Toys / Comics to Toys / G.I. Joe

G.I. Joe Classified Series Cobra Viper Officer & Vipers Action Figures


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By Hervé St-Louis
November 7, 2022 - 08:14

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The original Cobra Island Vipers were some of the most sought-after G.I. Joe Classified action figures and sold out quickly. their price on the secondary collector’s market soared and never came down. Thus, Hasbro introduced this new Viper three-pack for fans who missed out originally and those who wanted to army-build but could not because of the prohibitive price and lack of access to the original Viper.

The new Viper three-pack exists to fill an important void for collectors, as Hasbro slowly realizes that the demand for Classified action figures, especially army-builders, is enormous.  Hasbro knows that collectors want more than one trooper-like character in their collections. They used the opportunity to add an officer with the standard trooper.

Most times, when Hasbro re-releases a figure that used to be an exclusive such as the Cobra Island Viper, it changes its colour or gear. This is what happened here. Hasbro changed the hue of the new Vipers with duller blues and reds that looked washed out. The red does fit in better with the hue used by the Crimson Guards commanders, Tomax and Xamot. The red used on the Viper officer is similar.

While the Vipers have been a mainstay of Cobra since 1986. The Cobra Officer were only introduced in 2014 as part of a multi-pack including Beachhead and a Cobra Trooper. I don’t know if the Viper officers have been portrayed in media as they are recent additions to the G.I. Joe mythology. In the past, the Cobra Officers were closely patterned after the Cobra troopers and infantry. In fact, Hasbro has released its Cobra officer action figures earlier this year with great acclaim from collectors. As of this writing, I have several of these officers in their boxes, but will review them soon.

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As mentioned in my Cobra Island Viper review, there has always been debates about whether Vipers and troopers were the same, with the former wearing updated suits, or gaining better training after having spent a few months or years as basic troopers. The addition of the Viper officer in the current mythology blows that theory. As I wrote in Viper review, I see the Vipers as the equivalent of marines and thus as a separate corps from the standard Cobra trooper, infantry, and officers who are more army-based. The heavy backpack suggests that Vipers are deployed in rough terrains and should fend off for themselves away from the Cobra bases and vehicle support, unlike the Cobra troopers and infantry. That’s why they need an officer with them.

I wasn’t too pleased that there were one officer for every two Vipers. I really wanted more grunts and less officers. But if I envision the Vipers as Cobra’s marines, then they need dedicated officers. The officers, I should add, have the same gear with only the colour of their uniform that differs from the other Vipers. The good thing is that through the collector’s community, it is easy to trade a Viper officer for a regular Viper.

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Likeness

The colours on the Vipers is washed and less vibrant than in the comics other media. Nevertheless, the figures are a good match for the classic 1986 1:18 Viper action figures with a modern interpretation of the character. What is new is that the Viper is no longer Caucasian. Just like with the Python Patrol Viper, there is now a brown-skinned Viper which adds to the mix and match possibilities of the set and enhance the army-building experience.

The grey deco used on the Viper officer is like the 2014 figure released as 1:18 scale by Hasbro. Having a bunch of Vipers tightly assembled is way cool. They look like they could take on the troopers and the infantry easily. Even the Alley Vipers feel less armoured, although they technically are. Bring on the inter-Cobra rivalries and civil wars!

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Sculpt

The Vipers use the exact same mould as the Cobra Island Viper and the Python Patrol Viper. Only their colours differ. They are bulky figures who look better prepared for war than the Cobra troopers and infantry who appear to have lighter gear. One issue with the release is that the googles were not changed to fit better on the Vipers’ heads and that’s too bad. The goggles were problematic in 2021, they still are today.

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Paint

The colours on the Vipers are duller and washed compared with the original Cobra Island Viper. The red, however, matches the one sported by the Crimson Guards commanders, Xamot and Tomax. The paint application is good without any spills, but I would have preferred vac-metal gold and silver treatments on the Vipers’ helmets. The Viper officer has different shades than the other Vipers and some red lines on his pistol. His backpack has a gold-painted logo on the grey back flap. The backflap on the Vipers’ backpack is not painted, unlike the blue ones sported by the Cobra Island Viper. The ropes and grenades on all Vipers’ backpack are red. The blue plastic on the Vipers is also duller than the one on the Cobra Island Viper and the one on both the Cobra troopers and infantry.

