Getting new figures in the mail is always an interesting experience. Depending on how much you wanted the figure you can find yourself bitterly disappointed or pleasantly surprised. If it’s a figure you had great expectations for, there’s always a chance that it won’t meet them, but if there’s a figure you didn’t really think much of, it’s quality might surprise you. Once in a while it’s a benign experience where you don’t really feel much about the figure, but that’s usually just due to the fact it’s like the 4th incomplete Fast Draw you’ve wound up with.
Last week I got a package containing two different Repaint Era Alley Vipers. I was pretty surprised at how much I liked the figures. Part of this, is due to the fact that I’d missed out on much of the repaint era, and by the time it’d become feasible to go back and pick up figures from it, I was already fairly concentrated on the 82-84 swivel neck construction style.
The 2002 Wave 1.5 Alley Viper was an immense step up on every previous Alley Viper. It featured urban stylings, and featured an odd pastel blue, that did a lot to tie in the COBRA allegiance, as well as continue the obnoxious colouring trend of many of the previous Alley Vipers. Wave 1.5 was fairly common, and the Alley Viper from that wave had set a standard. It was a good figure, that was also common enough to be a decent backbone to a retail COBRA army. When the Alley Viper and Big Ben 2 pack was repainted for Wave 2, Hasbro couldn’t stray too far, but also had to do something somewhat different. So Hasbro took a surprisingly with-it approach, and replaced the blue with red. In the early 2000s, any army builder with red on it was positioned as being related to the Crimson Guard. So while there were people with Crimson Guard Undertow divisions, for the most part it was a way to justify only buying a few of a figure and using it as a squad leader. A role this figure worked well in.
Most Alley Vipers have had loud colouring, so for Hasbro to take the Alley Viper and put on a. decent camouflage pattern, that consisted mostly of grey and black, it was a godsend for a repaint of a popular character. Especially in a day and age where paint apps were really starting to be skimped out on, in fact the next repaint of the Alley Viper featured even fewer paint apps, and really suffers from that. This version, has a lot going for it, with the good camo, that actually translated well on to a 3 3/4″ figure, and the red is a nice contrasting colour, that is a shade seldom seen on figures. One other thing that really helped out both this and the Wave 1.5 predecessor was the fact that the colouring wasn’t too far off from vintage G.I. Joes. Sure the blue and red weren’t seen back then, but the grey white and black were good enough to allow the figures to blend in, better than say the Viper from the same waves.
Like most figures post ARAHC, his accessories are pretty awful. On one hand the fact the mask and shield returned with the mold is cause for celebration, as they legitimately seem like pieces that Hasbro would’ve ignored. The Crimson Twin pistol is terrible, and the Big Bear backpack is iffy as well, though this version is at least notable for producing them in colours other than black. Not that graphite grey is a particularly great colour for weapons, mind you! Luckily there’s a lot of opportunities to have Alley Viper v1 accessories. A long time ago was a run of reproduction kits, as well as The Black Major’s repainted Alley Vipers come with the full gamut of Alley Viper gear.
Nowadays, one of the things this figure (and the version from Wave 1.5) are most notorious for, is the fact they were the first noticeable example of repaint era discolouration. Other figures are prone to receive it too, but the fact that these Alley Vipers were both heavily army built, and feature a lot of white, that turns yellow, makes them more noticeable and based on their quality, even more disappointing.
Overall Alley Viper figures are a strange beast. It’s one of the few that it can be reasonably argued that the second iteration of the character was a better figure, both in design and actual toy quality. Usually the biggest thing to discredit the v2 Alley Viper mold is the hokeyness aspect of the fanged mask, but at least that mask has eye holes, unlike the v1 visor. I think the overall mold is a lot sleeker, but the first Alley Viper sculpt isn’t as bad it’s paint jobs would portray it. The fact it was painted in a way that obscured a lot of the torso detailing was a disservice. Though at the end of the day I’d still take a v2 mold over the ’89.