Resolute Alley Viper
It may be hard to beat the look of the vintage Alley Viper, but man did Hasbro come close with the Resolute Alley Viper Cobra set. I don’t recall seeing Alley Vipers in the Resolute cartoon. However, it’s also been a really long time since I’ve watched it, so I may just have missed them when I first saw it. The Resolute Alley Viper isn’t nearly as flashy as its vintage- inspired brothers, but it’s still a solid figure and takes the urban combat specialty and gives it a bit more realistic and grounded look. It may not be my default interpretation of the Alley Viper but it looks great when it’s on display with the rest of the Resolute figures and that’s all that really matters to me.
I think part of why I think it’s possible there were Alley Vipers in the cartoon but I just didn’t notice them is that the Alley Viper’s overall design is quite similar to the Resolute Cobra Trooper. That’s because the figure’s torso and legs both come from the 25th Anniversary Resolute Cobra Trooper. It’s a good, basic military look and it looks fairly realistic for both a generic trooper and someone that specializes in urban warfare. Of course, the 25th Anniversary Resolute Cobra Trooper torso isn’t visible thanks to a brand new vest. The Resolute Alley Viper has a very heavy bulletproof vest and it looks like it provides a lot of protection. It’s nicely detailed, with a belt and some pouches around the waist and some overhang that covers the Alley Viper’s lower torso and back. The arms come from a rather surprising source—the Resolute comic pack Storm Shadow figure. The arms are a bit of a weak point, but they have grown on me over the years. While the armor looks just a little too ornate, it does remind me quite a bit of the armored plates that many modern private military contractors wear. It’s still not ideal, but it does look okay and it beats this figure using nothing but 25th Anniversary Resolute Cobra Trooper parts. Up top, the Resolute Alley Viper gets a brand new head. It’s the same one Hasbro used for the later Pursuit of Cobra City Strike Alley Viper, but even though I didn’t find this set at a brick and mortar store until 2011, this figure came out first, so it’s technically the first time it was used. I really do like this Alley Viper head. As much as I like the classic cloth balaclava, I really do like the armored facemask the Resolute Alley Viper has. It just makes the figure look a lot more menacing and a little more realistic. Though I like my Joe figures to have a bit of sci-fi flair, I do have to admit that sometimes the realistic look is the way to go and the armored facemask just speaks to me for some reason. To finish off the look, the Resolute Alley Viper also gets a helmet. It’s similar in design to the 25th Anniversary Resolute Cobra Trooper’s, but it fits the head just a little more tightly, so it looks a tad more streamlined. It’s also designed so that a pair of removable goggles can slip onto the top of it or down to cover the figure’s eyes. I really like having the ability to put the goggles up on the forehead or slide them down over the figure’s eyes. It’s a nice piece of design work and gives me options for display. If I had more the one Resolute Alley Viper, I know I’d be tempted to keep them both on display, leaving one with the goggles up and one with the goggles down just so they look a little different. Overall, the design of the figure is solid and I do like that the Alley Viper’s design is similar to that of the standard Resolute Cobra Trooper. It’s a little more realistic than the wildly different looks that Cobra Vipers and Cobra Alley Vipers have. The figure fits in well the Resolute aesthetic, but it’s good enough on its own merits that it doesn’t look out of place when it’s with non-Resolute figures.
The Resolute Alley Viper’s paint scheme is quite simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. Instead of going with orange and blue, the Resolute Alley Viper has a much more restrained color palate. It’s also much more conducive to urban operations. The figure’s base is a light gray, with dark gray on the kneepads and straps, a dark blue for the vest and spats, light blue for the armor and helmet, and the same light gray used on the armored facemask. There’s a little bit of dark blue camouflage on the shoulder armor, though since it’s just a couple of blue stripes, it honestly looks a little more like an afterthought. Overall, the look is very cohesive and while the colors are similar to those of the 25th Anniversary Resolute Cobra Trooper, they’re still different enough that at a quick glance you’ll be able to tell the two apart. Much of the heavy lifting is done by molding the parts out of the necessary color. That helps create a relatively slop-free figure, however, there is some pretty bad slop with the red on his goggles. Only ever seeing this set once at retail, I couldn’t really shop around, but there’s a lot of coloring outside the molded lines going on with the red for his goggle lenses. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is a little surprising because Hasbro’s paint team is pretty good at that sort of detailing. My only other real complaint about the paint work is that the Cobra sigil on his chest is done in black rather than red. I know black is more realistic, but I do like seeing the Cobra sigil proudly emblazoned in red on figures, especially ones that are mostly blue like this one. The red and blue contrast nicely and it really makes the sigil pop. I know that’s not something that a real soldier would want, but I like that visual contrast and I kind of miss it here.
The Resolute Alley Viper was definitely a cost-saver in the set, and that’s reflected both in his gear and his design. However, just because the gear is mostly reused doesn’t mean they’re not good pieces. The Alley Viper’s primary weapon is the bullpup machine gun that came with the 25th Anniversary Resolute Cobra Trooper. It’s a very good piece for the Alley Viper because it’s compact but it has stopping power. Those are both useful qualities for a weapon when involved in urban combat situations. I can see a squad of Alley Vipers being able to lay down some heavy fire with this weapon when they’re taking over a building for Cobra’s nefarious purposes. The Alley Viper’s other weapon is also shared with the 25th Anniversary Resolute Cobra Trooper. It’s the same large rifle that the other figure came with. I think this weapon works a little better in the Alley Viper’s hands than it did in the Cobra Trooper’s hands because they’re heavy combat troops and they need heavier equipment to pull off their jobs. The rifle itself is a little oversized and disproportionate, but it’s still a decent weapon. The only thing I think I’d like better is if the Resolute Alley Viper had a shield of some sort like the vintage figure. I don’t know if the Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper shield had been tooled up by this time, but even the small Rise of Cobra PIT Commando shield would have been a nice nod to the vintage Alley Viper look. The gear is solid and fits well with an urban operations specialist and really helps make the figure.
The Resolute Alley Viper is a fairly simple figure, but just because he’s simple doesn’t mean he’s uninteresting. There’s honestly a lot to like here. The base figure is solid because the 25th Anniversary Resolute Cobra Trooper is a well-designed figure. However, the new vest, head and helmet, coupled with different arms make him look distinct enough to be his own specialty but still clearly a part of the Cobra organization. The paint scheme is effective for an urban operator and that’s the first time that’s ever been said about an Alley Viper. Add in the cool gear that, while recycled, fits with his specialty and you have a solid, generic trooper that looks like it fits within the ranks of the Cobra organization quite well.