Cobra "Jungle Strike" Twin Battle Gun w/ Range Viper
Ah, those crazy 90s... well, more accurately, those crazy late 80s and 90s. The only era of G.I. Joe where urban operatives wore orange and purple and "Wilderness Troopers" wore yellow and baby blue. It was a crazy time.
And still, after all of these years, Hasbro never quite fixed that issue with the original Range-Vipers. They got updated into the "Rock Viper" corps in 2000, and given much better colors, but they had departed from the traditional Wilderness Trooper specialty. The Range-Viper commander "SKullbuster" used all of the same parts as the original Range-Viper, but the purple and gold paint scheme did little to improve his functionality.
Even with the Direct to Consumer and 25th Anniversary versions, we understandably got pure homages rather than any real evolution on the character design. At least until now.
One of my favorite battle station vehicles from my childhood was the Whirlwind...it just seemed to be the epitome of cool. While the HAL and FLAK had their good points, those twin gatling gun barrels (before chainguns were "cool") were just awesome. The fact that it could be towed and flip the tires down at a moment's notice were only gravy.
We've seen the Whirlwind briefly since then, as a vehicle that came with a Toys "R" Us Exclusive VAMP, and it was just as cool then, too. For the first time ever, we get it now as a Cobra vehicle, and I'm happy to say it's equally as effective in that regard. All of the cool aspects of the Whirlwind are intact with the Twin Battle Gun, only it's produced in a much darker almost black color. With hints of gray throughout the trim it seems conceived to blend nicely with the Stinger jeep. If there is one strange color choice, the Battle Gun has some green tiger striped camouflage on the front shield. That does make sense, since this is a jungle weapon, but it just looks a little out of place among all the dark black and gray.
All the parts and pieces snap together nicely, there's a very nice selection of stickers that add detail (yet don't go completely overboard). I love the Whirlwind, and everything I love about that weapon fully translates into the Cobra version as well.
And then there's the Range Viper. As a Wilderness Trooper, the blue, yellow, and gray figure kind of stood out. This version is a lot more subdued. From a realism standpoint, it makes a lot more sense for a Wilderness specialist to be clad in dull grays and greens like this trooper is, though I was a bit surprised that I think I actually like the color scheme for the originals more. Sure, this version is better camouflaged and has more realism, but there's just something about the unique vibrant hue of the original version that is still strangely appealing.
Still, using some of my favorite tooling ever (from the Resolute Cobra Trooper) doesn't hurt one bit, and I'm thrilled to be able to add some of these figures to my collection. I still feel a need to beef up my normal Range Viper crew, but at this point I've got enough of the Battle Gun version to satisfy.
He comes with some of the same weapons as the standard issue. The ammo belt/holster with removable pistol, the skull themed mask, and the machine gun with bipod are all present and accounted for, though that's all he comes with.
Removing the helmet reveals a face African American in appearance. While it's quite nice to see some diversity, some have wondered if having a race-specific trooper figure is a good idea. Honestly it really doesn't bother me at all...I think it's just as ridiculous thinking that every Cobra Trooper is caucasian, or that every Rock Viper must grow a moustache. Hell, the helmet will be covering his head most of the time, anyway.
All told, even though I might prefer the normal Range Viper color scheme more, this figure is a very cool one to have, and is probably the highlight of this assortment, especially with the cool as hell Twin Battle Gun. Absolutely worth Ross prices, and worth slightly inflated prices as well, if you feel the need.