In my Darklon review the other day I told you how 1988 was the final year that Doug and I collected the entire wave of G.I. Joe figures released that year. But we were still going pretty strong in 1989 collecting 11 of the 17 carded figures released. Of the 6 we passed on a couple of them, Stalker and Deep-Six, were new versions of characters we already had in our collection so they didn’t seem essential. There were just 4 new characters available that year who we skipped, 3 Joes: Backblast, Scoop and Recoil and 1 Cobra: Frag-Viper.
I’m not sure why we let those 4 figures slip away from us. We were still pretty into Joe at the time. A few of the ’89 Joes are favorites of mine like Heat-Viper, Alley-Viper, and Gnawgahyde. The lamest figure released that year was Dee-Jay and I still got him. Doug and I are both serial collectors who have a hard time not having the complete set of anything so letting a mere 4 new Joes get away from us is very out of character. It just goes to show the power of girls as I imagine that’s where our attention was shifting around this time.
While Backblast, Scoop and Recoil are not bad figures at all they still do little for me when I look at them. They’re all pretty average. But not getting a Frag-Viper, that’s just weird. I loved Cobra Vipers and was thrilled to add new variations to my Cobra army. Between us Doug and I had Ice-Vipers, Motor-Vipers, Strato-Vipers, Gyro-Vipers, Night-Vipers, Secto-Vipers, Hydro-Vipers, Astro-Vipers, Toxo-Vipers, Techno-Vipers, and of course just plain old regular Vipers. Each one specialized in a different field or environment. The Frag-Vipers were grenade throwers. Frag-Viper came with a unique throwing tool inspired by the wacky sport Jai Alai in which athletes hurl a ball around using a similar curved hand basket. It’s a pretty neat concept. Which makes it even weirder that 11 year old me didn’t seek this figure out.
They never made an updated version of the Frag-Viper in the new sculpt or modern sculpt eras and so I never had one. Just before Christmas I was checking out a toy retail website that I visit on a regular basis and they had a bunch of vintage Joes listed at some great prices so I snagged a half dozen of them to add to an order of modern Joes I was purchasing. One of those vintage Joes I picked up was the ’89 Annihilator whom you caught a glimpse of in my 2012 Annihiliator review the other day and another one was the ’89 Frag-Viper.
I figured I might as well finally get this guy seeing as there was no indication that I would be getting a modern version of him anytime soon. He only cost me a couple of bucks which is nice but unfortunately he doesn’t have any of his weapons so I am without a grenade tossing hand basket. While I am happy to finally have this figure I will say that he is pretty lackluster in design. I’m not sure why the Hasbro designers would put such a cool science-fiction inspired helmet on a guy who’s basically wearing a potato sack for a uniform. The head is very cool and looks like some sort of robot bug. Those big black eyes really make the Frag-Viper look unnervingly alien.
I guess Cobra Commander blew his Frag-Viper budget on their helmets because the rest of the outfit really is one of the most abysmal Joe sculpts I’ve ever seen. The shirt and pants have no detail at all other than a bad stitch job down the front of the shirt. No collar, no pockets, nothing. And the color is just gross. And then for some bizarre reason the Frag-Viper is wrapped in a blue sash that seems to serve no purpose at all. It’s just weird.
The reason I decided to review the Frag-Viper today is to give me an excuse to tell you about the G.I. Joe Collector Club’s 2013 Convention set which was revealed this week. Last year’s set featured Destro’s Iron Grenadiers vs Russia’s version of G.I. Joe, the Oktober Guard. The Darklon and Annihilator figures that Vanessa got me for Christmas spun out of that set. Well this year’s theme is the G.I. Joe Night Force Team vs the Cobra Demolitions Team. This set will feature a number of highly anticipated Joe figures being released in the modern style for the first time and will also feature the first modern style Frag-Viper. The new Frag-Viper does a great job of capturing the look of the ’89 version, the good and the bad. The 15 figure box set will contain 3 of these guys so as long as I’m able to get my hands on a set I’ll have gone from having no Frag-Vipers to having a small squad of them. He may be far from the best Viper out there but he’s not too shabby. 4 out of 10.