The relaunch of GIJoe back in 2000 really changed my Joe collection in more ways than one. First off, I started troop building in earnest. Secondly, I starting buying new versions of classic characters that I had never owned before. In many cases, these were figures that I never cared for back in the days of RAH but suddenly found myself looking at with interest. Designs such as the Iron Grenadiers, Croc Master, and the Range Vipers just never appealed to me in the slightest. The same held true of both the original SAW Viper as well as the “Starlight Express” Python Patrol repaint. Both designs sported back colors and a lackluster mold as well as the most ridiculously over-sized rifle in the history of GIJoe—all of which turned me off the character entirely. Who would have thought that a repaint of a vehicle driver could have turned this character around?
As with most of the figures in this line, the SAW Viper is a straight repaint of a previously released figure. This time around it’s Rollbar, the Night Ops Humvee driver, that gets the makeover and he’s apparently changed sides! Once again, this is a figure that I’ve reviewed previously and yet am now I’m looking at it for the first time again. The mold is classic—standard pants and boots, long jacket with a flak vest over the top. Yet, when cast in the darker colors of the SAW Viper, the design transcends practical and goes right to sinister. The maroon-on-black color scheme is perfect for the SAW Viper. It adheres to basic Cobra colors and yet is still believable as something that a soldier would actually leave the barracks in. (The same cannot be said of the Python Patrol repaint. Sheesh—someone call Andrew Lloyd Weber and tell him that his extras have been wandering off set again.) My only grievance with this body is found in the bane of my existence—the rubber skirt. As I’ve stated time and time again, I understand that the addition of the rubber skirt at between the torso and waist pieces gives any figure some additional detailing. I also understand that it allows Hasbro to sculpt longer jackets for their figures. Unfortunately it also means that the hips are COMPLETELY useless when it comes to sitting. Every comment that I’ve stated before still stands—I’d much rather have a more detailed waist than ever seen another rubber skirt on a Joe again. So, while the Rollbar mold works EXTREMELY well for the SAW Viper, the skirt really hurts the poseability.
A great many Joe fans on the various forums have been lamenting the use of the Rollbar head on what is essentially a generic trooper. However, Hasbro came through on that front by providing the SAW Viper with a removable helmet. At first, I was in the naysayer camp, complaining that we should have had a sculpted head. However, the minute the figure arrived at the house I knew that my initial judgment had been made in haste. The removable helmet works quite well; it fits snug on the head and ads a depth of realism to the SAW Viper’s countenance. A side benefit of this is that you can swap out Rollbar’s head with most of your extra Joe heads and can add some variety to your troops. Lastly, imagine the dio-story possibilities that this offers—the SAW Viper can literally be just about anyone underneath. However, the helmet isn’t the real star of this set of accessories. That distinction belongs the singular piece of equipment that gives this trooper his name: the SAW. Featuring a removable ammunition box and some fantastic detailing, this is another example of the area in which DTC has really earned its stripes. Plain and simple, this is the most amazingly well detailed weapon that Hasbro has released to date. In fact, the weapon rivals similar accessories produced by bbi and 21 st Century. Only the forthcoming SAW from Marauder Inc rivals this weapon in the level of detail. Trust me, this is the weapon we’ve all been waiting for.
To paraphrase the Monkees: “Then I saw his face, and I’m a believer!” I am now officially a fan of the SAW Viper. It took a relaunch of the line and Direct-to-Consumer sales but I finally get the appeal of the SAW Viper. Whereas the previous versions were saddled with ridiculous accessories and bad color schemes, this figure exemplifies form and function in a figure design. Originally this figure was going to be a reluctant purchase—something I acquired as part of a case and maybe picked up a few others. However, the longer I own my two SAW Vipers the more I feel the need to acquire more. No longer is this one of those obscure Viper specialties that I’ll have a hard time justifying in my collection. (Pit Viper, anyone?) Instead, this is a Viper trained in the use of heavy weapons and brought in when the fighting gets particularly intense. These are the guys who can mow down Joe vehicles and BATs alike, and still have ammo left over. The SAW Viper is the “must own” surprise figure of this wave—but don’t just take my word for it. The minute you own one, you know you’re just going to want more--- rubber skirt and all.