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By Thomas Wheeler

Those who maintained or became members of the G.I.JOE COLLECTORS' CLUB this year, a fine organization for all G.I.Joe collectors, were given the option of one of two exclusive figures -- a 3-3/4" Cobra Jungle-Viper, or a 12" clear female G.I."Jane" figure.

I'm sure the 12" figure is an excellent item, don't get me wrong. But I've known enough transparent women in my time without putting one on a shelf in my apartment, and besides, I'm first and foremost a 3-3/4" collector, anyway. So I opted for the Jungle-Viper.

The Jungle-Viper IS a newer-style figure, but the overall design is nonetheless excellent. While I am certain it is derived from other pre- existing parts, as I haven't followed the new-style line that closely, I really couldn't tell you whose parts were used here, so I'll concentrate on the end results -- which actually are very impressive.

The Cobra Jungle-Viper has a uniform that is predominantly a very military green. That's unusual in that Cobra forces have tended to steer away from color schemes that would make them appear to be members of established (or real-life) military forces. Of course, if you're going to make your primary specialty jungle warfare, then hanging around the jungle in Cobra blue or Crimson Guard red probably isn't a very good idea -- unless the jungle you're hanging around in happens to be in a hotel lobby in Hawaii.

So the Jungle-Viper is green. Actually, he's two shades of green. The bulk of the uniform, including the helmet, is a slightly darker green than the chestplate. This probably wasn't something that absolutely HAD to be painted a separate color, but it is a nice little variance and an attention to detail that is certainly appreciated.

His collar, a frame around the chestplate, belt, and kneepads are dark brown. Again, this is very much in keeping with traditional military colors as well as colors that would be needed in a jungle environment. The gloves and boots are black.

The one really distinguishing mark on the figure, of course, is the large Cobra emblem that is on the chestplate. This has been painted gold. If the unusual uniform design wasn't enough to set this guy apart from more established military troopers, the insignia would do it.

The figure has a molded-on helmet that, based on the overall size of the head, would have to be considered more of a skullcap than anything else. There's simply no way that this could be a relatively spacious military helmet. There just isn't the room. The helmet has a somewhat futuristic design, but not an implausible one, and is topped off by a visor that has been painted in a very cool metallic silver/blue.

The end result is a new Cobra trooper that you definitely wouldn't want to run into in any of the world's dense jungles -- or much of anywhere else, for that matter. The trousers have numerous equipment pouches on their sides, and if that wasn't enough, the figure comes with plenty of accessories, including a rifle with bayonet, a grappling hook with a rope, and a long knife, undoubtedly for hacking one's way through dense underbrush -- or other obstacles.

The figure also includes a clear battle stand, and a Collectors' Club membership card that also doubles as a file card. The front of the card has a lenticular motion feature -- very impressive! It alternates between an image of the transparent female 12" figure, and artwork of the Jungle- Viper. Because of the nature of the card, it's a little hard to get a really close look at it, but the illustration looks good, features the Cobra logo, and has the Jungle-Viper in a superb attack pose.

The file card on the back outlines the trooper as follows:

JUNGLE VIPER - Cobra Jungle Assault Troopers

JUNGLE VIPERS are tenacious and deadly in their domain. They are equipped to survive oppressive heat (good thing, too, since this one spent some time in my outside mailbox on the last day of May!) and humidity, but must forage for their own food and supplies. Trained in guerilla fighting techniques, they usually supplant any natural predators wherever they are posted. These troopers enjoy the thrill of the hunt and often climb into trees - hiding for days until their prey wanders into one of their many snare traps.

"When your soldiers start mysteriously disappearing from your ranks, assume we are present - and run!"

Overall, this guy is a very nice exclusive offer from the Collectors' Club. While I admit to not being the biggest fan of the new-style Joe figures, I do appreciate good design work and a solid creative idea, and the JUNGLE VIPER definitely qualifies. I'm very pleased to have him as part of my G.I.Joe Collection! YO JOE!