Tuesday, May 31, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe Desert Battle Cobra Viper

Produced by Hasbro | Released May 2011

Cobra Vipers are the highly motivated, superbly trained and formidably equipped backbone of the Cobra legions. Their combination assault rifle/grenade launcher can function as a short burst assault weapon, sustained fire cover support weapon or long-range marksman rifle with a night vision telescopic sight and range-finder.

Packaging Shots

Desert Battle Cobra Viper
The Desert Battle Cobra Viper comes from the 2011 Wave 4 line and is a figure many collectors and GI Joe fans have been looking forward to getting their hands on. And whilst the Cobra Viper has a lot going for it, it's not without its problems.

The basic sculpt is pretty solid for what it is, a generic Army Builder. The fatigues feature a few pockets and some armoured plates to break-up what could have been a pretty dull figure and the removable combat vest adds an extra layer (both visually and physically) that make him more than just a guy in coveralls. It's a fairly simplistic look but it works. The only thing I'm not so sure about are the exposed elbows. I know it's a desert combat uniform but it just seems strange to see his arms so exposed, especially given how little flesh is actually showing...

The head sculpt is where the real character identity/definition lies. The faceless visor looks smooth and blemish-free and the helmet features a few details such as circuitry to the rear and - bizarrely - goggles. What function they serve that a visor can't I don't know, but they're here anyway and they to look pretty good, giving the helmet a bit more detail and function than simply being a pot on his head. It's a shame then that there's a fairly obvious casting line across the helmet, as this really detracts from the sculpt.

Articulation is fine, although his knees do seem particularly stiff, more due to design than manufacture. They're mobile enough once you get past the ''sticking point'' and he's perfectly capable of kneeling but it does feel odd at first. On the plus-side he does include tilt-able wrist joints, as seen on some of the other recent figure releases (note that this is contrary to my previous statement regarding these joints, as I've just discovered they do indeed include this additional point of articulation.)

The basic fatigues are cast in Cobra blue (rather than using any kind of desert colour scheme) which I like, as it helps identify the figure as a Cobra soldier and the detailing - such as the tampo transfer Cobra logo, his grenades, straps and his boots - are cleanly applied. The real stand-out in the paintwork though is the chrome visor. It looks superb and really makes him leap off the shelf. 

The Cobra Viper comes with a small array of weaponry, which is quite surprising given how the Pursuit of Cobra figures are normally very well-equipped. On the plus side though, I'm glad to see Hasbro hasn't dropped the figure stands.

The oversized missile launcher is a superb accessory. Unlike the Rise of Cobra firing weapons, this actually looks to be to scale and - thanks to the included tripod (which also includes tilt and swivel mountings) - can be posed with the figure. The missile clips nicely into place, the firing mechanism is tight and - best of all - there's a nice little detail of two fold-down flaps/doors that close over the missile when not in use. I also like the fact that there's some thought in the colour scheme, with the basic grey launcher featuring black detailing such as hand grips.

The backpack is fine and slots into place without any issues. It looks OK, too, with some nice sculpt details such as a water canteen and the paint - although used in a limited manner - is cleanly applied and looks good.

We come now though to the VPR Pulse Rifle. This accessory is, frankly, useless. Given that it's his main weapon in the battle against the Joes, you'd expect it to, you know, actually fit in his hands but sadly that's not the case. Sure, he can hold it (just) in his right hand but it's an incredibly weak grip. And the moment you try to position it in both hands, the rifle pops out of place. I'm sure my kids learned a number of new curse words today as I was trying to pose the figure...

UPDATE: Since writing this Review I've been informed - and discovered for myself - that the figure's wrists are actually tilt-able and, as such, it's possible to re-angle his hands/wrists to get him to grip the rifle with both hands. However, whilst this is a nice addition I'm still not a fan of the way the rifle sits in his hands, even with this extra point of articulation. I have however changed the figure's Scores to reflect this new discovery.

The rifle also looks really poor. Whereas the other accessories have a nice level of realism to them (thanks to the clever use of colour and paint) the Pulse Rifle is cast in 1970s disco moon laser silver, with no paint app or colour detail to make it look like anything but a kids' ray gun toy. It even features some mis-cast ''swirling'' on the stock, which isn't good at all.

Final Thoughts
The Cobra Viper is a hard one to call. The body sculpt is fairly basic, but it works. The chromed visor looks superb. The missile launcher is a neat accessory that also looks really good. But when it comes to his rifle, the figure takes a nose-dive. Whilst it's possible for him to hold it in both hands (something I erroneously stated earlier today was not possible), it doesn't sit well in his hands and looks awkward. I'm also not a fan of the rifle's look and it just cheapens the figure's overall impact. 

The Cobra Viper will, of course, fly off the shelves. He's a pretty decent Army Builder and fans of the GI Joe cartoons/comics will be pleased to see a more ''old school'' trooper in the line. Just be warned though that the rifle isn't great, being neither a good fit in his hands or a particularly nice-looking accessory and if - like me - you expected better of it, then you'll be quite disappointed in this piece.

Production QualityB
Final ScoreB+

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  1. Love the Cobra Viper he is on my list with Croc Master.

  2. Just find a better gun for him - he can't hold the one he comes with very well...


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