Range Viper (1990)

I still have a tough time wrapping my head around the Range Viper’s look. Specifically, the head, but the rest of the figure kind of mystifies as well. I’ve always read the sculpting on the helmet as brains, which is symbolically odd, if that’s what it’s meant to represent. Why would Cobra, an organization known for symbolism in its uniform and vehicle designs, put a brain on the outside of a helmet? I have no earthly idea. Then again, maybe it’s not brains. Whatever the case, I’m probably overthinking it. I always found the helmet dang weird. Intimidating and creepy to be sure, but weird.

The rest of the figure doesn’t really seem to me to suit a wilderness trooper. I would have expected something closer to Ambush’s look. Then again, the Joe team had their own survivalist dressed only in a white tee, so maybe I shouldn’t expect too much. Cobra Commander must have been feeling particularly flamboyant when he gave the okay to outfit wilderness troops in anything but green and brown. Just what wilderness would they be operating in, Candyland? Later releases would be done up in more subdued colors, and a modern version included in a movie based cancelled Target exclusive set, is quite nice.

Judging solely by weapons, one might think the Range Viper’s specialty to be a grenadier. He’s equipped with a missile launcher and multi-round grenade launcher. But hey, they did throw in a knife. I know that can be used to good effect in the wild. All in all, the look doesn’t make a damn bit of sense, but I still dig it, mostly for the skull face and the colors. My favorite bit? It’s the first Cobra troop to sport an old school Batman utility belt–and it’s yellow! Sold!


  • The head on this guy always creeped me out as well. Exposed brains and a skull grin? Jeez! It looks more like it belongs on a slasher film killer than on a Cobra troop.

    Everything from the neck down works okay, though. Had it been issued in more subdued camo, it might have made things cooler. As it is, most Cobra troops were bridging the gap between militaristic and outlandish by 1990.

    • Steven B. Williams

      I think the brain-and-skull-face helmet might of been for reasons of psychological warfare (folks back in 1990 weren’t as used to zombies and other ghouls as we are today).

  • I saw one of these babies at the flea market I regularly visit! I need to pick him up if he’s still there, and in good shape.

  • I really like the repainted version from 2000 that came packed with Majo Bludd more than the original paint scheme version.

    • That Rock-Viper v2 repaint totally salvaged the mold for me. They’re still bright for “wilderness” (nevermind the red gloves and ammo belt), but Cobra blue makes a lot more sense than neon turquoise and yellow.

  • Wow this one made me laugh.

  • The Range Viper kicks Ass!!! I´ve always liked this guy. I think he makes sense as a Cobra Trooper. He´s really not the first Cobra character to shock. Don´t forget the wicked Hydro Vipers.

    Judging by his equipment I would have to agree that he´s some sort of a grenadier. Maybe his job would be to shoot down enemies from a long range distance?

    A camouflaged repaint would be so much cooler. Imagine one of these guys sneaking up at you out in the woods…

  • Not a big fan of this figure, but I’ll probably pick it up somewhere down the line.

  • Steven B. Williams

    This was one of my favorite figures out of the 1990 line. True, the color scheme didn’t make sense and I don’t understand why there was a small tank with a hose to the helmet, but it was a cool figure (blue is my favorite color). I was surprised that he didn’t come with a rifle or any sort of firearm, but I guess they’re supposed to get their firearms from raids on ammo dumps (like the file card states). I’m glad that the Range-Viper got a modern-style update; even happier to see a Range-Viper in green via the repurposed Whirlwind gun station.

  • I found you, Evy

  • Range Viper? – Strange viper. I prefer Range V2 as others have said.

  • Looks more like hair than brains, considering that most people don’t have brains that extend down their cheekbones. Just look at those Sabertooth-esque sideburns.

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  • These guys serve as my enlisted Cobra elite special forces. Unlike Crimson Guardsmen, Range Vipers are not too precious to keep on the battlefield.
    Cheap to keep, cheap to maintain, but multiple times more nasty than the more rank and file infantry Vipers; complete brutes. They are the ultimate terrorists with their favored hit and run tactics. True raiders and plunderers, their methods instill fear miles away from just one of their attacks.
    They don’t do so well in more crowded urban areas, however, as they prefer heavy ammo and grenades that result in excessive damages to these areas….., an area best left to Cobra Alley Vipers, who show more tact and somewhat civilized self-discipline and teamwork.

  • Range Vipers were fun. Oh and they killed Sneak Peak which is bragging rights.

  • I remember being thirteen years old in 1990, and picking up a Range Viper at the local Wal-Mart and reading his file card. I couldn’t make sense of the character–why the brain-texture helmet, why the bright blue, why the skull mask? Why only heavy weapons? How is this a wilderness trooper? I put him back on the peg and got a H.E.A.T. Viper that day, instead.

    I chose wrong.

    Nowadays, I love these guys; they’re one of my favorite Vipers. They seem to me to give off an elite vibe, like the Alley Vipers–sure, you make a fine S.A.W. Viper, kid, but not everybody has the cast-iron cajones to be a true blue Range Viper! Hoo-rah! (Or whatever Cobra mooks would say instead. La-la-la-la-la!, maybe…)

    Also, in hindsight, the skull-and-brains helmet and heavy weapons make total sense to me. Range Vipers are supposed to terrify the enemy, so their helmets were designed by Cobra psy-ops officers to evoke horror movie images, the better to sell the idea that Range Vipers are literal cannibal terrorists that will come to pull you out of your cot and devour you in the night. (It’s more than propaganda for Skull-Buster, of course…) And any Range Viper worth the name only expects to have access to the guns and ammo he can raid from enemy armories and supply dumps, so the only standard-issue gear they get from the quartermaster before heading off into the bush is a grenade launcher and a one-shot disposable missile tube–so they can crack the first supply dump they come to wide open and gear up on the enemy’s goodies. Those grenades are just to get them in the door/through the wall, then they’re on their own.

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