How does Cobra continually attract talented members willing to risk danger, prison and even death to support the organization's
evil goals? Simple: money. The pay and rewards are better than anything a private corportation can offer. That's why skilled pilots join the elite Air-Viper force. After basic aerial combat training, those who rise to the top are given advanced training with next-generation aircraft to become commandos. They also have to endure a surgical procedure, which makes them resistant to hypoxia, hyperventilation and other decompression sicknesses that affect pilots above Armstrong's Line (63,000 feet).
Hey, remember when we asked where the regular Air-Vipers were? Guess this is our answer. This figure is quite clearly an update of 1986's Strato-Viper, but he's been rechristened. Demoted, apparently. The old Strato-Viper's filecard contained the first mention of Air-Vipers, referencing them as the class the pilots went through before becoming Strato-Vipers. All that stuff about the surgery? That happened when they were moved up, not when they were still just plain Air-Vipers.
Anyway, this figure is the originator of the mold that was also included with the movie Night Raven - Artemis said that pilot was a "pre-paint," and sure enough, here's the real guy. The mold is the same, but the colors are much better: a grey flight suit with red and black armor, a bare neck, and a red and black helmet with silver visor. The body is Wild Bill/Ace, but the shins and arms are new.
The leather padding the Strato-Viper wears is a single, separate piece, with a non-functional holstered gun sculpted over the right breast. Meanwhile, the figure comes with a silver pistol that looks like it would have fit in the holster, if it were working. Strange. This same figure, without any significant changes, is available in a super-rare vehicle two-pack, but you're better off buying the set.
The figures are arrayed next to one another in a long horizontal box. The backdrop shows the shore of Cobra Island, with an explosion happening on the far side of some nearby trees. Two Skystrikers and a Conquest X-30 are in the sky. It's a nice enough scene, but certainly not something worth saving the box for.
The two "Cobra Island" packs are seen by many as Hasbro's last hurrah with the G3 figures. After all, with the focus on the movie toys, RAH is falling by the wayside. And although it seems a safe bet that classic characters will return some day, right now these two-packs are the end of what's on the horizon. The Cobra set is proving more popular than its Joe counterpart, since it's chock full of army builders. Thus most online retailers are bumping up the price of the bad guys, to help pad their bottom line. I got my set from Entertainment Earth, but they're sold out at the moment. So shop carefully. And if you're just looking for certain of these guys, you can find places that will sell you individual figures for a reasonable price. So don't go nuts, but be aware that yeah, this is a set worth owning.