Today, we’re looking at my first Alley Viper. This is my actual childhood figure, who’s somehow still in really good shape. It’s a toy from a year that makes most GI Joe fans point their noses firmly skywards, but it’s one of my favorite years for the toy line.
The 1997 GI Joe Alley Viper is the reason that the Alley Viper is one of my favorite Cobra troops (it comes in second, only behind the Astro Viper) and is probably one of the major reasons I’ve continued to love GI Joe for my entire life.
Like all 1997 Joe figures, he’s a bit of an oddball. There are many reasons Serious Collectors don’t love this toy, but I don’t care about any of those things. This figure is one of my most cherished GI Joe possessions. So, of course I’m going to tell you all about that– but I’ll review the toy, as well. As much as I ever review a toy, anyway.
You know what you’re getting into at this point.
My History with the 1997 GI Joe Alley Viper
The GI Joe: A Real American Hero toy line ended in 1994. At that time, I was getting more into Playmates’ Star Trek assortment and a few other toy brands. I still bought a few GI Joe toys in 94, but my interest was waning a little bit. I still loved GI Joe, of course, but from 1995-97, lines like Kenner’s Star Wars Power of the Force reboot, Beast Wars, and the aforementioned Star Trek line took over a bit.
In the summer of 1998, though, my house burned down. I’ve mentioned this before so I’ll keep it brief, but it’s important to the story. The GI Joe figures I kept in my 1992 Collector’s Case survived. The case was scorched and charred, but it protected the figures inside and it’s still with me to this day. How could I ever throw something like that away?
So, I had some GI Joe figures after the fire. But a lot of my figures and accessories weren’t in that case, and none of my vehicles were. About 60% of what I had melted down into toxic plastic refuse.
We got a small amount of insurance money to replace things like video games and toys, so I picked up a few Lego sets, some Beast Wars toys to replace all of my lost G1, G2, and first wave BW figures, and a Game Boy Color. Luckily, there were still some Joes on the shelves in 1998, too.
I don’t remember if I got the Cobra Rage with Alley Viper for my birthday or got it in the summer, but over the later part of 1998, I got the Slugger, Rage, Viper with Flight Pod, and the Cobra Command Team pack. It was a great assortment of toys that exposed me to both molds and characters I’d never owned before (Oddly, I don’t really remember seeing many of the 1998 figures on shelves).
But I was drawn to the 1997 GI Joe Alley Viper more than any other figure or vehicle I got that year.
I was aware of the 1993 Alley Viper. I saw it on card backs and possibly in catalogs. I only ever saw it in person once, though. I took a bike ride to a neighboring little town with my friends sometime in 94 or 95, and we stopped at the Ben Franklin next to the town’s one grocery store and gas station. There, in the basement with the other toys, I saw the 1993 Alley Viper. It was one of the few 93 figures my friend didn’t have. But they also had a stack of Star Trek TNG figures I’d never seen before, so I bought one of those instead. It was probably the shiny vac metal Locutus figure.
I don’t regret the choice, as that was an amazing toy. But I always still wished I’d found an Alley Viper. The figure’s cool design and gear just struck a chord with me.
In 1998, though, that wish came true. Sure, the 1997 GI Joe Alley Viper wasn’t presented in an aggressive black and yellow color scheme. He had fewer accessories, too. But he looked great and he was an Alley Viper. I didn’t need much more.
The figure itself played double duty for me. He was my only Alley Viper until the 2002 Joe vs. Cobra Alley Viper came along, so he played the role of Cobra’s urban combat legions. I also used him as a “named character,” the Alley Viper leader who commanded the Cobra Rage and oversaw Cobra’s city-based operations. He was a tough customer and could hold his own against the GI Joe team.
He also filled a much stranger role outside of the GI Joe universe. I still loved Beast Wars in 1998. And BW characters were, canonically, much smaller than their G1 ancestors. I figured a human, compared to those figures, would be about GI Joe sized. So I often used the 1997 Alley Viper, sans visor and equipped with a Lanard laser rifle, as a human space marine that found himself in the middle of the Maximals’ and Predacons’ intergalactic conflict.
