Wednesday, June 8, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe Arctic Threat Rock Viper

Produced by Hasbro | Released May 2011

Cobra Rock Vipers are mountain assault specialists trained in mountaineering and vertical assault. They are experts at climbing treacherous terrain of rock, snow or ice. They use sophisticated climbing gear and weapons designed for compactness and versatility.

Packaging Shots

Arctic Threat Rock Viper
The Arctic Threat Rock Viper is a modern take on the 1990-released figure of the same name. Hasbro has done a great job of updating the figure but - like the Cobra Trooper - retaining everything that made the Rock Viper what he was. Does that mean he's a great figure, though? 

The basic sculpt is - like most of the latest waves - cribbed from other releases. As stated though, Hasbro has done a good job of recreating the original Rock Viper and I'm sure fans of the original will dig most of what's going on here. Looking at the figure without the added layer of nostalgia, he's still a pretty reasonable figure. The sculpt is not great but it's not terrible, just a little average.

His basic fatigues are fine, with some nice fold detailing which breaks-up what could have been swathes of plain plastic nicely. His shin-guards appear to be a recolour of those used by the Arctic Threat Storm Shadow and one of his main accessories - the backpack - has been used by a number of previous releases. Still though, Hasbro has done a pretty good job of making a new figure that pays homage to the original.

There's a sheath on his right thigh that holds his knife and a weird ''block'' on his left, which is a hangover from whichever figure previously used this sculpt. I can't place what it is but I recognise it and believe it's used as some form of weapon storage/attachment point. That aside, there are no holsters or sheaths on the figure, which is a shame, given how much gear he has.

The head is a re-use of the standard Cobra balaclava-masked agent and has some nice ribbing to the design. It's not particularly exciting but it works for what it is.

Articulation presents no major problems and is as you'd expect from a modern GI Joe figure - very good. It's nice to see the tilt-able wrist joint being used, too. I'd like to see more of that in future although I do have to say the ball-joint looks a little large - presumably this is due to the figure having thinner forearms or some other sculpt issue, as the previous figures using this joint have not suffered this problem.

The joints themselves are nice and fluid but can retain a pose well. The backpack provides little in the way of a hindrance to posing the figure, which is always good.

The figure's paintwork and colouring are good. Although I have to admit I'm not a fan of the actual palette, it's a great recreation of the 1990 figure. The camouflage is very well applied and there are a few details picked-out in the maroon/purple of his shin and forearm guards, so whilst it may be a little gaudy, it is at least coordinated.

My Rock Viper's eyes are a little strange though. I think there's a slightly off-centre application to his pupils, so as a result he looks cross-eyed. I'd advise you examine the paint app before you buy, if possible.

The Rock Viper is one of those figures that's defined by his accessories. Without them he's a pretty average Cobra guy, so it's important that his equipment works to give him an identity and - thankfully - the enclosed gear works well to do just that.

The figure comes with a knife, pistol, SMG, climbing pick, spear and long-range rifle. On the whole the accessories are good (even if the packaging says the SMG is a bullpup weapon - it's not) although getting him to hold some of the weapons can be problematic (the spear especially.) Worst of all though, Hasbro neglected to include storage space for most of his gear. Whilst the knife fits into the thigh sheath and the backpack features a slot into which the spear can be slid, the remainder of his gear must be either carried in his hands or precariously hung from the backpack's various straps. It is possible to do this and get him looking pretty good with it but if you're moving him, be very careful. And dressed like this, he'd be impossible to use as a plaything. Given he's a climber - and so needs both hands most of the time - this seems like a pretty major flaw. No wonder Cobra keep losing.

The backpack is a pretty neat accessory, even if the cords do tend to tangle a lot in his gear, but it works well for what it is. Sadly though the same cannot be said of the helmet. It's a very poor fit and tends to shift down over his eyes, especially when the backpack is in place. It also seems a bit of an oversight not to include goggles, but that's just me being an Armchair Toy Designer.

Interestingly, the clip and collect card includes ''climbing shoes'' as an accessory. I'm not sure if they intended to include some kind of spiked boots (as seen in the Resolute/City Strike Snake Eyes, a figure that also included this same backpack) or if we're just to believe the figure's shoes are really good mountain wear.

The figure also comes with his own stand.

Final Thoughts
The basic Rock Viper is an OK figure, nothing more. Strip away the accessories and you're left with a pretty simplistic figure. Thankfully his accessories are - on the whole - pretty good and they do a lot to give him some character and definition.

However, there are some problems even with these accessories. For starters, the helmet is a terrible fit and it's difficult to make it work with the figure without looking comical. Although he has a knife sheath and the backpack can hold the spear perfectly well, the rest of his gear is left either in-hand or dangling off his harness. Given that he has two rifles, a pistol and a climbing axe to carry, it's a real shame Hasbro didn't put more thought into how he'd actually use all this stuff and it really does a lot of harm to the figure not having any kind of storage for the gear.

As a tribute to the 1990 figure, he's a good update. As I say, the colouring is a little off for my tastes but at least he's not wearing neon green or bright silver armour plates and the camouflage looks good. I'm sure fans of the original will like this and there's nothing about him that will offend fans of the newer, more realistic figures.

At the end of the day though, he's not the most dynamic or interesting of figures. Yes, he's an Army Builder and so there should be a slight uniformity to him but there's also just a lack of that extra oomph or cool touch that would really make him more interesting. Perhaps it's because we've seen everything here before - and done better.

Overall, he's not a bad figure. I just don't see him flying off the shelves - even as an Army Builder - and whilst he's not the worst figure I've seen, he's probably one of the weaker ones in this Wave.

Production QualityB
Final ScoreB

Image Gallery


  1. I like this guy but i'm not going to army build him. The pics look great btw. Did you get some new light bulbs or something?

  2. Yeah, he's neat enough for what he is but I don't see him having the mass-build appeal of the Cobra Trooper or other Army Builders.

    Thanks! I moved my ''studio'' to another part of the room, which may explain why the pictures are a little brighter. I think my camera also works better in brighter light, so it could explain why they look better.


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