Tele-Vipers (1985)

What do successful and long-lasting toy properties have in common? How about a memorable and ubiquitous enemy? From Megatron’s Decepticons to Skeletor’s Evil Masters to Cobra Commander’s minions, any bad guys worth their salt had a variety of troops at their disposal. What separates Cobra though from the others–an amazingly diversified cadre of specialists.

The Tele-Vipers stand out to me simply because they’re not the kind of troops that one would think a kid might find of interest. They’re armed only with microwave transmitters that while appearing to be weapon-like, don’t add much in terms of inspiring fear. Not exactly the garrote wire of the regular trooper. But that’s just the point. An army needs more than front-line fighters. Kudos to the Hasbro team for giving the bad guys a radio operator trooper to support all the Cobra grunts in the field.

Tele-Vipers saw just as much action in my battles as the Joes’ Breaker. They were a necessary part of my Cobra forces for years. I suppose that fact also speaks to the marketing genius of the 80s Hasbro team as well. Just as Kenner had made a kid jones for every Imperial trooper and background alien in its Star Wars line, so Hasbro had us Joe fans bugging our parents for the latest operatives in our battles. “But Mom, Cobra needs a radio guy! Come on, please!”


  • The Classic Cobra blue makes them the perfect bridge between the Cobra Troopers/Officers and the more colorful Cobras that started in ’85.

    As a kid, I had the gun shoot microwaves. It was capable of irradiating an area to a point where it could be fatal. It was a squad of Tele Vipers who wiped out my team of custom figures who were a sister group of Joe. After their decimation, the few survivors joined Joe and made them a more deadly force. So, this fig is valuable to me from a combat standpoint, too.

    • That’s a fun way to use their unusual transmitter/receiver! I like the concept of the Tele Vipers and use them pretty regularly, but I actually dislike the figure. The bloused trousers don’t seem like they’d hold enough gear, and that vest is bland. The head is okay, but the neck is a little long – was the vest supposed to have a collar? And is he wearing blue coveralls over a blue tshirt? Besides his fashion sense, a knife sculpted anywhere on his person might have made him seem a little more “deadly Cobra Operative” and a little less “sit-behind-a-desk”.

    • Tele-Viper’s scanner, as I think the package called it. I remember not understanding what a scanner was at the time. I was thinking “Star Trek”, like a detection device.

      The figure maybe has a little too much personality in the weaselly face for a generic army builder. I think I had 3 back in the day, one was my brothers after he quit toys.

  • Did these guys get replaced by Techno-Vipers? They carried around heavy tools like mechanics but I got the impression that they did IT as well.

    • Dreadnok: Spirit

      I thought Techno-Vipers were Cobra’s repairmen. You know, they tell Cobra Commander they’ll be there at a certain time to fix his satellite tv. Cobra Commander cancels all his plans and waits all day at the Terrordrome for these guys to show up, but they never do. When he gets a hold of them on the phone to complain, they tell him matter-of-factly that they came by exactly when they said they would and then claim that the Commander wasn’t home. On second thought, maybe the Techno-Vipers are secretly agents of Destro.

    • Nah. Tele-Vipers were supposed to be tele-communications, Techno-Vipers were mechanics, combat engineers and sappers…kind of a lot fell under their banner. Tele-VIpers were Uhura. Techno-Vipers were more like Scotty. They both wear red…er…purple.

  • Steven Buffington

    One of the most essential figures that needs a better modern version. The 25th Viper arms killed the version that came with the Trouble Bubble.

  • One of my first and still favorite figures!

  • Tele-Vipers were certainly unique as a non-combat enemy. There were some support personnel for Cobra. As noted, Techno-Vipers although Astro-Vipers came off as being mostly non-combat (Cobra’s space engineers and space program personnel). GI Joe had more support figures, although certain fields were more common (communications, early recon) than others (few medical personnel with a lot of gaps).

    I remember at the time their big visor made them look like a Transformer along with the weird helmet. The vest seemed an odd pattern break from their uniform (contrast with Cobra troopers, Vipers) but made sense as a workman’s vest for carrying small tools to repair systems as whereas Techno Vipers were the repair personnel of Cobra’s vehicles (and perhaps general systems), Tele-Vipers, like Uhura from Star Trek, would be trained in repairing communications equipment or related technology. Notice the diamond pattern of the vest invoking snakeskin.

    In the ’80s, GI Joe loved depicting communications figures- Breaker, Dial-Tone, Dee-Jay, Tele-Viper. Python Patrol even had their own Tele-Viper.

  • I need a replacement tube like that.
    Any idea what I could use?
    Somewhere there must be thin hollow black tubes waiting to fix some of my weapons.

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