H.E.A.T. VIPER v.3 (2014)
2 weeks ago I reviewed the original 1989 Heat Viper. Even though that figure was released near the end of my childhood Joe collecting it became a fast favorite of mine that got more than it’s fair share of face time during my bedroom battles. Heat Viper was easily my second favorite Cobra trooper behind Ice Viper which is why I was super stoked to see both of them included in Hasbro’s small 50th anniversary assortment this year.
Most of the 50th anniversary figures that I pre-ordered from BigBadToyStore arrived in the mail last week, the vehicle sets have apparently been delayed a couple of weeks. Besides the 2 vehicle sets that I’m still missing the anniversary assortment consists of two 2-packs and 2 3-packs. All of the figures are nice but half of them are straight re-issues of figures that were previously released. Had these figures been released individually I could’ve saved myself the trouble of buying duplicates of Hawk, Low-Light, Beachhead, Blowtorch, and Cobra Trooper. But because of the multi-figure packages I was forced to buy them all just to get the 5 figures that I really did want.
I haven’t been into army building (buying multiples of the same figure to create squads of troopers) since the new sculpt years. I simply don’t have room for duplicates. But I couldn’t resist pre-ordering 2 Heat Vipers. It’s actually the first modern era figure that I intentionally bought 2 of. I did so for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the assortment was relatively small and the prices quite reasonable ($15 for a 2-pack) so it didn’t break the bank to do it. Secondly, I love Heat Viper so why not? And lastly, because I’ve been reading all sorts of horror stories online about the lackluster quality of these 50th anniversary figures. People have been saying the paint apps are all f**ked up and joints are gimpy and all sorts of things. I didn’t want to risk only ordering 1 Heat Viper only to have a super fugly one show up in the mail. And I was afraid they might sell out while I waited to check on the quality control of my initial order.
Well, I’m happy to report that both of my Heat Vipers arrived in great shape. In fact, all of my anniversary figures did. I don’t know what everyone is complaining about. Sure, the plastic is softer than we’re used to but it doesn’t really detract from the figure and, if anything, it will probably prevent breaks.
This figure shares the same body as 2011’s Airtight version 3. It works out really well. Considering it has Heat Viper’s signature raised stripe up the front it’s almost as if Hasbro planned to use this torso for Heat Viper all along. The purple stripes on the legs and arms don’t work out quite so well as they’re just painted on and there’s no sculpting to define them but they look fine regardless. The colors they used on this figure are pretty close to those found on the original which is great. He’s not quite as “loud” as his predecessor but this figure still really “pops” on a shelf.
For accessories Hasbro has recreated the vintage gear fantastically. The rocket launcher and cable appear to be exactly the same ones that the ’89 version came with. The backpack is new but looks very close to the original and I actually think they improved on the boot missiles. Instead of having the 6 mini missiles attach directly to pegs on the figure, these new missiles attach to removable straps around his ankles. This way, if you lose the missiles you can take off the straps. With the old figure you were stuck with 3 awkward pegs on each boot. He also comes with a display base which is pretty standard for modern Joes but these 50th figures have a nice gold paint app on the raised logos.
Last but not least is the newly sculpted head. This head is awesome. It’s got all the cool design elements that I loved about the original but it’s more sleek. The right side still has a rounded gray visor and the left side still has a strange ribbed design. Where they differ is that this new one has an additional gray visor beneath the ridges of the helmet where the original had a solid yellow left side. When I first noticed this change on pictures posted online I was disappointed. The half visor never really made much sense from a tactical standpoint but it was partly what made Heat Viper so cool. I feared dual visors would diminish his quirky lopsided quality and make him appear too much like Cobra Commander. But now that I have this figure in hand I think it looks great. It’s still a hella weird helmet design but it’s weird in a different way than the original, plus now he can actually see what he’s doing. Besides, the dual visor look actually more closely resembles the 1989 card art, which makes me think that maybe the original toy was meant to be painted this way too.
I absolutely love this figure. But here are a couple quick gripes: When they added the second visor they did away with the plug normally found on the left side of this guy’s head. Now his rocket launcher cable has nothing to plug into and just kind of hangs there. Also, I don’t like his exposed neck. I wish his collar went right up to his helmet line. It should be noted however, that while his neck is now exposed, his chin no longer is. Those minor gripes aside, this is a killer action figure. 10 out of 10.