Sideshow Collectibles Cobra Viper - A "Team Up" Review by Mysterious Stranger and GeneralsJoes

Mysterious Stranger - Armybuilders.  Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are a significant part of the world of G.I . Joe.  From the original 1982 Cobra blueshirt to the 30th Anniversary Zombie Viper, armybuilders are the backbone of the faceless army of Cobra.  So it should come as no surprise that a good portion of Sideshow’s 12” G.I. Joe line is made up of Cobra troops.  We’ve gotten the standard Cobra blueshirt and a few variations thereof, a ninja trooper in a few colors of the rainbow and now we get what some consider one of the best Cobra troops ever – the Viper.

As a kid I never had any of the main Viper variations.  My Cobra army was made up of an Iron Grenadier, TARGAT, HEAT Viper and my favorite, the orange and blue Alley Viper so I don’t have a real emotional attachment to the original Viper.  But I can totally understand why a lot of people do.  The Viper is a very visually dynamic design and Sideshow has done a really good job modernizing it for their 12” G.I. Joe line, as you’re about to see.

GeneralsJoes - See, I was all about the Cobra Viper as a kid. I loved the fact that the Vipers came on board in 1986, and thought it was a great idea to branch the "Viper Corps" out into all of these different divisions. It really installed this whole "gotta get 'em all" philosophy in my head back then, even as a 12 year old kid. These guys had the nameless and faceless feel of the standard Cobra Troopers, but had the equipment to back it up. Some of my favorite army builders of all time are the classic Cobra Vipers.

Mysterious Stranger - The Viper comes in the typical Sideshow box.  I’ve raved about this in previous reviews so if you want details flip through the back catalog here at  Suffice it to say this box is as close to perfect as you can get in my humble opinion.  So let’s move on to the real nitty gritty of this review… the figure itself.

One quick editorial note before I get started.  In a couple of these pictures the Viper is wearing a pistol holster on his right thigh.  This is NOT included with the figure and is actually a loose item I got from a Stalker figure to customize it to my tastes.

Looking at the Viper you can see that it has most of the hallmarks of the classic Viper design.  The BDU shirt has the rolled up sleeves with Velcro on the upper arms for unit patches.  Speaking of patches, all of the Joes (with the exception of Snake-eyes) have come with an assortment of name and unit patches but the Cobras have been left with screen printed insignias.  That’s not the case with the Viper.  He gets a huge assortment of Viper and Cobra insignias in several different color schemes.  If you had the financial ability to do so you could easily armybuild a squad of a half dozen Vipers, each with their own unit designations and not repeat a single patch amongst them all.  I’ve gone with the basic red on black Cobra logo for mine (I have 3 standard Vipers total) but the customization options are plenty.

GeneralsJoes - I love this customizability of the figure that the folks at Sideshow give us. With all of the potential gear available from Sideshow themselves as well as other 12" specialists you can really equip a squad of Cobra Vipers however you see fit.

Mysterious Stranger - Anyway, back to the uniform.  The Viper gets his red leather panels on the thighs of his pants but they are sewn more towards the front that the inside.  I’ve always assumed from the design of the 3 ¾” figures that the thigh panels were on the inside like English riding pants but here they look more like some other form of protection, though I can’t figure out what.  Regardless, they are there and they look pretty good.

The Viper also has his signature red forearm guards and these came out perfect.  They have a texture that looks like formed leather and they match up to the panels on the back of the gloved hands perfectly.  His boots however are where the Sideshow figure deviates from the classic design.  Rather than knee high riding boots, the Viper gets more armored looking boots that remind me of the boots the Devil’s Due Zartan wore.  They are well done and have a bit of dirt weathering them but personally I’d have preferred the classic look.

GeneralsJoes - I do agree with you on the boots. It is pretty clear from the design of these boots that this figure was also the foundation for Zartan. Parts sharing is something we've all grown used to even with the 4" figures, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that the same thing might happen at the 12" scale. My only real quibble would be that Zartan's boots are pretty distinct and unique, and considering he's not a full-fledged member of Cobra, having the backbone of Cobra's infantry wearing those same boots does seem a little bit odd.

I'm with you on the forearm guards, too, those really did come out very nicely and are very evocative of the vintage Cobra Viper.

Mysterious Stranger - Without a doubt the one iconic piece of the Viper uniform is the helmet.  That silver plated visor with the blue helmet and goggles is what differentiates the Viper from the other troopers.  Sideshow has done a bang up job with this piece.  The vac metallizing on the face plate is flawless and looks incredible.  If this is any indication of how a future battle helmet Cobra Commander will look, then color me excited.  The rest of the helmet is equally impressive.  The cheek guards are extended a bit more on this than the 3 ¾” figure but that works for the design.   And rounding out the helmets design are removable goggles.  To this day I don’t think anyone has come up with a plausible explanation for why a soldier with a fully covered faceplate would need goggles on the outside of his helmet.  But Sideshow has given us one that I think works, in the form of this figures exclusive accessory.

GeneralsJoes - I love this helmet. I think Sideshow did a stellar job on the helmet, which as you said is probably the most iconic thing about this Cobra trooper. The angular jaw guards, the reflective faceplate, and yes, even the goggles all come together to give us a very accurate and unique looking Cobra Viper figure. And if you do have the exclusive version without the helmet, the goggles make more sense as you can have the Viper operating in unmasked mode as well.

