Monday, September 19, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe 30th Anniversary - Hazard-Viper

Produced by Hasbro | Released August 2011

HAZARD-VIPERS work with unpleasant and nasty substances. They may plant them as part of an attack, or clean them up after an operation. As part of their job, they deal with secretive lab experiments, like the mysterious canisters they carry that contain a dangerous new chemical substance, Compound Z.


The Hazard-Viper is the first of the 30th Anniversary GI Joe figures I've seen, so I want to take a moment to comment on the new packaging. Overall it's very good. I like the bright use of colour (without being gaudy) and the illustration-style used on each individual card is very cool. It's also nice to see the silhouette teaser making a reappearance on the card back. Interestingly, the illustration features a slightly different configuration of breathing apparatus compared to the figure's ''out of the box'' set-up.

When I saw the initial line-up of the 30th Anniversary range, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. Aside from a few minor changes, we'd already seen four of the figures in this line up as part of the Pursuit of Cobra line. And although Sgt Stalker is a new figure, the Hazard-Viper is also a kitbash/re-issue from a previously cancelled-but-released-anyway vehicle, the Lava Pod with Volcano-Viper. In my Review of that set I commented that the Hazard-Viper - if he followed the pattern set by the Volcano-Viper - would ''be a pretty cool-looking figure with some poor articulation and limited poseability.'' Was my prediction correct?

The basic sculpt is - a few minor changes to the forearms/hands aside - is identical to the Volcano-Viper. The figure features the same bulky, flame (or in this case chemical)-retardant clothing, long-length vest and removable breathing equipment. Interestingly, the Hazard-Viper's mask is fractionally larger than that of the Volcano-Viper and - as a result - does not snap into the suit's ''neck ring.'' From a display point of view, this is disappointing, as the mask tends to be quite loose and free, especially as the breathing-tube connectors tend to affect its positioning. And from a play/rational point of view, it makes his protective gear seem rather useless, given his neck is exposed!

UPDATE: After posting this Review I was informed that the mask should pop into the neck ring. Although it required a worrying amount of pressure, I was able to eventually force the mask into the ring. It's worth noting however that the Volcano-Viper's hood did not require such extreme force.

The head sculpt is identical to the Volcano-Viper: a fairly generic, masked Cobra agent. It's nothing we haven't seen before but given you'll be displaying him with the mask in place, it's not that big a deal.

I'm saddened to say that the Hazard-Viper's articulation is no better than that seen on the Volcano-Viper. Whilst the arms move reasonably well (even if the wrists seem quite loose) his lower body is rendered virtually static thanks to the presence of his pocket-laden vest. The Hazard-Viper cannot sit down and hip movement is restricted to about 30 degrees of motion. The fact that the mask doesn't clip into the neck ring, combined with the attached breathing tubes, also restricts head movement to the point of it being virtually non-existent.

The paintwork is actually very good. Although high-visibility orange may not be the most subtle of colours, it works for the Hazard-Viper given their role. There's some nice detailing in the form of black piping and an assortment of harnesses and strapping that help break-up the orange colouring and stop it from being overpowering and the figure is finished with some cool gun-metal details on his shoulders and collar. The figure is finished with some cool little tampo transfers on his air canisters and pouches.

It's in the Extras department that the Hazard-Viper takes on a whole new dimension when compared to the Volcano-Viper.

The figure's main weapon - a toxic sludge pressure backpack - is something fans of the Pursuit of Cobra line will probably recognise as being the same weapon used by the Arctic Threat Destro figure. Similarly, he also sports the ''flat-fronted'' blaster-style pistol Chrome Dome shipped with. In addition, he comes with two pistols and an opening briefcase containing three canisters of Compound Z.

Like all GI Joe single carded figures, the Hazard-Viper includes his own stand.

The accessories are pretty cool, overall (the toxic sludge backpack actually has a pump action and can be used to squirt water) but none of these pieces seem designed to work with the hand sculpts used (or vice-versa.) Getting the Hazard-Viper to grip any of his weapons takes a lot of bending, tweaking and patience.

Final Thoughts
I've run a gamut of emotions with the Hazard-Viper. I initially picked him up, looked at the packaging and then returned him to the shelf. I was seriously considering not purchasing him (following my experiences with the Volcano-Viper) but in the end decided to give him a shot, mainly as he was the only 30th Anniversary GI Joe figure I'd seen.

Yet once I'd purchased him, I began to look forward to opening the packaging and seeing what lay within. There's something fresh and exciting about the way the figure is packaged and presented and I could imagine this really getting kids excited about the line.

But with the figure open, I now find myself experiencing some ambivalence toward the Hazard-Viper. On the plus-side he looks good and the new accessories really give him a great identity and role. But then there are so many tiny issues that just make playing with him a frustrating experience. The mask doesn't fit properly. He can't hold the briefcase. Most of the weapons drop out of his hands when you pose him. The pipe on the waste cannon pulls the weapon out of his hand. He's little more than a statue. 

Yet for all these problems, there's something quite cool about this toy. I could imagine - if he were stripped down some - a kid would enjoy playing with the Hazard-Viper and using him to spray his Joes with noxious chemicals. And when you can get him to hold his weapons, he can look quite cool despite his limited mobility. There's also - as I mentioned earlier - a feeling of something special about the whole 30th Anniversary line. The Hazard-Viper feels toy-like yet has just enough about him to make him also look good on the shelf. It's as if Hasbro has found a middle-ground between the occasionally over-complicated, fiddly Pursuit of Cobra toys and the fun, simplicity of the 25th Anniversary line without compromising either.

It's just a shame there are so many annoying little issues with this figure, as had they been addressed, the Hazard-Viper could have been pretty good. As it is, though he's as I predicted - ''a pretty cool-looking figure with some poor articulation and limited poseability'' - that's really only a step-up from the Volcano-Viper thanks to the inclusion of some cool accessories.

One for the die-hard fans only, I'm afraid.

Production QualityB
Final ScoreB-

Image Gallery


  1. He's a cool figure, you're right about everything in your review. Hopefully Hasbro will rely on new tooling to give us accessories with figures that are re-using existing molds. The hodgepodge figures we got over the last three Joe waves don't really have accessories that make sense.

  2. He's not for everyone. I however really like the figure. I suck at creating dynamic poses w/ my action figures so the lack of articulation doesn't bother me that much.

  3. I hope we get some new accessories/equipment - or better yet, new sculpts!

  4. Hehe! My biggest issue is that he just can't hold half his gear. I wish he had better hands, as that would at least be a start.

  5. Ok i have not made the jump on these figures just yet but am for sure getting a Cobra Viper out of this wave not for sure on the rest just yet.

  6. The Cobra Viper, Steel Brigade soldier, Cobra Trooper and Iron Grenadier are all great.


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