Night Viper is one of the mid-2000 basic Beast Machines Transformers releases. Rather than another four legged (or six legged) critter, Night Viper adds a snake into the Maximal mix. Many speculated that the Japanese Beast Wars Neo toy Cohrada would be repainted and released as part of Beast Machines, but fans were pleasantly surprised to see that Night Viper is a whole new mold.
Let it be said that out of all the possible beasts one can choose to transform into a robot, a snake is one of the least likely and most difficult to work with. Having already experienced this beast mode once with Cohrada, it is extremely gratifying to see this toy have a completely different look and transform. It is very easy to use the same transformation scheme repeatedly for a similar beast mode.
In snake mode, Night Viper is primarily blue grey and black. Detailing is provided using metallic red, orange and yellow colors. Translucent yellow plastic is used for the beast mode eyes and details on the head. The detailing on Night Viper is much more "techno" looking than organic and looks fantastic. Lift the black panel on the left side of his back to reveal his Spark Crystal.
In this form, Night Viper has eleven points of articualtion. Most of this articulation is located in the tail (which in reality is a good portion of this form). This allows a great range of poses for this snake, allowing a more natural appearance. The only detail which looks a bit odd is how obvious his robot mode hands are in this mode. Just look at him from the front and the open palms are just kind of - there. On the flip side, Night Viper does have a nice action feature. Press the translucent yellow part of his beast mode head and his head moves out a bit and the mouth opens up, revealing his fangs! This feature is very appropriate for a creature that strikes quickly. Taken as a whole, Night Viper has a cool beast mode.
Transformation to Robot Mode:
From the front of the beast mode, pull through the tail of the snake through the lower body piece. Straighten out the legs and flip out the halves of the robot feet. Swing out the robot arms and flip the pieces attached to the arms around. Flip out the translucent yellow "hook" on the right arm piece. Fold back the beast mode head and turn the robot head around. Fold down the beast mode head and push it forward so it forms the back. Night Viper is now transformed to robot mode.
Night Viper's beast mode color scheme carries over to the robot mode. His robot mode head's eyes are translucent yellow plastic and the metallic orange on his chest is more visible here. The thin appearance of the beast mode carries over to the robot mode. Night Viper is fairly tall for a basic sized toy and his arms, body and legs are all long.
Mechanical detailing appears throughout, and an interesting design element is his robot head, which looks like a mechanical snake head. It is also nice to see that he is capable of offense and defense. His hook on the right arm can act as a weapon and the oval section on his left arm can act as a shield. In this form, Night Viper has fifteen points of articulation including three points of articulation on each leg.
Night Viper is a cool toy with an imaginative transformation and great design aesthetic. Highly recommended. A+
Updated Thoughts (January 18, 2022):
As I transformed this figure to take the new photos in this review, I felt a sense of wonder as I moved the sections that form the robot legs through a slot in the middle of the figure before locking it into place. The mechanism is quite simple, but it is so unique among Transformers figures I smiled a big ol' smile. Decades later I do not believe we have had another figure doing anything like this. Even fellow snake-bot Cohrada is a bit chonkier, letting a lot of robot mode parts fold up into the front section of the snake mode. On top of all that, the aesthetics of the figure are fantastic. While looking mostly metallic, there is so much beast-mode based "personality" to the figure I cannot help but love it. This is a wonderful figure that should be part of any Transformers collection!