NIGHT VIPER v.4 (2013)
The 4th and final wave of G.I. Joe Retaliation toys consists of a mere 3 figures, possibly the smallest wave ever. It was pretty disappointing to see the Joe toy line fizzle out out retail despite the movie doing quite well at the box office. My hope is that Hasbro has something big up it’s sleeve for 2014. Seeing as a third movie has already been green lit (green lighted?) it seems silly to not capitalize on the brand’s current high profile with the general public. The 2014 New York Toy Fair is coming up soon so fingers crossed for some big announcements then. In the meantime let’s enjoy the last few figures that 2013 has to offer. In my last post I reviewed wave 4’s Jinx. For this post we’ll be looking at wave 4’s updated Night Viper.
The original Night Viper was released in 1989. That was the first year since the the brand began in ’82 that my brother Doug and I did not seek out all of the carded figures. We had been completists up to that point meaning we collected every Joe figure that was released. Even if a figure sucked (Hardball comes to mind) one of us was obligated to buy him and add the character to our roster even if he was destined to never be more than cannon fodder. In ’89 I was 11 and Doug was 13 and we were developing interests beyond toys. Owning every single figure no longer seemed essential so we never added ’89 figures like Frag Viper and Recoil to our ranks. Not to say we had completely outgrown G.I. Joe by then; some of the 1989 figures even became favorites of ours. Heat Viper was the front runner for me that year and for Doug it was Night Viper.
In 1987 Doug and I both acquired awesome new Cobra vehicle drivers. For me it was Ice Viper and for Doug it was Worms. Even though both were intended to be nameless troopers Doug and I latched onto them and made them individual “name” characters in our Cobra hierarchy. They were a two-man wrecking crew. Ice Viper and Worms were the biggest bad asses in our Cobra army. Each of them was able to defeat entire battalions of Joes on their own. When we got Heat Viper and Night Viper in 1989 we utilized them in a similar fashion. They were individual characters instead of troopers but instead of being total bad asses they were slacker wanna-bes. They usually hung back during battles while guys like Ice Viper and Worms did the heavy lifting. I never really saw them as bad guys per se, just opportunists. Sadly Heat Viper has yet to get a modern-style figure but at least Night Viper is finally getting his due.
There was only ever the one version of Night Viper released during the vintage Real American Hero years. He was revisited twice during the new sculpt era but neither of those versions were easily attainable. Version 2 was a Collector’s Club exclusive available solely through their website in 2006 and version 3 was another website exclusive released in 2008.
This 4th version should be a little easier to track down than the last two because it’s a retail release, at least it’s supposed to be. As I mentioned in my Jinx review Retaliation figures beyond wave 1 have been near impossible to find in my area so I’ve had to make all of my purchases online.
Hasbro took their sweet time getting around to releasing a modern era Night Viper but this figure was worth the wait, it’s awesome. I’m sure he’s constructed almost entirely of pre-existing parts but the designers have done a very good of replicating the look of the original 1989 figure. First off the colors look great. That rich forrest green with black highlights has never looked better, but the few flashes of gold and yellow help to break up the mostly dark figure.
Secondly I want to talk about the sculpt and the removable webgear. The original Night Viper had a lot going on from the padded legs to the sheathed knives and the shoulder pads. This version is even busier with knives, and pistols, and satchels, and padding, and flashlights and more, yet it looks great and doesn’t overload the figure. I wish the pants were more reminiscent of the original’s trademark padded legs but the lower legs Hasbro used here does a pretty good job of replicating the look. The head is the same one we saw previously on 2010’s Jungle Viper but you can’t even tell after you put on Night Viper’s brand new helmet piece. The helmet is what really makes this figure. It has the same angular design as the original and has the same adjustable visor. He looks great with his Visor up but he looks absolutely sick with his visor down. The ridiculously long telescope thing is so weird and alien looking that it’s just awesome. I think it looks even better than the original’s because this one has a two-toned paint job.
For accessories Night Viper comes with a pistol, a knife, a flashlight, a backpack, and a satchel all of which can be stored on his person. He also has the 3 part helmet, a display stand and 3 assault rifles. One of his guns is even painted black and green which is extremely rare for a Joe to have painted accessories. This figure kicks so much ass. However I do have a couple of gripes. All of the wave 4 figures have really crappy shallow hands and they don’t hold onto anything very well which is frustrating considering how many cool accessories they have. The other issue is that my Night Viper has extremely shallow peg holes in his feet; it’s like they forgot to punch them at the factory. This is probably an isolated incident but it’s annoying because his stand barely holds him in place. Those issues aside, great figure. 9 out of 10.