Note: This is not a full review. This simply a more in-depth look at the figures I profiled in my Russian Funskool GI Joe Jamboree post, and is intended as a resource for fans and collectors.
Updated 5/6/21: According to a source in a former Soviet country (who has also translated the card backs), the entire Russian run of Funskool GI Joe figures was released in 1998. The company who assisted in this release, Two Beetles (see their logo on the card back below), likely had a connection at Funskool. Aside from Chuckles, all Russian Funskool figures are nearly identical to their Indian counterparts– only the card backs were changed. Though these were reportedly only produced for a year, they can still be found in former USSR territories. As a fun side note, “beetle” is Russian slang for “swindler.”
Russian Funskool GI Joe Hydro-Viper and Accessories
The Russian Funskool GI Joe Hydro-Viper was released sometime around 1998 (thanks to a Twitter friend for translating the packaging).
The figure uses the exact same mold and accessories as Hasbro’s GI Joe Hydro-Viper from 1988. The only differences lie in coloration and plastic quality.
The carded figure:
The card back:
Note the Russian text for the filecard, cross sell figures, and legal info. The front of the card is in English and resembles an Indian Funskool card, or even a Hasbro card, while the back is drastically different. These cards are made of a very flimsy cardboard, as is the case for all single-carded Funskool GI Joe packaging.
We’ll get more into the differences later, but this is basically just a darker version of Hasbro’s Hydro-Viper. The paint is a bit sloppier than what you’d see on the 88 Hasbro toy, but it’s not bad by any means. This is a well-made, high-quality GI Joe action figure.
The figure, from the side:
From the back:
The Russian Funskool GI Joe Hydro-Viper comes with two red swim fins, a red helmet, a black backpack/oxygen system, a black spear gun, and a black knife.
The figure also comes with two small hoses (not pictured) and a black manta ray. I’ve never been able to get the included hoses to work with these figures, and I’ve lost track of them at this point. You can always get replacement GI Joe hoses at SmallJoes.com.
The manta ray itself is a black, rubbery plastic. I’ve never owned the Hasbro manta ray, but I am guessing they are identical. You can view it here.
Due to the nature of the figure’s sculpt, it can only hold one of its weapons at a time.
All Geared Up:
This figure retains all articulation and features present on the Hasbro version.
The Russian Funskool GI Joe Hydro-Viper does have some problems interacting with its accessories, at least on my copy. The flippers don’t fit on the feet very securely, and the figure’s grip is too loose to properly hold its spear gun. This can all be remedied by some poster tac. And these slight quality control issues may just be present on this particular figure and not a widespread issue.
Russian Funskool GI Joe Hydro-Viper Compared to Indian Funskool GI Joe Hydro-Viper
For all intents and purposes, the Russian Hydro-Viper and Indian Hydro-Viper are identical. Had I not put poster tac in my Russian Hydro-Viper’s hand so he could grip his weapon soon after I opened it, I would not have known which was which.
There are a few other small differences between the figures, but those are likely just due to their production batches, and not due to any intentional design or production decisions.
The figures (L – Russian Funskool, C – Indian Funskool, R – Hasbro):
The Russian figure has slightly thicker yellow paint on its torso than the Indian version, and that is the biggest difference. From my experience, Russian Funskool figures have slightly thicker paint than Indian Funskool figures, but that could also be on a batch-by-batch basis.
The shoulder rivets on the Russian version also seem to be a slightly more saturated pink, but you’d never be able to tell unless you had both figures side by side.
My Indian Funskool Hydro-Viper also holds its spear gun and wears its swim fins much better than my Russian version, but that could just be attributed to these two individual figures.
Their date stamps are identical, and both read “1988 Hasbro.”
Russian Funskool GI Joe Hydro-Viper date stamp:
Indian Funskool GI Joe Hydro-Viper date stamp:
Much like the date stamps, these figures’ accessories are perfectly identical.
Other than the slightly thicker paint on the Russian version, the difference between these two figures are negligible. Unless you’re collecting carded figures, it shouldn’t matter which one you get.
Russian Funskool GI Joe Hydro-Viper Compared to 1988 Hasbro Hydro-Viper
The Hasbro Hydro-Viper from 1988 is rendered in a pinkish-purple with maroon detailing, and the Russian Funskool GI Joe Hydro-Viper is rendered in dark purple with red detailing. While the figures look good together, their coloration is very different, so telling them apart is easy.
The figures from the front (L – Russian Funskool, R – Hasbro):
You’ll note that the Russian Funskool version has the same number of paint applications as the Hasbro version. Aside from an insignia tampographed on the Hasbro version’s right arm, the Russian version is not lacking any paint details found on the original. The yellow areas are rendered in different shades on each, however.
From the back:
You’ll notice the Funskool figure does not have its country of origin stamped onto its rear end like the Hasbro version does.
From the side:
The Hasbro Hydro-Viper’s helmet and flippers are cast in a darker, deeper red than the Funskool version. The Hasbro version’s flippers are made from a soft, rubbery plastic. The Funskool version’s flippers are made from an even softer, rubbery plastic that’s almost gummy in nature. This is the sort of plastic that slowly releases plasticizers as it ages, giving it a “sticky” feeling as time goes on. The Hasbro version’s flippers do not suffer from this slight problem. I would say it’s not a big deal in any case.
The Hasbro version’s helmet also features black and yellow paint details, which the Funskool version lacks.
The Russian Funskool GI Joe Hydro-Viper’s air tanks are made from a plastic that is just slightly shinier and glossier, though you’d never be able to tell unless you had them side by side.
I’ve never owned the Hasbro version’s spear gun, knife, or manta ray, but I am guessing they are nearly indistinguishable from the pieces that come with the Funskool Hydro-Viper. Still, you’re much more likely to find gear from the Hasbro version on the aftermarket than you are to find any loose Funskool accessories. Unless explicitly stated by a seller, you’re probably buying Hasbro pieces.
Whereas the Hasbro Hydro-Viper’s helmet “locks” nicely in place when you equip it, the Funskool figure’s helmet is a bit of a looser fit. The Russian version’s helmet does not stay on as well as the Indian version’s helmet does, at least on my copies.
All three figures All Geared Up (L – Russian Funskool, C – Indian Funskool, R – Hasbro):
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