Serpent Armor and Viper Commando

by KansasBrawler

Serpent ArmorI have to say, with the wide variety of store exclusives in the Rise of Cobra line, it’s really hard for me to pin down a favorite one. While I still can’t quite do that, I can say that I think Target probably got the best ones. The mini-vehicle and figure sets were incredibly cool and they really hit some pretty big nostalgic high points. I wasn’t terribly interested in the Joe sets (aside from the unreleased ones that were supposed to get released as a bridge between Rise of Cobra and Pursuit of Cobra) but the Cobra sets were just awesome. I never had the S.N.A.K.E. as a kid, but after discovering it in high school I thought it was really cool. Hands down, the Serpent Armor and Viper Commando set was a must have in my books and I have to say, I’m glad to finally own a version of the classic S.N.A.K.E. suit. It’s a great addition to my collection and when it’s paired with a repainted figure as cool as the Viper Commando, I’m one happy Joe fan.

Though it’s based on the classic S.N.A.K.E. design, the Serpent Armor is made of all new molds. I wasn’t sure about that until I checked the entry on YoJoe but it makes sense. I didn’t think that the larger modern figures would fit inside the original S.N.A.K.E. but it’s such a faithful reproduction of the classic mold, it’s really hard to tell that they’re all new pieces. The Serpent Armor is really a marvel of old-school toy engineering. The figure fits inside it snugly and the armor comes apart easily enough to make it simple to put the figure in, but at the same time it’s also not fragile and likely to fall apart at the slightest jostle. The armor itself is composed of eight pieces. The main body splits in half and the arms can plug into it. To facilitate figure insertion, the legs also split in half. If you want to have the Serpent Armor standing but don’t want to have a figure inside it, there’s also a piece that can go inside it to hold the legs and body together. It’s actually pretty genius, but I do think it makes the Serpent Armor just a tad shorter than it is with an actual figure in it. The armor detailing is quite impressive. There’s really not a place on the Serpent Armor that doesn’t have some sort of detail molded into it. It’s very detailed without being overly busy. The Serpent Armor also has all four of the original “weapon pods” that the S.N.A.K.E. came with. It had a claw, a laser cannon, a rocket and some other weapon that I’m not totally sure what it is. I think it’s some sort of flamethrower, but I’m just not sure. Regardless, it’s nice to see that all four pieces are still here. Personally, I like the claw and laser cannon combo and it’s my default weapons load, but your mileage may vary. I also appreciate that had I ever found more than one Serpent Armor set and felt like army building a little, I could make the Serpent Armors look different just by trading around weapon pods. Overall, the Serpent Armor is very well executed and while the Serpent Armor’s design is probably just a little dated, it’s still a great representation of a classic Cobra weapon.

Serpent ArmorThe paint work on the Serpent Armor is relatively basic, but it’s still well done. While I’m not totally sure I like how overwhelming black the Serpent Armor is, I have to admit, the mold looks sharp (and stealthy) in black. It’s just a shame that I think the detailing gets a little lost with all the black. It’d be nice if they carried up the silver on the leg armor and back up into the main body of the Serpent Armor a little just to liven things up a little. What little paint work there is gets very well applied. There’s no slop of silver on the legs or back but it does seem like the red tampo for the visor is just a little off center. I love the red here since it stands out against the black and it really reminds me of the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica but its slightly-off placement means it doesn’t look quite as sharp as I’d like it to. Most of the rest of the color on the Serpent Armor comes from the stickers and they look great. The six on the main piece is a great throwback to the original S.N.A.K.E. and all the warning labels are still intact. The Serpent Armor is an amazing modern update of a fan-favorite Cobra weapon and I’m glad that even though it was a store exclusive, Hasbro gave it the attention it deserved in order to be a great piece.