I also really enjoy the various dents and whethering present throughout the normally smooth surface of the helmet. This is a trooper who has seen some action, but lived to tell the tale.

Mysterious Stranger - The head on the left is the exclusive accessory for this figure and it’s a doozy.  It has the first fully unmasked Cobra face that we’ve seen and it looks really good.  Stern but not overly crazed, this guy looks like I’d expect a Cobra soldier to look under his mask/helmet/hood.  But what really sells this as a great piece is the padded tankers helmet.  It looks like a cross between a leather football helmet and a modern helmet liner.  Sideshow has explained that this second head was created to give the Vipers goggles a purpose and I think that’s a good an explanation as any.  The Viper stores the goggles on his helmet then uses them when he takes the helmet off.  And honestly the goggles look great on both heads.  That’s why I picked up an extra of the exclusive version, so I could display both heads at the same time.

GeneralsJoes - Listen to you, Mr. Made of Money! Sideshow's products are amazing, and I love them, and little touches like this are a reason why. You have a plain trooper's face that can serve so many other purposes. He's got a vehicle-driver like helmet, he can use those goggles, and the red scarf can be used to make him look a lot more "Trooper" ish as well. If you can afford it, the exclusive version of this figure is a must.

Mysterious Stranger - Now let’s talk about gear.  This guy gets loaded with a great compliment of weapons and accessories but he’s sadly missing the one thing almost every figure has gotten so far – a sidearm.  I took care of that for my own figures with a couple loose Stalker pistols and holsters but straight out of the box you can see that he still has plenty of weapons to use in battle.

His main weapon is a very modern looking rifle that comes with a suppressor for those quiet missions.  The rifle is really well detailed with a foregrip, a flashlight, a couple of sights and plenty of extra clips of ammunition.  The Viper also gets a few grenades of the frag and flash/bang varieties and a wicked looking machete that straps to his backpack nicely.

GeneralsJoes - Yes, I agree, once this Viper is fully equipped he really starts to shine, but I do agree about the missing sidearm. That seems like a pretty obvious addition, and I'm not sure why it couldn't be costed in, but there are plenty of replacements out there, I suppose. I really love the main assault rifle he comes with, even if it's not necessarily vintage accurate (thankfully, Sideshow also included a vintage accurate one, which is all sorts of bad ass). I love the real world military look of the assault rifle, and actually have been using that one more than the vintage version.

Mysterious Stranger - The vest that he’s wearing fits nice and tight but you’ll probably need to consult with the Sideshow website to figure out how to attach the ammo clip belt.  I’ve learned that it uses the realistic “MOLLE system” to attach to the vest.  That’s just a fancy way of saying you have to weave in the straps through the straps on the vest.  Not sure how it works in real life equipment but it does the job here well enough.  The vest also has a couple clips to hang the grenades from and you can insert the small red flares into the straps on the front.

The Viper also gets a nice backpack, a length of rope and two water bottles that we first saw with Duke.  I used the water bottles to fill out the backpack and tucked the rope in at the top but you can put them wherever you desire.

GeneralsJoes - Ahhhh, the vest. That dreaded MOLLE vest. Ugh. This thing took me hours to get figured out, but as Mysterious Stranger said, there are online tutorials which can help you. I personally recommend this thread on to get the best idea on how to put this vest on your figure. Sure, it's realistic, and it looks very cool, but I think that maybe Sideshow could skimp on the realism a bit and just let us have fun with our toys. :)

Beyond the vest we have a nice slim backpack and some grenades to round off this figure well.

Mysterious Stranger - Any other company probably would have stopped there with the gear but Sideshow went one small step further and threw in the classic style Viper rifle.  Like the cartoon rifle the Joes have been coming with, this rifle is designed to match the original rifle from the first 3 ¾” figure and boy does it look good.  It comes in black with some slight weathering and fits in the hands really well.  It is a bit undersized in comparison to the other rifle but on its own it looks great.

GeneralsJoes - Yeah, as I mentioned above, Sideshow did think to include a classic styled weapon, and I really love that, even if I don't use it much. As Stranger said, it is somewhat undersized, but it is still a great addition and just makes for a perfect compliment to the overall look and feel of this modern updated Viper figure.

Mysterious Stranger - The Sideshow Cobra Viper has all of the key elements of the design while updating it to fit in with the modern aesthetic of the line.   As a whole I think Sideshow did a great job.  There are a few things I’d like to have seen done differently but overall it’s a solid figure.

Three and a half stars but only because he’s missing a sidearm.  Throw in a pistol and holster and he’s a four star figure all the way.

GeneralsJoes - I'm not quite as angry about the sidearm as Mysterious Stranger is, but by and large I do agree with him. The Cobra Viper is excellent, and is a perfect example of how the unique Cobra aesthetic can be married with a more real world military theme and still end up extremely successful. This figure is the highlight of my Sideshow collection so far, and I think they did a stellar job. Certainly, a pistol and holster would have been great, and different boots even better, but still with these minor complaints, Sideshow has a winner on their hands, and I'm happy he's a part of my (small) Sideshow collection.


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Cobra Viper 12-inch Figure