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SIT-REP
This is the Sit-Rep, soldier, the Situation Report! It's here where we get the intel on the new troops, talk to the big brass, and generally do anything else that isn't in an archival capacity! So what are you waiting for? It's time for your debriefing!

Extreme Conditions - Arctic Assault Team

Review and photos by Justin Bell

I mentioned in the Desert Assault Squad review that Hasbro was really trying some different elements and going in some different directions with these climate specific 7-Packs, and that definitely holds true here. While we don't have quite so many new troopers in the Arctic set, in my opinion the execution is much better, and all in all, I like this set a lot more than the Desert one, even though I've expressed my overall dislike for arctic themed figures in the past.

Even though this set is mostly filled with existing troopers, I really like what they've done with those troopers, and for the most part things are pretty successful. They definitely aren't perfect, but this is a pretty fun set in all honesty.

COBRA Viper v17: Like the COBRA Troopers in the Desert Squad set, there are COBRA Vipers in the Arctic Set (though there are only two). These two Vipers are clearly part of the Viper legion, but wear some slightly different gear to represent their specialties.

This COBRA Viper is simply labelled as an "Arctic Trooper" and clearly is a pretty familiar looking Viper with some slight alterations for a colder climate. He has the same helmet, same goggles, same vest and uniform, but he's got the long sleeves of a COBRA Trooper instead of what the normal Viper sleeves are. Honestly, I love that little change. It makes a big difference and the figure looks much better for it (and more more suitable for winter operations).

Beyond the tooling changes, there are also some obvious color changes, too, going with a more aqua blue and gray color scheme rather than the deep blue and black of the standard Viper troops. I like this change as well...it's sticking to COBRA's familiar blue hue, but it lightens it up quite a bit to fit in with a more wintery environment. Even with these brighter colors, the figure fits in well. I really like it.

Of course this Viper does fall into some familiar traps, all due to the tooling from the Viper originally. I know what Hasbro was trying to accomplish with the removable goggles, but they really did not accomplish it very well, and frankly, I can't stand them here. They fall off when you look at them sideways, and it drastically affects how the Viper can be used or positioned, for fear of them falling off and getting lost forever. Thankfully the Viper arms are nowhere to be found here, so we don't have to suffer from those problems, but the stiff, slightly bent ankles make their appearences here, too, which limits how the Viper can stand. The COBRA Viper is one of my favorite troopers, and unfortunately the Anniversary has NOT been kind to him.

COBRA Viper v18: This second COBRA Viper is labelled as a Heavy Weapons Trooper, and it shows. Like the Flamethrower expert in the desert set, he is equipped with some familiar G.I. Joe gear, this time belonging to Roadblock. He's got his vest and his machine gun, but honestly the gear is generic enough that it doesn't really matter.

What does matter, though, is that the Viper also has Roadblock's arms, and really, that's a shame because I cannot stand those arms and hands...they are about useless. I do like how Hasbro uses the arm bars as short sleeves of a sort, though I'm not quite sure why a Viper is running around with short sleeves as part of an Arctic Assault Squad.

One tooling choice I'm happy about is Copperhead's legs, which I think work remarkably well here. The padding is quite reminiscent of the COBRA Viper, yet it makes him different enough to stand out amongst the more common Troopers. The lighter gray adds some more color as well, though for the most part this figure is somewhat forgettible.

With the heavy machine gun, the machine gun belt, and the Snow Serpent backpack with rocket launcher, this Viper is loaded for bare. But as impressive as his arsenal is, the figure itself falls somewhat short, and is definitely the weak point of this set.

Along with the somewhat new concepts comes a pair of figures that are essentially not even repaints. There are two different Snow Serpents included here, one described as an "Heavy Weapons Specialist" and the other one a "Polar Combat Specialist". One look at the two figures and you'd think it would be obvious which one is which, but you'd be wrong. Believe it or not, the guy with the huge bazooka, backpack full of rockets, and the shotgun is NOT the Heavy Weapons Specialist. The back of the box labels him as the Polar Combat Specialist, while the Snow Serpent decked out in the standard Snow Serpent gear is listed as being the Heavy Weapons Specialist. Whether or not that's an error or an oversight, I have no idea, but that's how it's listed on the box.

The Heavy Weapons Specialist version of the Snow Serpent is pretty much the same thing you get in the single packs. The same deco, the same accessories, everything. Honestly this doesn't bother me a whole lot because the Snow Serpent is one of the best figures of the Anniversary line to date, so having a few of that particular figure doesn't break my heart.

The Polar Combat Specialist changes things up a bit, however. He comes with the same rocket launcher and missile carrying backpack as Bazooka comes with, only in more familiar Snow Serpent colors. A very cool accessory to be included, I think, I really love that they worked that in here. It makes a lot of sense for COBRA to carry this equipment as well, and it suits the Snow Serpent exceptionally well. He also comes with the same shotgun that Lt. Falcon came with, which gives him some extra "punch" as well. These two figures are both nice, being very similar to the single pack, but I definitely prefer the Polar Combat Specialist version with his different weapon assortment.

It's kind of nice to be able to pick up this boxed set and sort of get an "instant squad" so to speak. Not only are both of these Snow Serpents pretty cool, but the Snow Serpent Officer is a very nice addition as well.

Snow Serpent Officer: One thing that Hasbro has managed to do throughout the Anniversary line is to really fall back on some nice homages, some more obscure than others. There have been a few different Snow Serpent leaders over the past few years for whatever reason...there was the Snow Serpent Commander from the G.I. Joe Collectors' Club just a couple of years ago, but back in the new sculpt era, there was also a Snow Serpent (who spawned into "Snow Wolf"). Hasbro manages to work both characters into this Snow Serpent Officer, which is pretty neat.