To man the Serpent Armor, Cobra decided to use their Viper Commandos. However, the Viper Commando included here is actually a Neo-Viper. I don’t quite know why Hasbro used the Neo-Viper mold and gave it the Viper Commando name, but either way, it’s a good choice for the soldier inside the Serpent Armor. This figure is a straight-up repaint of the movie Neo-Viper which means he uses the M.A.R.S. Industries Trooper body with the Neo-Viper head. Even though it’s a combination we saw a lot during the movie line, I still really love the Neo-Viper’s design. The legs are great and the armored shins just look cool. The new-to-the-line torso is a nice break from the standard “commando sweater” look and gives it a little more Cobra flair. Over the torso, he’s wearing the great Neo-Viper chest armor. I really love the design of the Neo-Viper’s chest armor. It’s layered and protective and it helps sell that the Neo-Vipers are really hard to bring down because of all the nanotech enhancements and the great gear they’re wearing. The only weak part of the look is the arms. I like the overall armored look, but they’ve got bad elbows. The Viper Commando can’t bend his arms much further than 25th Anniversary Duke and that’s a shame. This is a figure that screams “play with me” but it’s a little lame that his arms have some pretty bad articulation. Topping off the figure, the Viper Commando uses the standard Neo-Viper head. I actually prefer the Neo-Viper head to the Viper Commando head because it looks more like a helmet than either a bio-mechanical construct or a really cheap fright mask. Honestly, the Viper Commando head reminded me a bit of the disposable minions from the original Power Rangers and that’s not something I want my Joe line to remind me of. The Neo-Viper head looks more clearly like a metal helmet and I’m fine with that. The empty eye sockets make it look like a skull and that’s a really great and intimidating look. I know the Neo-Vipers weren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I really liked the overall design and the nanotech idea was a bit cooler than the genetically-modified trooper concept Hasbro first used with the Neo-Viper back during the 2000s relaunch. This is a scary-looking Cobra and I really like that, honestly by accident, I’ve amassed a little army of these guys because I just think they’re so cool.

Viper CommandoI got tired of seeing the standard black and silver Neo-Viper look by the end of the Rise of Cobra line. The Viper Commando changes things up and has a really sharp color scheme that matches the Serpent Armor. Like just about every other use of this mold, the Viper Commando’s base color is black. The cloth parts of his uniform are all black but honestly, the slightly different trim colors make him stand out a bit more than he probably has any right to. The shin and arm armor is silver. Though the chest armor is silver as well, it’s got a bit of a weathered metal wash over it so it looks a little better. The silver on his arms seems just a little flat. It would have been nice had they put a little bit of wash on the shin and arm armor as well. The shin armor’s straps are painted red and the red and silver look really sharp together. There’s a bit of red detailing on his chest armor as well. It’s the little details like this that help him stand out a bit more from the standard Neo-Viper. The biggest color change comes on Viper Commando’s head. While most Neo-Vipers kept a silver helmet with black eyes, the Viper Commando’s helmet is black with red eye pieces. It’s an incredibly striking and sinister look. My only real problem is that the red in his right eye doesn’t quite fill the eye piece. It kind of makes it look like that eye is partially closed kind of like how Marvel has eyepieces in Deadpool’s mask change shape to convey emotion and sarcasm. It’s not a bad look in comics, but consequently, now my Viper Commando seems like a sarcastic dude who’s winking at me rather than a Cobra operative. It’s a tiny complaint, I know, but it’s just a little odd that Hasbro had this problem pretty consistently from the photos I’ve seen of the other Serpent Armor Viper Commandos.

Viper CommandoEven though he’s technically a vehicle driver, the Viper Commando still gets some accessories. While he doesn’t get the Viper Commando’s gear, I still like the Neo-Viper gear being used here. Again, while I got tired of seeing it by the end of the movie line, the Neo- Viper’s accessories were pretty good. Starting off with the most basic piece, the Viper Commando gets a cool backpack. The piece has five sides and there are two pegs that stick off the side that you can attach his pair of pulse rifles to so he can carrying them on his backpack. I always like it when Hasbro finds a way to give their figures a way to carry their extra gear with them and I’ve been in love with the Neo-Viper backpack for that reason since day one. Viper Commando also gets the two pulse rifles that the Neo-Viper came with. I prefer the one that looks like the standard movie pulse rifle. It looks good in his hands and it looks futuristic enough that it feels at home in Cobra’s arsenal. The other pulse rifle has a forward grip and that’s kind of my problem. It’s a nice look, but considering Viper Commando’s slightly restricted articulation, he really can’t take advantage of that forward grip. The figure can’t grip a weapon with both hands so I think it’s kind of superfluous to have a weapon with a forward grip on it. Maybe that’s just me, but I think the pulse rifle would look far better without the unnecessary handle up there.

Despite a few missteps and name issues, the Serpent Armor set is a great addition to anyone’s Joe collection. The black Serpent Armor looks like the stealth weapon the original System: Neutralizer-Armed Kloaking Equipment purported itself to be. The Serpent Armor looks really sharp in black and the Viper Commando looks great in the new color scheme Hasbro gave this exclusive. While the Neo-Viper’s look got a little played out by the end of the Rise of Cobra line, some of the more interesting color swaps still look great. While I’d like to see a little more color on the Serpent Armor, it’s still a great piece and I really do love how cool the retro-styled Cobra armor still looks in compared to the modern equipment Cobra uses on the battlefield. It still looks at home in the Cobra armory even if the overall design is just a tad dated.


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