City Strike Alley-Viper | Produced by Hasbro | Released July 2010
Alley-Vipers are Cobra urban combat specialists. They are armed with close quarters battle fear including blast shields, anti-armor weapons and assault Tonfas. They are guarding the Cobra warehouse when it is infiltrated by GI Joe forces including Beachhead, who battles one-on-one with the Alley-Vipers.
The Alley-Viper is another Army Builder figure, much like the Cobra Shock Trooper. Although the Cobra Shock Trooper may have a more lifelike look, the Alley-Viper wins out for me, thanks to some great design - both visual and practical.
The base sculpt is excellent. The figure is clad in combat fatigues and bristles with pockets, pouches and straps, but never looks over-burdened or overly-busy. He looks armoured and well-equipped but retains a sense of mobility and combat-readiness.
Looking closer, there are some excellent details on the figure. His belt, for example, has climbing clasps so he can abseil/rappel down walls for rapid deployment and - presumably - feed the rope from his pneumatic grappling ascent cannon through them, should he need to get out of tight spots in a hurry. There are protective plates/straps around his shins and boots and a great set of hefty knee-pads. The figure looks every bit the urban assault specialist.
The head sculpt is nicely done, not that you'll see much of it though, given your choice of headgear (see below.) He's clad in a ski-mask with mouth guard/face protector and although it's a fairly simple look, it's very effective.
Articulation is as you'd expect, although - and this could just be my Alley-Viper - his left elbow joint was backward. A quick rotate fixed this but just be advised - if your Alley-Viper's arm joints seem restricted, try turning them around.
Paint is used effectively and efficiently. The basic figure's black fatigues have various grey accessories such as kneepads and pouches and there are some nice bronze details on the boot buckles and the grenade hanging from his vest. I also like the ''hazard'' strip around his right knee and left elbow. The parts cast from red plastic also work well and the combined colour-scheme is very effective.
As you'd expect with an Army Builder figure, you get a lot of equipment with the Alley-Viper.
Starting with head gear, there's a full-faced red helmet (with working visor), a gas mask and a black open-faced helmet (with removable goggles.) Every one looks great and works well, although I wish the gas mask and open-faced helmet could be worn together - as it is, the helmet is just too small to fit properly and ends up balancing on top of his head when the gas mask is being worn.
His main defence comes in the form of a large riot-style shield, which fits snuggly into his hand (although it can be a little awkward to pose at times.) There are two combat knives, which slot into the arm and chest sheaths on the figure and come in-place out of the box. He also has a Tonfa-style baton (which clips into the shield) a backpack, an SMG and his pneumatic grappling gun, which slots onto his backpack for storage.
I love that he can carry virtually all of his equipment yet remains tactile. There are other Joes that - when dressed with their gear - simply can't be moved or even touched, as something will drop off or bend or become dislodged the moment you do. Not so here - everything remains firmly in-place.
He also includes his own stand.
I really liked the idea behind the Cobra Shock Trooper but felt the execution let it down a little. Yes, I know Army Builders are about having plenty of gear and display options but I just felt the lack of storage space on the figure really let him down. Thankfully that's not a problem here.
OK, so there are a couple of tiny oversights - the gas mask and open-faced helmet should have fitted together and the full-face helmet's visor doesn't close all the way (making the head look as if it has a frog's mouth) but these are such minor points that reading this paragraph is a waste of time.
The Alley-Viper is an excellent figure and shows how Hasbro's designers - when they put their minds to it - can really pull-off a winning design.
He's not just a great Army Builder. He's a great figure, period.