The Venomous Sea Serpent, better known as the VSS, is the brainchild of Victor Garcia. It is a vessel, straight out of science fiction, that enables the villains, such as Cobra (if you're a G.I. Joe fan), to extend their influence across the globe, and go toe-to-toe against opposing vessels, such as the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier the USS FLAGG.
For the remainder of this article, I will refer to the VSS as a vessel for Cobra, the primary antagonist of the GI Joe brand. But it is important to know that the VSS is an open diorama platform -- is designed to blend well with other universes, such as Star Wars or Marvel -- and to fill various roles: ocean carrier, helicarrier, or, like my own Venomous Sea Serpent (VSS 002) a spacecraft carrier.
Kits and Assembly
It comes as a kit. There is a bridge kit which is sold separately, and a kit for the main super-structure. The bridge kit is both plastic and MDF wood, while the main kit is all MDF. Instructions are included with the bridge kit. The super-structure is quite large and comes in a huge box that you'll need a dolly or two people to carry. Assembly is easy, though. The MDF is precisely cut and items such as walls fit snugly into slots. But you'll have to drill pilot holes and apply screws to fit the outer walls.
The kit also comes unpainted. It's up to you to determine how your VSS will look. You will need to spend some time at a hardware store (or in my case I ordered everything through Amazon) picking the right color and paint. For my VSS 002, I chose a "smoke gray" and it took a few hours to apply two coats with a small roller brush. Other folks have painted their VSS blue, black, various grays, even red.
Fleshing out the inside is also completely up to you. You make the VSS how you want. If you are good at making your own diorama furniture and props then the VSS offers a lot of opportunity to express your skill. There are lots of options also for using pre-existing playsets. Star Wars stuff looks great with this ship. There's lots of 3rd party diorama wall systems, especially for fine scale models, that can be used to interesting effect. DioWarriors also supplies custom designed props specific to the VSS.
It is an open system so that means the Venomous Sea Serpent can be fully customized to however you desire. Using an all wood (MDF) construction makes it easy to cut additional door ways or hatches into the super structure. With VSS 002 an additional door was needed in one of the walls of the lower deck. I accomplished this with a simple cut with a jig-saw taking no more than a few minutes was all that was needed. Easy!
Diorama Display and Storage
One thing that might be daunting about the Venomous Sea Serpent is that it is large. The size takes up a lot of room, and at first this might be a turn-off from purchasing it, especially if you are the type of collector that is running out of space. After-all, it might be that maybe some of your vehicles and figures are stored away in boxes. If so, then you are like me and many other collectors who simply don't have the space to display a huge collection. But the VSS size is also an asset: it can function as a shelf for displaying. Besides being a vessel for displaying a diorama, the various rooms in the decks function as hangars and maintenance bays for vehicles. The decks are designed to be stackable. So if you need more room, simply add another deck. These decks can take the role of shelves.
With my collection most of my vehicles are still put away in boxes. The boxes themselves are taking up a lot of room, and I don't get to appreciate those vehicles. So VSS 002 will function as the display and storage. As I assemble VSS 002, I will have four lower decks each of which are stackable. One deck will display the HISS Tanks and another will display boats -- Water Moccasin, Hydrofoil, etc. Another lower deck will be just for figures. The fourth deck is currently undecided. All of this and I have not gotten to the flight deck, of which the VSS has three: port and starboard flight decks, and a dedicated middle flight deck for VTOLs -- Flight Pods, Fangs, Claws, and so forth. Then there's the bridge which fits above the middle flight deck.
The Venomous Sea Serpent is about projecting power. It is a mobile headquarters enabling support for air, ground, and water forces, and being able to deploy those forces anywhere. And this makes it a prime target. So the VSS makes use of various armaments for both defense and offense.
The Venomous Sea Serpent is the antagonist to the USS Flagg of G.I. Joe. Both are carrier ships, able to deploy aircraft, but that is where the similarities end. The VSS has a different role than the USS Flagg. To give the VSS some serious teeth, DioWarriors is focused on a series of weapon systems.
For defense a Phalanx system will be available, as well other automated and manned gun platforms, various missiles, and torpedo systems. There's even a Naval style anti-ballistic missile laser defense system. But it is the offense that really gives the Sea Serpent some serious bite: a Harpoon missile system and ICBM missile system.
Another real strength to the Venomous Sea Serpent is the ability to project power to far and remote lands. A navy fleet--especially an aircraft carrier--does this for a nation. For your villains the VSS enables them the same ability. As a carrier the VSS has two primary flight decks and a 3rd mini-flight deck. All the flight decks are designed for VTOL aircrafts, of which Cobra air-power mostly is. The maintenance bays of the lower decks can also hold additional aircraft, but the real strength is that the maintenance bays can also store vehicles, giving the VSS the ability to function as a landing ship, or at the minimum, a vehicle transport.
Sold as a separate product, the bridge is a stand-alone item in terms of a diorama. It can be used in many different ways for many different roles. The bridge kit contains the instructions for the VSS, so if you wanted to build your own Venomous Sea Serpent without purchasing the main VSS kit, the bridge kit can prove useful. To flesh out the bridge, DioWarriors has specifically designed consoles, floor, greebles and other items.
VSS 002 - the Space Carrier Version
If you will like to see the evolution of my own VSS carrier, I'm preparing another series of articles documenting the design and build. It's going to take some time to do everything -- building, painting, 3D printing all the insides -- converting the VSS from an ocean vessel to a space carrier, but I have a goal to have it ready in time for JoeFest 2021. So if you will see the progress, check back regularly for updates. I'll be posting them as soon and as often as I can.
And finally, if you are interested in your own VSS, check out the Venomous Sea Serpent group in Facebook for more information and also for following what other folks are doing with their own Cobra carrier. Here is a direct link to help get you on your way!
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