It may sometimes take a little while, but I have to commend Hasbro for its ability to get popular canceled figures released. This year we’re finally getting the much-demanded Concept Case Gung-Ho and during the Retaliation line, Data-Viper was rescued from the great parts bin in the sky and saw a retail release and I couldn’t have been happier. Yes, they had used the body several times prior to the Data-Viper’s release, but it was nice for the whole package to be released the way it was intended to be. The Data-Viper was a really cool concept that my brain just latched on to the moment I saw it during Joe Con coverage a few years back. Unfortunately, when the 30th Anniversary line had to shift over to Retaliation quickly, Data-Viper was left in the lurch. Then when the Retaliation line wound up in the lurch due to a shift in the movie’s release date, I was a little sad that some good figures got left behind to change the line’s branding for a movie that was now delayed, which in turn delayed the toyline. While Hasbro got a little gut-punched by that move, they were able to capitalize on the delay amazingly well. I think had there not been such a delay between the original street date of the Retaliation line and the movie’s release, the super wave may not have materialized, at least in the fashion that it did. I wonder if any of the non-movie toys would have seen release without Hasbro having to adapt to things on the fly. Data-Viper is a great figure and while we’ve seen his body a few times already, there’s still enough done to make him really interesting.
We’ve seen this body used a couple times since its cancellation, but Data-Viper was made up of entirely new parts and they’re really great. The look is a basic set of coveralls with added pouches and some padding. What’s great about the look is that if you take off all the armor and accessories, the Data-Viper looks just as at home behind the front lines as he does on the battlefield. I love it when a figure can achieve two very different but usable looks just by stripping out the gear. Without the armor on, I can see the Data-Viper manning a Cobra listening post somewhere. However, with it on, he also looks just as natural operating drones and creating all sorts of havoc by jamming Joe communications and knocking out helicopters with his gear. The jumpsuit is nicely detailed with naturally-placed wrinkles and thicker pads on his legs and additional pouches on his arms and chest that he’d use to carry all his small tools that he’d need either on base duty or out in the field. There are also two ports near his waist. I’m not quite sure why they’re there, but they are molded details. My justification is a little odd, but it works for me. As Cobra cyber-warfare experts, they’d be spending a lot of time working behind their monitors, and considering how many other Cobra trooper specializations require radical surgery, I can see Cobra Commander demanding that Data-Vipers go through a process to keep them from having to leave their monitor to eat or expel waste. I realize it’s a little gross, but contextualized in some of the crazy medical experiments Cobra did to their pilots, that’s pretty tame. His head sculpt is not shared with any other figure and I really like it. He’s wearing a high tech helmet with a connection ports on it. Working on the battlefield, his helmet plugs into the larger helmet but at a listening post, it’s used to hook directly into the system so he can run it hands free. This design is great because all the little details helped inspire this figure’s backstory. In an era where Joes don’t have real filecards, I appreciate mold details that get my gears turning in terms of stories and ideas.
Of course, an integral part of the Data-Viper is his accessories. They look amazing, but unfortunately, that does lead me to my one real criticism: his gear is rather fragile. It doesn’t take more than bump of the table to knock him over and have things fall off. I know I would have loved all this gear as a kid, but I’m also pretty sure considering how hard it makes to play with the figure, he would have gotten relegated to base duty without all his gear on and that’s a shame because it really is such great gear. Data-Viper wears a great set of angular armor over his torso. The design reminds me a lot of a stealth fighter. It’s another one of those details that brings ideas to mind. How would Cobra Commander keep such an expensive battlefield asset safe? Simple, he’d incorporate stealth technology into them to make them harder to find. After all, the Pythonization process was, at its core, a flamboyant attempt at putting stealth uniforms on troopers. Why wouldn’t Cobra have found new technology for that process in the intervening decades? A pair of small missile batteries is attached over his shoulders. They’re attached by balljoints, so they’re poseable. The little batteries remind me of the Navy’s Hammer Drone from Iron Man 2. Really, I get an Iron Man 2 vibe from a lot of his gear and that’s perfectly fine. I like it when Hasbro takes some inspiration from other properties to incorporate them effectively into the Joe line. I can see the Data-Viper using these in an antivehicle capacity, taking out a recon chopper that got too close to his position while it was hunting for him to take out his jamming equipment. Attached to his back, the Data-Viper has a radar dish and a drone-catcher/stabilizer. I can see the radar dish being useful both for transmitting information to Cobra headquarters but also for jamming Joe communications. The drone-catcher is a nice way to display the drone, but I do like it better as a