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

Ever since I saw those first fuzzy pictures from the San Diego Comic Convention all those months ago, I’ve been waiting to write this review. I’m pretty sure those fisrt surfaced back in July, so for a good five months, I’ve been working in my head exactly what I’m going to cover and what I should concentrate on. 

The good?

The bad?

Should I "promote" these or should I condemn them? Should I even try to make up your minds for you? I figure that’s pretty much an impossibility, so I decided I would do simply what I always do. State how I feel at the moment, as I play…errr…carefully inspect the figures that I try and enlighten my readers about.

I have often written about figures that I know there is a general disdain for and I do so without pause. See, I am not trying to convince anyone here, I am just stating my opinion and my thoughts as I see them as I think them. Isn’t that what this whole website is all about?

That being said, I know there are many, MANY Joe fans out there, a lot of them as "diehard" as I am, who hate these figures. They absolutely despise them. They’re large and bulky, they’re not poseable enough, the weapons suck…believe me, I’ve heard it all. Now, I will have my say.

First of all, let me get something out of the way: As anyone who reads this section knows, I am a pathetic blubbering fanboy. I like pretty much anything G.I. Joe I can get my hands on. And these, really are no exception.

Are they bulky? Yup. Is their poseability as limited as it seems? Err…yeah. Do these figures, indeed, suck dog? Nah, I don’t think so. Give me the chance to tell you why.

This is Neo Viper:

Released in 2001/2002, this is an updated Cobra Trooper for the new century. He is colored in muted blues, blacks and grays, evidently using the original troopers back in ’82 as a base and pretty much taking it to the extreme. Extreme used in a good way, by the way, not the ill-fated Joe scheme from ’95/’96 way…

The figure is bulkier than your run of the mill Joe figures, but not obnoxiously so. His mold is streamlined and well designed, with some nice intricate designs on the armor and some great molding in the face and helmet area. I love the techno-face mask and goggles, they really work well and tie in nicely to the techno-Troopers in the new G.I. Joe Comic. The chest armor is another great touch, adding some power and another modern touch to this cool looking terrorist.

Adding even more cool touches to this figure is the numerous Cobra symbols all over the figure, and all in the right places. He’s got a nice red symbol on his helmet, just above the goggles, another red one on his belt buckle and a great yellow one right dead center on his chest. They’re not just symbols, either, they are actually molded onto the figure, which really adds something to the overall look. He’s got a plethora of pouches and storage containers all over his arms and waist, and his armor is great. The chest is the best, but the helmet/mask combo and the wrists and knees/legs really are terrific. It makes him look really dangerous. The colors all compliment eachother well and it just makes for an all around nice looking action figure.

But, of course, the figure is not perfect. First of all, it would be a little cooler if the large Cobra symbol on his chest was red, that would cap the figure off well. And, of course, there is the articulation issue.

This is the hot-button issue in the G.I. Joe community, without a doubt. I haven’t met a fan yet who hasn’t thought that this lack of articulation was at least damaging to the G.I. Joe line. Granted, I’ve met many fans who are at least willing to give the line a chance (as I am), but pretty much everyone thinks that we really need the O-Ring back. This figure is a good example of that.

With O-Ring construction, this figure would be a classic, plain and simple. As it is, it is a cool figure, but will never reach that "classic" status that it could have held with the likes of the Viper, Crimson Guard, or Night Viper. As it is, he is only good.

Standing at attention, he looks cool enough, but try and put him into an action pose, running, crouching, etc, the figure just doesn’t look natural. His knees bend awkwardly, which is exactly something I was afraid of when I heard of the new articulation. To see what I’m talking about:

The knees just twist and bend awkwardly, either due to the shape of the legs, or due to the plastic rivet construction. Whichever reason it is, it affects the figure in an unfortunate way. It makes this could-be sweet figure into merely a decent new addition.

Custom material is also slim. The head would be veeeery cool on another body, but of course it’s ball-joint design prohibits that.

I have the utmost optimism in Hasbro in general, and in the G.I. Joe line specifically. I KNOW they have what it takes to make this line successful again. This first wave is proof positive that Hasbro is on the brink of pulling this all together…there is still a ways to go, but I think there are some great things happening here.

In closing, I really think this new assortment of figures is a GREAT start! Their crazy detailing, cool working holsters and awesome new molds really do wonders for the Joe line. But, they do suffer from the bulkiness and lack of poseablitly that every fan has been griping about.

I really challenge those folks who are complaining, though. Do you really hate these figures that much? Or is it simply a by-product of the new figure design? If these figures were JUST as they were, only designed around the O-Ring format, how would they have come out? I find this as the ONLY problem with these figures. The molds are great…personallitys are fine. Filecards work well, and although they use recycled accessories, the accessories are not too shabby. I strongly believe, it is the O-Ring format and O-Ring format alone that is prompting Joe fans to hate this new line so entirely. While I do agree that this is a glaring issue that will hopefully be fixed, I do not find that reason to slam the line in it’s entirety. There are a great many terrific things happening in this new Wave, and I think if Hasbro can carry this to the O-Ring format, we will all be thrilled that this line came out.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

(NOTE: The original review for this was the first review done for the 2002 relaunch and I received the figures early through international channels, which is why the format and such are a little different).