FRAG VIPER v.3 (2013)
A while back I reviewed the 1989 Frag Viper. If you read that review you know it’s a figure that was released around the time that my childhood interest in G.I. Joe was waning. Neither Doug or I owned the Frag Viper. I have no recollections of them doing anything worthwhile in the comic books and the Sunbow produced cartoon was off the air by then so I basically have no nostalgic attachment to the character. I found the Frag Viper to be kind of goofy looking. His helmet was very science-fiction inspired and bug-like and yet his costume looked like it was stitched together out of a potato sack with some blue sashes for added flair. It was an odd juxtaposition of styles. I didn’t hate the Frag Viper but he wasn’t nearly cool enough to make it onto my Christmas list that year. The ’89 Frag Viper that I reviewed last January was actually a newly acquired piece for me which is rare because I hardly ever purchase vintage Joe figures. Since committing to the modern style I’ve pretty much given up on buying vintage Joes. But one particular used toy website that I frequent had a great deal on some old Joes, only a buck or two a piece, so I couldn’t resist the urge to pick up a few; Frag Viper being one of them.
Finally owning the ’89 Frag Viper didn’t do anything to change my opinion of him. The helmet was neat but weird and the rest of the outfit was pretty bad and also weird. Probably the main reason I got that figure so cheap was because none of his unique weaponry was included with him. The Frag Viper was named for his ability to hurl grenades long distances with the help of his jai alai inspired curved throwing basket.
Right around the same time that I purchased the version 1 Frag Viper, a brand new version was announced. Three identical modern-styled Frag Vipers were to be included in the 2013 Joe Con convention set. The Frag Vipers weren’t a big draw to the set for me but I had already decided to purchase it based on the inclusion of Cobra Mortal, Spearhead and others. The Frag Vipers were really more of an added bonus to me. Like the 3 SAW Vipers included in the same set, I wasn’t opposed to building a small squad of new Frag Vipers, but I was pretty indifferent about it.
Both the SAW and Frag Vipers were troops that were released late in the vintage line, both looked kinda dumb, and neither were figures that I was clamoring to see redone in the modern style. I would have much preferred some Heat or Hydro Vipers but any new Viper is welcome in my collection.
In the case of the SAW Vipers, the Collector’s Club really beefed them up for the set, making them taller and padding them with heavy vests. They went the complete opposite route on the Frag Vipers, making them extra scrawny. The body used for the Frags comes from the upcoming “Ultimate Snake Eyes” figure but it seems far from ultimate to me. The body is so lean and there are no sculpted wrinkles or bulk to the uniform that it ends up looking like a spandex unitard. The base color remains that pooey brown of the original. The teal sashes are still present and do a good job at replicating the 1989 look but I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing. The footwear on these figures are also very odd looking, looking more like high-top sneakers than combat boots. Maybe they were on their way to a hot yoga class when summoned to battle.
The helmets are very nice recreations of the original and remain the best aspect of the Frag Viper. The gray color and big black eyes immediately remind me of the classic space alien look. Very menacing.
For accessories the Frag Vipers include display bases, pistols and knives that can be holstered/sheathed on their hips, backpacks, hoses, throwing baskets, and a couple of loose grenades which most kids would lose in about 10 seconds. Where the weapon is so crucial to this trooper I wish the club had done a better job on it. The basket clips onto the Frag Viper’s hand, at least it’s supposed to, but it is a frustrating ordeal to keep it in place. The hose that attaches the basket to the backpack is way too stiff and only helps to pull the delicately resting weapon from the viper’s grip.
Considering that each of these Frag Vipers cost me between $25 and $30 I cannot say that I think they were worth it. I would have been content with 1 Frag Viper but the set essentially fills 4 of its 15 slots with these goofy bug headed gymnasts (one of them is a neon green repaint of this Frag Viper which I will cover in a future review). If you find one on ebay for $20/$25 bucks I say go for it but trust me, you do not need three of them. 5 out of 10.