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GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

I wasn't too impressed by the plain Neo-Vipers in Rise of Cobra, so I didn't bother to get any of their toys. The same can't be said for the more exotic incarnations, like the Elite-Viper.

Elite-Vipers are the personal guards of Destro and strict enforcers of their commander's orders. These top-notch mercenaries have extensive military training and are skilled in the use of the advanced weaponry developed by M.A.R.S. Industries.

Destro's personal guards? That makes them sound like Iron Grenadiers or something - and that's not a bad thing! You may not have dug the Neo-Vipers' uniforms, but there's no denying the fact that they made an impressive enemy, faceless, fearless and implacable. Anyway, the normal MARS troopers were badass enough as it was, so the guys who oversee them must be even tougher, right? It's like what we've said about the Crimson Guards before. Not the GI Joe Crimson Guards, the Star Wars Crimson Guards.

The Elite-Viper certainly isn't the flashiest action figure on the pegs - his color scheme is a combination of dark, darker, and off-dark. The lightest spot on him is the gunmetal grey armor on his abdomen, and even that gets a black wash. Seriously, these guys make Snake-Eyes look an extra on Miami Vice by comparison. And really, it's a shame, because there's a lot of nice detail here that's now hard to see. The back, in particular, is impressively segmented. The armor is held closed by a single clasp on the side, so it doesn't bulge out too badly.

Beneath the armor, the Elite-Viper is wearing a cable-knit shirt, like all the other movie Vipers. It looks a lot like the one worn by the Resolute Cobra Trooper, but no, it's different. Under proper lighting, you'll see that the cloth bits of his uniform are actually a dark blue, but in normal light? It'll still look black. The arms and legs are new, which is a real surprise: there's no reason they couldn't have gotten away with re-using the entire Neo-Viper body with that new armor on top of it.

The head is a unique sculpt, as well. Rather than the gray domes worn by the foot soldiers, with two separate black goggles, the Elite-Viper wears a black helmet with a single horizontal visor, like Cyclops. The mouth area is covered, of course, but it's detailed with details that suggest vicious fangs. The entire thing is gloss black, which is a minor detriment: matte black with a gloss visor would have helped differentiate things.

In addition to the chestplate, the Elite-Viper is wearing a great utility belt with pouches on the left hip and a radio at the small of the back. A holster hangs down the right leg, allowing storage for the pulse pistol. He has two submachine guns (HK UMPs, maybe?) and a tactical axe of some sort. The axe and the guns can both be stowed on the detailed backpack: there's a notch on the left side where the axe fits, and the guns clip onto square pegs that otherwise serve no purpose. It's not explained anywhere, but what else could they be for? Oh, and there's a Stupid Giant Gun, but let's not think about that.

Surprisingly, the Elite-Viper is not one of the characters made up for the toyline: these guys, in this exact uniform, show up in the film, though you may have missed them; they're standing guard when Duke is taken to the Arctic, and in a few other scenes, as well; it's just that they're so dark they can be hard to spot. Even if they hadn't been in the movie, the figure is good enough to stand on its own. In fact, it may be the best "(_______)-Viper" released in the movie line.

-- 03/05/10

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