I’ve been talking a lot lately about the beginnings of the modern era of G.I. Joe. When the 25th anniversary style figures started coming out in 2007 I think it was the best direction the brand could have gone in. Some fans would rather see the Joe brand try new things like Sigma Six and Renegades (two recent flash-in-the-pan re-imaginings of the brand) and view the 25th anniversary figures as a step backwards. I’m I’ll for introducing new characters and concepts to Joe but I don’t think that the brand should stray to far from what made it popular in the first place. Historically, drastic departures like Sgt. Savage and G.I. Joe Extreme have failed to find an audience. I for one was super stoked to get new versions of the characters I loved as a kid with improved articulation and sculpting. As soon as it was announced that the initially proposed 25 figure anniversary line was going to continue beyond the initial offerings I began counting down the days until I’d see modern versions of my favorite characters. My favorite Joe character growing up was Shockwave. He was far from a main character in the series so I knew I might have to wait a while. In 2009 Hasbro released a modern era Shockwave in a 2-pack with a goofy looking Destro. I was lucky they released him when they did because he was one of the last 25th anniversary style figures to be released. The first live action Joe movie was coming out in 2009 and so the anniversary line was pushed out of production to make room for movie-based figures. So I got my favorite Joe but I wasn’t so lucky when it came to my favorite Cobra.
My favorite Cobra figure was Ice-Viper. He was an unlikely pick as a favorite character. First off he wasn’t a name guy like Major Bludd or Zartan. Ice-Viper was just a Cobra trooper, there would have been tons of these guys running around Cobra’s headquarters. Plus he’s an arctic themed trooper. I liked snow themed Joes but they did look a little silly always running around in fur lined outfits and snow shoes when so few of my battles actually took place in the snow. I guess the reason I liked him so much is because I just thought he was super cool looking. He had a red ski mask with a removable helmet and goggles, ninja sais that strapped to his legs and he piloted one of the coolest Cobra vehicles of all time, The Wolf. It probably also had something to do with the fact that I got him around the same time as I got Shockwave. My love of one figure fueled my love of the other. I made the two of them arch-enemies and they had strength that bordered on super-human. I used to have the two of them throwing jeeps at each other and crazy crap like that. My Ice-Viper was no mere trooper, he was Cobra’s resident ass-kicker. And as much as I wanted an updated Shockwave, I just as badly wanted an updated Ice-Viper. I actually got my wish of a modern styled Ice-Viper granted fairly quickly as he was released later in 2009, just a few months after Shockwave.
But what a difference a few months can make. When Shockwave was released the 25th anniversary line was winding down but still kicking. By the time Ice-Viper version 3 came out the “Rise of Cobra” marketing machine was in full swing. All of the Joe figures on the store pegs were dressed in black armor, had actors likenesses and featured the movie’s darker aesthetic. Most of the figures in the line were movie-fied versions of characters that had already been released in the modern style a bunch of times like Duke and Snake-Eyes. But a few characters showed up in the movie line that hadn’t yet received a 25th anniversary style figure. Cover Girl was probably the most notable character whose first ever modern figure was a crappy movie version. My beloved Ice-Viper shared the same fate. The name Ice-Viper was pretty much the only thing that was retained from the classic figure. The new Ice-Viper was still an Arctic trooper but he had no red ski mask, no removable helmet, no sais, and no Wolf. His bright and colorful white, red and gold costume had been replaced with a drab grayscale outfit in line with the movie’s boring color palette. This was not the Ice-Viper I wished for.
This guy was just way too bundled up to be my powerhouse. He has wide leg snow pants and his coat is the puffiest I’ve ever seen on a Joe. The jacket is practically swallowing his head. And the head looks nothing like the Ice-Viper of my youth. He has a solid black head with a large removable visor. But when you remove his visor you just get more blackness, not the icy stare of the original when you took off his goggles. My old Ice-Viper was a scrapper so the sais made for perfect close combat weapons. The bandaged rifle that version 3 comes with is kinda cool looking but not the kind of weapon my Ice-Viper would have used. He also came with a ski-missile. I assume this was done as an homage to the original as the ’87 figure came with the Wolf vehicle that fired ski-missiles. However I found packaging this toy with a mere accessory salvaged from the vehicle that he used to pilot to be more of an insult that represented this guy’s fall from grace.
One of the great things about the modern Joe figures is that they all have removable webgear, meaning the straps and buckles that used to be sculpted on the torsos of the old figures are now added afterwards and are interchangeable. This saves the sculptors time and money on tooling completely new torsos all the time and is a neat swapping feature for fans that helps with customizing. I had never really taken advantage of the removable gear before, until this figure came along.
I found that by removing this figure’s unwieldy jacket I immediately liked him a whole lot better. I’ll talk more about that in my next review when I tackle the Elite Ice-Viper. 7 out of 10.