Before the all new 25th anniversary style G.I.Joe bodies, Hasbro was already experimenting with what would become some of the key differentiators of that major refresh of the 3-3/4″ line in the short lived DTC line. As well as a move back to single carded figures, and probably as a result of the different pricing enabled by that, we got new helmets and extra accessories, as well as new, and very nicely done, headsculpts, along with more realistic uniform colour schemes, leading in some cases to definitive versions of favourite figures. The improved headsculpts and helmets in particular were going to lead to a kick-ass Night Viper with night vision headgear in the sadly cancelled 4th wave (hopefully it will show up again in the 25th line), a great new collector’s club exclusive Copperhead, and this figure, the Range Viper, from the 2nd wave.
While officially this figure is a Range Viper – Cobra’s deep infiltration and survival specialists – Devil’s Due have also used this design for former Range Viper turned mercenary, Skull Buster, so you can use it in either role (although you’ll have to make some extensive conversions if you want to reflect his ‘feral’ look from America’s Elite 27!).
What makes this figure really stand out is the high quality of the accessories. First of all, the helmet – figures with removable helmets have always been favourites in any 1/18 line, such as Star Wars, but Hasbro didn’t catch on until the last couple of years, when suddenly every other Stormtrooper has a removable mask. This mask fits perfectly, so much so that the eyes of the figure line up exactly with the holes in the mask, the first time I can remember seeing such precision.
As well as the mask, he comes with a finely detailed sniper rifle, a machine pistol, and two knifes, which also get extra points for fitting in their scabbards.