STRATO-VIPER (AIR-VIPER COMMANDER v2)
This here is the 25th anniversary release of the Strato-Viper. Strato-Viper was first released as part of the RAH (Real American Hero) line back in 1986. He was packaged with the Cobra Night Raven, an awesome stealth fighter jet. Doug owned the Night Raven as a kid and thus owned Strato-Viper. Doug owned many of the bigger, cooler vehicles like the Night Raven, the Whale hovercraft and the Cobra Hydofoil. While these vehicles were super cool they were limited in their functionality because they were air and water vehicles. Most of mine and Doug’s battles took place on land. So while their vehicles may have spent more time in the motor pool than the jeeps and tanks that didn’t stop drivers like Strato-Viper, Cutter and Lamprey from seeing action. When there was a battle, everyone went to battle. We weren’t too concerned about this guy being in a wetsuit or this guy being a medic; If there was a firefight in the mountains, they were there. So when Strato-Viper wasn’t in his jet he was on the front lines alongside the Cobra Vipers, Blueshirts and other grunts. Since his speciality didn’t limit his use I thought that Strato-Viper was one of the cooler Cobra troopers that Doug owned. Black and Red with Silver Highlights was a great color scheme and far less garish than what some of my favourite troopers wore (I’m looking at you Alley-Viper and Heat-Viper). The costume made sense and appeared functional. The mold had lots of great little details and made for a great pilot trooper.
When the 25th anniversary Joes (modern era) started coming out in 2007, one of the greatest things about it for me was that I would finally own classic interpretations of iconic characters I never owned as a kid. As children Doug and I split each series of Joes down the middle so I never owned a Destro or a Storm Shadow or a Zartan growing up. It didn’t necessarily feel that way because Doug and I always played together and I enjoyed his take on those characters. However once we both grew up and moved out on our own, here I was, one of the biggest G.I. Joe fans of all time and I didn’t have half of the figures including some key characters. When the New sculpt era began in 2002 that was my first chance to buy those characters. Unfortunately most of those versions didn’t look like the originals I grew up with. The anniversary line was finally putting those characters in my hands the way they were meant to be. My very own Deep Six in clunky diving suit at last!
Strato-Viper was released in a pack with Outback, the Cobra C.L.A.W. glider and the Joe F.L.A.K. Cannon. It was a pretty sweet set, 2 figures and 2 classic vehicles all at a reasonable price. I had the vintage versions of both of these vehicles but this was my very first Strato-Viper and Outback. Strato-Viper has for some reason become Air-Viper now. I’m not sure why, usually these name changes are the result of Hasbro losing the rights to a name, but who would’ve taken the rights to the name Strato-Viper from them? Regardless he’ll always be Strato-Viper to me. This figure was also included in the 7 pack of Cobra troopers called “Defense of Cobra Island”. The two versions are practically identical with maybe just a few color changes. Snatch up either one as this is a great figure. I’ve said this before but this figure does exactly what I want in an anniversary toy. You take what existed before, and make it better so that it appears as how you like to remember the original toy to be. It’s easy to go on about how cool 80s toys were but once you get them in your hands after not playing with them for 25 years they may not be as cool as you remember. Poor paint applications, disproportional bodies, discoloration and wear and tear due to cheap materials etc. Well lines like the 25th Anniversary Joes, Transformers Universe and Masters of the Universe Classics are providing fans with what they always wanted and what they imagined they had as children, great quality, well detailed action figures that resemble the source material. This Strato-Viper may not be exactly the same as the original when held side by side but it’s how I remember the original to be. This figure looks amazing. From the helmet to the boots I think this is a stellar figure of a cool trooper. 8 out of 10.
P.S. I found out this evening that the second G.I. Joe movie, Retaliation has been pushed back to a March 2013 release when it was originally slated to hit theaters next month. I am super pissed right now. Super super pissed. More on this later.