Viper (1997)

The modern collector’s frustration with one of the great vintage RAH figures began in 1997.The prospect of a remolded Viper, well remembered from 1986 as a replacement for the original Cobra blueshirt troopers, was a welcome sight on store shelves in the 90’s. Unfortunately, we only got half of the Viper. The waist and legs had gone missing, replaced by those of the 1986 BAT. I’ve often wondered why the BAT legs were chosen. Could it have been because of the piping on the side of the legs, that continue the look of the vest’s side padding?

Whatever the reason, what we ended up with throughout the commemorative and new sculpt eras were substandard Vipers. They often were plagued with an involuntary “high-kick” leg issue that randomly rendered the figures into goofy poses. Stand up a line of BAT leg Vipers and within a few minutes it could look like a scene from the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.

This version, in a lovely shade of purple, showed up packed with a dark grey camo decoed repaint of the Cobra Flight Pod. Why this guy was done up colored like Grape Ape is anyone’s guess. I think a camo similar to his vehicle   would have made for a nice exclusive Viper. Paint apps on the legs are short, which is odd. On a positive paint note, at least his gauntlets and straps were given a shot of paint. 


  • I only had one Viper when I was a kid (the Python Patrol one) so I had actually gotten so accustomed to seeing the B.A.T. legs on Vipers after all the iterations that got released in the modern era that I never even noticed the different legs until I joined the online Joe collectors community. It’s a little weird how your brain gets used to seeing something SO much that you think it’s they things have always been until you actually see things for how they were and go “Wait, that’s not right!” That being said, the missing Viper legs are probably the one thing I really regret about the days of Hasbro farming molds out to other countries…those were really well-executed molds and the B.A.T. legs just look wonky. I’d never actually heard about the “high kick” leg problems until you mentioned them…if it weren’t the sign of bad design, it’d be kinda funny. It’s like a Ninja Force figure only you can’t control their kicking. 😉

  • Love the two tone black and brown paint on the forearms. Hate the lack of paint on the pistol and holster on the legs. Looks like they just skimped on that part. Still, love those vipers in almost any iteration!

    • Here’s the weirdest part: they cast the boots in maroon, painted the whole piece black, then had to paint the knees maroon again! I’ve got 4 and they’re all like that. Still, I like this guy. I gave them 2000 era grey vests and painted the thigh details. For me, they hit that “elite Viper” angle without being crimson.

  • I wonder why he got his original backpack, yet came with Stalker’s machine gun.

  • I never had the original, so I only heard about the parts switch well after the fact. At this point, there’s bound to be more varieties of ’86 Vipers out there than Baskin-Robbins has ice cream flavors.

  • I love to collect different color vipers. I have an ’86, a gold one from 90, a python patrol one from one of those lots from that vietnam veteran that recently passed (you should have seen some of the amazing customs he did) and a viper from 98.

  • IIRC, the BAT legs and all other part/molds susbstitutions were done by the people in China. Hasbro rushed the 1997 sets out and molds were missing, to meet deadlines, quick fixes were made that led to the unwelcome oddities like this figure and the Stars n Stripes Breaker and Rock’n Roll.

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  • Basically, they had to make due with what they had because production was rushed and lost parts were an unforeseen problem. Viper’s waist and legs went AWOL with the rest of Battle Corps Dr. Mindbender’s tooling…
    Roadblock and BAT parts were used as substitutions because they were originally intended to be part of certain sets, so they were closest at hand. The reason we got 87 Cobra Commander and 91 Destro was probably because they were the first toolings found when the original molds turned out to be missing…

    Regardless, I like this Viper. I even mishmashed parts of the 1991 Badger vehicle and the 1993 Street Fighter Crimson Cruiser in order to have a specialized vehicle in his colors.

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