Viper (1990)

Viper (1990)The Sonic Fighter figures get a bad rap, don’t they? I mean, what’s the big deal with the colors or the backpacks? Don’t most world military forces accessorize in gold and wear seven foot tall backpacks?

I’ve actually covered this fella a few years ago, but for some reason, I left his most important accessory out of the photo. Witness the glory of early 90s digitized sound technology! Witness a lower back injury in the making! These poor Cobra grunts, they just can’t catch a break. If they’re not being thrown into an unarmored vehicle cockpit or having their DNA mixed with any number of wild animal, they’re being saddled with gargantuan, static-y sound emitting backpacks that could strain a nut on a Clydesdale.

I remember finding an entire dump bin of Sonic Fighter figures back in the early 90s at the Half Price Store (which I think became Gordman’s). The chain was known for kind of a scammy deal where they would mark their stock with higher “compare to” prices to make you think you were getting a good deal–kind of like Kay-Bee Toys. Being that the regular price on these figures was around $5, the $3 price wasn’t exactly half, but I still kick myself for not army building a few more of this guy. He just looks neat, with all that snazzy gold.

The big question here is how long the backpack will last, as the dreaded Gold Plastic Syndrome can strike at any time. Then again, if it crumbled to dust, the Sonic Viper would in a way have his revenge against a gimmick accessory that caused many a Cobra trooper to suffer from early degenerative disc disease.

Viper (1990)


  • I think this was the only Sonic Fighter who didn’t come with a reused Battle Force 2000 weapon.

  • Speaking as a man who has given up trying to complete his G2 Laserrods collection; gold plastic decays regardless of how well looked after it is. Even if its mint in the box or card; it will eventually disintigrate.

    That said, i think this is a decent figure.

    But if you think that “compare to” price is bad. The old miser who ran the toyworld where i used to live charged double to tripple what everyone else was charging.

  • When I had it as a kid, I was really happy!

  • I loved the mortar sound on the Viper’s backpack! I think that was a unique sound…except maybe Fort America got it too.

    $3 sounds awesome for Sonic Fighters. Even $5…. I grew up in a more rural area and I guess I was always used to prices at stores that didn’t have as much discounts/competition… for me Sonic Fighters were around $7. When I sometimes browse through and see their “retail prices” listed everything seems so cheap compared to what the prices were I had. Cobra Stinger, VAMP Mark II, Sharc, Water Moccassin, and Slugger were $6.49, what? No… those were $9.99 for me.

    • Yeah, I don’t know where they got those retail prices at. I had old GI JOE Encyclopedia book from the 90’s that has similar odd prices…I suspect they were a wholesale price or some Suggest Retail Price guide or something from Hasbro.

  • I recently had an incident with “talking battle commander” GENERAL HAWK (v2). While trying to unscrew the gold backpack off, somehow the gold plastic melted into the back screw hole.I managed to Dremel it out eventually to actually access the screw hole .Another example of the pitfalls of gold plastic syndrome.
    As far as this Viper goes, I love him. His color works great as a squad leader. It’s also the last viper that uses his original legs and not B.A.T. legs. I actually bought mine mint on card, and tore him out of the package. The fluorescent colors on the package card art really pop. The gold weapons are weird, but overall it’s a fantastic figure, and fairly pricey on the secondary market.

  • I do appreciate that the they at least tried, via the sculpting, to suggest an in-universe reason the backpack was so large, piling on a bunch of stuff, pockets and some kind of cupboard, reminiscent of a crude hiking or Sherpa backpack, rather than just stretching out a regular backpack.

    Still pretty ridiculous, but it helps the suspension of disbelief a bit. 🙂

  • The Sonic Fighters… not a bad set. The premise is a bit absurd (lowly Law is in charge of the technology, Falcon repairs it?) but some of the figures have nice recolors. The Sonic Viper looked quite cool. Lamprey actually works well in orange with being Cobra’s Coast Guard of sorts (I think the Sonic Lamprey filecard mentions they maintain underwater outposts, buoys). The Super Sonic Fighters show more creativity than the generic ginormous backpack. And LOL, they’re using knock-off sonic technology that has a habit of blowing up according to their filecards.

    Re: Gold Plastic Syndrome
    Does it have a swirly pattern to it? Gold plastic like that is the infamous kind. IIRC it’s usually more soft and bendy than other kinds of plastic. I recall some claims Serpentor had GPS but IIRC, wasn’t that figure made of a yellow plastic painted gold? Besides, there are so many Serpentors out there (more than the Transformers late G1, G2, and few Beast Wars figures with GPS) that it would be so much more widely reported if it did exist. Now, parts of the Air Chariot, that I wonder about. IIRC, the 1991 General Hawk had a soft gold plastic for accessories. I don’t think any Joe figure is molded from the infamous gold plastic as parts of Transformers were. I believe Captain Power (AKA Barricade’s forebearer) had some figures that used the soft gold plastic.

    Can anyone else recall Joe figures with gold accessories that might be suspect to this? That rifle Sonic Viper is holding has my eye…

    • Never seen disintegration, but Serpentor V1 is prone to breaking probably because of his plastic. Same with Star Brigade TARGAT, Barricade and Armor Tech Hawk (i have one in pieces I got in a box of used Joes).

  • I like the 50th repaint of the modern Viper, with his gray and red uniform, and gold faceplate, but this color scheme would be a fantastic variant for that figure, too.

  • This was a Christmas present figure back at this time, the backpack did nothing for then. I pressed the buttons a lot.

    This Viper got a lot of use, it was my first actual Viper Viper, and was soon fighting alongside the ’93 Alley Viper, the ;94 Viper, a Motor Viper, to name a few. Totally dug all the rest of the weapons with this guy, even with them being gold.

    Speaking of gold, on the backpack, when I sold this figure out of my collection, the batteries still worked, but there was a small piece that broke off around the battery cover on its own.

    I can totally see this backpack succumbing to some deterioration.

  • I’ve never actually seen an example of gold plastic deterioration in person.

  • @Jester
    If you want i can mail you my G2 Electro [whats left of him]

  • When I first began collecting back in the early 2000’s, I spent most of my time on the net, browsing Yo Joe, and other random Joe sites. These guys just screamed desert viper’s. I’ve only snagged one, wish I was able to get a few more when I was younger, and had the disposable cash to do so.
    He’s a nice figure, the gold paint doesn’t like to stay much like silver paint.

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