Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
Cobra Night Viper
G.I. Joe Retaliation Wave 4
The G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero brand has walked a fine line between “military realism” and “military science fiction”. The early waves of the classic 80’s line were often steeped in a sense of “this could be plausible”; from the uniforms to the vehicles, components of the brand looked like they were something that could be seen on a battle field “in the near future.” One terrific example of this was the Cobra Night Viper. Sporting cutting edge low-light optics, these trained operators were portrayed as the snakes that “owned the night”. However, up until recently your average fans has had as much of a chance of finding one of these in the stores as they have had of spotting Bigfoot in a tutu dancing to Swan Lake in their back yard. This seems to have changed recently as the remaining stock of Retaliation wave 4 cases have been dumped on Toys R Us, Ross, Tuesday Morning, and Five Below discount chains. Was this figure worth the long wait to own him? Read on and find out one Joe fan’s opinion!
Introduced in 1989, this low light specialist class eschewed the traditional blues of Cobra for a black and green uniform and the Retaliation figure follows this color scheme perfectly. The upper torso uses the now-familiar Cobra Shock Trooper body while the lower body borrows the upper legs from the Pursuit of Cobra Skydive and the lower legs from the 25th Anniversary Night Creeper. It’s a solid body combination that borrows the best elements of the original version as well as the DTC Night Viper to produce a highly poseable update to the original figure. The Shock Trooper body lends both practical design as well as the hinged wrists that should be standard on all 1:18 G.I. Joe figures going forward. The only downside to the entire body is found in the Night Creeper lower legs where the sculpted shin guards restrict the movement of the ankle joint by prohibiting any sort of forward leaning. With the backpack equipped this makes the figure a bit top heavy, causing mine to fall backwards more than once. I’ve also noticed that the peg holes in the feet are not uniform in depth—with the right foot’s socket being shallower than the left. As such, this leads to some interesting placement on the included figure stand which is designed to support the figure using the right foot. It’s not a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination but it is rather puzzling.
In terms of the head sculpt there’s nothing new to see here as the Night Viper utilizes the same head as the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Viper. I find this interesting because the Jungle Viper was so obviously inspired by the Night Viper design and with this figure things have come back full circle. However, it isn’t the head sculpt that I find as impressive as it is the way the new helmet and head meld seamlessly into one other. The original Night Viper didn’t have a removable helmet but instead had a sculpted visor that could be raised or lower. This time around the low light specialist has a brand new full helmet that not only mimics the original design but improves upon it in almost every way. Utterly fantastic work here by Hasbro. It’s a pity that it had to fall at the end of the Retaliation line.
The Night Viper’s kit is quite varied when compared to previous version. Included with the figure are:
Wow—that’s a lot of gear! In fact, it’s almost too much gear as the Night Viper can’t comfortably carry all of it. Some folks might think that’s nitpicking but it’s always been a pet peeve of mine. In recent years the tendency has been to equip a figure with everything possible and then include the kitchen sink. While that is a good intention it often times leaves a figure with a bunch of extra pieces left over after you’ve got him/her posed on a stand. Some figures have managed this well—such as a Pursuit of Cobra Low-Light who not only came with a metric ton of accessories but who also had a place to store each and every piece. The Night Viper does a decent job of this as the backpack has a notch that perfectly holds the shotgun accessory. The figure than then hold either the M4 or the sniper rifle as his primary weapon. The pistol fits moderately well into the Rise of Cobra web gear holster although it tends to fall out at the most casual of glances. This leaves the knife as the odd man out. As far as the ammunition bag--- well, that’s a “take it or leave it” piece in my opinion. I’ve not used it on any of the Night Vipers I’ve been able to find recently save for a few pictures in this review. Plus, the original “removable clip” functionality is lost with this figure. Still, a nice kit overall with the ability to vary the load out on individual Night Vipers IF someone is lucky enough to find more than one.
So here’s the end of the review—where I give this figure some level of endorsement as to whether or not fans should purchase it. Up until recently, I’d not owned a single Retaliation Night Viper. I was just about to post a sarcastic “non-review” filled with pictures of an empty background when a chance posting on a G.I. Joe Facebook group led to a message from Jeremy Sharpe. He saw that I wasn’t able to find one and offered me one of his—for cost + shipping. He could have made a profit on the loose Night Viper but he offered instead to hook up a fellow collector. It was only through his courtesy that I was able to obtain an initial one of these figures that have proven to be more elusive than the Sasquatch. It wasn’t until just before the 2014 G.I. Joe Collector’s Convention that I stumbled across a pair of them at my local Toys R Us.
Personal stories aside—I think that this is one of the strongest figures in the entire G.I. Joe Retaliation series even if the figure has nothing to do with the film. It’s a perfect update of one of the more unique Cobra Troopers from the original line. The new version maintains the stylistic elements of the original but updates the sculpting to be more detailed and utilizes the best parts of the most recent Hasbro G.I. Joe waves to produce a figure that is both poseable and practical. It’s a shame that up until recently finding one has been a combination of luck and the secondary market as this is a figure that I think any 1:18 generation 3 G.I. Joe collector should own. It’s a shame that the “50th Anniversary” version is being released in such a garish color scheme as the green suits this figure to a “T”. If you want my advice—when you see one of these in the stores run, don’t walk, to the checkout and snag him right away. You’ll not regret it one bit!
The Bottom Line: A PERFECT update to a classic ARAH era Cobra trooper. The only downside is that they’ve been incredibly hard-to-find up to now. A must have addition to any modern Cobra army.
Questions? Comments? Think the entire review should have been shot under a black light?
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