TELE-VIPER v.1 (1985)
When my older brother Doug and I were kids we split our collecting down the middle. When a new wave of G.I. Joes came out we would take turns doing picksies of the figures we would each collect over the next several months based on either the images on the back of the packages or in the Christmas catalogue. When the first Tele-Viper figure came out in 1985 he was one of Doug’s picks. I was fine with that because I thought it was a pretty dorky looking figure. The Tele-Vipers are an important division of Cobra’s operation and they were featured heavily in the animated series but that doesn’t necessarily make them cool.
The file card on the packaging described them as “Radio Telecommunications Operators of the COBRA ground forces. They carry a standard modular radio pack that contains as a main unit a VHF transceiver equipped with an automatic frequency hopper, a crypto unit and passive jamming and anti-jamming devices. The Tele-Viper helmet contains high resolution earphones with overload dampers and two sets of voice actuated microphones. The interior of the helmet offers and alternative LED readout triggered through the optional computer pack. Optional transmission modes include microwave beam and laser–Both available as add-ons to the basic pack.”
Got all that? I don’t know what most of that means but it sounds important. In the cartoon they were usually manning the computer terminals at Cobra headquarters. We never had the Terrordrome playset so we had to settle for computer terminals made out of Kleenex boxes and toilet paper rolls.
One of the more interesting features of the Tele-Vipers was the LED readout on the helmet described in the file card. It was utilized often in the cartoon to show words crawl across the Tele-Vipers’ goggles. It was usually words like “intruder” or “danger” but I seem to recall seeing an “ouch’ scroll across one of their goggles after they got punched in the face. It makes you wonder if the display was connected to their thoughts somehow which is kind of weird.
The Tele-Viper’s outfit consisted of a loose-fitting blue jumpsuit with a quilted purple vest over top. The body design was okay but I really wasn’t a fan of the head sculpt. It just seemed too big and round. The mouth and nose were exposed and I always found the look on the face to be kind of stunned. The mouth just seems to be hanging open like Napoleon Dynamite. I think the figure would have benefitted from a good scowl.
I disliked the face so much that when I acquired a Tele-Viper of my own a couple of years after Doug got his I took a blue marker and colored in his face and hands. I was hoping some gloves and a full face mask would up his cool factor but instead it just made him appear to have blue skin, like he’d been chewing on a pen. As far as customs go it was a fail.
Luckily I scored a second Tele-Viper last year in my epic haul so the blue one is no longer the only one in my collection.
For accessories the Tele-Viper came with a bulky backpack, a scanner, and a hose to connect the two. Doug and I were never quite sure what to make of the Scanner. Was he supposed to use it to check prices on produce? I think we ended up treating it as a sonic weapon of some kind. Regardless of how you used the scanner it was a pretty goofy looking accessory. He probably should have come with a pistol or rifle to go along with it.