Viper (2011 30th Anniversary)
The Viper, one of the most popular Cobra troopers, has had a storied history throughout the various incarnations of the 3 3/4 inch Joe line. It seems like almost every version released since the original in 1986 has started out with some sort of issue, whether it’s articulation or colors. When the 1997 Toys R Us exclusive line appeared, the Viper mold was there, but the original waist, legs and rifle were missing and the colors were less than ideal. For the supposed story behind the missing parts, check out the Alley Viper entry. The original mold was again re-released throughout the new sculpt era, but with the replaced legs (from the ’86 BAT). The legs on these versions had a tendency to do involuntary chorus line kicks to the side. Very unfortunate. Something also went wonky with the head mold, and they suffered from a constant head nod. The new sculpt line had its own version of the Viper, and again the initial release left a lot to to be desired, as it was painted in a strange purple color scheme. Eventually the more familiar blue and red scheme returned later in the line. Flash forward to the 25th anniversary line, and another Viper with issues. This time it was the strangely positioned wrists, which didn’t allow for a natural position outside of holding a rifle. Again, the problem was corrected later, with the release of the Hall of Heroes version.
This year, the Viper was part of the Pursuit of Cobra line. This time, it was both colors and articulation that kept it from being the perfect modern Viper. Having blue armguards vs. red isn’t the biggest problem in the world. That was corrected in this new 30th anniversary figure.
The issue I have with this current version is the articulation, specifically the elbows. They just don’t bend enough to get a good two handed grip on a rifle. The forearms (reused from the 2009 Arctic Assault Storm Shadow) just don’t mesh well with the upper arm. The pouches on the right side of the vest also tend get in the way of some arm poses, but this is probably due to the use of the 25th version’s vest on the newer torso. The accessory complement provides a lot of armament options, and we get four rifles and a nice looking RPG.
In the end, the current version of the venerable Cobra trooper is a huge improvement over the 25th anniversary figure and looks awesome even standing at ease. It has a couple of issues; they’re annoying but not glaring. But the saga of the flawed Viper does unfortunately continue.