COBRA VIPER v.25 (2009)
It seems Joe fans take the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club for granted these days. The Club produces a lot of product each year and almost everything they do is greeted with moans and grons from impossible to please fans on the internet. Not everything the Club does is perfect but I think they’ve played a major role in keeping the brand fun and innovative for the past 13 years.
The Club offers us a chance to sign up for a monthly figure subscription service that provides 13 exclusive figures each year, they give us a free annual membership incentive figure for joining, they produce exclusive figures and vehicles that they offer as optional purchases to members, and they offer exclusive figures to those who attend their annual convention. If I have anything to complain about its that they produce too many great figures because it gets awfully expensive to keep up with them all.
One of the coolest (and most expensive) exclusives they offer each year is their 15-figure box set which is available to both convention attendees and to non-attending Club members via their online store. The first set the Club produced was 2002’s “Crimson Strike Team”. It featured red re-paints of the 1984 Baroness, both of the 1985 Crimson Twins, and 12 1986 Cobra Vipers. A box set containing 12 identical figures might not have been everyones cup of tea but it was a pretty cool set for those who like to army build. I’m sure it was primarily done to reduce production cuts but it didn’t reduce them enough for me to shell out a couple hundred dollars to get a set for myself. As neat as that set was the figures didn’t feel essential to my collection.
The Club continued to produce new sets each year and they got better and better. In 2005 and 2006 the set still only contained 3 unique name characters but instead of 12 of the same army builder you got 6 of one type and 6 of another. 2007’s set featured 9 unique characters and a squad of 6 army builders. The sets had begun to feel much more essential by that point but 2007 ushered in Hasbro’s new “modern style” of G.I. Joe figure. I fully embraced the modern style and boxed up all my vintage and new-sculpt era figures. This evolution saved me and my wallet from “needing” to purchase the Club’s convention sets because, even though the figures were cool, they were done in the vintage O-ring style which didn’t mesh with my modern collection.
But with the release of their 2009 box set the Club decided to embrace the modern-era figure construction. The Club paid homage to their original 2002 set by releasing the Crimson Strike Team again (Baroness, Tomax & Xamot, and 12 Vipers) only this time in the modern 4″ style. It was a cool set but still too pricey for my tastes. I didn’t cave until 2012’s Operation Bear Trap set which featured the Oktober Guard vs the Iron Grenadiers. Once I got a taste for them I haven’t been able to pass up a convention set since. I’m presently eagerly awaiting the arrival of my 2015 Tiger Force themed set.
I wish I had started buying the box sets at least one year earlier because there were some great figures included in 2011’s “Special Mission: Brazil” set. The only figure I have from that set is Cobra De Aco which Vanessa bought me for my birthday a few years ago. It’s one of my most prized possessions. Hopefully I’ll eventually get the rest of that 2011 set.
As for 2009’s Crimson Strike Team I never felt compelled to seek out the whole set because I didn’t need 12 identical red Vipers…..but I did need at least one of them. Crimson Vipers are plentiful on the internet and they’re not that expensive either as far as exclusives go because everyone who bought the set got a dozen of them. I’ve intended to buy one for years but I didn’t actually do it until two weeks ago. I think I was so excited by the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention which took place over the weekend of April 9-12 that I got a bit of convention set fever. I impulsively bought this figure from a lovely fellow named Greg online and a few days later it was in my hands.
I really like this figure. I think the classic blue Viper outfit looks quite nice in red. I was worried that this was going to be a repaint of 2008’s Viper version 16 (the first Viper of the modern-era which was a real clunker) but thankfully it’s not. It has the same torso, waist, and upper arms as that figure but all the other pieces (the problem areas) have been replaced with superior parts. These lower arms don’t have gimpy wrists, these lower legs don’t have weirdly angled ankles, and this head’s goggles don’t constantly fall off. Best of all this Viper has a vac-metal faceplate.