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Show Serpent

GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

We need more snow this winter.

Snakes usually tend to be cold blooded, but Snow Serpents thrive in polar temperatures as the frontline arctic infantry troopers of the Cobra forces. They can traverse vast icy plains and then vanish in a snow drift remaining still for hours or even days only to emerge with a lethal barrage on their unsuspecting foes.

Man, that sounds great! Like when you were a kid, growing up across from a business that had a decently sized parking lot. When it would snow, they'd plow it all to one end, making a big hill of snow worth playing on, And there was nothing more fun than digging a hole into the side of the mound and just hanging out in there, eventually drifting off to sleep in your cozy little snow burrow. [how you survived childhood I have no idea --ed.]

The Snow Serpent was sculpted by Paul Harding, who's done a nice job taking the classic look and giving it a few small tweaks. For instance, since 1985, Snow Serpents have worn a helmet (which really looks like an old-fashioned WWII pilot's helmet, it must be said) with a solid mask covering the face. What used to just be eyeholes in that mask are now small goggles, and instead of having actual goggles sculpted up on the forehead, they're now a separate accessory that can be moved down over the eyes, like the Viper's. Neat! Since he's already got one set to protect him from snow-blindness, this pair is polarized to help him make out details in flat light.

The design is a repeat of the vintage look, because that's all Classified is these days: a rehash of the past. So there's a thick gray suit with white fur trim on the forearms and shoulders, and a parachute pack on the stomach. I don't think I ever put any thought into that before: the old filecards specified that their training included airborne operations and that they had to HALO jump in a blizzard, so of course they have parachutes; I just never stopped to consider what that bundle they carried on their stomachs was all about. It's a separate part of the figure, here, with only the straps running under his legs sculpted on, but don't expect to ever take it off.

The promotional photos show the web gear, leg holsters, gloves, and boots as being blue, like the vintage figures. And they technically are, but it's such a dark blue that they look black under normal light. We'd have preferred a lighter shade. Also, painting the zippers on the pockets on his biceps blue, but not doing anything for the six pouches on his legs, makes those apps look like a mistake. There's a red Cobra logo on the left bicep, and a new logo on the right: presumably it represents the Snow Serpents as a division, as it features a snake slithering its way up a mountain. The goggles sculpted on the face have silver rims on a brown strap.

They've changed the articulation a bit: no longer do we have pec hinges to move the arms back and forward, but rather balljoint/hinge shoulders with a ring around the post to create a seamless look. It's the same thing McFarlane Toys does with their shoulders, if you're familiar with those figures. He also has a balljoint for the chest instead of a hinge, which may have been a choice to allow movement despite the gear covering his stomach. Other than that it's all standard, with swivel/hinge ankles, swivel boots, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips on a hinge, balljoint waits, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinge elbows, swivel biceps, balljointed neck, and barbell head.

This is a slightly deluxe figure, sold in a larger box with more accessories. Updating from the original, he has a pair of snowshoes (much more high-tech than the tennis rackets the old one wore) and a rifle. Snow Serpents were also trained in anti-tank procedures, so previous versions came with a mortar launcher; today, that's been reinterpreted as a shoulder-fired rocket launcher, and his backpack is now meant for carrying that and the four loose rockets he includes. The launcher, which is sculpted with white padding on one side, has a rotating cap on the end so you can pretend to load it. And the cap has a hole in it so you could use a Steel Brigade blast effect to make it look like it's firing. Neat! (Just don't push the rocket too far in,or you'll have a devil of a time getting it back out again.) The bazooka, like the parachute, gets referenced in the stats: Environmental Specialist (Arctic) 2, Launcher 1, Skydiving 1, and Arctic Combat 2. Seems repetative, but accurate.

As far as new accessories go, there are two small pistols to put in the holsters on his legs, a knife that oddly doesnt have anywhere to go, and one of the Cobra laser rifles as seen with Tomax and Xamot. There's also a snowboard he can ride! It's got footpegs to hold him in place, and the articulation is enough to get him into some exxtreme poses. It's an unexpected piece, but not unwelcome. The second version of the Snow Serpent from 1991 had a vaguely similar thing, but it was more of a rocket-propelled platform than this, which is basically just a snowboard you could see anywhere on the slopes today. Honestly, though, Hasbro is selling this for $34.99; they couldn't have included a blast effect for the bazooka? We'd have happily sacrified the unstorable knife for it.

Then there are the pieces that fall in between "update of the old" and "invention of the new." The Classified Snow Serpent includes a wolf pelt that he can wear like a cape and cowl. The Snow Serpents in Generation 2 had a cape like this, but the inclusion of a wolf's-head hood is absolutely new. It also explains why the goggles are removable, since they wouldn't fit underneath it. The cape plugs into the hole on the figure's back, but it also has its own backpack hole so it won't prevent him from carrying anything behind him.

As a more expensive Deluxe figure (sorry, FYE, but you're not getting $59.99 for this toy out of me), it would be hard to armybuild the Snow Serpent, but the inclusion of the optional wolf skin would mean that you could have a couple "rank and file" Snow Serpents, and then one who's their squad leader or something. Or maybe some who are plain, some who just wear the cape, and one who also adds the cowl to show he's super advanced. There are options here, and that makes the Snow Serpent really fun.

-- 02/16/24

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