GI JOE Classified has been a dangerously expensive line for me to collect, because it’s full of so many darn troop builders! And troop building is one of those ultimate expressions of excess that I wished I could do as a kid. I can remember asking for another Cobra Trooper or Stormtrooper and being told, “No! You already have that one!” But, now I’m an adult with disposable income, and it’s only natural that I went kind of crazy with the Cobra Infantry and Battle Android Troopers, so I tried to restrain myself when it came to the Alley Viper. Three seemed like a good number, and that’s how many I wound up with… for now!
Truth be told, the original Alley Viper was first released during that Dark Age between when I was no longer getting toys to play with as a kid, and had not yet discovered buying toys to collect them as an adult. This guy first appeared on the shelves in 1989, which would have been the year before I went to college. As a result, I wasn’t even really aware that Cobra had an Urban Assault Trooper until I got back into collecting GI JOE around 1999 or so. And I’m all for getting to experience some Classified figures that I didn’t have as a kid! As always, the box is nice and colorful, his large array of weapons is laid out around him, and the character art even pictures a couple Alley Vipers to subliminally tell you to buy more than one!
Out of the package, it’s hard to first notice anything but the colors… Oh, the colors! The Alley Viper fatigues consists of an retina-sizzling orange and blue camo, with some black and brown thrown in just to keep things somewhat grounded. Love it or hate it, GI JOE Series Eight was knocking on the 1990’s door, ushering in an age of obnoxious toy colors. The Alley Vipers were billed as being brave, and let’s face it, you’d have to be to go into battle wearing this! Once we’re past the deco, I have to admire the attention to detail that went into the fatigues and gear. His vest is a veritable slab of pouches, which extends to his right shoulder. He’s got more pouches on his belt, sheathes for his knives on his right forearm and left shoulder, and a holster for his pistol on his right thigh. And then there’s that gorgeous blue shoulder pouch with the orange Cobra insignia! It’s a lot to take in all at once, and before you can process it all, he’s probably already killed you.
The Alley Viper’s head is encased in a form-fitting, open-faced helmet. with snake fangs emerging from the chin guard, and a textured blue mask beneath it, showing only his determined and hate-filled eyes. There’s a hinged visor, which can be lowered to shield his face, and has only a circular screen in the center for detail. I presume this is some type of imaging sensor that allows him to see, but it sure makes him look creepy and inhuman. The black embossed Cobra emblem at the forehead is a nice touch as well!
The black backpack pegs into the back of the figure and is a superb nod back to the original figure’s backpack. Like the Viper’s fatigues, there’s a crazy amount of detail in the sculpt. In addition to the Cobra emblem at the top, there are magazines sculpted into the sides, a cluster of grenades down at the bottom, more pouches, and what looks like a landmine in the center. The grapple gun, which I believe was sculpted into the original figure’s backpack, is even removable here.
I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a dedicated grapple gun, or just a rifle that also has the ability to fire the hook, but I’m leaning toward the later, because it seems like a pretty big piece of kit to haul around just for those times when you need to grapple somewhere. Regardless, the rifle has a scope, as well as a ring at the muzzle to attach a string (not included). The hook is removable, and it also has a ring to attach the other end of the string (still not included). Let’s check out what else this guy’s got!
Well, any good Urban Commando needs some blades, and the Alley Viper comes with two identical knives that fit in the aforementioned sheathes. I’m a big fan of the one on his shoulder, as it’s well placed and stays put, because it’s secured to the vest. The one on his right forearm is a lot more floaty. It tends to swivel on his wrist, and slide as well. It is removable, and while it hasn’t annoyed me enough to do that yet, it’s nice to have it as an option. Knife accessories in this scale are seldom all that interesting, but I still enjoy getting them.
Next up is his pistol, which fits very well in his thigh holster, as well as in either hand. I really dig this design, as it’s not too sci-fi-y, but rather looks like a fairly credible real-world design. I’ve got nothing much else to say about it, other than it gets my stamp of approval.
Now we’re moving into the heavier hardware with this compact bullpup-style carbine. This is a nice update to the weapon that came with the original Alley Viper, complete with a scope, foregrip, and a crazy positioning of the magazine, which juts out the back at an angle. The weapon is cast entirely in black plastic, the sculpt is great, and while I personally am not a fan of the design, it’s still a great-looking weapon. I was thrilled to see that the magazine was removable too!
And finally, the Alley Viper comes with a more traditional rifle featuring a detachable magazine in front of the grip, just the way I like them. Like the previous carbine, this rifle is cast all in black plastic and has some wonderful detail in the sculpt. This is probably the gun I’ll have these guys carrying most of the time for display purposes. My only nitpick with the Alley Viper and his arsenal is there’s no way for him to carry everything, or even anywhere to attach any of his rifles, except for the grapple gun.
I’ve saved the Alley Viper’s most iconic piece of kit for last, and that’s his riot shield, and boy is it a beauty. This defensive shield shares the same orange and blue deco as the Viper’s fatigues, and has a bold and beautiful Cobra emblem sculpted into the top center. It attaches to the figure’s arm with a pair of straps, and even has a pivot, so it can be positioned in a variety of ways independent of how the figure is posed. It also has a sticker on the interior side, which I presume is a viewscreen, so the Viper can still see what’s happening when taking cover behind it. A lot more safe and secure than the slits in conventional riot shields!
As I mentioned at the start, the Alley Viper is my first Cobra troop builder in the Classified line based off a figure I did not own as a kid, and that makes him a real treat. I wasn’t sure how I would take to the crazy colors, but now that he’s in hand I have to admit that he’s got an unabashed beauty about him that I wouldn’t dare change. There’s a sublime variety of weaponry packed in with him, that makes it possible to kit out multiple figures with some variety, and that’s always a plus. But whatever weapons I give him, that beautiful shield will always be a must! Hasbro hit an absolute home run with this figure, and it’ll take some serious restraint to keep me from getting a few more!