The figure itself is the same Snow Serpent we've seen three times (including twice in this very boxed set) but with some nice color alterations. Instead of the gray fur collar, he's got a dark brown one, and darker straps on his webgear as well, which all pays tribute to the Snow Serpent Commander we got from the Collectors' Club. Another nice throwback is the blue facemask and light green goggles, both of which were iconic colors of that same figure. Of course this Snow Serpent Officer doesn't have the elaborate gray camouflage that the other figure did, but you can still tell it's meant to be a similar looking figure for a similar character.

From an accessory perspective the Snow Serpent Officer varies a bit from the standard Snow Serpent, though not much. He's got the same snowshoes, the same backpack w/ rocket launcher, the same AK-47, and the same webgear. However, he's got one additional weapon that doesn't seem like a big deal, except that it's the Battle Armor COBRA Commander pistol, which is the same pistol that the new sculpt Snow Serpent originally came with. So even with a small thing like choosing which gun this figure should come with Hasbro still managed to give us a nice homage to an earlier figure. It's pretty cool.

With great tooling like the Snow Serpent, it's tough to go wrong. Hasbro utilizes it very well here and gives us a trio of great figures that use this tooling well. Very nice indeed.

Tele-Viper v7: Even as we get so many different Dukes, COBRA Commanders, and Storm Shadows, one can't help but wonder why we don't see more climate specific versions of those characters. Sure, we got the Snake Eyes, but you'd figure that a classic COBRA Commander or Destro in their respective unique parkas would make lots of sense as well, and could easily be done with existing tooling. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see some of this in the near future, and if it ends up anything like this Tele-Viper, then it should be a very successful endeavor indeed!

I really enjoyed the Tele-Viper that came with the Flight Pod, even though it had the drawbacks of the Viper tooling. It's almost unfortunate that this version of the character is dressed purely for arctic combat, because this is a fantastic rendition of the COBRA Communications Officer. Using the tooling from the aforementioned arctic Snake Eyes with Tele-Viper's head, this is an absolutely flawless blend of parts that gives us a really fun version of this character, and is a perfect example of why I hope Hasbro does this for some other figures as well.

The accessories are a stroke of brilliance as well. First, he comes with the same backpack that Comic Pack Lt. Falcon came with, which is a great touch with the communications antenna coming out of the back, as well as the removable radio. Great choice for a communications trooper. He also comes with Dial Tone's machine gun, which appears to be new tooling, certainly tweaking the imagination of Joe fans out there and showing us that we may get Dial Tone somewhere in the near future. He also has a small radio and the same "portable" computer that Mainframe came with back in the day (though the tooling on this one has obviously been amped up to fit in better with more modern sculpting). This computer has fold-down legs and much crisper detailing throughout.

Essentially Hasbro took an existing figure and slapped a Tele-Viper head on it, then adjusted the colors to reflect a more COBRA color scheme (making him very Snow Serpent-like). The end result is a great version of this character and a very fun figure indeed. One of my favorites in this set.

Scrap Iron v5: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue... yeah, this set pretty much hits on all of those cliche's, that's for sure.

Plenty of blue, old, and borrowed tooling scattered throughout this set, but if you want something new, then we've got that as well with this very interesting arctic rendition of COBRA missile specialist Scrap Iron. What makes this so unique is that we have yet to see Scrap Iron in the Anniversary line as of yet (though he's been sighted in the most recent wave of Comic Packs) so this is really our first introduction to such a core character. But what an introduction it is.

On the surface, most of Scrap Iron appears to be a Comic Pack Firefly but he's got COBRA Trooper arms and torso. The combination works very well, and I really love the vest here, too, giving the character a different look. The grays and blues also make this a pretty darn cool urban operative as well as an arctic trooper, and the color scheme overall is very, very nice.

There's a new head sculpt here, too, which obviously we will see in the upcoming Comic Pack version, but I've gotta say this new head sculpt is absolutely amazing. A perfect translation of his vintage look, but with improved detailing, an improved size, and some very awesome detailed scarring on his face. The removable goggles reveal dark gashes dug through his skin, and reveal for the first time that Scrap Iron is apparently blind in one eye. A very cool touch that gives this somewhat bland character some life.

Scrap Iron, of course, comes with his familiar portable missile launcher and remote, but even cooler in my mind is the submachine gun that originally came with Firefly. This weapon is very quickly becoming my favorite gun in the Anniversary line, and the more I see it the better I like it. I really love how it gives Scrap Iron some alternatives to the heavy weapons if he needs it. An excellent alternate firearm.

It's a very tough call, but I'd have to say that Scrap Iron and the Tele-Viper are both neck and neck for my favorite figures of this set. Even with all of the existing tooling out there, Hasbro manages to give us something new and interesting and all in all these Extreme Conditions sets are a raging success, especially this Arctic one. There are some bumps and bruises along the way, with some questionable tooling choices, some strange characters, and some unfortunate articulation issues, but by and large, I really find myself enjoying these two boxed sets, and I'm sure you will, too.

Archive entries:
Scrap Iron
Snow Serpent Officer
Snow Serpent (Polar Combat Specialist)
Snow Serpent (Heavy Weapons Specialist)
Tele-Viper
COBRA Viper (Arctic Combat)
COBRA Viper (Heavy Weapons Specialist)

More action shots:

Big thanks to Corey "BadAsh" Tucker for his help!

For a great selection of G.I. Joe figures and vehicles, check out BigBadToyStore.com.

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Yo Joe!

10/24/08

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