Before I get into reviewing this toy let’s talk a little about the movie it’s based on. G.I. JOE: Retaliation, the sequel to 2009’s G.I. JOE: The Rise Of Cobra was slated to hit theaters on June 29, 2012. I could not have been more excited. Even though the first movie was disappointing this one had new writers, a new director and a new cast and the trailers made it look very promising. This is the film I was most looking forward to this summer, despite the pending comic-book fueled awesomeness of Avengers, Batman and Spider-Man. Avengers did not disappoint. Amazing film. So much so that it remained number one at the box office for 3 weeks, trouncing another big-budget film based on a Hasbro property: Battleship. I was doubtful that Retaliation would be as good as Avengers but I was counting down the days til I would find out. It’s only a month away! Or rather it was only a month away. It was announced this week that Paramount was delaying the release of the film so that it can be converted to 3D. Delaying it until March 2013! That’s 10 months away! What the f**k! This sucks for all kinds of reasons, the most obvious being that I now have to wait another year to see the film. It also sucks because I feel that this is an indication that the movie may not have been as good as I was hoping, it may even suck. After seeing how the Avengers laid the smack down on Battleship maybe producers didn’t want to risk pitting another “toy movie” against the upcoming super-hero juggernauts of Batman and Spider-Man. The delay also sucks because it basically means the the animated series G.I. Joe Renegades and the 30th anniversary toy line were cancelled for nothing. We were told that Hasbro canceled the show and ended the current toy line because the movie and it’s corresponding toy line were being released this summer and they didn’t want to confuse audiences by having multiple versions of Joe out there at the same time. The delay means we could’ve had a whole other season of Renegades and a few more waves of 30th anniversary figures like the previously announced Kwinn and Data-Viper (R.I.P). Hasbro has said that they’re now going to hold back all of the Retaliation related toys until the movie comes out next year which makes sense but sucks for us Joe fans who were dying to get our hands on them. I read Friday on GeneralsJoes.com (the site where I get my Joe news) that canadian Toys R Us stores had started receiving the Retaliation figures this weekend as scheduled but would not be receiving any re-stocks of the items due to the delay, so what arrives this weekend would be it for the foreseeable future. Needless to say I went to Toys R Us and pretty much bought up 1 of everything they had. It ended up being perhaps my single largest toy haul of all time. 17 figures and 4 vehicles.
I may not have bought everything at once had the film not been delayed because I would know that these toys would be available all summer and some would end up discounted. I usually don’t buy vehicles and only ever do when they come packaged with a unique figure not available separately. Such is the case with Swamp Viper, who came packaged with the Cobra Fang-boat. Now the Fang-boat is just another repaint of the Cobra Water Moccasin which was first released way back in 1984. I really didn’t need another one of these boats despite the change in color scheme. However the accompanying Swamp-Viper looked really cool and the price was reasonable plus I had a bad-case of G.I. Joe fever so I bought it. I’m glad I did. The Fang boat is quite nice but I’ll review that separately later. Swamp Viper is better than nice, he’s rad. At least in design, in execution…not so much. I previously reviewed Swamp Viper version 2 who was just a green repaint of the Cobra firebat pilot, AVAC. I like the AVAC design so I liked Swamp-Viper version 2 but I would’ve preferred a new design for the swampy soldier rather than just a boring old repaint. Well this time Hasbro has delivered a brand new Swamp-Viper, most likely based on the original Swamp-Viper design. I never owned the original which came out in a convention set in 2003(which was actually a re-paint of the 1993 released Mega-Viper which I also never owned). I really like the design. The nearly fully domed head with the seam down the middle looks like something out of a science fiction movie and looks menacing. The body is unique and not really based on any previous designs. I think it all looks great though with the padded chest, knee-pads, and enough pouches to appease Rob Liefeld. The color scheme is pretty sweet too with the maroonish red with black and grey highlights. So what does suck about this figure? The articulation. As a cost cutting measure Hasbro decided to greatly reduce the articulation on the figures packaged with vehicles in the Retaliation series. I’m guessing their logic is that these figures will be sitting in a cockpit most of the time anyway so why do they need articulated ankles. Stiff ankles is one thing but Swamp-Viper and the other 3 drivers I got don’t bend at the knee, the elbow the waist and even their shoulders don’t pivot. They feel more like cheap knock-off than real Joe figures. That major flaw aside, I really like this guy. 7 out of 10.