Ah, so we’re starting to see a theme here– take what are certain to be the most popular army builders in the line and make them difficult to find exclusives. Got it. Solid plan.
In fairness, if designing exclusives for Target is what gets Target to carry the line, then I’m okay with that, even if it’s a feat of frustration and acrobatics to try and get the figure. Actually, I have a confession to make when it comes to the COBRA Viper.
I broke. I did it. I paid scalper prices (at least for one of them). What other choice did I have? Yes, I know it only encourages them, but without a local Target store accessible to me and with none of my friends even able to find one for themselves, it was time to face facts– I got lucky with the COBRA Trooper, Roadblock, Beachhead, Baroness and Firefly. That luck was not going to get me any further on the Viper.
That being said, about two weeks after I clenched my teeth as I was clicking the buy button on eBay, Robot Kingdom got a two pack of Firefly and COBRA Viper in stock, that while certainly not MSRP, wasn’t exactly what I would call a “scalper price.” Thus, I’ve got two. Eventually I’ll have more.
The reason I’m not so twisted up over it is because Hasbro’s track record, at least at this early stage, is that they will eventually release the army builder in the main line assortment. The colors may be a bit different, but not terribly so (if COBRA Infantry is any indication).
Heck, they already have card art for the Viper on the back of the package with red boots instead of black– could that be an indication of what we’ll see in a normal retail assortment?
I feel like I have to specify — I do not regret spending scalper prices. I am 100% in love with the G.I. Joe: Classified line and if I have to break the bank for a figure, I’m prepared to do that. The rest of my figures have been more or less purchased at MSRP, which considering where I live, is pretty impressive. It always boggles my mind when people complain that these figures are impossible to find. If you shop online, it’s actually quite easy.
I have TWO (2) Wal-Mart’s and ZERO (0) Targets within a 70 mile radius and I’ve been able to buy every single figure I wanted (while needing a little extra effort for the Target figures). I haven’t been dependent on brick and mortar for my toy collecting in– maybe ten years? Why start now?
All that being said– I suppose rather than harping on how easy or hard it is to find a Viper, I should talk a little bit about the figure itself.
After all, I paid more money for this figure than I have any other Classified figure to date. Was it worth it?
Oh, yes. Oh my goodness– yes.
The COBRA Viper is a key example of what sorts of cool things are possible with this tooling re-use formula that Hasbro is utilizing with the G.I. Joe: Classified line. I believe the figure uses Duke’s tooling from the waist up, with a fresh secondary on the torso as well as the forearm guards that slide over the existing arms. It saves some money on tooling, but completely reinvents the figure in a perfect way.
While the COBRA Trooper was almost a total reinvention of the old school COBRA aesthetic, the Viper leans a lot more into its vintage roots, but still manages to look nicely modernized and updated to fit into the near-future Classified design scheme.
Key design elements like the textured forearm guards, thigh pads and boots are very much a COBRA Viper hallmark, and they’re portrayed well here, giving the figure a unique look.
The COBRA Viper’s headsculpt is again, a nice throwback to its vintage look with some added texture and a nice mirrored finish on the facemask. The goggles are removable (though I added a dab of super glue because they tend to fall of at a moment’s notice).
I find myself really loving the tactical vest as well with its elaborate straps, textures, ammo pouches and a sculpted COBRA logo near the bottom of the vest, all providing spectacular modern twists to a familiar vintage aesthetic.
Back in the day there were some questions about how the COBRA Trooper and COBRA Viper- co-existed. Clearly, back then, the COBRA infantry was clearly a less armored and less “tactical” operative while the Viper was geared out for real front-line combat. In G.I. Joe: Classified the lines get a little bit more blurred as both the Trooper and the Viper appear almost equally tactical. That being said, it gives me great pleasure to heave both within my COBRA roster, I think there’s definitely room for both.
In a way, it seems odd to have a section in these reviews for articulation — after all, nearly every Classified figure maintains the same high standards for articulation and COBRA Viper is no different.
The COBRA Viper manages to balance fantastic design aesthetic and almost flawless articulation, with none of the great range of motion impacted by any of its various secondaries. Butterfly shoulders, double jointed knees, elbows, rocker ankles, the neck joint, hips– this tactical COBRA soldier can achieve nearly every pose you’d want.
I feel it necessary to point out that there is just something different about the way Classified figures are engineered that I’m really drawn to. Whether its a result of the gear they’re typically wearing, I’m not sure, but they feel larger, bulkier, and almost more solid than the typical Marvel Legends releases, yet in spite of that thicker buck, they maintain an impressive array of articulation that is prevelant throughout each and every figure release.
So here’s another double-edged sword.
One item of note about the COBRA Viper accessories — the goggles on his helmet are removable. In fact they are so removable that I elected to use glue to hold them to the helmet. That’s why you don’t see them in the image above. Of course, his removable gray scarf is also easily removable, I just plain forgot to include that in the above image.
Beyond those two items, the COBRA Viper comes with a pretty vanilla weapons compliment, including a backpack that’s nicely evocative of the vintage version (with some great updated colors rather than the plain, drab black). He also has a futuristic rifle and the same pistol that Duke and Beachhead both come with, only this one in pure black. With the same leg holster as Duke, this figure can hold his pistol very well, and interesting, the rifle has a removable magazine for a nice little extra touch.
The accessories lack the creativity of Firefly and yes, the rifle is a bit more “laser rifle” than assault rifle, but as with other examples, I’m cool with that. This rifle doesn’t look wildly space-aged (like Roadblock’s) and it’s a design that I’m more than happy to live with.
Considering how close the standard COBRA Trooper is to a “tactical” special operations kind of soldier, I’m honestly quite surprised Hasbro dipped their toes into the “Viper” waters this early in the line. With COBRA Trooper, Red Ninja and now COBRA Viper, it’s getting easier and easier to grow an army (well– it would be easier if you could– you know– actually buy the Viper somewhere). There are still some key core characters in the COBRA hierarchy missing, but you can rest assured when guys like Major Bludd, Scrap Iron and others arrive, they will have plenty of troopers to command and control.
I’m happy to say, though, regardless of how much I question the choice to go with a Viper this early, the fact remains that Hasbro absolutely KILLED this figure from an execution standpoint. Sculpting is flawless, the combination of new parts and re-used tooling blends to give us one hell of an update to the vintage figure.
I’ve said it hundreds of times already, but I just want to reiterate — G.I. Joe: Classified is hitting every single high point for me. I understand some folks are frustrated with availability (which, I should note, is likely a good deal due to the global pandemic that people seem to comfortably forget about when complaining) but the figures that have been released are just about as close to a perfect combination of vintage and future aesthetic as I could ask for.
I think people are pretty aware of my diehard love for Sigma 6… I know it’s still early in the line’s history, but these figures are nudging very close to Sigma 6 for one of my all time favorite iterations of the brand. Keep ’em coming.
G.I. Joe Classified COBRA Viper (Special Mission: COBRA Island)
Yes he’s only available in very limited instances through Target, but the COBRA Viper remains a highlight of the line and a figure I greatly hope to see Hasbro repaint and re-release at some point in the near future. He’s a fantastic army builder that every collector deserves to fill their shelves with, without paying the hefty after-market prices.