1989 Frag Viper

1989 Frag Viper

1989 was a pretty good year overall, but an amazing year if you focus on the Cobras. You had the fantastic Night Viper, the Alley Viper, the entire Python Patrol, and some other less popular, but still good quality figures. The Frag Viper falls into the later category; he’s definitely not the most popular figure from this year, but he still has a lot of positives going on for him.

I liked the Frag Viper a lot as a kid. He has nice colors and that kind of evil, robotic looking face that tended to attract me back then. A lot of Cobras from around this point were encased in so much armor and tech you really couldn’t tell they were human if you didn’t know better. So this guy, Vapor, the TARGAT, the Crimson Guard Commander and a few others were mainstays of my expanded Cobra robot army.

My enjoyment of this figure I had when I was a kid was something I couldn’t shake as an adult when I decided to go back and reunite him with his original parts. The specialty and file-card for the Frag Viper seems… a little hokey, but it’s not totally unreasonable when you think about it:

An integral part of the Cobra Viper fire-team, the FRAG-VIPER can toss high-explosive fragmentation grenades with all the range and accuracy of an M-79 or M-203 R.P.G.L. [Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher], but without the noise from the muzzle blast. The secret lies in the manual hurling basket, based on the cesta used in the Basque sport of Jai Alai. The Frag-Viper cesta is equipped with automatic feed and variable time-fuser with a cable link to the helmet’s automatic range-finder.
“A G.I. Joe armed with a M-203 40mm grenade launcher can manage a firing rate of five rounds-per-minute and as soon as he pops the first round, everybody and his uncle knows where he is. A Frag-Viper, with a fifty round magazine and automatic feeder, can deliver fifteen rounds-per-minute and you’ll never have any idea where they’re coming from!”

The manual hurling basket thing is the part that just sounds kind of silly. The stealth element of the character just seems tacked on as a way to make him more unique, but really a Viper specializing in demolitions is good enough already. And when you boil it down, that’s what the Frag Viper is: a demolitions specialist.

The sculpt keeps things pretty simple. I like figures that can look good without being too busy, but I wouldn’t say the Frag Viper has a lot of detail. My favorite part’s the head, with it’s bug-like eyes and the sculpted bolts on top of it. There’s a peg on his chin for connecting a hose to his backpack. Its a similar idea to the HEAT Viper, but I think this one does a better job of connecting the head to his equipment.

The colors are pretty decent on this guy too. Mostly a caramel brown, with some sky-blue and black to break things up. The caramel brown has a nice desert environment feeling to it, which I think is nice since the vintage Cobras are a bit underrepresented there despite having a good few Joes to fight who fit that theme.

The parts included with this figure were an SMG, grenade thrower, a unique and a generic hose, backpack and three removable grenades. The SMG is a really nice sculpt, and the Frag Viper can hold it nicely too. I sort of like the idea that one Frag Viper might use this to lay cover fire while another uses his grenade equipment. The backpack has some sculpted details showing that it’s filled with the grenades that are fed into his throwing device, which I think is a nice detail. The only real gripe I could see here is that the removable grenades could be lost way too easily, although they are a lot more fun to play with than the missiles from the HEAT Viper which face a similar issue.

The Frag Viper is not a remotely valuable figure. I have seven or eight of them I’ve acquired almost solely by chance due to the frequency that I find them in lots. With that said, the figure is almost always missing at least one grenade, and truly complete examples will go closer to around $13. However, missing any number of parts pushes the price down to around $5. Even MOSC figures can barely crack $30; a telling example of just how apathetic the GI Joe community is to this figure. All things considered, it’s a really nice army builder you can acquire with little effort.

1989 Frag Viper V1 Gi Joe ARAH a real American hero hasbro vintage action figure cobra 1989 Frag Viper V1 Gi Joe ARAH a real American hero hasbro vintage action figure cobra


1989 Frag Viper Links:

Yo Joe

Forgotten Figures

Half the Battle

Joe A Day

3D Joes

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2 Responses to 1989 Frag Viper

  1. Mike T. says:

    He’s not a great figure, but not bad, either. He’s like Alpine or Airtight or any number of supporting Joes. You don’t really need them. And, if he had never been made there’d be no clamor to fill the void. But, it’s nice that he does exist and he’s a good specialty to have handy for when you need him.

    To me, it’s sad that Hasbro had access to him (and, likely, far more molds, too) and yet kept bringing out Vipers, Range Vipers or Alley Vipers every wave. It would have been nice to see figs like this guy show up in a set that wasn’t overpriced to assuage someone’s ego.

  2. A-Man says:

    Post 1986, non traditional Cobra colors, little media exposure…it’s true most fans don’t appreciate Frag-Viper.

    I had a few back when I played with toys. Very rarely removed the grenades from the top of his pack, out of fear of losing them. I liked them, but like mortars, thrown grenades were impersonal weapons in toy play (though a lot of fun in first person shooters, because for some reason players hate getting fragged!) where you want characters to engage in gun duels or some nonsense. LOL.

    The design is interesting. Alien robot insect head felt disconnected from the caramel body, but it’s electronics and I assume built in gas mask. They also didn’t paint the ankle strap on one side. Short boots and no pack provisions, like maybe more for urban areas than the field, which I why I assumed these guys were often teamed with Alley-Viper’s (their sheild is as much to protect them from Frag Viper mistakes as from the enemy!). Thick torso, but to manually hurl grenades at great distances, they’d have to be in great shape.

    Some concept art dated 1986 shows a totally different look for a proposed Frag Viper (hoses running along his limbs like Gyro Viper, no jai alai thing shown). So this was an idea Hasbro kicked around for a bit.

    Shame again, the only repaint was the jungle version from the club. As part of a Cobra Viper Fire Team pack, they could’ve had Fraggy, SAW-Viper, HEAT-Viper, Laser-Viper, Incinerator (or Shock-Viper), and…maybe Tele-Viper (recast head on a mash-up of available parts…maybe Stalker 89 or Pathfinder chest?), all in traditional Cobra blue with black/silver/red details or Techno-Viper if they had that mold stashed some where.

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