TOXO-VIPER v.3 (2014)
Earlier this week my 2014 G.I. Joe Convention set arrived in the mail; it was a glorious day. Every year the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club organizes a Joe convention somewhere in the United States and they create a set of exclusive figures which are only available at the Con. I’ve never been to a Joe Con but luckily the Club also allows non-attending Club members, such as myself, to order the set online for a very limited time. The Club has been releasing these 15-figure sets since the early 2000s but I’ve only purchased the last three. I’ve always been tempted to buy them but it’s really only been in the past few years that the Club has made these sets “must buys” in my opinion. The newer sets have more unique characters and more newly molded pieces. Gone are the days of Convention sets with 12 of the 15 figures being identical Vipers painted red.
The first set I ordered was 2012’s Oktober Guard vs the Iron Grenadiers “Operation Bear Trap” set. That set featured the first ever modern era releases of popular Oktober Guard members like Horror Show and Daina and gave us super cool new variations of the classic Grenadier. 2013’s Nocturnal Fire set featured the Joe’s Night Force sub-team vs a varied array of foreign Cobra operatives we hadn’t seen before. Both sets were winners in my eyes despite me having no prior fondness for either the Oktober Guard or Night Force. 2014’s set, dubbed “Zombie Initiative”, primarily features the Joe’s environmentally conscious Eco-Warriors sub-team vs Cobra’s polluting Toxic Troopers whom I don’t believe ever had an official name.
I had no love for the Eco Warriors growing up, so the announcement that they were to be the focus of 2014’s con set didn’t thrill me. But based on the quality product the Club had put out the past 2 years I had faith that we’d have another winner on our hands.
The Eco-Warriors figures first came out in 1991 and 1992. The Joe Eco team featured established Warrant Officer Flint leading a mixture of brand new characters (Ozone & Clean Sweep) and a couple of old characters in new eco-outfits (Barbecue & Deep Six). The bad guys were led by corporate baddie Cesspool and consisted of Sludge Vipers, a new breed of Toxo-Viper, and their mutated brethren the Toxo-Zombies. The gimmick of this sub-team was their water spraying weapons and color change plastic. I had quit collecting Joes by that point. Excessive sub-teams like the Eco-warriors were one of the reasons why I got out of the hobby. I didn’t like the rehashed characters, the bright neon colors, or the oversized gimmicky weapons. My little brother Brian was into Joe a little bit by then though. I don’t think he owned any of those figures but his best friend Thomas did and Brian would borrow them; I recall seeing a Toxo-Zombie and a Cesspool laying around the house from time to time.
As bright and goofy as some of those figures were, as a life-long Joe fan I couldn’t help but pick them up and fiddle with them. I thought Cesspool was neat and the new Toxo-Viper looked pretty cool too.
The Club gave us a great update of Cesspool earlier this year as part of their figure subscription service. When the initial convention set figures were announced, and 3 Toxo-Vipers, were slated to be included, I was really hoping for a modern interpretation of the 1988 original Toxo-Viper. Toxo-Viper version 1 pre-dated the Eco-Warriors subset and was a figure I owned and loved. He had a purple outfit, cool weapon, and a removable helmet. He was probably one of the first Cobra troopers to feature a removable helmet which is commonplace now but was quite novel at the time. I was pretty disappointed when prototype images of the upcoming convention set figures were released and I discovered that the 3 Toxo-Vipers were based on the version 2 Eco-Warriors look from 1991. Disappointed but not heartbroken because, as I stated, I did think the version 2 was still pretty cool, I just didn’t have the nostalgic attachment to it like I did with version 1.
I still want a modern update of the ’88 Toxo-Viper but this figure is so rad that any disappointment I felt about getting the ’91 version has completely faded away. This figure looks amazing. I think he’s far superior to either of the troop builders we got last year (SAW Viper and Frag Viper). He’s constructed beautifully with great movement and good proportions. The colors are a bit loud but true to the original and dark enough to still seem believable. This figure is made up of entirely of reused parts. That’s not uncommon for Club produced figures but rarely does it come together this well.
There is one part of this figure which is newly sculpted and that’s the helmet, and what a helmet it is. This thing looks killer. The original 1991 figure didn’t quite live up to the promise of its awesome card art but this guy does. I don’t know what purpose those bug-like antennae serve but they look great. The helmet fits snugly overtop of the Rise of Cobra era Flash head that the Club used for Toxo-Viper’s cranium.
For accessories Toxo-Viper has the removable helmet, display base, a pistol which can be holstered on his hip, a futuristic looking rifle, a canister backpack, and a big missile launching cannon that harkens back to the original’s water spraying super soaker. I haven’t spent much time looking over my set yet but I grabbed Toxo-Viper to review first as he’s my initial favorite. If you’re to purchase one 2014 Con figure on the secondary market I’d go with this guy. Hopefully, because there were 3 included in each set, the prices won’t be astronomical. 10 out of 10.