G.I. Joe: 30th Anniversary Zombie-Viper

It seems as if fans fall on opposite sides of the spectrum here without a whole lot of in between. They either absolutely love the inclusion of zombies into their favorite toyline, or they are absolutely dead set against the idea.

As it has been since the beginning, the more science fiction aspects of G.I. Joe often fall under heavy scrutiny, even when you consider the core concepts of the entire property are based off a fantasy world. A fantasy world where clones can be assembled from the DNA of dead leaders...where someone can wear a suit with miniature holographic projectors and immediately assume someone else's identity. A world where ninja clans still exist and the warriors in them are capable of superhuman feats of strength, speed, and recovery.

When you look at all of this, do zombies really seem that strange or out of place?

I've got a confession of my own, too. I have no deep-rooted attachment to the whole undead phenomenon. I was never a devout Romero fan. Sure, I read World War Z and thought it was pretty bad ass. I've played Resident Evil since the beginning. I'm a pretty avid fan of the Walking Dead television show, but honestly, zombies are not really a big reason why. They're brainless, shuffling monstrosities without much personality...but when they look like this figure does, damn, I just can't help but fall in love, rotting flesh and all.

I mean, seriously. All it took was one look at the insane amount of detail sculpted into the head, and I was pretty much in love, whether I'm a zombie fan or not. Tufts of hair, peeled back flesh...rotting teeth. Good grief this figure is nuts. Completely nuts.

Working within the confines of the Shock Trooper and Cobra Viper tooling by and large, the Zombie-Viper uses new lower arms, lower legs, and some ingenious secondaries to get across the feeling of a zombified Cobra agent. The arms and legs are sculpted just as meticulously as the head with tons of divots, musculature and disturbing separation between the fingers and toes, allowing for one horrific looking Cobra experiment gone wrong. The way the wrist joints work gives perfect ambiance to the shuffling undead creature underneath as well. Purely from a tooling standpoint, once again, this figure is an absolute work of art.

Along with the normal arms, we have some swappable arms, too, which give the first indication that this isn't your typical undead zombie. As Cobra usually does, they add some little twists and turns by giving the creature elongated plant-like tentacles which make him almost more genetically altered than undead (which I think was the intention). It also reminds me very much of the Resident Evil world which had not only zombies, but also genetically mutated creatures, many of which had funky plant-like oversized appendages. Could Umbrella Corporation and Cobra be working in tandem?

Zombie-Viper doesn't come with as much stuff as I remembered him having. Of course, he doesn't really come with any weapons, but he has the two swappable arms that, while neat, I'm not entirely sure I'll use them a whole lot.

He also wears what appears to be a torn and tattered harness, almost as if he was being held captive and he escaped. His helmet fits nicely over his head, connects to a hose, and plugs a cannister into his back, looking remarkably like Compound Z. So it would almost appear that these creatures are not created by a simple exposure to Compound Z, they require constant re-fueling. The light blue tint of the helmet almost makes it seem like Compound Z fills it like a fish tank so the Zombie-Viper can injest it as necessary. Pretty twisted.

I mentioned above the ingenious secondaries that this figure comes with...the ripped and torn sleeves on his arms are actually separate pieces that come apart when the arm separates, giving the impression of torn sleeves, but actually being separate pieces. Remarkably cool.

One last thing I want to cover is the filecard...now looking at the bio, obviously we get the impression these guys are not your traditional zombies, but I'm sure most of us assumed that already. What really interests me about the card, though, is the fact that these guys supposedly retain all of their fighting skill, even as zombies. That seems pretty crazy and almost over the top. I can imagine a legion of shuffling undead, but the idea that they could actually be carrying firearms as well doesn't really mesh with the whole zombie concept.

If I have any complaints, I kind of wish they had based the Zombie-Viper uniform off of an existing trooper uniform. It uses the Shock Trooper parts, but the Cobra symbol is way too large and centered. If they had just put the Cobra logo in the upper left hand side of the chest, that would have solved it. Instead, it just doesn't line up entirely right.

Perhaps eventually we'll get a Cobra "lab rat" figure of some sort with a generic workman's uniform that fits the aesthetic. Until then, we need to use a dose of our own imagination.

All in all, I will fully admit that I'm not a big zombie fan. But this figure is so incredible, so well detailed, well sculpted, and so damn chock full of character that it pretty much made me a zombie fan. I have absolutely zero issues integrating this zombie trooper into my G.I. Joe mythology, and the figure is insanely awesome to boot. The icing on the cake is the fact that the "Phoenix Protocols" from my dio-story universe will fit into the whole Zombie-Viper back story perfectly, which gives me an automatic "in" to get these guys worked in. Awesome.

Absolutely fantastic figure, whether you're a zombie fan or not. Part of me is a bit surprised Hasbro executives allowed such a gory looking action figure to be released under the G.I. Joe banner, but I'm glad they did. It's a gorgeous figure.