1994 Alley Viper

1994 Alley Viper

I turn 30 this year, which doesn’t mean much to me. Though it did get me to thinking I should round off a few more posts on the Joes that turn 30 this year, which proves to be more and more difficult of a task as I’ve already made posts on a bunch, and there aren’t that many to choose from. So, I’ll finally write about the 1994 Alley Viper I have access to, since that one’s fairly interesting in a kind of meta-sense.

Doing things out of order a bit, I’ll start with the figure’s pricing. 1994 Alley Vipers are somewhat rare (I could say less common, because anything you can find a couple examples of on eBay at any given time probably isn’t truly “rare”) and absolutely insane-expensive. Last auction for a complete striped variant (made in China) hit $136, the more common stripe-less variant (made in Indonesia) still hits around $40 as long as it has the face mask. Of domestic, mass-retail single cards, that makes this version of the Alley Viper one of the most expensive figures in the entire line, probably out-priced by the red Ozone (who is genuinely rare), and roughly tied with Predacon by my best guess.

So is this R@RE GI Joe worth it? Nah, not really. This is another figure that’s still owned by my brother, not me, and although Alley Vipers have always been popular with both of us, I always saw this as a subpar remake of the ‘89 figure. As a kid it was kind of fun to pair them together, as he looked similar enough to the original that it could work. Later in life any money I had for Alley Vipers went off to the 2000’s repaints or to the V1 figure, as this guy was just a little too bland to garner much interest from me.

The colors are similar to the original, but if you compare them in-hand, they’re definitely not the same. The orange and blue colors are both slightly brighter, so even the orange is a slightly more eye-searing tone than the comfy shades seen on the original. Obviously one’s not more realistic than the other, but the ‘89 figure just looks better, especially for the blue color complimenting the orange. I will say I find the gold details on the torso pretty nifty, though it’s not a very strong contrast.

The accessories are similar to the 1993 figure, but you don’t get an Alley Viper backpack because Hasbro loves cutting corners. So included here is a mask, Dial-Tone SMG, Version 2 Alley Viper gun (thick foregrip), a shield and a figure stand in super bright orange, along with a missile launcher in bright blue. I don’t mind some neon weapons, but I do dislike it when they match the figure’s primary color. In this figure’s case, it makes him look like a solid orange blob, when blue or gold would’ve been a lot better.

Oh yeah, I kind of touched on it at the beginning, but I’ll highlight the two variants of the figure again. V3 Alley Vipers were made in both China and in Indonesia, with the Chinese ones featuring an extra paint-application on the legs compared to the Indonesian ones that lack it. It’s similar to other variants from the same year like with Stalker and Dial-Tone and a few others, where seemingly one factory wouldn’t have access to the same paint-masks as the other. It’s actually pretty boring, but nerds are thirsty for anything that could be considered a novel and rare colectibible.

Figures like this that just sort of became expensive suddenly are something I find baffling. It’s very hard to understand and seems to be occurring in more niches than just vintage GI Joe, so it appears to be a bit of a broader social phenomena as opposed to something more inherent to our collecting. Lock-down noobs seem to have mostly blown off in most spaces, particularly last year. Inflation really shouldn’t make old toys more expensive either, though it should be making things harder for all but the upper-class (meaning prices should go down). The only other interesting social anecdote I can think of, is that a lot of guys are dropping out of marriage. It stuck in my head when I read this, because hags and kids tend to eat up a lot of money, that now probably goes to male-dominated hobbies like this one instead. Guys not getting their routine divorces from some gold-digging trophy wife probably also plays an effect, since it seemed like every other eBay auction I won in the 2000‘s would be described along the lines of “Getting divorced and have to sell everything.”. That’s probably not entirely it either, though society finding itself in a bizarre and increasingly dysfunctional state could have some role in it.

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1994 Alley Viper Links:

Forgotten Figures

Half the Battle

Joe A Day

3d Joes

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3 Responses to 1994 Alley Viper

  1. Mike T. says:

    Even back in the heyday of collecting, this wasn’t an easy figure to find. I’ve always wondered if he was either shortpacked or not carried in some assortments. But, at the same time, there are some big monied guys who have dozens of this figure…often still carded. For some reason, it was acceptable to buy this Alley Viper (probably since the original is orange and you could integrate ’94’s and ’89’s) even when the superior 1994 Viper was derided. But, being someone who always searched for 1994 figures: these Alley Vipers were not nearly as easy to get as Vipers when you found lots of loose or carded figures.

    The light blue discolors really easily on them. And, when it goes, it looks particularly terrible. I’ve only seen 2 or 3 at shops in the past decade. And, all had major discoloring. (None of the shops, though, discounted the price for the figure not being mint.)

    Current pricing is nuts. This is a figure you could get for under $30 in 2018. Which, for that time, was still expensive. But, a 5 fold price increase seems unsustainable. Other 1994’s have softened in pricing since 2022. But, it seems that tougher to find figs aren’t decreasing. My theory, though, isn’t so much that demand is high. But, supply is tight. Even COVID collectors who aren’t buying any more have no incentive to sell. So, you’re seeing a supply drop across the major selling sites. That’s driving artificial scarcity. At some point in the coming years, we’ll come across a market where people have to start selling. When that happens, I suspect we’ll see precipitous price drops for all the rarest pieces. I do not, though, think we’ll ever see 2010-ish price levels again, though.

  2. HitandRun says:

    Around 2017 it became a goal of mine to have at least every figure from one year of the ARAH run. I had initially focused on 1994 because it seemed the most attainable since fewer figures were released under the Battle Corps label. There really seemed to be a foreshadowing in 94 of the return to more realistic military based figures with a hint of science fiction mixed in. Little did I know until finding out about the Battle Rangers how close GI Joe was in returning to a more pre-1992 aesthetic. I also have a strong emotional connection to that year as I was 11/12 years old and can recollect many memories of my life from that time. The Alley Viper from 94 always stood out as a must have but as mentioned in your write up the cost is just very prohibitive for me anytime I search for one on eBay. The more I see the figure I also the feel the 93 version is just as good if not better. The yellow/black seem like a better color combination than the bright orange/blue of the 94 version. That’s not to say I would not acquire this version if the price was right but the allure of the figure is not what it once was for me and I no longer deem it essential to have in my collection.

  3. A-Man says:

    Used to have a couple.
    There’s that “last year of a line” thing that comic nerds/resellers/price guide hypers turned into collecting trope hell. It propels releases that either would be largely ignored or derided into rare collectibles, like the last year of Masters of the Universe (Rotar and Twistoid) or even Star Wars, I mean Imperial Dignitary was a no-fun toy, can’t even hold anything.

    I find it interesting how Alley-Viper was a near total recolor over 1993’s. Actually Snow Storm and Night Creeper Leader were, too. It was just Beach-Head that was like “let’s just give him a yellow vest”.

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