What I’m saying is I got a ton of use out of this figure. Even still, the one I’ve owned since 1998 is still in great shape, with his original o-ring and accessories.
As I got a few more Alley Vipers in 2002 and beyond, the 97 AV became the team leader full time. The 02 and later Alley Vipers were the disposable troops, but the 97 figure was the leader who either thwarted the Joe team or at least came back alive from every mission. I still think of this figure as my Alley Viper Commander.
A few years ago, my mom brought me a box of stuff from her house. She said it was the last box of my things she had. Digging through her house multiple times, I never found a number of things I left there when I moved– my old Exosquad toys, some handmade pottery and ceramics, and my post-house-fire Joe vehicles.
I organized all of my Transformers recently and, as I was digging through my childhood Beast Wars/Beast Machines bin, I found my 97 Rage, Slugger, and the 2002 HISS IV. A lot of my stuff probably got thrown out, but I was delighted to be reunited with the 1997 Rage.
Now my 1997 Alley Viper has his ride and can preside over all of my other Alley Vipers.
Whenever I think of GI Joe, this figure is one of the first things that comes to mind. I’m just putting my bias up front here before we jump into the review. I’m trying to be as objective as I can, but there aren’t many Joe figures who mean as much to me as this weird kitbashed army builder slash vehicle driver from 1997 does.
1997 GI Joe Alley Viper Review
The 1997 GI Joe Alley Viper was packaged with the second version of the Cobra Rage. Both he and the other Cobra army builder for that year were sold as vehicle drivers, which was a bit odd. Historically, Cobra vehicles often came with generic trooper-type drivers, but they were exclusive to the vehicles. Packing Cobra’s bread-and-butter infantry and urban assault units with vehicles was a daring choice.
Alley Vipers are popular with GI Joe fans, but you don’t see this one as often as the others– precisely because he was a vehicle driver.
You’ll see that vehicle in several photos in this review, but I’m only profiling the figure today. My 97 Rage is neither complete nor fit for review. You can gawk at YoJoe’s photos of it, though, if you want.
There’s one other thing about this figure that diehard fans tend not to like, too. Instead of using the 89 Alley Viper’s legs, as the 93 and 94 versions did, he uses the original 83/84 Duke legs. More on that later.
Anyway, here’s the figure:
The 1997 GI Joe Alley Viper uses the head, torso, waist, and arms from the 1993 Alley Viper version 2. It also reuses that figure’s mask/visor and shield, which we’ll talk about more when we get to the accessories.
Taken as a whole, this is a very nice looking figure. It’s presented mostly in a very dark blue, which doesn’t match most other blue Cobra figures, but complements them nicely anyway. The 97 Alley Viper is a figure that looks good with most figures from the original ARAH run and the later repaint series.
There’s a simple white, blotchy camouflage pattern applied to the figure, which certainly makes it stand out. There’s not another figure in the entire history of o-ring style GI Joe that looks quite like this one. The white works very nicely with the blue, though, and adds the right amount of visual interest to the figure.
There are black highlights for gloves, boots, pouches, and knives, as well as gold highlights for grenades, emblems, and logos. The mask is painted a weird brown color and, unlike Alley Vipers v2 and v3 (as well as all later versions using this mold), the skin around his eyes is unpainted. That’s the trademark laziness of 1997 showing through on this figure.
Here he is with his Alley Viper Ancestors (and one decedent):
You’ll notice the paint around the eyes, as well as the different leg parts. The Duke legs used on the 97 Alley Viper (and later ARAH-style versions) make them a bit shorter, but I feel the parts still work pretty well. They pose nicely and have no fragility issues. They also feature boots, a pistol, and a sheathed knife, which is about all you can ask for with an urban assault trooper. From afar, it seems like an odd parts replacement choice. But, in practice, it works out just fine.
The other oddity comes into play with the figure’s paint scheme, at least compared to the others. Alley Viper versions 2, 3, and 5 all have their front “body armor” painted in a different color to highlight it, which is a very cool look. With the 97 Alley Viper, though, the body armor just blends into the rest of the body.
