Thursday, June 1, 2017

Rarities - 2001 Pre-Production Laser Viper

It seems odd that the A Real American Hero Collection's success at retail caught Hasbro off guard.  But, it seemed to do so.  The first was only shipped in 2000 and Target did not carry it.  Wave 2 showed up quickly and then shipped for nearly six months.  The third wave was kept relatively quiet.  But, when blurry pics first surfaced of it, collectors went bananas over the possibility of a new Cobra Trooper.

Soon, though, it became evident the figure was not a Cobra Trooper but a newly created Laser Viper.  The first showcase of the figure, though, was drastically different from the production figure.  Below you can see how Hasbro originally envisioned the figure.

Of the 4 figures shown, the Laser Viper is most drastically different.  Instead of the solid blue figure with red vest, Hasbro went with a silver body that was more reminiscent of the Lamprey and Sub Viper.  Frankly, the look is more apropos for a laser trooper and I like the design better than the actual production figure.  It does't appear that the Fast Blast Viper was changed all that much beyond some lighter grey highlights.  You will see the early, prototype, head on Sure Fire.  Low Light appears to be nothing more than a 1991 figure.  So, they hadn't really done anything with him, yet.

The Laser Trooper was a retail success.  But, that was more based on the fact that he was an army builder released at a time when any army builder would sell out: no matter how ridiculous.  He wasn't hard to find, but was always the first figure to appear.  The figure was carried over into Wave IV as well.  It would have been awesome for the Wave IV to have been a repaint done in this originally proposed style.  Collectors would have welcomed the diversity and we would have gotten a decent repaint of a figure that was liked at the time.

The Laser Viper disappeared after his 2001 release.  By 2002, Hasbro had moved on to releasing Vipers and Alley Vipers as the base, vintage style Cobra troops.  The brought around BATs in 2003 and finally remade the Cobra Troopers every collector wanted in 2004.  Those later releases doomed the Laser Viper to obscurity and there was no call for another look for the figure.  That's too bad as these early samples show that the Laser Viper could have had at least one solid repaint that collectors would have enjoyed.


  1. I remember those pictures. People used that Laser Viper as a substitute Cobra Trooper. Not sure why the figure existed since later we learn Hasbro had the original Laser-Viper mold. The head has that wrinkled mask that in stark contrast to Fast Blast-Viper's Undertow smooth wet-suit mask.

    That proto is probably a painted Sci-Fi with a mocked up head.

  2. The silver is interesting, though I think I actually like the light blue better! It makes him look less like Sci-Fi and looks nicer with a lot of the early Cobra troops.