Thursday, June 30, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe 25th Anniversary - Cobra Ninja Viper

Produced by Hasbro | Released 2008

Recruited from the highest ranks of the COBRA VIPER corps, the COBRA NINJA VIPERS are the most elite representation of the ruthlessness in COBRA. Only the most sinister and cunning individuals are selected for duty as COBRA NINJA VIPERS. They are no less than 10th level black belts in karate, jujitsu and kung fu. These villains are extremely obedient and always carry out their orders to the letter. They function as covert, subversives who can ''persuade'' anyone to do their bidding by entrapping the person in one of their patented martial arts maneuvers. If given the opportunity, COBRA NINJA VIPERS could wreak enough havoc worldwide to seriously damage the GI Joe team's operations.

Packaging Shots

Cobra Ninja Viper
The Cobra Ninja Viper is another release from 2008's 25th Anniversary line. Based upon the 1992 mail-in only figure of the same name, the 2008 Cobra Ninja Viper updates the original's look and production whilst retaining the same - unmistakable - colour scheme.

The basic sculpt is pretty nicely detailed, with the Cobra Ninja Viper sporting a wrap-over gi-style shirt, mask and sash. The shirt's hem features a detailed edging that gives it a little more character and there are some well-sculpted folds and creases in the costume itself. The shins feature bamboo armour lashed to his legs. Sadly his forearms are bare and I'd personally have preferred to see a similar design echoed here.

The sash is another well-rendered detail that looks great but also serves as a storage sheath for his throwing knife. It also features two (non-removable) Shuriken, a very cool little throwback to the 1992 toy, which also featured this detail.

The head sculpt is worthy of note. Rather than simply cast the figure with a head-hugging mask, the Cobra Ninja Viper comes with a lower-face mask and hood. It's a well-produced sculpt with some cool folds and crease details and it looks very cool.

Articulation is good on the whole. There's an unfortunate lack of dedicated wrist articulation (the whole forearm is jointed instead) and no waist joint, but the torso can be twisted and just about makes up for that oversight. The joints themselves are pretty solid, although I did find the hip/groin joints a little more fluid than those usually seen on the GI Joe figures. This could simply be a production issue with my figure however.

Paint is cleanly applied, with the costume details such as the throwing stars, sash and armoured pieces all looking good. Facial features - at least those that are visible above the mouth-obscuring mask - are also cleanly applied. I do have to admit though that I really, really dislike the colour scheme used here. I understand the bright green/blue/aqua is intended as a nod to the 1992 figure and toys in the 1990s tended to be pretty brightly coloured. I just wish Hasbro had gone with a more subdued or realistic tone, as the current colour looks quite artificial and detracts a lot from what's otherwise a very lifelike figure.

The Cobra Ninja Viper comes with some superb accessories.

We'll start with the simplest - the Uzi-style machine pistol, throwing knife and tiger claw are fun, if basic, weapons. There's nothing wrong with them but they are a little uninspired when compared to the other accessories.

The two Katanas feature grooved hilts and dragon-detailed pommels. This unexpectedly detailed sculpt is further accentuated with a great paint-job, with the hilts being painted a nice black and the pommels a rich gold. It may not be realistic for a Ninja to carry such elaborate-looking weapons but I personally like it.

The Cobra Ninja Viper also comes equipped with a twin-bladed Kusarigama. This is another great accessory that the figure holds well and - even better - looks great. Like the swords, the Kusarigama has a well-detailed sculpt topped-off with great paintwork. 

The figure's other main accessory is his backpack. Although it appears a little high-tech, it's a nice piece that actually can be opened and used to store gear within. It also includes side pegs into which the two swords can be slid when not in use. There's also a removable rope coil that pops onto the bottom of the backpack. It's a nicely-designed, well-produced practical accessory that - put simply - works.

The Cobra Ninja Viper also includes his own stand.

Final Thoughts
I really dislike the Cobra Ninja Viper's colouring. The too-bright green-ish, blue-ish, aqua-ish tone he's cast in is simply too cartoonish for my tastes and for the longest time he sat in my ''To Do'' pile un-looked upon, simply because the bright hue discouraged me from paying him any attention.

I'm pleased to say I was able to overcome my aversion to the colour-scheme long enough to open the pack and remove the figure, as the Cobra Ninja Viper is a great toy. The basic figure is, well, a little basic, truth be told. There are a few nice touches in the sculpt (such as the knife-holding sash and the wrap-over shirt's edging) but it's not the most complex-looking figures. However, add the accessories and the figure becomes much more interesting. 

I like the fact that there seems to have been a lot of thought put into this design, specifically with regard to how the figure and the accessories interact. Everything just works nicely and looks great, from the way the weapons fit into the hands to the way there's a place for everything when it's not being used. And on top of that, the accessories themselves are excellent.

I'm sure fans who were lucky enough to own the original mail-away figure will really dig the new update. Even without that nostalgia value, this is a very cool figure. Fans of the more lifelike, subdued tones seen in the Pursuit of Cobra figure line may find the figure's bright colouring too much, but if you can look past that (or you like the more comicbook-ish GI Joe toys) this is certainly a pretty neat figure.

Production QualityB-
Final ScoreB

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