At least, the helmet didn’t. I always found it bulbous and a bit lacking. This was rectified in the more recent version, which really nailed the card art’s menacing look.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the mold’s reuse in the Star Brigade sub-group as the pilot of the Cobra Power Fighter. It’s still purple, but with gold highlights. The box art shows a pre-production version with bright yellow in place of the gold. I’m not a prototype collector, but that’s one freaky repaint I’d like to have.