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Fangboat w/ Swamp-Viper

GI Joe: Retaliation
by yo go re

An evil Swamp-Viper pilots his Cobra Fangboat through the murky waters surrounding a secret Cobra hideout. Like a hungry alligator guarding his territory, he is eager to attack anyone who trespasses!

The "Fangboat," as it's known, was previously released in G3 as the "Sting Raider," but is clearly based on the famous old Water Moccasin, so that's what we're going to call it.

Whatever its name, the modern boat shares none of its parts with the vintage counterpart. The design is the same, but everything has been resculpted from the ground up. It's larger and more complex, and generally looks like a more intimidating attack craft. It's 12" long, 4⅛" tall and 5⅜" wide. The turbine in the back is bigger, suggesting more power, and the cockpit is actually roomy enough to protect the pilot, now.

The Fangboat has a removable engine cover and two storage bins flanking that. They're large enough to hold almost any weapons the Generation 3 figures have come with (discounting, of course, the Stupid Giant Guns from the first movie), and snap shut tightly. A chunk of the canopy can be removed, so you have an easier time getting a figure inside.

Rather than green, like the original Water Moccasin, or green with red splotches, like the one released for Rise of Cobra, this one is black, grey, and blue, with a little bit of dusty red on the front end. Apparently whatever page in the color guide inspired Hi-Tech has been found by a nameless designer again. A sheet of stickers spruces up the final product - it only takes about 10 minutes to apply them all.

There's a rotating gun turret behind the cockpit. While the port side of the craft has the traditional "44mm lateral 'Destructor' cannon," the starboard gets a new piece - hey, better to restrict the Stupid Giant Guns to the side of a vehicle, rather than giving them to the figures, right? The thing appears to be a Gatling gun with a missile launcher mounted on top. And judging by the warning label on the side... it's a nuclear laser? Whatever, it's silly.

There's also a "remote guided 'Gator' surface torpedo" that you'd never know is there if not for a brief, easily overlooked mention in the instructions. It's hidden in a slot under the stern, and blends in really well. This was a feature on the original Water Moccasin, too, but just like the rest of the vehicle, it's larger and more detailed today.

The pilot, as mentioned way up above in the text we found on the side of the box, is a Swamp-Viper. That's not the most famous Cobra ever, but he's not a new creation, either - not even new to the movieverse! There was a Rise of Cobra Swamp-Viper included with the Sting Raider that Toys Я Us offered in the last movie line, but the name originated in a 2003 JoeCon box set, meaning that this release is the first time a Swamp-Viper has been available at mass retail.

When the Retaliation figures were shown off at Toy Fair this year, much was made of the fact that the vehicle drivers seemed to have drastically reduced articulation - and yes, it's true. The Swamp-Viper only moves at the big five. That may bother some people, but be honest: drivers spend most of their time sitting in their vehicles, so isn't that enough?

Technically the sculpt is entirely new, but it definitely didn't originate with this figure. He's wearing an orange jumpsuit with gray body armor on the chest and shoulders, a black scarf at the neck, and a strap of black pouches around his stomach. He's wearing a pair of black kneepads, which don't seem like something he'd need in the water, but maybe they're to save his kneees from kocking the inside of the cockpit. It's still odd to look at the shape of his shoulders and tell instantly that they were designed for swivel/hinge joints, rather than the plain swivels they actually ended up with.

The last Swamp-Viper had a repainted AVAC head, but this one is all new. It's somewhat similar to the original Swamp-Viper head, with a large silver dome covering the face and top of the head, and a technological frame covering the rest. It's a really well sculpted piece, and will fit right in with the pre-Retaliation Joes.

If you passed on the earlier Water Moccasin because you didn't want a Python Patrol Copperhead piloting it, then the "Fangboat" is a good buy. Definitely looks nicer than the RoC version of the mold, that's for sure. Yes, we could do without the Giant Stupid Boat Gun, but it's hardly the worst thing in the world. And sure, it's disappointing that the Swamp-Viper is missing articulation, but given the choice between a figure with reduced articulation or no figure at all, we'll take the former. He's going to be assigned to man the gun turret, while this Copperhead takes the wheel.

-- 07/20/12

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