Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Night Marksmen Night Viper
There’s a long-standing history of repainting previously released figures and vehicles in the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero brand. From Python Patrol to Night Force to the “every other wave” repaints of the G.I. Joe vs. Cobra era, reusing existing tooling in different color schemes is nothing new. Some repaints are superior to the originals while others can leave fans scratching their heads and wondering what the folks in Pawtucket Rhode Island were thinking. When the 50th Anniversary line was announced, fans were split on their reaction to the repainted Cobra Night Viper. This particular figure proved to be one of the harder-to-find pieces in the final G.I. Joe Retaliation wave and many relished the chance to have another opportunity to find him at retail.
It’s tough to review a figure that is pretty much a straight repaint of a fairly recent release without just quoting what was written previously. As such, I’m not going to try. The 50th Night Viper has the exact same body construction and gear as the Retaliation wave 4 release and so I’m going to link back to that review. Everything that I said about the body, sculpting, and accessories holds true. From a design standpoint, I really like this figure simply because of what is built upon. The Night Viper had a solid build, decent articulation, and a great gear selection that made for a fantastic update to the original vintage version. Even better-- the wave 4 release retained the original’s subdued color schemes, given the figure a decidedly tactical look that fit perfectly with the figure’s stated speciality.
I’ve been a Joe fan since 1982. As such, I tend to see most figure lines out there in terms of G.I. Joe. However, I can’t look at this figure and NOT see one of my favorite comic book characters. (Thank you Joe Kelly! Your run on the title was amazing!) Sure, folks are commenting how this is the “Crimson Night Viper” or a “MARS Night Viper” and that’s fine. The file card makes no mention of these connections and so I’m just left staring at a nocturnal operations figure whose uniform is fire engine red. This particular Night Viper couldn’t be LESS stealthy if he came with a blinking light on his helmet and a backpack that produced a siren sound at the press of a button. It’s just not happening-- and so I keep coming back to my initial assessment that this figure’s color scheme was decided by someone who happened to be a fan of Marvel’s “Merc with a Mouth.” Sure, the Night Viper blends in with the Retaliation Alley Viper and Crimson Guard figures but even they had a more subdued shade of red in their uniforms. Perhaps had he been released in a reverse color palette-- with the red and black colors reversed on the uniform I’d find myself embracing this version more. In fact, the more I think about it-- this figure would look GREAT in a mostly-black color scheme. Sigh...
Is this figure worth purchasing? If you liked the first Night Viper, then the very fact that this is a straight repaint means that you’ll like this one. Is he worth troop-building? That’s going to depend on how you like your particular flavor of G.I. Joe. If you’re the kind of collector who loves the concept of the “Crimson Army”, you’ve already acquired quite a few of these and no review in the world is going to convince you otherwise. Personally, I own one that that’s enough. For a low light specialist, the garish shade of red is just a bit too much to be taken seriously. I’m happy to see that Joe fans out there have another opportunity to snag this figure at retail again. However, if you already own Low Light and you’ve already got all of the standard Night Vipers that you want, this figure can be easily skipped. Of course, that’s just one Joe fan’s opinion.
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