G.I. Joe: The Pursuit of Cobra Jungle-Viper
I was wrong, okay? I was really, really wrong.
My first indications with the Jungle-Viper were ones of hesitant optimism. Sure, the thing looked pretty cool, but with all of that crazy kibble all over his body, could he really be functional? Sure the optical camouflage ghille suit was a neat idea, but how well could it really work, and wouldn't it hinder the articulation of the figure? If I hated it, would the figure look and feel bland without it?
Well, in some ways I was right. The ghille suit does sort of come across "gimmicky" and with all of that gear piled up on the figure, it loses some posability and a lot of functionality. However, it still looks very cool, and the figure retains a lot of the awesomeness even without all of the clunky camouflage piled all over him. Even once you take his ghille suit off (which is one of the large selling points for the figure) he looks like a very cool Cobra jungle operations trooper, and is worthy of this moniker moreso than the GI Joe Collectors' Club version was, in my opinion.
A "Jungle Viper" is something that Hasbro had never gotten around to producing back in the day...it always seemed like that's how they envisioned their Range Vipers, but the Range Vipers were not colored for it. When the Collectors' Club finally released their own version a few years ago, it was pretty cool for the time, but as with many new sculpt figures, it hasn't aged well. I thought perhaps once the Target exclusive Twin Battle Cannon w/ Range-Viper came out we would finally get the Cobra jungle operations trooper we've been waiting for, but we all know how that turned out. Well, now, finally we've got a suitable special ops trooper that's well equipped, well designed, and suits the role to perfection.
But I do have to use the word "perfection" a bit carefully. This figure is not perfect. As I mentioned, the ghille suit is a bit over-complicated, quite a bit combersome, and in my eyes, is almost unnecessary. It also has a tendancy to weigh down the backpack to the point that it falls off the figure, and as a main selling point of the toy, I'm not sure it's quite worth the praise it has been getting. Granted, if you can get the figure to pose just right and the ghille suit to position just right around him, this figure with all of the equipment makes for one hell of a display piece, but once again, in my opinion posability and playability as to come into it, and with all of this gear on him, the figure really doesn't have much.
Its saving grace, though, is that even without it, he looks like a great figure. The well detailed pouches on his chest, the mesh pattern throughout his torso, the awesomely newly sculpted head. It all makes for a great looking Cobra trooper. I do wish the forearm guards with those huge pegs and handles on them were somehow removable, because they do definitely stand out on him once you take the camouflage suit off. His feather-like angular kneepads also look a bit flukey, but beyond these minor complaints the figure is exceedingly well detailed, well articulated, and has a terrific jungle and night operations like paint scheme.
I know one thing folks have been wondering about (myself included) is the eyes...what's with the pupiless eyes on the Jungle-Viper? Well, stick with me here for a minute...
In my Firefly review, I speculated that Cobra had begun a new operation... Project: FEAR. The Jungle-Viper, in my opinion, is yet another aspect of that, using the bladed optical ghille suit as a source of intimidation...but along with that, he's also been genetically altered with a type of "night vision" allowing him to see in the darkness. A side-effect of this genetic manipulation is the intense dilution of his pupils, making them appear white. Cobra Commander, of course, has played this into the FEAR angle and touts these Jungle Vipers as emotionless puppets, who exist as a sort of night ops "zombie" with one singular goal.
Speaking of articulation, like Sgt. Slaughter, the Jungle Viper has those new wrists that let one move in and out and the other move up and down, and I really love that little improvement. All in all, the figure is very cool, even if his full accessory compliment goes a bit overboard.
Since we're on the topic of accessories as well, I should talk a bit about the gear that the figure comes with. A little known fact that some folks aren't aware of was that Sigma 6, in a way, was born from the minds of the guys behind the toyline Xevoz. While it was a retail failure for Hasbro, Xevoz was an insanely well designed toyline with lots of great interchangability, and it's a toyline that really captivated me to the point that I completed an entire run of the toys within 2 months. Immediately when I see the Jungle Viper's backpack and wings, I think of Xevoz, and I strongly believe this backpack and ghille suit uses Xevoz technology and techniques. I haven't checked yet to see if the peg sizes are the same, but I wouldn't be at all surprised.
Along with his backpack, the Jungle-Viper comes with a monstrous fire arm. The filecard, unfortunately, gives a strong impression that this Cobra operative is a "marksman" and has a specialty as an anti-personnel sniper. I could not disagree more. The weapon he sports is a WW II era weapon, the Finnish Lahti L-39, which was actually an anti-ARMOR weapon, not anti-personnel. In my mind, the Jungle Viper is not necessarily a sniper, but an advanced recon specialist, and also a support trooper, who sits back in the treeline and works with Cobra fireteams to disable approaching vehicles and as anti-armor support. Their extremely long range goggles (which are extremely cool, I might add) allow them to sit back a considerable distance and easily take out engine blocks and mounted weaponry of approaching convoys, making it easier for Cobra defenders to swarm the vehicles and finish the job.
Certainly once the vehicles are disabled, the Jungle Vipers can set aside their mammoth rifles and pick up something more portable, then go on the move as anti-personnel troopers, but in my opinion their primary duty is to take out armor and vehicles in the event of an invasion or convoy ambush.
The rifle that he comes with is both cool and ridiculous due to its large size. It certainly is impressive and an eye-catcher, and immaculately well sculpted (down to the mounted skis), but it's so large and laborous that it's tough to get the figure to even hold the weapon well. It's obviously a gun that needs to be used while the shooter lays down, but this fancy ghille suit makes posing the figure that way difficult, so it's tough to use in that regard. One part of the accessory compliment I really love, though, are his pistols. He's got a great hip holster as well as an ankle holster with pistols for each, just in case he gets caught while reloading. I nice machine gun would have been a cool addition, too, I think, but hey, that's what Marauder, Inc. is for.
The Jungle Viper is one of those figures that is awesome to look at, but not so awesome to play with (fully equipped, anyway). I think the possibilities are endless, and even without the accessories, the base figure is still fairly cool. He loses some cool points just for the overboard camouflage armor that reduces functionality so much, but in the end, is still deserving of at least some of the hype.
Read the Jungle-Viper Mini Comic!
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