It’s still a very cool look, but it is drastically different from most other Alley Vipers based on this mold. I don’t mind the difference, but I think this figure might look even cooler if the “body armor” portions on the waist and torso were picked out in a different color.
This figure, like all other Alley Vipers, needs its accessories to really shine.
Speaking of which, here they are:
The 1997 GI Joe Alley Viper comes with a black mask/visor, a black submachine gun, and a black shield that clips onto either arm. The mask and shield came with both earlier 90s versions of the Alley Viper. The SMG also came with those figures, but originated with Dial-Tone from 1986.
If the 1997 GI Joe line did one thing right, it was being generous with the gear it gave to vehicle drivers. Viper, Gung-Ho, Duke, and Alley Viper all got a full accessory loadout. That’s good, because an Alley Viper needs its face shield, an arm shield, and a nice weapon at the very least.
If Hasbro could only choose 3 accessories for this vehicle driver, they picked the right ones. Both the 93-style AV shield and the Dial-Tone SMG are less unwieldy than Alley Viper v1 accessories, so they were a smart inclusion.
Plus, they look great with the figure.
Here he is, All Geared Up:
The mask fits the figure well. It raises and lowers without any problems. Like other Alley Vipers that share this mold, the plastic around the peg hole is prone to breaking, though, so watch out for that. The figure also holds the SMG effortlessly, and the shield snaps onto either arm without any issues.
I’ve only come to own a couple of 1989 Alley Vipers in the last two years. They’re nice looking figures, and an iconic part of the Cobra army, but they’re not much fun to play with in some regards. The large SMG, shield, and backpack are all fiddly and frustrating. The shield should, at the very least, have used a vertical handle instead of a horizontal one. I also find the figure is hard to stand up when it’s fully equipped.
The 1997 Alley Viper has none of these problems. The gear is simple, but it works perfectly and is everything the figure needs.
Here he is with the same figures I compared him to before, but with gear added:
All of the Alley Vipers released from 1989-1997 had gear that suited them nicely. You could ignore the missile launchers if you wanted to. In 2002 and beyond, though, Alley Vipers came with strange weapons that didn’t really work well for them.
If you can find weapons that suit them (and we all probably have a ton of extra accessories at this point), the 02-04 Alley Vipers are all pretty decent. I find the 2002 blue Alley Viper looks especially good with the 1997 version.
If you clicked the link over to YoJoe earlier and looked at the 97 Cobra Rage’s box art, you’ll note that the box shows the vehicle with a repainted 1989 Alley Viper. That didn’t happen, of course. Like many 97 figures, the Alley Viper Hasbro released was made with parts they found at the last minute. In this case, what we actually got was pretty good.
But if you’re hankering for a version of the 89 mold in the colors the 97 Rage box shows, The Black Major made something pretty similar a few years ago. They still haunt eBay once in a while. You can see them in the large Alley Viper group shot and other photos in this review. I will say, though, that the nature of factory custom quality makes them even harder to pose and play with than the genuine 89 Alley Viper.
On the bright side, the 97 Alley Viper looks great with TBM AV gear. It’s kind of neat to see the 1997 figure with a full complement of original Alley Viper accessories.
In an unusual move for me, I’ve pretty much already gone over how I see this figure being used and most of its flaws. Since army building this figure isn’t easy at all, I can’t see any other use for him than an Alley Viper Squad leader, an overall Alley Viper leader, or as a tank commander for the Rage. The 97 Rage works beautifully with most versions of the Alley Viper, and its colors are much better than the 1990 version. The 90 Rage is a very nice vehicle, but its desert color scheme doesn’t make much sense– the vehicle is not at all practical for desert operations. Still, it’s not a bad color scheme and the vehicle is good enough to overcome that one flaw.
If you’re amassing Alley Vipers, though, the 97 Rage is a great vehicle for them– and the 1997 GI Joe Alley Viper looks beautiful with the vehicle, as he should.
This figure has some strange paint choices around the eyes and on the “body armor” portion, the gold paint is prone to wear, and the Duke legs may turn you off. I also think the mask/visor would look better in dark blue than black, but since the rest of the figure’s accessories were cast in black plastic, that probably wasn’t possible.