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An important quality control issue that has been seen by collectors are the non-matching forearms of the Vipers with the skin colour of their neck. First, neither the black Viper nor the white Viper’s arm are a good match for the skin tones of their necks. But the real issue is with several Vipers having the wrongly coloured arms and necks. The problem seems common enough and even with clear plastic packaging, it would not be impossible to check without opening the package and removing the wrist guards from the figures’ forearms. Now, the wrist guards cover the exposed forearms completely, which means that it will not be an issue if they are on. I suggest exchanging problem figures with other collectors if it is a major annoyance for you.

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Scale

The Vipers are the same size as the Cobra Island Vipers, thus taller than most standard-size figures such as Flint and Duke. Taller than shorter characters than Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and most female figures. They also tower above the Cobra troopers and infantry, are about the same size as Alley Vipers and shorter than Cobra BATs.

Stability

Although most are stiff, I found that they were all very stable and easily carry their backpack without falling.

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Articulations

My figures are tight and thus it’s not easy to articulate them yet. I treated them to the warm water treatment to loosen their joints but two of them out of nine still had stiff bicep and thigh curls. I tried to remove the hands from the format peg holes to check if the skin colour of the Vipers all matched. Many collectors have reported that the pink and the brown Vipers’ arms often do not match their neck’s skin tones. With the wrist guards, it’s nearly impossible to check if the parts match. Even with the warm water treatment, I found the hands tough to extract, so I chose not to mess with them too much and avoid breaking them by pulling too hard.

The Vipers have the standard G.I. Joe Classified articulations at the neck, the shoulders, the biceps, the elbows, the wrists, the torso, the waist, the hips, the thighs, the knees, the shins / calves, and of course, at the ankles. The necks are on double pegs joints. With the scarf, the mobility of the Viper’s heads are reduced. The Vipers tend to look down, so you’ll have to position their heads looking up a bit. The torso’s articulation is hidden by the vest, so it’s a bit more difficult to use. the waist has a balljoint, allowing to the torso to pivot as well as side to side twists.

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The Vipers have butterfly joints to expand the motion of their arms. They work well even with the vests on. The Vipers can raise their arm sideways at a bit less than 90 degrees. They can also motion them back and front. The bicep curls help with the handling of the riffles. The elbows have double joints for extended motion. The wrists allow the left hands to move up and down on and inside and outside on the right. Each hand can rotate. The hips have the dropdown feature. I find that annoying as it does not add any range to the Vipers as one attempts to raise their legs. The legs of all my Vipers are stiff and I dare not push them too hard for fear of breaking the joints inside. After many years of producing G.I. Joe Classified figures, this should not be a worry for collectors.

The thigh curls are either too loose or too stiff. The knees have double articulations, but I found that the topmost one is often stiff and hard to bend. The legs all look off as the pads on each side of the Vipers’ thighs don’t seem to line up well with the knees and the shins. The ankles seem too loose for most Vipers. They can bend and pivot at the base. One problem caused by the tight hip joints is that all Vipers appear as if they are resting on their left legs. This is not aesthetically pleasing.

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Plastic

The Vipers are in PVC plastic while their vests, their goggles, their wrist guards, and their gun holsters are in softer rubbery-like materials.


Props

The props with this set are extensive. There are weapons, gunfire effects, scarves, holsters, wrist guards, one silencer per set, backpacks, vests, and goggles. Let’s start with the easy stuff. Each Viper in the set has a scarf, a handgun holster, a vest, and wrist guards that are already on the figure as one opens the package. The scarf is the same one worn by the Cobra Island Viper but in a lighter grey scarf. You may not notice the slight change of the hue. I don’t like the shape of the scarves as they hide the Cobra logo on the figures’ vests. The holsters are black, like with the Cobra Island Viper.

Of course, the vests are already worn by the Vipers. The Viper officer has a red vest which may make him an easy target. The vest’s red does not match the red pain used on the grenades, and the wrist guards. However, all Vipers wear the same-coloured wrist guards.

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Moreover, each figure has a backpack, a pair of goggles, and a handgun that fits into the holster. The Vipers have the same handgun that the Cobra Island Viper had. The Viper officer has a different handgun that is bigger with red streaks on it. This handgun is the only one with a five-millimetre hole that allows a silencer or a gunfire effect to be added to the end of the barrel. Unlike the Cobra Island Vipers, the goggles are painted. The Viper officer’s goggles have a gold tint. The Vipers’ is silver.

Besides the handguns, there are five firing weapons that the Vipers share with one another. There is a rifle similar with the one that came with the Cobra Island Viper. It is not easy to insert in a figure’s hand because of the oddly shaped handle. Next, there are two automatic weapons with viewfinders, and one without. Because I dislike the standard Viper rifle, I gave each Viper one of the other weapons.

