As a child, I was never a fan of the arctic troops. I grew up in Central Illinois where the dry billowy blowing snow was more of a rarity and the heavy wet snow seemed to predominate. Our winters had a decent amount of snow but we also had a fair amount of the season with nothing on the ground. So, as a child my Hoth Star Wars figures and my cold weather Joes just never saw that much use. After all, I couldn’t exactly take Snow Job on a mission to the desert or the jungle now could I? Yet as I grew older I began to gain a new appreciation for the sheer amount of detail found on some of the cold weather specialists in both GIJoe and Cobra. These guys were loaded with gear and some pretty intricate detailing that just made them visually appealing. Granted, their play value was limited as they were extremely mission-specific but as an adult collector I was more interested in the aesthetics of the design. When first Snow Job and then Arctic Commando Snake Eyes were released in the 25A line it was only a matter of time before the Snow Serpent followed suit. Trust me, this figure does not disappoint.
Over the years Hasbro has gone back to the original Snow Serpent several times—including releases in the relatively recent Valor vs. Venom and Direct-to-Consumer series. However, this latest incarnation of Cobra’s cold weather specialists puts all others to shame. The classic uniform is there—with the thick padded jumpsuit and the heavy boots, fur covered gloves and collar and even the molded back-up chute strapped across the figure’s waist. The uniform is once again given the light gray color that would allow it to blend in on the frozen fields of whatever theatre Cobra Commander deigns to commit his forces to. The large fur-covered gloves actually sport molded straps that appear to hold the coverings to the character’s forearms and the web harness with the parachute back actually features a strap that connects the front of the belt to the back by way of the figure’s crotch. (Get your minds out of the gutter!) It’s the closest thing to a truly accurate representation of this type of harness Hasbro has ever produced! The “fabric” of the figure’s costume is actually loaded with sculpted wrinkles as well as subtle etched lines that simulate the texture of a thick padded material! Honestly, for someone who isn’t a big fan of arctic troopers I’m completely blown away but just how much functional detail is found on this figure. Best of all, most of the detailing doesn’t really interfere with the figure’s range of motion in any way, making this one of the most visually interesting and poseable figures in this new line. (Just take a closer look at the elbow joints, which have been trimmed back to allow for a great range of movement than the dreaded “Duke arms” and now “Hawk elbows”!)
When it comes to gear, the Snow Serpent is certainly well-equipped. Complete with backpack, anti-armor rocket, AK-47, and snow shoes this is one of the most heavily “geared up” figures in the new “no-ring” line. (In fact there so much bulky equipment included that the figure looks positively crammed into the package with everything.) It’s a nice homage to the kit of the original figure which also featured realistic practical gear. The ability to stow the anti-armor device on the backpack is a real plus even though it doesn’t sit as solidly as Bazooka’s rocket does on his pack. Much like the Arctic Commando version of Snake Eyes, the Snow Serpent’s snow shoes the ability to remain on the figure’s feet even if the display stand is used thanks to a second set of holes. While the shoes themselves are molded from a rubbery plastic and are prone to warping in the package the ability to use them with or without the included stand is nice piece of design foresight. (To paraphrase BA Baraccus from “The A-Team”: when Hasbro’s on the jazz, they’re on the jazz.) One more detail of this figure that needs to be mentioned is the pair of thick goggles perched on the figure’s forehead. They’re not removable but they are molded in translucent blue plastic which adds a further dash of realism to the overall appearance of the figure. I do wish the helmet was removable as was the case with the DTC and later VvV versions but doing so would most likely add unnecessary bulk to the figure’s head and shoulders. Besides, as collectors we can’t have everything, right?
In closing, I’m more impressed with this figure than I thought I would be. I’ll be honest—I’m not one of those collectors who is running out and troop-building this new line in large numbers. Given the relative scarcity of product on retail store shelves and the increased cost of the figures, it’s just not in the cards for me. Besides, I did my troop building a few years ago during the “new sculpt” GvC era and just don’t feel like starting over again. However, I can appreciate the quality of the product that is the Snow Serpent. He’s loaded with detail, possesses functional and useful articulation, and is a terrific update of a classic design. All-in-all, this is one of the stronger troop-builders in this 25A era line and serves as yet another example of just how solid a product Hasbro can produce when they’re got their A-game on. (Oh poor little Viper… how insignificant you must feel right now.) Yet again I find myself recommending another “no-ring” Joe to collectors simply because the quality of the product in this case is so high. I’m still not a huge fan of cold weather troops and I’m thoroughly impressed with this one.