G.I. Joe vs. Cobra - Alley-Viper

As if anyone had to wonder what my favorite figure of Wave 1.5 was, as usual, a Cobra Army Builder wins the prize!When Wave 1.5 was first shown earlier this year at the famous Toy Fair, I was quite excited to say the least. But at that point I was more excited about the Viper than I was the Alley Viper.  A camouflaged Cobra Viper on sale when I actually had some money and was into Joe collecting…I was planning a full fledged army of ‘em!  But then I saw them in person, and was a little let down.

However, any disappointment I was feeling with the standard Cobra Viper was completely annihilated when I first set eyes on the Alley Viper.  This figure is absolutely freaking amazing.  I am going way out on a limb to say that this may quite possibly be my favorite figure from Wave 1 (back in 2000) until this point.  Heck, this might be my favorite figure all the way back to the 90’s.  He is that cool. As everyone has seen and heard by now, I am a big fan of Urban Operations.  I’ve always loved the aspect of the S.W.A.T. Team, and I’ve loved practically every Joe associated with that branch of the military.  The battles of the future will indeed be fought on the streets, and the skill it takes to take down an entire building of terrorists is something that cannot be matched.  The mere thought of an enemy terrorist unit with the same equipment, training and Urban Warfare ability as our armed forces and S.W.A.T. Units is enough to make anyone frightened, and this version of Alley Viper should chill everyone to the bone!

I have always been a fan of the Alley Viper.  The original 89 version was always a favorite of mine…a large, massive beast of a man with the skill to back it up.  The description of this Cobra Trooper on his filecard was enough to impress anyone, myself included.  But Alley Vipers have always had something a little off about them…they’ve always been unusually…bright.  Whether orange and bright blue or an equally bright yellow, the Alley Viper Corps has always just come shy of being truly, truly intimidating.  They’ve come incredibly close, but have just never quite crossed that line…until now.In 1997, the best colored Alley Viper to date was released in a dark blue and white camo scheme, which was quite a step up from the old school yellow and orange.  But he was hard to find, and you had to buy a vehicle to get him, so I’ve only ever had one.  Now I’ve got an Alley Viper I can build an army of, and I fully plan on doing so!

He retains the mold of the 1997 version, which is based on the ’93 version, only with Duke’s legs.  This mold is a very nice one, and is really a great build on the original mold of the 1989 Alley Viper.  He keeps the muscular build, sloping helmet and fierce face mask, but he pulls the best aspects of the original and builds on them.  And this figure is an improvement over the 90’s versions in all ways.First of all, is the insane camo scheme.  Finally an Urban G.I. Joe figure that has the classic Urban Camo!!  This looks absolutely fantastic on this figure and it’s a shame that Hasbro hasn’t done it more often.  The blacks, grays and whites blend together perfectly with the slightly marbled plastic to make this figure a spectacular one.  This is a perfect example of what Hasbro can do when they really put their mind to it.But the camo scheme is only as effective as the trimming around it, and here is another thing that this Alley Viper does well.  The trim is a deep, dull blue, faded enough to mix into an Urban setting, but definitely evident of a Cobra Trooper.  His blue body armor, helmet/facemask gloves and boots really shows that Hasbro still has the old spark in them.  This figure, to me, could mix right in with the classics of ’85-’89 and would really hold it’s own in any comparison.  Heck, it would top quite a few of them in my book!

But, something holds this figure back from perfection…as usual in Wave 1.5…the accessories.  C’mon, Hasbro!!  WHY?!?  Why on Earth would a figure this cool get saddled with Tomax/Xamot’s crappy laser pistol?!?  It works for them, it does NOT work for an Urban operative!  Thankfully, Alley Viper’s pack-partner, Big Ben comes with a few decent weapons, so I liberated some of his to hold Alley Viper over until my next order from Raven, weapons-caster extraordinaire comes through.

But I end these profiles with an uncertain note.  The release of Wave 5 and Wave 1.5 have only confirmed my sneaking suspicions…these newly designed figures just do not bring this feeling of joy to me when I first open them. These new figures are not my Joe figures of old, and it’s kind of saddening.  Granted, the O-Rings are coming back, and I am holding out some shreds of hope, but I can only pray that Hasbro takes a long hard look at these classic style figures and realizes that as cool, or as “extreme” as these new figures are, they just don’t match up with the old school stuff.  I realize this after opening all of my Wave 1 2002 stuff and finding today that it still sits on the shelf where I sat it almost 2 months ago.  I haven’t played with any of it.  Not once.  However, Waves 1-5 and Wave 1.5 are scattered all over my desk, almost worn out from posing, picture taking and just plain playing. 

Hopefully this is not a sign to come…hopefully once the O-Rings are back and Hasbro has scaled things back down a little bit I will be more excited about the new-style figures.  Until then, well, there’s always plenty of army building to do with the old stuff, and I still have a TON of vehicles to catch up on!