Elite Ice-Viper (Arctic Threat) - Pursuit of Cobra Pre-Production (Guest Review by Hawkwinter)

It’s not a big secret that I wasn’t a fan of the Rise of Cobra figures in general. However they started getting better and better towards the end of the line and along that journey there were a few gems in even the first few waves. Ice-Viper was one such figure. I am quite honestly a  sucker for environmentally themed figures. It never made much sense to me why Snake-Eyes has 16 different outfits for military duty, but give me a Snake-Eyes in a parka ready for adventure in the Arctic and I’m there!

Ice-Viper was in many waves a terrific update to the 1985 classic Snow Serpent. It had realistic camouflage  and looked much more like a modern arctic combatant should look. Less fantasy, a little more reality.

Elite Ice-Viper at first glance was a mystery to me. I kept thinking, so if you do your job well as a Cobra Ice-Viper they reward you by promoting you and slapping red all over your uniform so that your enemies know right away that you’re the leader???  Or perhaps there is a more long term practicality to this. Considering how often GIJoe defeats Cobra, maybe it was getting expensive to train all those soldiers just to have them blend in the snow so well, that your fly-by rescue copter can’t even find them, especially the officers. So the red markings would make them much easier to find. And even dead, I’m sure Mindbender can find a use for them.

Whatever the reasoning, these guys looked like a dumb idea, and I wasn’t all that disappointed when Wave 6 was cancelled and we weren’t going to get these guys anymore. In the following months these little snow-loving vipers started showing up everywhere on the internet and slowly they started growing on me. We received our first look at waves 1 & 2 of Pursuit of Cobra, but still I held out. After all, the Pursuit of Cobra figures were so amazing it was a no-brainer that the arctic trooper would be just way better. However when we finally saw waves 3 & 4 and still no arctic trooper I figured I had to get some of these guys just in case Hasbro wasn’t planning some more surprises for the line. After all, they were supposed to be part of the Rise of Cobra : Pursuit of Cobra sub-line before it got promoted to full-on main line and everything was changed around.

All that being said and done, I’m quite thrilled I actually did get a chance to add this figure to my collection.

This is for all intents and purposes just a re-paint, and usually that draws scorn from the fans, myself leading the way. Exact same mold, exact same accessories. Absolutely nothing new here. However, there are some things about this figure that make it very cool in its own unique way.

First off, the red actually works really well. By using the same mold, the figure retains it’s more realistic approach to an arctic trooper, but by using the red highlights (and in all honesty the red is a touch darkened and more subtle than many a Joe figure) the figure loses some of the drabness the first version suffered and adds just a touch of “pop” to the visual impact of this version. It just feels more “GIJoe” to me. Or, Cobra if you prefer.

Second, and probably the coolest thing about this figure are the lower legs. They look dirty or smoked. Having grown up in the north with 5 months of winter every year I can appreciate the realism of this effect. Strap on white snow pants and work with machinery like snowmobiles day in and day out, and you will indeed have a similar effect on your clothes.

This in turn gave rise to a whole new theory as to why these guys have red all over them. Elite Ice-Vipers are more the guys fulfilling the missions with the regular “grunt-like” Ice-Vipers handling much of the cover and probable battle. Working in the snow, visibility is very important and open any National Geographic with an expedition to the North or South Pole and you’ll see that researches also wear colorful outfits, just like snow-mobilers. Considering these facts, The Elite Ice-Viper is still rather subdued in color.

If you get the chance to acquire one of these, and you like arctic-themed figures, you can’t really go wrong with this one. Also on the plus side, it looks like the new Snow Serpent Officer coming with the wave 2 Ice Cutter will fit in quite well with these guys.