GI Joe: Rise of Cobra Action Battlers
Cobra Viper
6.5 Inch Scale
By: Hasbro
$12.99 (price varies on secondary market)

More crap from the vault, this time a figure that very few people seemed to want. The Action Battlers were a strange concept from Hasbro introduced during the roll-out of Rise of Cobra movie toys. While many have labeled these the bastard sons of Sigma Six, the figures honestly seem more like giant versions of something like Imaginext. Had these actually been in scale and used the Sigma Six molds, I suspect they’d been revered as great figures. Instead, I think few if anybody picked them up.

That’s where I come in at. I loved this figure from the moment I saw it. The design was similar to the smaller 3 3/4 ROC Vipers, but it had a little bit of something extra to it. The stylistic chunky design, just looked awesome to me. Despite that, I, like most, balked at the price, especially considering I knew these figures were limited in articulation.

However, when the opportunity came to army build this guy for cheap, I was all over it like white on rice. One crappy figure is just that, crappy, but a small army of them? Awesome! The real question is… Is this figure crappy at all, or is it just misunderstood?

The packaging is a neat little window box with a peg hook. It was surprisingly shelf friendly during it’s time in the retail stores and as best as I can tell, these guys were average to slow movers. Hasbro really screwed the pooch by offering so many different ROC toys, that they muddied their own toy market.

The package is pretty nice, but it won’t blow your socks off. The artwork is the best part, showing off a cartoon drawing of the Viper. That’s just downright swank.

It appears in a couple of different forms on the package, to really help sell the character. It also helps make this box look nice if you’re keeping him MOC and it dare i say it, seems to borrow a little bit from what we see in designer vinyl figures these days.

The sculpting on this guy is pretty fantastic, with a design that definitely harkens to the smaller scale version of this Cobra Viper… But yet, does it’s own thing too. Of all the Cobra Viper figures from ROC in all the scales, this is my favorite.

The alien look of the face is really highlighted in this bigger, chunkier figure. The gold and black contrasts well and although the figure doesn’t have a ton of paint, the mixture of molded color plastics and paint mingle quite well to give a good representation of color depth for this toy.

A lot of people compared this to Sigma Six when it first came out, but oddly aside from the large feet, it’s really not much like Sigma Six at all. The lines and angles are a lot smoother and even softer here, than the more angular Sigma Six line. Of course, I think you could recreate this figure using parts of the Sigma Six line (Shipwreck’s legs for example) and have a much better figure. I really wish this WAS a Sigma Six figure.

Unfortunately, even if you wanted, this guy is nowhere near Sigma Six scale. He’s 6.5 inches exactly, making him a decent fit for DCUC. His thick body actually allows him to mix it up with MOTUC or some of your favorite 7 inch lines. However, for the most part he’s an oddball all his own.

The design is nice though and he looks pretty wicked. He’s definitely got that softer sculpt that is designed to appeal to kids, but he doesn’t look particularly “kid friendly” either. So it’s a nice compromise on the aesthetic.

Ultimately where this figure falls down is in his articulation. He’s not nearly articulated enough, BUT he’s not the brick that you might think he is either. He works surprisingly well with just a few basic joints.

The Action Battler line is all about using cuts. However much like an old Kenner figure, the arms and knees are semi-bent already, allowing the cuts to give the figure a greater range of emotion with just a few simple poses. I know it’s hard in the days of modern articulation to appreciate something like this, but I do.

Unfortunately all the Action Battlers have a stupid squeeze leg action, that hasn’t been neat since… Actually it’s NEVER been a neat toy feature. This means his arms sort of want to pop into place, but they do retain full poseability. The legs amazingly can also be rotated, though the actual “squeeze leg” is a tad bit more limited.

The Viper comes with his big goofy gun. It’s hollow molded and it seems a bit cheap. Remember that this figure was competing with ROC figures that while smaller, were coming with TONS of accessories. It seems odd that this guy has such a weak weapon.

The gun does have two spots to hold it from and he can hold it in both hands. However, the grips on either hand is not particularly good at holding the gun. It can be held, but it’s a tad looser than I’d like.

“I can raise my gun. What awesome action battling this allows me to do!”

That’s it for accessories and it just seems, very light. The gun is okay at best and just sort of junk at worst. Some of the other figures had neater guns or swords, so it’s really the Viper who suffers.

At around $13, this figure was horribly overpriced. You can find them for about $10-$15 now on the secondary market and that’s still far too much. Remember that the awesome ROC 3 3/4 figures were about half that price at the time these came out. It boggles the mind that Hasbro would release worse figures, for more cost. Tht said, if you can pick them up for a $5 bill or so, they’re nice little toys.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 7
Paint – 6
Articulation – 4
Accessories – Gun
Value – 4
Overall – 5 out of 10

This is not a terrible figure. I really mean that. The design is sharp, the articulation although limited, is actually more poseable than you might think and the general presentation is nice. Unfortunately, the wacky action, the lack of good accessories and the price point knock this guy down to being a low average toy.

Of course if you’re insane and like to army build stuff like this, the figure gets cooler with the more of these guys you have. They look good in a row or as a platoon of evil and I definitely want to pick up the Cobra Commander (who looks awesome) to lead this little gang of miscreants. The Action Battler Viper has some charm to him, despite all the flaws.

Hasbro really misfired with this line, the designs were good, but they should have been applied to a pre-existing platform like the Sigma Six line and left the gimmicks off. Trying to create another subline that had no real rhyme or reason and was saddled with uncompetitive pricing and lame gimmicks really struck the fatal blow to the Action Battlers. If you like stuff like designer vinyl or old school 1980’s figures, you might warm up to this guy’s charm. I did.

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