Tuesday, May 1, 2012

G.I. Joe 30th Anniversary Zombie Viper

G.I. Joe fans have always had a love/hate relationship with the more science fiction aspects of the series. The 80's movie is usually the biggest bone of contention, with fans decrying the absurdity of the Cobra organization being manipulated throughout the entire series by snake men from the center of the Earth. For me however, some of the best things about Joe are it's sci-fi influences (and for the record, I love seeing Sgt. Slaughter knock out a centipede bridge with his rifle butt.) So I was intrigued when it was announced that the 30th Anniversary line would receive a Zombie Viper. After waiting forever on Hasbro's spotty distribution, they suddenly started to show up everywhere in droves so I snagged one!

The Zombie Viper comes on a color-coded card (G.I. Joes have blue backing, Cobra units, red) with a nice character portrait flanking the figure's bubble. The art shows the zombie's skin a bit darker blue, his uniform a bit darker green and the uniform's Cobra insignia as red but oh well.

Back of the card gives you a full body character portrait, reassurances that he is indeed a Cobra trooper, cross sell portraits of other characters and the Zombie Viper's bio.

Here's a close up of said bio card. Your basic chemically-derived zombie, the Zombie Viper is essentially mindless fodder to throw at approaching Joe forces. Sort of like organic Battle Android Troopers it seems. How many mindless, dangerous-to-their-own-forces sub divisions does Cobra need? Makes a sort of sense though, Cobra wouldn't care about the ethics of turning living recruits into zombies. Though it would make more sense if they figured out a way to just reanimate already dead troopers without sacrificing a trained, intelligent soldier and getting a mindless, potentially dangerous one in return. But I guess that's why I don't run a ruthless terrorist organization bent on world domination...

Here he is out of package without the majority of his accessories to give you an idea of what the base figure is like. The costume is sufficiently ragged, looking like standard green fatigues that have been run through hell with a modified webgear/restraint vest over them. Several of the straps on the gray restraint vest are broken, suggesting Zombie Vipers are not easily contained. Actually, from the amount of wear and tear on his uniform, I like imagine these guys are just let loose into the swamps around Cobra Island after scientists finish experimenting on them and act as a sort of guard dog until they become too rotted and collapse.

His flesh is a very pale blue gray with brighter sky blue blotches meant to represent the Compound-Z in his bloodstream. There are some quite large exposed areas of blue like this with what looks like muscle tissue sculpted beneath, including a large gash in his skull! I have a feeling that if you were to repaint this guy in realistic colors using red for the blue Compound-Z areas, you'd end up with a disturbingly gory, bloody zombie. Which may just be why they decided to paint a whole lot of harmless, totally not blood blue in there instead.

Close up of his ugly mug. There's a lot of detail here, with a missing tooth, matted hair, boils, yellow eyes and the aforementioned head wound rounding it out. As with all the flesh areas, there is a nice darker gray wash over the face, bringing out sculpted detail. You can also see the black Cobra insignia on the chest of his fatigues here. I think it would have given the figure more visual "pop" if it were red like the card art but it's not a big deal. I also feel he could have benefited from a separate paint application for his hair as it gets a little lost without one, but more paint aps mean higher price tags.

The first couple of accessories I'm going to show you are the Zombie Viper's helmet and removable Compound-Z bulb (which his bio assures you is his primary weapon somehow.) The helmet is cast in translucent blue plastic and given some gray detailing in the mouthpiece and vents on the sides that wrap around to the back. The helmet's design reminds me a lot of the Lamprey's from the original line. As Lamprey was one of my favorite Cobra troops as a kid, this gets the Zombie Viper extra points.

The Compound-Z bulb plugs into any of the four ports on the back of the Zombie Viper's harness, though I failed to plug it into any of them for this picture...

The hose attached to the Compound-Z bulb can then plug into any of the three small holes present in the back of the Zombie Viper's helmet, providing him with a steady supply of Compound-Z. Additionally, if you have multiples, this means you can plug up to three Compound-Z canisters into his harness if you desire your zombie soldiers to be extremely ripped.

And what happens when you give a zombie a steady supply of Compound-Z?


It gets a bit ugly...

Through some clever arm swapping, the Zombie Viper switches from normal arms to Compound-Z mutated tentacle arms! The forearms pop off along with clever ragged shirt sleeves pieces that fit between them and the elbows and the tentacle arms snap in place.

I think this is the point where some Joe fans would voice objections. Standard zombies are probably just realistic enough to get a pass from most people, but this might be treading a bit close to Cobra-La territory. Not for me though, I think it's fantastic! I get a huge Resident Evil vibe from the Zombie Viper's tentacles and the fact that administering a mysterious compound causes wild mutations.

The tendrils are soft plastic and molded in a lot of curls and loops that make it easy to wrap them around the arms, legs and heads of other Joes or similarly sized figures.

"Administering Compound-Z booster..."


"Abort! Abort!"


The Cobra Zombie Viper is available now for around eight bucks and depending on where you live, he's either clogging shelves or just a whispered legend, Hasbro has been notoriously bad about Joe distribution lately. If you can find him for a decent price and don't mind the science fiction nature of the figure, I would suggest picking up one or more as he is excellently sculpted and just an all around fun idea.

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