G.I. Joe: Retaliation - Data-Viper

First of all, huge thanks as always to Gyre-Viper who comes through again and gets me some early samples so I can get reviews done and out to the fans! That being said, keep in mind this could be considered a pre-production figure and some details may be different than the final release. I don't believe that will be the case with these figures, but just as a heads up.

Ever since he was first revealed, the Cobra Data-Viper has been simultaneously in demand and in question...G.I. Joe fans were dying to get their hands on him, simply because he looked awesome, but those same fans (myself included) couldn't really figure out what the heck the purpose of the figure was.

At GIJoeCon this past year, John Warden had a Q & A and he answered the immortal question.

Essentially, the Data-Vipers are roaming "hot sites" for the Cobra internal command network. They have an "always on" remote internet connection and synchronize the network data, not with a central source, but with each other, creating a resiliant mesh network of Cobra's vast worldwide database. It's all fully redundent so if a Data-Viper gets killed, the data still remains intact scattered throughout all other Data-Vipers in the world. It was a pretty ingenious concept, I thought, and keeps Cobra always mobile and in full communication, even if they don't have a static headquarters. Love it.

So that leaves some elements somewhat in question, mostly the reason why he needs to be a drone pilot or shoulder-mounted rocket launchers, but you know what? They're awesome, that's why. Cobra is the ultimate multi-tasking organization, so I guess the idea that Data-Viper can co-exist as a remote data center, mobile drone control trooper, and perimeter recon and defense as well is a pretty cool one. Warden also described the Data-Viper's helmet as being able to view in 360 degrees from the perspective of the drone as it flies through the air on recon missions. I also loved the angle that the guys at the Coil Club came up with as well, with the Data-Viper being a strapped out connectivity-fiend. Very cool personality twist.

At this point, the core figure for Data-Viper has been used a few times already, so that piece of the figure isn't quite so revolutionary, although it is one of my favorite body sculpts in recent years. It manages to combine a great bulky, detailed sculpt, yet still retain top-notch articulation. The flight suit look (seen already on Sgt. Airborne and Lift Ticket) fits really nicely in this regard as well, with the perfect amount of detail and wrinkled fabric sculpting. Even with all of those rampant wrinkles, his limbs still manage to have full range of motion.

The paint apps are relatively generic, going mostly grays and blacks, with a nice Cobra symbol and a terrific new head sculpt. It's an amazingly well detailed head that manages to be generic, yet still have a level of character you'd expect from Cobra. Even without all of his equipment and armor, the Data Viper just oozes coolness.


So what about that equipment and armor? Immediately from the outset one wonders just how well all of this layered armor and weaponry will function. The answer? Well... yeah. The answer in short is not as well as you'd like, but better than you might fear.

How vague is that?

First, you have the huge chest/shoulder armor, which is actually the source of most of my frustrations. It doesn't seem to really "click" on to the body in anyway, it just kind of sits on his shoulders and floats there, so it shifts around quite a bit as the figure is moved. The armor looks fantastic, but I do wish it would stay in place better. On the two shoulder pegs, the rocket launchers fit very securely and rotate/pivot seamlessly. The radar dish and "drone catcher" also fit quite well on the back, and the drone catcher can double as a "lean to" once the figure is fully equipped since he doesn't stand really well when all of his gear is piled on top of him.

Like the shoulder armor, his helmet mostly rests over his head without clipping on in any particular way, but it does look pretty amazing once all assembled. The joysticks on the drone controls fit into his hands quite well, but the arm guards are slid into fairly shallow peg holes and have a tendancy to slip off. In some cases the stuff is all held together with only a pair of red cables. The joystick controls themselves use a more secure bracket system, which is helpful.

Aside from the armor, his Cobra-themed Predator drone is fantastic. Now, this is a preproduction piece, so I'm not sure if this is purposeful, but if it is, I like how they reversed the wings on the Data-Viper version of the drone making it look just a little bit different than the Duke one show casing a just slightly different Cobra aesthetic. If that wasn't purposeful... well, I'll just pretend it is.

As you can see above there is a pair if laser-looking pistols, which actually plug in undearneath the drone wings so it can have some armament, which is a cool touch. Lastly, he has his battle stand.

At the end of the day, I think the armor looks very cool, but only works moderately well. He's a pretty effective jugsaw puzzle of an action figure that looks awesome once fully assembled, but as with any jigsaw puzzle, if you try to move him around too much, he has a tendancy to kind of fall apart. But we're adults, right? We don't play with our toys!

To conclude, this figure has been very highly anticipated and the end result is pretty neat, but probably not the "be all, end all" of great action figures that some folks were hoping for. I do think the somewhat thinner, cheaper material used in the Retaliation action figures contributes to the way the pieces just don't quite stay together and if this figure had been released in the 30th Anniversary line as planned the outcome could have been far different. Still, though, this is an exceptionally unique action figure with a terrific purpose for Cobra, and I can't help but love it, even if it's not quite as sturdy and fully functional as I would have liked.