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!”