So this figure isn’t perfect, and it’s not really a practical army builder. But it will always be one of my favorite GI Joe figures, both because of how cool it looks and because of my personal history with it.
Verdict: This figure is a vehicle driver from a year of figures that don’t show up quite as much on the secondary market. That means it’s not a good army builder, unlike most Alley Vipers. While I think the Duke legs are fine, you may not agree. The figure’s paint also suffers, notably around the eyes. But, taken for what it is, it’s a great looking Cobra urban assault trooper with fantastic gear. While it’s not objectively exceptional, it is Recommended.
- 1997 Alley Viper at Forgotten Figures
- 1997 Alley Viper at YoJoe.com
- Unreleased 1997 GI Joe figures at Plastic Battles
Closing Thoughts on the 1997 GI Joe Alley Viper
See? I was pretty objective after all! Even though I love this figure dearly. I also feel this was more straightforward than most of my reviews. Maybe I’m losing my edge? Or maybe it’s just my reverence for this figure showing. We’ll have to see what happens next time around.
What’s your favorite version of the Alley Viper? How important is Cobras urban operations division, in your opinion? In my mind, it’s probably their most important division.
Let’s talk about all these things and more in the comments!
19 thoughts on “1997 GI Joe Alley Viper Review”
I loved this one, as I love this figure! I was very much still in at 94, and though I got a couple Sgt. Savage and Extreme figures each, I was pretty bummed G.I.Joe as I knew it was kinda gone. I was still rounding up Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter movie figures that lingered and dipping my toes into the Corps!, but the spark wasn’t quite there.
Then, one day I walked into Toys R Us and saw it. Alley Viper and the Rage, sitting right there on the shelf under the 12″ figures of the day. NO other 97 figures or vehicles were present. Just (if my memory is holding up,) 4 Rages. I didn’t understand, I was excited, amazed but confused. I remember thinking at the time they must have been really old and sitting in the back and only recently discovered. I had only ever seen the Dino-Hunters set once in my life and it wasn’t featured in media or catalogs so I certainly knew exclusives could just happen, but for some reason I just couldn’t believe this was new product.
There was a copyright right there on the back of the box… but the Alley Viper in the turret didn’t match. I had so many questions about it’s origins but I was ecstatic and it came home with me. It was that mystery that lead me to probably look up G.I.Joe online for the first time with the precious internet time I had access to on my dad’s computer. It’s wild to think about now, but as well as I knew all the characters from sunbow and the scattering of old marvel comics I had, I had no idea what their actual toys looked like – and soon I’d start getting them in my hands, albeit in weird browns, red boots and tiny helmets. In the following weeks the rest of the 97 stuff started showing up, and I came to really love that weird assortment.
So in a sense, the 97 Alley Viper was my doorway into understanding the greater whole of G.I.Joe, and has come to represent the resilience of the property to keep popping up and trying again.
By the way, did you ever push his submachine gun barrel through the veritcal slot of the shield?
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Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! It sounds like we had some pretty similar experiences growing up with GI Joe. I never got to logon to YoJoe.com on my own until 2002 or so because I also had limited internet time and a shared family computer. But I did look at the site at my friend’s house, who had unlimited internet. That’s how I first saw most of the figures from the old Marvel comics and the Sunbow era.
I feel like 1997 opened some doors for me too, as I got to connect with older figure molds I’d never seen. That would happen a little more in the repaint era, but I was familiar with a lot of the parts they overused, like Big Ben and Talking Battle Commanders Hawk. It was still a fun time full of discovery.
I was buying some MK stuff in 94 and 95 as well, but I never had any of the SF movie toys until a few years ago. I just never really saw them around.
I’ve actually never even tried to get the 97 Alley Viper’s gun through the hole in his shield. I always just assumed the hole was there to accommodate the clip. Have you ever gotten it to work?
Also, your comment went into the spam folder for some reason. I think I have it all sorted out now, but I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again. Thanks so much for reading the post and leaving such a great comment.
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Honestly it was way overdo for me to start commenting here instead of clogging up twitter!
