ICE-VIPER v.4 (2014)
It’s finally here. The Ice-Viper figure I’ve been waiting 7 years for. When I got the original Ice Viper in 1987 he immediately shot up to the top of my Cobra hierarchy. Not in any official manner, mind you. It’s not like he was leading my Cobra Forces or anything. He was just a regular grunt who took orders from the Commander like everybody else did. But in terms of sheer power no one tipped the scales more than Ice Viper. He could tear through the G.I. Joe team like the Incredible Hulk. Even Snake Eyes, who was no slouch, couldn’t stand toe-to-toe with him. Only the Joe team’s SWAT trooper, Shockwave, could match Ice-Viper in destructive power.
I realize that having a nameless, faceless vehicle driver in a parka beat up an entire army of America’s most capable soldiers is pretty retarded but I was a little kid so whatever. The point is I loved Ice Viper. I can’t really explain why. It’s not like he’s any cooler looking than any of the other Vipers variations or even the blue shirted Cobra infantry. And it’s not like the Ice Vipers were prominently featured in any comics or cartoons. The fact that he’s a cold weather trooper probably limited his use for a lot of other kids. I’m not sure what it was that struck such a chord with me in ’87 but I absolutely loved that figure.
I started collecting Joe figures again in 2002 when the then dormant toy line from my youth was resurrected with newly sculpted figures. Not only were the figures newly sculpted but also newly constructed. They looked and felt different than the vintage figures but they could still be displayed together fairly seemlessly. The new construction style had its flaws but I was just happy to be getting new figures after so many years of lackluster vintage repaints. I liked that the new sculpt waves were made up largely of new characters. It breathed some new life into the brand. But I was also keen to get new versions of all my old favorites. A new Ice Viper was near the top of my want-list. Hasbro never released a new-sculpt Ice Viper but the Collector’s Club released a pretty sweet repaint of the original in 2007 which filled the new-sculpt Ice-Viper void to my satisfaction.
But later that same year Hasbro rendered the new sculpt figures moot but relaunching G.I. Joe again in an all-new more detailed modern style to celebrate the brand’s 25th anniversary. The modern figures were taller than the vintage and new-sculpt toys and constructed in a whole new way, combining the best elements of both previous generations. They could not be displayed cohesively with older figures due to the drastic design differences so it was like I was starting to collect G.I. Joe from scratch. The change in style may have frustrated some but I found it exciting; it was like the early 80s all over again.
As modern versions of old favorites were released I scooped up each one of them. It took a year or two for Hasbro to get to some of my favorites like Shockwave and Zarana but that was to be expected; you can’t release everybody all at once. I worried that Ice Viper was perhaps too minor a player to get the modern figure treatment but I held out hope as other C-list characters continued to roll out.
The steady flow of 25th anniversary figures was interrupted by the release of the first live-action Joe movie, Rise of Cobra (ROC). Where the anniversary figures were homages to the toys I grew up with, the movie based figures were drastic departures. Nostalgia took a back seat to movie-based figures dressed all in black and featuring actor’s likenesses. Amidst the drab movie figures Hasbro released a modern Ice Viper. I didn’t know how to feel about it. The movie Ice Viper figure didn’t look anything like the Ice Viper of old but a part of me was just thankful to have gotten a modern Ice Viper in any form. I didn’t even dislike the figure but it was hard to imagine him as MY Ice-Viper.
The ROC Ice-Viper was later rereleased with a few tweaks to the paint job and dubbed Elite Ice-Viper and thats the version I’ve had standing in as my bad-ass super soldier Ice-Viper of the 80s. But no more.
As part of this years 50th anniversary series (commemorating the original 12″ Joe dolls of the 1960s) Hasbro has finally given me a modern sculpt version of the 1987 Ice Viper. He came in a boxed set titled “Battle Below Zero” along with a cold weather Snake Eyes and 2 vehicles; a gray Skyhawk for Snake Eyes and a brand new Arctic Wolf for Ice Viper to pilot. The whole set is pretty stellar but I’ll talk about the other pieces in another post, for now lets focus on Ice-Viper.
His body is mostly made up of the modern Snow Serpent body but the lower legs and lower arms have been swapped out. I’m pleased with the parts choices as the Snow Serpent makes sense as a base but a straight repaint would’ve been kind of boring. The Neo-Viper gloves give Ice-Viper a more unique look. I also appreciate the modifications made to the legs to add the sai sheathes/holsters of the original. The fur collar and ammo belt is a newly sculpted piece that looks great and is more realistic than the bizarre “sash” of the original. The ’87 Ice-Viper had a smooth ninja like mask but this one has a ribbed ski mask which makes more sense given his environmental specialty. At first I assumed this was a re-painted Beachhead head but it may actually be a brand new piece; either way it looks good. The paint job on the eyes is very well done. The only issue I have with the sculpt of this figure is that it’s got a bit of a giraffe neck. The fur collar hides it somewhat, especially from the side, but this figure would look that much better if the neck was a few millimeters shorter.
One of my favorite things about the original figure was the removable helmet. The red ninja mask looked great but I liked having the option to put on his gray helmet which had a pair of unpainted goggles sculpted to it. This version takes it a step further by having the removable gray helmet but also a pair of separately sculpted removable goggles with a black strap and translucent blue lenses.
Ice-Viper v.4 comes with 2 sais just like the original but he has a pistol and submachine gun as well. He also comes with a display base with a gold Cobra logo.
I’m super stoked to finally have this figure. Other than the long neck I think it’s amazing. I love the changes they’ve made like the removable goggles, improved ammo belt, and subtle gray camo on the outfit. The joe team better watch out because Ice -Viper is back to kick some ass. 10 out of 10.