TELE-VIPER v.5 (2005)
continued from part 1
The new-sculpt era, which ran from 2002 to 2007, is an underappreciated few years of G.I. Joe’s history. The original 3 3/4″ toy line was cancelled in 1994. There were repaints of old figures released in ’97, ’98, 2000 and 2001 but they were pretty underwhelming for the most part. Hasbro was just letting the brand coast along for the better part of a decade. It wasn’t until 2002 that Hasbro decided to give G.I. Joe another legitimate chance at success. Newly sculpted figures came out, new animated movies were released, and G.I. Joe got plastered all over things like bed sheets and birthday hats just like in the brand’s heyday in the 80s. I thought it was a great time to be a Joe fan. Unfortunately many of the new figures suffered from wonky proportions and bad redesigns.
The Tele-Viper suffered neither.
In 2003 we got out first new-sculpt Tele-Viper and I thought it was fantastic. All the issues I had with the original 1985 design had been fixed. The outfit was similar but the blue and purple colors were reversed and a bunch of additional grey highlights were added such as on the belt and boots which gave the appearance of a much more detailed figure. The head was a good size and the helmet had been redesigned into a much sleeker item that didn’t envelop the whole head like sparring headgear. The open mouth was gone too. The new sculpt Tele-Viper looked pissed with an angry sneer on his face. I could actually imagine these guys being tough. I never thought that about the original.
In 1989 the ’85 Tele-Viper was repainted in Python Patrol colors to ill effect. In 2004 the ’03 Tele-Viper followed suit and got a Python Patrol make-over of it’s own; only it looked great. Hasbro stuck to muted grays for the base outfit and kept the signature cross-hatched Python camo to a minimum.
In 2005 the new-sculpt Tele-Viper was repainted in a third and final variation. The ’05 version featured the familiar blue jumpsuit and purple vest of the original except this time there was some gold and orange peppered in as well. Even though I wasn’t a big fan of the original Tele-Viper I really liked seeing this classic color palette ton the new-sculpt figure. As good as the ’03 and ’04 versions were the 2005 Tele-Viper version 5 is my all-time favorite Tele-Viper.
I was into army building during the new sculpt years so I bought multiple version 5 tele-Vipers. I had a diorama set up on folding card tables in my apartment and all my various Cobra Trooper types were displayed in individual squads. I made a point to have a Tele-Viper in each squad for communication purposes. The Tele-Viper had gone from being a lame character my brother owned when we were kids to the backbone of my Cobra forces.
This version has the same bulky backpack as the original, a shoulder-mounted antennae, a removable microphone for his helmet, a radio, and instead of a useless scanner like the original had this version has a rifle and a pistol.
I loved this figure when I first got it and I still do. I think it has aged very well over the past 10 years. I hope that one day fans will come to appreciate the new-sculpt era figures, at least the good ones like Tele-Viper. Until that day comes I would suggest you scoop up a few of these guys online while they’re still cheap. 10 out of 10.