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There is nowhere to store the extra weapons on a Vipers. Thus, in neither set, have I attributed a riffle to a Viper. I wish that there had been an extra weapon to even things out. However, there is a silencer that will fit all weapons. There is nowhere to store the silencer unless it is fixed to one of the firing weapons. The silencer will not fit with the Vipers’ handguns as they have no peg holes, unlike the Viper officer’s pistol.

The gunfire effects are fun and potentially could be shared with your other Classified figures that have compatible five-millimetre holes. The larger star-shaped gunfire effects fit in the weapons and that include peg holes to add extra gunfire effects. These stars create nice splatter effects. The other five gunfire effects peg into either a rifle, a submachine gun, or the Viper officer’s pistol. There are two pointing effects, one saccade firing effect, one smoky gunfire effect, and one smoky effect after has gun has been fired.

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Figures such as Duke, Scarlet, the first Roadblock, the Cobra troopers, the Cobra infantry, the first Cobra Commander and Destro do not have peg holes in their weapons. Stalker, the commando Snake Eyes, the Crimson twins, and even the movie Baroness will be able to use gunfire effect with their weapons.

You can mix and match the gunfire effects to your desire. As I have three Viper three-packs, I have more than enough to spread the gunfire effects to other Classified figures who thus far, have none. Most recent Classified fires have five-millimetre holes for gunfire effects.

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Packaging

The packaging is an extended box that has the same comic art as the original Cobra Island Viper. I like the continuity between the boxes and the very colourful artwork by Anthony Petrie. This set is one of the first in the G.I. Joe Classified line to come without a plastic bubble. Many collectors who like to keep their toys in-box despise these packages.

Others are rightly afraid of buying goods that were swiped by a scummy collector and returned to a store. I may be in the minority, but I appreciate the all cardboard and plastic-free package. I have been complaining about gaudy and cumbersome plastic packages for decades as can be seen here, there, and in many other reviews that I have written about action figures.

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The figures are held together with a straw-like material inside the cardboard box. The toys are wrapped in recyclable paper. These packages are much better for the environment. Had Hasbro used such packaging, say 20 years ago, much less waste would have ended up in landfills.

Collectors who dislike cardboard box packaging should look at what model collectors have had for decades. Models be they Japanese anime and manga character, or vehicles such as sports cars and tanks assembled by collectors have come in recyclable boxes forever. Even board games and many other collectibles come in environment-friendly boxes. Collectors afraid of purchasing swiped figures can always support dedicated online toy stores where we know that such swiped will be happen rarely and that they can be returned in there are any problems.

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Cost

The price for the Viper three-pack at $89.00 USD and about $139.99 CAD is prohibitive. It is more than the cost of three individual figures. Usually, when Hasbro releases several army-builders in one set, it attempts to pass on the savings to collectors. Hasbro did not dot that this time and chose to add the gun fire effects to justify the extra charge.

While some collectors like extra gunfire props, I don’t care for them. I rarely use them, and they will stay in a bag and rarely be used. The number of props though, means that they can be shared with other Classified figures. Hasbro is also re-releasing some of these props with the newly announced Cobra female troopers two-pack. Hasbro must pay for the new cast by producing more of them.

Canadian collector, please be aware that the cost of the Viper three-pack will vary greatly from store to store. I bought mine for $125.99 CAD which is a steal compared with the $139.99 that most Canadian stores, including Amazon Canada and GameStop Canada sell the set. That is a $14 difference. Shop wisely.

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Availability

Having been just released, the Viper three-pack is easy to find on Hasbro Pulse, only toy stores, and Amazon. Stores like GameStop also sell them. The Viper three-pack’s release is inconsistent depending on the country you are in. Although in Canada, I seem to have received my three sets from a Canadian retailer ahead of most other Canadians who got it a week later. Some collectors in the US have received their Viper three-pack but most collectors have not. It is uncertain if Asia and Europe got their stock ahead of North America as usual.

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Because this set is for a troop-builder, if you want one or many, get this set soon as many collectors will buy multiples. Having written that, because the sculpt of the Vipers is unique, you just know that Hasbro will find a way to release many variants of the Vipers in the future to pay for the metal cast. The Python Patrol Viper was already released. That Viper is also cool, but it lacks a scarf. I think that we can expect Hasbro to release many more Vipers in the future. Now if Hasbro could also release more Cobra troopers and infantry!

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Last Updated: November 7, 2022 - 08:20

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