The Night Viper is a fascinating figure to me, and always has been ever since his first debut in 1989. What was especially unique about the Night Viper is that he came along at a time when Cobra's colors were only going brighter and more flamboyant, and the Night Viper was a direct contrast to that (by necessity). I think a large appeal of this trooper is his great colors, which manage to be nicely muted for a night time operations situation, but still manage to retain a cool Cobra look and feel. He's not your traditional olive drab, he's got a very unique green shade to him that is enough out of the ordinary to not be mistaken for a regular special forces trooper.
Of course the very interesting design for the original figure only showcases that further, with some really cool textured pants and boots, thick body armor on the torso, and of course his trademark visor and night scope.
I still remember as a G.I. Joe fan in the early 2000's when Funskool from India began being sold domestically, which included a Night-Viper very much like the original Hasbro version, and it was like Heaven for starving G.I. Joe fans back then. Even now, in the midst of a dreaded "hiatus" it's amazing how far we've come since then.
This version of the Night-Viper is not a 100% faithful reproduction of the original, but it does a pretty good job considering the parts available. It borrows some elements (especially on the legs) from the Direct to Consumer Night Viper, and has to be a bit creative with the webgear. In essence, I think it borrows enough elements to be traditionally accurate, but still keeps things somewhat new and cool. Better than the original? No way... the original is a shining beacon of what made G.I. Joe terrific in the 80's, and is a figure that would be tough to beat in any era, but this update is still quite awesome.
From the waist up, we have the familiar Cobra Shock Trooper torso and arms, which work perfectly. His head is from the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Viper, which is a very cool twist, since it was often assumed that the Jungle Viper was sort of the PoC update version of the Night-Viper. His color scheme and eye scope would seem to match that thought, even though designer John Warden has denied it in the past. Using the same head sculpt (not to mention the color scheme) ties the Night Viper in quite nicely to the Jungle Viper corps, which is a nice way to bring these two unique figures together.
The upper legs appear to be from the Pursuit of Cobra Skydive, with the lower legs belonging to...well, honestly I'm having a hard time isolating who the lower legs belong to. But whoever it is the legs work really nicely, especially compared to the DTC version of the character.
With a very interesting combination of nice modern parts, the Night Viper has great range of motion and can achieve many nice gun firing positions. His MARS Trooper webgear is slim enough to not encumber his arms from crossing his torso, and the figure balances and stands very nicely. As I've already mentioned the color scheme used here is really excellent and an almost dead set match for the vintage and DTC versions, with the terrific (and familiar) patch on his left shoulder and Cobra logo on his chest.
As with most of these last wave Retaliation figures, the Night Viper comes nicely decked out with accessories, even though many of them are reused from previous figures.
As mentioned, the webgear was originally from a Rise of Cobra MARS Trooper, with the backpack from the Desert-Viper (I believe). He's got the great flashlight, machine gun, pistol, and machete from Jungle Duke, the ammo case from 25th Anniversary Comic Pack Beachhead, the spectacular sniper rifle from Resolute Zartan, and the shotgun that has come with several figures, including Retaliation Joe Colton.
Without a doubt, though, the highlight of the figure's accessory compliment is his helmet and visor. I would argue you cannot have an effective Night Viper update without his trademark scope, and Hasbro did a..well.. flawless job reproducing it with just the right cosmetic changes. The new scope is shorter, as the technology has likely evolved in the past 25 years, and the visor is immaculately well detailed. The helmet slides very neatly over the head, and fits to perfection. One would argue the way the helmet, visor, and scope work is the most important part of the success of a Night Viper update, and Hasbro simply nailed it.
A really, really great figure. Takes all the right elements of the classic Night Viper with the right modern twists, and you end up with a fantastic updated Cobra Night Operations Specialist. If I have any complaints, it would be that I'm not a huge fan of the way the MARS Trooper webgear fits him (it's a bit loose and open) and the holster designed to fit the Rise of Cobra laser pistol isn't perfect for the pistol you get here. Also, I wish the figure were more available, as I'd like to get about 6 - 8 of them, but alas, I've only been able to squirrel away two so far. We'll see how the landscape is once the hype has died down.
In this figure's case, the hype is worth it. A really great and solid figure.
GRADE: 4 STARS