stabilizer. Positioned right, it can turn him into a tripod and if he’s shooting off his shoulder-mounted missiles, he’d want some extra support so he doesn’t get bowled over by the thrust. Data-Viper has a pair of gauntlets that fit over his wrists and hands. They’re a little fiddly to get on the first time, but once you put them on the first time, you figure out the best way to slide them on. In my mind, the gauntlets are a VR system that can be used to control his drone. There is a pair of joysticks built into the gauntlets for control and they can pivot up or down. The fiddliest parts of the gauntlets are the fronts of the gauntlets. The front part is hinged so they can fold down and stay out of the way when you’re putting the gauntlets on, but they have a tendency to fall off when you’re folding them back up. The red hoses do help keep them in place, but they’re still just a little too delicate and it’s a flaw in their design. If the peg were just a little longer, I think they would be a bit more secure. Finally, topping off the figure is a large triangular helmet. It reminds me of the Decimator’s helmet that provides 180 degree vision only oriented on a vertical axis rather than a horizontal one. Considering the Data-Viper’s purpose, having an enhanced field of vision into the sky would be a great addition. It’s a good piece, but it doesn’t stay on that tightly. I kind of wish there was a way to secure the helmet into the armor. I think it would make both pieces a little more stable and would decrease the overall fragility of the figure. Data-Viper’s final accessory is an armed drone. The mold is the same as the one that came with Ultimate Duke, but to make things a little more interesting, they assembled the wings so that they deploy the opposite direction of Ultimate Duke’s drone. The wings sweep back on the Data-Viper’s drone but they sweep forward on Ultimate Duke’s. I don’t know why, but this little change really makes the Cobra drone just feel a little more sinister. As I recall, the drones that Soundwave from Transformers has turned into from time to time tended towards having a rear-swept wing configuration and I like that Hasbro used this same design idea for another bad guy operated drone. A pair of guns can plug into the drone’s wings, but they can also be carried by the Data-Viper. However, I do wish he had some sort of assault rifle, just something basic so he can have a little firepower if he’s on base duty. While I’d like him to have a gun, he’s a complete figure and he looks great, even if his gear is a bit fiddly and fragile.
A figure this high tech can look a little out of place if it’s got a ridiculous paint job. Mercifully, Hasbro kept this thing pretty grounded in its colors so it all hangs together really well. Data-Viper’s base color, from the cuffs of his pants to the top of his pointy helmet, is a very light blue with some slightly darker blue and gray details overlaying it. It’s not a bad color, but I’m still a little surprised at it. It’s not really a great camouflage color. My guess is that it would provide decent concealment if he were stationed on top of a building somewhere, but beyond that, I just don’t see it giving him that much cover. I would have preferred him to be gray since a Data-Viper could wreak all sorts of havoc working in an urban setting, from jamming local telecommunications to using the drone to make deadly surgical assassinations while only needing to worry about having to use his rockets to take down enemy drones since heavier air power couldn’t necessarily ferret him out in an urban setting. Four of the rocket tips have some red detailing on them, though I don’t quite know why they only put paint on eight rockets. The drone probably has more paint applications than the figure does. The drone is molded in green (with some white spray where the neck meets the head of the drone—again, I don’t know why) with some red paint on the long back edges of the wings and yellow on the wingtips. A Cobra sigil is also tampoed on the head of the drone so you know which side it’s on.
All-in-all, Data-Viper is a great figure. The basic coverall is a great generic mold that’s already gotten some good reuse, but when you equip him with all his armor, it looks like a totally different figure. That’s the sign of a great generic mold in my books. It’s a nice base, but just by changing around gear worn over top of it, we’ve seen it not just as a cyber-warfare expert but also a helicopter pilot (Retaliation Lift Ticket) a paratrooper (Retaliation Airborne), and a toxic waste removal specialist (Zombie Initiative Clean Sweep). This is another great generic mold that I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of in the future like we have the Shock Trooper parts and that’s fine. It looks good and works for a wide range of uses. The figure-specific accessories really shine and though he’s a bit fragile, the accessories themselves are solidly made and you won’t have to worry about them getting damaged. I wish the fit a little tighter on him, but beyond that, they make him look great and that’s what I want from my Data-Viper. The Data-Viper isn’t a front line fighter so really I don’t see a lot of need for him to be able to do a lot while he’s wearing his gear. Much like Fast Draw, when he’s using all his equipment, he’s more like an emplacement rather than a soldier. However, once you strip all that gear off for base duty, he’s still got all the great Joe articulation we know and love and just like the Tele-Vipers, I can see this guy picking up a weapon if the base is under attack, even if he doesn’t have time to fully gear up.