2021 Swamp Viper (The Black Major)


2021 had The Black Major return to a lot of earlier figures he had done. There’d been 4 or 5 years where the figures were later army builders like the EEL, Snow Serpent or Night Viper. I’m a predominately early 80s collector (Despite what a lot of my output online has been lately) and well, there’d been enough time between uses of the first Cobra Trooper mold, that I was really happy to see these figures return.

Copperhead had a very original colour scheme, that was fairly eye catching. It didn’t turn up in too many places (There was some similarities with some of the Dreadnok vehicles, but that was about it), so it’s one of the times where a Trooper classification under a named COBRA actually fits the bill. Copperhead isn’t very important in the scheme of things, and swamps were a fairly big part of G.I. Joe, especially in the 1980s, and the Water Moccasin wasn’t really treated as a unique entry.

This figure is very well done, the quality is much higher than most Black Major releases in the last 5 or so years, which was really good to see. The paint apps were crisp, and one place where the potential for failure was high, the light green on the thighs, lower legs and lower arms, was actually solidly and straightly applied. There’s a bit of a forcep head, but it’s not as noticeable as the Storm Shadow figures were. In addition to strong paint apps, there’s no loose joints, and the bicep swivels are a tad tight at first, but upon first move they don’t wind up becoming super loose. With it being the first TBM Soldier mold, which had more of a basis on 2004 era COBRA Trooper figures, there’s no jacked up, club foot on the figure either, so he stands straight.

The figure is cast in a fairly deep green, which a very close match to the Water Moccasin, and the majority of the highlights are a brighter green, that is muted enough to invoke Copperhead, but doesn’t quite cross over into neon. I know some of the other Factory Customs, like the EELs had a brighter base colour, that might have matched Copperhead better, but I’m glad this figure didn’t follow suit. Having them match the Water Moccasin is a more useful choice, as it gives that vehicle a crew, and doesn’t make this Swamp Viper beholden to Copperhead. In fact rather than these figures being beholden to Copperhead, I’ve almost found them to be figures I exclusively use with the Water Moccasin.

I know a lot of fans tend to view COBRA with traditional rank structures and such, though that’s something I’ve never really subscribed to. One thing I do see COBRA doing is training environmentally specific units, so COBRA having a batch of swamp fighters makes a lot of sense to me, especially when the swamps are a big part of COBRA Island, as well as the South Eastern United States, which COBRA was shown to operate in. I like it, because there’s some historical reasoning you can throw behind the figures, as well as the fact it’s a little more unique locale, than the typical jungle or arctic or urban settings that often become a place for G.I. Joe battles.

COBRA Troopers have a use, and they’re a mold I really like, so when I see a figure that fits into my collection, and also provides a new take, or provides something that it would be better at, than just a basic blue COBRA soldier, I’m glad to see it. This figure does that, and it also is different enough from the typical COBRA Trooper repaint, with the split coloured legs, that it’s interesting. Do I think every army builder needs to be done in this scheme? Not really, because the law of diminishing returns would hit almost immediately, but that doesn’t take away from this figure.

Of the 2021 COBRA Troopers I’ve wound up with, this is probably my favourite. A few of them I feel re-treaded too many already done ideas, but I can see the reasoning behind doing some of these figures, as a lot of people probably missed out on them. I don’t need to see another iteration of arctic or black and grey COBRA Troopers, but I’m not all that disappointed in that, because it allows me to be choosy.

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5 Responses to 2021 Swamp Viper (The Black Major)

  1. A-Man says:

    Neater than I would’ve expected. I don’t know if I need Cobra or GI JOE needs to be color coordinated. Maybe it scratches some weird itch for people. I feel like some folks are having a fit when they put a 1983 Grunt on the Snow Cat or something.

  2. Joe_hunter73 says:

    Definatly agree. I purchased 4 of these and they are all well put together. Solid paint and just a great looking figure. I’ve purchased several of BM figures this year and have come across loose legs, or loose arms in the swivel area. But These have none of those flaws.

  3. Mike T. says:

    Back in 2008, when the secret cabal created the first 4 uniquely colored factory customs, there was a vote on the final color scheme. The 5th figure and last one to miss the cut was a “Dreadnok” trooper that was colored similarly to this figure for use with the Dreadnok vehicles. Despite it being a close finisher in the voting, the color scheme never came to be. This Black Major version is immensely superior to that unproduced figure, though, and fills the same role.

    I’m a bit disappointed that the Eels don’t match up. But, that’s an issue with the Eels figures being too light and these Troopers are excellently colored. The fact that something like this can be produced after more than a decade of recolored Cobra Troopers really shows the versatility of the mold. I’m like you in that I’m at a point where I don’t need everything. Some of the paint schemes released this year on Troopers just don’t do anything for me…even if they are excellent. But, at around $20 each, I’d rather army build 1 or 2 figs I really like instead of buying one of everything.

    Personally, having environmentally coded Cobra Troopers make more sense than having specifically themed Vipers for every scenario. And, the standard Trooper uniform works well enough in most scenarios. I wouldn’t mind a Trooper repaint or two every year that matches the quality on this guy. You really can’t have enough of them.

  4. I wasn’t really aware of these before now. I usually kinda roll my eyes at factory custom figures going for a “Dreadnok troopers” theme, as it’s not something that makes sense to me. But these particular figures have beautiful colors and do look very natural with the Water Moccasin, which is a vehicle I love. Your review makes them very appealing. But I don’t think anything can usurp my current Water Moccasin crew, which is a new sculpt era Python Patrol Copperhead and a Sea Slug. They’ve just been there for so long now– it would be strange to see anyone else manning the vehicle.

  5. mwnekoman says:

    What appeals so much to me with figures like these, is how well they blend in with Hasbro’s vintage coloring. I don’t like thinking of Copperhead or Zartan having their own personal squadron of Cobra Troopers, but these guys could just be a separate division that uses a similar palette. It’s more about the cohesion than anything else.

    Sadly, I’ve wound up passing on these, at least for now. I disliked that they didn’t match with the earlier Eels better, and the pricing is just too high to get a satisfactory amount of them. Some day in the future I might still grab a couple, even if that’s at a premium, but for now, I can’t justify it.

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