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By Thomas Wheeler

Found these in early August. Two of the "Wave 1.5" G.I.Joe two-packs, the traditional-style figures, were recolored for an additional release. These included the BIG BEN/ALLEY-VIPER two-pack and the MIRAGE/COBRA VIPER two-pack. So, how do they stack up to their predecessors?

Not bad at all, really. In the BIG BEN/ALLEY-VIPER set, Big Ben has been given a light grey jacket to replace the tan one he had before, and he has dark brown pants instead of the molded camo. It's actually an improvement, and could almost make this version of Big Ben a more effective arctic trooper than the one from the 2000-01 series. Also, there was something about the tan-jacketed version of this British SAS Trooper that almost made him look like a desert trooper. I've been to England, and while I didn't exactly scour the countryside, I have to say that I don't recall much in the way of deserts, and living in Arizona as I do, I know a desert when I see one.

Alley-Viper is another matter. The dark blue trim has been replaced with a dark red. While it's not as garish as some online photos led one to believe, and while it's well within the range of tolerability, it's not an improvement in my opinion. The blue trimmed Alley-Viper with the black-grey-white urban camo uniform was without a doubt the most effective and appropriate coloration of the Alley-Viper ever made.

As for the MIRAGE/COBRA VIPER two-pack, I guess I'd have to say that neither Wave 1.5 version of Mirage is all that distinctive. The first version of this former Mega-Marine had a dark green shirt and black trousers. This version has a lighter green shirt and dark green trousers. It might be amusing for customizers to take the top half of the first Wave 1.5 Mirage and attach to it the legs of the recolored version, and get a Mirage that would be dressed in pretty much one color. Other than that, there's nothing especially distinctive about the figure, although the green used on the shirt of the recoloration is a little too "barfo green" to suit me.

The Cobra Viper, on the other hand, is truly spectacular. This may be one of the most effective colorations of the Cobra Viper ever made, dating all the way back to 1986. While the first Wave 1.5 Viper had a green camouflage uniform with grey helmet and trim, making him look more distinctly military than previous Vipers, the recoloration has a dark-blue/purple-blue camouflage uniform with black vest and helmet, and the visor on the helmet is a metallic blue. This makes this Viper look unusually vicious and nasty for some reason.

Unfortunately, from what I hear, these two-packs are being packed one per case, so they're not going to be that easy to come by. I personally recommend getting at least one of the BIG BEN/ALLEY-VIPER sets, because Big Ben is worth it and maybe you can make the red-trim Alley-Viper a squad commander or something, and as many MIRAGE/COBRA VIPER sets as you can get your hands on. The Vipers are certainly worth it, and you can sell all but one of the Mirage figures on eBay or some such to defray some of your costs.

There's not much in the G.I.JOE world to cheer YO, JOE about these days in my opinion, but these sets qualify!