The barrel totally fights right in there, there’s just enough room for it to slip through and have the bottom wrist clip push lightly again the magazine. I did it all the time with the blue/orange version 3. Probably a bit less so with the 97 Alley Viper, more often than not his shield and gun were stored in the Rage’s engine compartment while he was commanding it from the turret. It probably does put a little bit of contact stress on the wrist clip though, so I’d be a lot more careful doing it now. I always assumed it was an intended feature but I almost never see it in anyone’s photos- maybe because of that same fear of stressing the clip. Now I know it was probably just a happy accident I stumbled onto, since the smg came so much earlier from Dial-tone.
I’ve got my yellowed v5 Alley Viper with me, if I can find the Dial-tone gun in my bin I’ll snap a picture!
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Please do snap a pic if you find the parts! I’d love to see it.
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That’s a great idea to put the gun through the hole! I don’t think I ever did that, but I did used to notch the bottom of the shield–the Cobra tails–over the SMG. I pictured the Alley-Vipers advancing like Roman soldiers, shields out front but still jabbing/shooting through them.
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I waited for clearance on the 1997 Rage because the first 1997 stuff I got was so disappointing quality wise. IIRC, the rage was $20 originally which wasn’t not a good deal for its time. I mean, Crimson Sabotage, Vamp and Whirlwind and Android Personnel Carrier from early 2000’s were much more value for the money.
Hasbro didn’t quite get it in 1997. The quality and missing molds were mistakes that were due to rushed schedules and not using the same factories as years before, but what the did not get was that people wanted more Cobra stuff than a mere 3 sets. Even in 1998…they made the Cobra troopers pack…but packed it and the other Cobra set at a 1 to 2 ratio with the Joes and Oktober Guard sets! The Guard sets lingered because only diehard fans appreciated that team and Volga was quite homely. LOL
Got Milk Alley-Viper was interesting. Duke legs are so-so because the difference between 1983 and 1989 in terms of sculpting and “bulk”. BUT they don’t make the waist break, so they got that going for them. I haven’t held that figure in my hands in over 20 yarens.
Beyond that…I have little comment besides Alley-Viper being one of my most numerous trooper types…due to 2002 releases, (It’s Cobra Troopers, Vipers, BATS and Alley-Vipers vying for top spot…I’m too disorganized to ever learn the answer….and not sure if unopened items count…all those BAT mail aways…) And oddly there’s not a single 1989 Alley-Viper in my current collection. I sort of miss army building. It’s never coming back for GI JOE (or any major toy company line), not in any affordable way. What the heck happened? How did army building peak in like 2002-2006? Why am I rambling about this?
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I’ve never owned any of those other sets (but I really wanted that APC!), but the Rage has a lot going on. So $20 for it and a figure doesn’t seem too bad. I certainly got more than $20 of enjoyment out of it. I’m guessing the Slugger w/ Gung-Ho was $20 too, and it is way less fun than the Rage is.
I agree that Hasbro wasn’t “all there” in 97, but I also loved all the Cobra stuff from that year. I did have a Sonic Fighters Viper as a young kid, but I lost and/or broke him pretty quickly. So it was great to finally have a “standard” Viper, an Alley Viper, Baroness, and an armored Cobra Commander. The 92 Destro repaint was kinda old news, but I still liked the figure. I think I would have been way less impressed if I’d bought any of the Joe packs or even if I knew what the releases were /supposed/ to be. But I did not. Ignorance = bliss.
I was kind of counting some of my troopers when I took that pic of all the Alley Vipers– I think Alley Vipers are close to my most numerous. I think I might have more BATs and Crimson Guards overall, though. But they are all a mishmash of different versions. I seldom buy more than 2 of the same figure. The exception to this is 91 BATs and 93 Astro Vipers. I have 4 of each.
I love this figure. He’s my favorite Alley Viper and I’ve been able to build up a little squad of them over the years. This figure both was and was not popular with collectors of the time. Many derided it. But, many still army built it. And, it was common to find Rage’s with the Alley Viper torn out on the damaged merchandise aisle at TRU.
