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By Thomas Wheeler

Finally! If Hasbro is going to give us troopers in two-packs, this is how it should be done. Give us two troopers -- not an individual and a trooper. And I'm not going to complain about getting two traditional-style Cobra troopers, either, especially when one of them is a personal favorite of mine, the Viper!

This most basic of Cobra soldiers has seen a LOT of use since his original
introduction in 1986. Fortunately, it's an excellent overall design, so the figure can pretty much get away with it. And this newest one has what I would officially declare as the third-best color scheme of all time on a Cobra Viper.

First place would go to the original 1986 version. Hasbro has never quite topped that. Second place would go to the blue/purple camouflage Viper with black helmet, boots, and vest that turned up in 2002. That was a superb design.
Appropriate Cobra colors, and menacing-looking with it.

But the 2003 version isn't bad at all. In fact it's fairly reminiscent of the original. Cobra blue uniform and helmet, black boots and gauntlets, and a red vest. The two-pack is even marked "Troop Builders", and just based on the Viper, I'd say it's worth its own advertising in that regard.

But I don't want to neglect the Alley-Viper. This is also a figure that has seen a lot of use. Bugt as with the Viper, this newest version has a superb color scheme. I would honestly rank this as the second best. The best, in my opinion, was the 1993 yellow-and-black Alley-Viper. A little unmilitary, I'll agree, but still dangerous-looking. I never quite liked the original orange and blue. And while the recent grey camouflage with either blue or red trim are very good, I think this one's a little better.

This is what the 1997 Alley-Viper should've been. The Alley-Viper that was
produced in 1997 was molded in a very dark blue, and given camouflage in black and a painfully pale grey. It was so splotchy that it looked like the figure
was wearing a pair of really tacky pajamas.

The 2003 Alley-Viper corrects this mis-step in Alley-Viper history. He is molded in a somewhat lighter blue, basically the same blue that one might expect to see on Cobra Commander, and has black uniform trim and camouflage. No pale
grey. Thankfully.

But alas, even though this is a superb figure, I do have a gripe. And I know for a fact that it's one shared by other collectors. The Alley-Viper legs were switched out a few years ago, with a different set of legs that just doesn't quite fit somehow. Now, sometimes you can switch parts and it works. And sometimes, there's just something a little bit off, and the result is a problem. And the Alley-Vipers have a problem. It's very hard to get one of them to stand up straight. Either one leg or the other wants to shoot out in some weird direction. The closest you can generally get, if you're lucky, is a sort of "action stance" (and than hope he'll stay put long enough to be photographed, as is the case with the picture here).

Some are worse than others. But the one that I acquired was the worst yet, and I don't know if it will be a trend with this particular Alley-Viper. I hope not, because I swear when I opened him I thought the figure had developed a nasty twitch. I put him down on a table on his back and he looked like he was trying to breakdance. If for some reason the original Alley-Viper legs are no longer available, certainly a more compatible set of legs might be located somewhere for any future versions of this otherwise excellent figure!

I do recommend the two-pack without any real reservations. Traditional-style Joes and Cobras are few and far between these days, and a superb two-pack such as this is well worth the potential inconvenience of a twitchy Alley-Viper.