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GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

Looks like one of our little recruits made it through basic and has gotten a promotion.

Highly trained and heavily armed, Cobra Vipers are elite Cobra soldiers. These battle-hardened recruits are selected from the best Cobra Troopers and become Vipers only after months of intense training.

We've repeatedly said the biggest problem with Hasbro's GI Joe Classified figures was how under-ordered they were, but credit where credit's due: as supply chains opened up, as factories got back to work, as shipping lanes returned to use, Hasbro pushed their production numbers up, getting the stock levels they'd always wanted in the first place. Even with Target listing the figures as a pseudo-"flash sale" during their collector event, everyone hung around long enough that they weren't overlay hard to get. Yes, the Viper sold out when he went up online, but checking back to Target's website on the posted "release date" saw him in-stock and ready to ship to store right away. Absolutely painless (if a tad annoying).

The defining feature of the Vipers has always been their mirror-faced helmet. It makes them look similar to Cobra Commander, but more clearly martial. This this modern version, the helmet wraps more closely around the cheeks, and there are inset panels creating a texture, rather than just being smooth. Like the vintage Viper, this one has goggles on his forehead - why would you need goggles when you're already wearing a full-face mask? They're a separate piece, molded small enough that they barely want to stay on top of his head, let alone stretch far enough to go down as far as where his eyes would be.

[Correction: you can get them down onto the face, if you're patient enough to let them stretch out for a while on top of the head first.]

The traditional Viper uniform was a blue and red uniform with a black vest (except when it wasn't), and that's what we get today as well. This one has long sleeves instead of short, and while he still has the padded panels on the inside of the thighs, there are matching ones on the outside of the hips. That would be fine, but the fact that both of those end right at the thigh joint means it looks like the figure was assembled wrong, like they're supposed to line up. They're clearly not supposed to, but it does look that way. It's distracting.

The detailing all over is at a very high level. The bracers and boots have ribbed pads that match the pants, and there are two large pockets on each thigh. The vest is a great update of the old look, with red straps over the shoulders, a Cobra logo on the right breast and a second as the belt buckle, and a pair of red grenades sculpted over the heart. There's red piping all over the place, including down the front of the pouches on his stomach. One of the figure's accessories is a grey neckerchief that can slip on and conceal his throat, if you want. Why such a thing? Good question. Why make is a removable piece? Also good question.

The Viper is a bit more than 6⅜" tall, and moves with a balljointead head, hinged and balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders on pectoral hinges, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed waist, hips that are a balljoint mounted on a hinge, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, and swivel/​hinge ankles. The hips on my figure are a little loose, wobbling side-to-side on their hinge more than the other figures'. I'll just have to make do, since it's not like I'll ever see a replacement anywhere. The head seems extra stiff, too, so it barely wants to look around at all.

We already mentioned the scarf and the goggles, but the other accessories include a pistol, a rifle, and a backpack. The pack is very square and blocky, but it's just as much of an update to the old design as the uniform is, with a big Cobra logo and more red grenades (plus a length of grey rope) in addition to all the pockets. It would be nice if there were some way for the weapons to be stored other than having him hold them - a holster, a peg, whatever. [It's supposed to have a thigh holster that this sample appears to be missing --ed.] The Viper's stats are Foot Soldier 1, Light Weapons 2, Hand-to-Hand Combat 1, and Night Combat 1. Since the plain Trooper (and Infantry) also had Foot Soldier 1, that seems like a mistake on the box: the website says his Role is Foot Soldier 2, which would make sense for someone who's more advanced than a basic recruit. And maybe the Mastery of "Night Combat" explains why he'd have goggles? Night vision! They still don't fit over the helmet very well.

The Classified Viper uses the Duke/Flint arms, so he could have short sleeves like the classic version - but because the sleeves are rolled beneath the elbows rather than above, you'd have to remove the gauntlets to see it. Still, this is a thorough update, recognizeable yet advanced. There are some minor problems, but overall there's a lot more good than bad.

-- 08/20/21

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