The 1997 figures really lingered at retail. They were available through all of 1998 and into 1999 before disappearing. Then, in 2001, they got stupidly expensive…even moreso than they are now. They fell again a few years later. But, for a while, loose ’97’s were rare as hell and expensive when they did appear.
At the time, the vehicles were terrible deals because you could often get mint and complete vintage vehicles for the same price or even lower. Why buy Vypra and the Rattler for $10 when you could get a Stinger and Driver for the same price? In 1997, $20 would buy you a mint and complete Moray or Rattler. So, those were much better options. I skipped the ’97 vehicles as they were expensive and I didn’t really have space to store them at that point. I was mostly a figure guy.
Hasbro overdid the Alley Viper. But, now, I’m glad they did. Their non-Alley Viper army builders tended to be pretty poor and I’ll argue that none of the Alley Vipers are actually bad. Some are better than others. But, I’ll take the worst of them over the best retail Viper repaint of that time.
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I’ve pored over your 97 Alley Viper profile so many times, Mike! I knew you were probably the only other person who likes this figure as much as I do.
I had absolutely no idea you could get a Moray or a Rattler for $20 in 97. That’s wild. But, then again, flea markets and toy shows weren’t really a thing in small town Idaho. And I was 13 years old and not connected to any online fandom at all for the most part. Those must have been great days for vehicles.
What was the deal with none of the repaint-era Vipers (save the 97 version) not having painted gloves?? That always bugged the crap out of me. So much so that I still only own two of them. And the Viper Pit set, of course, but I feel like everyone bought at least one of those. I agree that all the ARAH-style Alley Vipers are pretty good, despite overexposure.. I’d like to get a couple of the Urban Ops ones someday, and maybe a couple of the red ones, too. But I have enough Alley Vipers that I’m not really hunting them down at this point.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!
This is a great figure and a great review! As good as this figure was, I only had one (until last summer) and I never thought to use him as a character like you did. So he was an odd duck, an Army [Builder] of One. He was quickly superceded for me by the plentiful 02 version. In fact that 02 Alley-Viper was such a favorite that one of him was the only figure who stayed with me, on apartment shelves and office desks, from 2008-2019, while the rest of my collection was stored away. Now the 02s are yellowing, but the 97 looks as good as ever. I was able to pick up a second one last year and I think they fit well as elite Alley-Vipers, teamed up with the Urban Firefly and Vypra.
Like you, the 97s came along at an important moment in my collecting history. I didn’t really get out of Joes after 94, I just got more enthusiastic about looking for older ones (which were totally new to me) at flea markets. But that might’ve faded as I got into my teenage years, without the added jolt of new retail releases. It was a thrill to see these, totally unexpectedly, at TRU. (It was a particular shock to see the old molds. To me, Storm Shadow, Scarlett, and the Baroness were ancient history, from long before my time, and I had been desperately searching for them secondhand. It was almost hard to believe that Hasbro had been sitting on their molds for the entire time I’d been alive.)
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Thanks so much for stopping by!
I’m kind of torn on getting another one– it’s a cool figure and another one would look great with my Alley Vipers, but then it would sort of erase the figure profile here as Alley Viper leader. I’m sure if I saw one for $10 or something I couldn’t resist. I bet they look amazing with Vypra and the Urban Firefly– that never even occurred to me, even though it should have!
I really like the blue 02 AV, too. It’s awesome that he was your GI Joe representation for all of those years. Other than the weapon, Hasbro did a really good job with that one. It’s a bit odd that most of the modern versions took inspiration from the 02 red version and not the blue one. But whatever!
I love hearing everyone’s stories about how seeing the 97 Joes on shelves was a big, memorable event. It was really cool for people our age to finally have access to Scarlett, The Baroness, and v1 Storm Shadow. I really, really wanted that 3-pack with Storm Shadow when I saw it on cross sells and on the internet, but I could never find it. It was a bummer.
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I never did see this figure as a kid, but then again at 5 years old I probably won’t remember much of it, let alone being too poor for Toys R Us most of the time. I only remember going two times, once in 1998 when my dad got me the Guard for my 6th birthday and another time around 2000 when I got the Star Wars Death Star Escape board game (on discount for like 4 bucks, which was amazing as a kid).
ANYWAYS, what I wanted to say is this dude is great. I love your story of him. I’m glad he’s still with you.
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Thanks for stopping by, Cody!
That’s awesome you got that game for $4! What a deal. And what a ton of fun.
I’m glad he’s still with me too, and it’s even better now that he has his (incomplete) ride. I only have a couple little Joe displays set up, and I swapped out the original Rage for the 97 on one of them. It just looks so much nicer with all of my Alley Vipers around it.
I appreciate the kind words, as always.
I never knew the 97 Alley Viper had Duke legs! I’d noticed the different builds, but never that particular choice. How odd.
Anyway, my 97 Rage occupies a similar spot as yours. I saw Alley Viper on the battle corps card backs and in the Joe/TF crossover comics, and I wanted him. Then I got hold of an 89 catalog and saw him there, and wanted that one too.
The 97 one was my first chance at having him, as well as many of the other Joe and Cobra mains. I like the figure, despite its deco weirdness, almost as much as I like the tank. The Rage, specifically this one, is the first thing that comes to mind when I think “Cobra.” If I were to be rid of all my vintage Joe stuff except one item, this is the one. No contest.
I’ve since come to own both the battle corps AV and the 89 AV, but the 97 one will always be my fave.
Thanks for sharing your story. The thought of riding down to a small-town grocery store and seeing a wall of GI Joes in the basement stirs up some good memories.
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Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I’m glad we have so many similar experiences, both with Transformers and GI Joe. It’s always fun to see that not everyone’s childhood was drastically different than your own. People (sometimes justifiably) talk trash about the 97 Joe stuff, but it was great at giving people like you and I a chance at some iconic Joes we’d never been offered before. I think getting that Strom Shadow/Snake Eyes/Lady Jaye pack would have blown my mind even more.
The Rage is a top vehicle for me, too. I think it might be my favorite Cobra vehicle, but I also think that might change if I owned a Detonator. The BUGG is a very close second, of course– but I don’t have one of those anymore, either.
Oddly, I find myself rather fond of the Duke legs on all of the later Alley Vipers, like this one. They don’t match the sculpting very well, but they look nice and suit the design of the figure. Comparatively, it looked more coherent than the Vipers who had random robot greebles on their legs.
I don’t own this figure, and it remains one of the few Alley Viper repaints I’ve been unable to secure. Back when Joe prices were sane, these still went for around $20 each, and were less common, too. Meanwhile, either of the ’02 AV’s were plentiful and cheap, and the disdain for the 90’s versions was so strong, that they were tangible choices as well. I’d have preferred this one, as the colors are very strong on it, but being a collector on a budget, I went the other route.
The Dial-tone gun was so much nicer than the later inclusion of the Tomax/Xamot gun. Hasbro had the knack for resurrecting the absolute worst sculpts from ARAH, and few were as bad looking as that gun. I associate the Dial-tone SMG more with good guys, so it’s a little weird for Cobras to have it, but at the very least it’s a gnarly looking gun that the figure can use well.
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I think the Duke legs work out pretty well, too. They’re not as bulky, but I think they actually go nicely with the overall Alley Viper look.
Speaking of Alley Viper prices, I took a look at the 02 ones yesterday– not only are the blue ones outrageous (especially if they come with their mask and shield), but the red ones are nowhere to be found at all. That really surprised me.
The Dial-Tone gun just makes sense– to me, an AV needs an SMG or something similar they could feasibly fire with one hand, which is why I use that New Sculpt Snake Eyes SMG for my 02 versions. And yeah, the Tomax/Xamot pistol is such a lousy choice. I don’t mind it for the twins themselves or for more space/science fiction oriented characters, but I just can’t use it with an Alley Viper.
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The red 2002 Alley Vipers (and the purple 2002 Viper) were shipped 1 per case. The 2002 Copper Shock Viper was, too. At the time, it didn’t matter as they existed in ample numbers to get multiples. But, 20 years later, the shortpacking seems to be manifesting as all those figures are now pretty hard to find.
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I knew about the Shock Viper (from you), but had no idea about the red Alley Viper. Interesting. But also sad.