SNAKE EYES & STORM SHADOW
G.I. JOE VS COBRA (HASBRO)
Heyo! As all my faithful FiQ-fans are undoubtedly aware, today marks four years of reviews here at the site. In honor of this momentous day, I wanted to take a look at a pair of figures that are somewhat important in the grand scheme of my collection. I’ll be setting my sites on G.I. Joe, a franchise that I feel I don’t look at quite as often as I should around these parts. I mean, it is the *original* action figure, after all. The line definitely deserves some respect. Today, I’ll be looking at two of my favorite characters from the franchise (as well as two of the most popular characters in general), Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow were released in Series 1 of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe Vs Cobra line. This series served to bring brand-new 3 3/4-inch Joes back to mass retail after a one year absence and a few years of repaints.
“SNAKE EYES learned his top combat skills in missions around the globe. A tragic helicopter mission took away his voice and scarred his face. That’s why he communicates with sign language and never removes his mask around others. He studied mystical martial arts with the Arashikage clan, which is also the family of master ninja STORM SHADOW, SNAKE EYES is an expert in all disciplines of martial arts and silent weapons. He can move silenty and without being seen. At one time, he and STORM SHADOW were sword brothers, linked by spirit and tradition. Now that STORM SHADOW is part of the evil COBRA organization, there is no escape from a final battle between two of the world’s greatest martial arts fighters.”
As perhaps the most popular Joe ever, it was no surprise that Snake Eyes turned up here in the first series. The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall (he’d be taller without the wide stance) and he has 14 points of articulation. The first series of Vs were distinct in their construction. Hasbro abandoned the more typical O-ring construction, and went for a more solid construction. This results in figures that are a little sturdier than their predecessors, but slightly more limited in their posability at the hips. It wasn’t a perfect solution, and that’s why Hasbro ended up going back to the O-ring build in the next series. This Snake Eyes had a unique design, which made use of elements from all of his prior figures. I may be a little biased, but this has always been a favorite look of mine. His sculpt definitely shows its age….or an age. Given the sheer size of this guy’s muscles, he looks like he should be straight out of the ’90s, not the early ’00s. Guess Hasbro was still shaking off a little of the Extreme days from the ’90s. That being said, whoever worked on this sculpt was certainly having a good time of it. The details in the wrappings, the straps, and the pouches are all really well rendered, and indicate real attention being paid to this figure. The head’s my favorite part of the figure, as it’s probably the least affected by the stylization. I like that you can clearly see the face under the mask, but it’s not quite as ridiculous as the sculpted lips from Rise of Cobra. The paintwork on this figure is a bit more involved than most Snake Eyes figures tended to be. He’s actually molded in a very, very dark green, allowing his visor to be made straight black and still have contrast. The rest of the work is all in the accents, which all go pretty well. He’s got some color without it getting too garish. Snake Eyes was packed with a pair of swords, a backpack to hold them, a knife, and a sub-machine gun. After 15 years, all my figure has left are the swords.
“STORM SHADOW grew up in the Arashikage clan of ninjas. During his training, his sword-brother was SNAKE EYES, the commando and martial arts master of the GI JOE team. The evil COBRA organization recruited Arashikage members. This corruption split the clan in two. After a COBRA agent killed STORM SHADOW’s uncle, he went undercover within COBRA to find the assassin. When the killer was revealed, STORM SHADOW joined the GI JOE team to get revenge. But now, STORM SHADOW is back with COBRA. Are all Arshikage ninjas evil? Or does COBRA COMMANDER hold some special power over STORM SHADOW? Whatever the reason, the anger is clear when he meets SNAKE EYES. The battle between the ninja masters will be legendary.”
Ah, the revolving door that is Storm Shadow’s affiliation. Yes, one of the notable things done by the relaunch was placing Storm Shadow back on the side of Cobra, which was explained in the Devil’s Due comics of the time as the result of brainwashing. The figure has the same height and articulation as Snake Eyes. Thanks to a slightly straighter stance, that actually makes him a little shorter. The sculpt for Storm Shadow as another all-new one, and while Snake Eyes would get another sculpt very quickly, Storm Shadow’s stuck around for several years. It’s not anywhere near as exaggerated as the Snake Eyes sculpt, so I guess it had a slightly longer shelf life. That being said, I can’t help but feel this sculpt is a little less inspired than that of Snake Eyes. The details seem a lot flatter, less organic, and just generally a little less developed. And then there’s that hood; what’s going on with the hood? It’s all stuck to the head, and generally un-hood-like. The Storm Shadow figure just prior to this one clearly showed that sculpting a hood was totally within Hasbro’s grasp, so this just looks…strange. It’s as if they didn’t decide until the last minute whether they wanted the hood or not, so he just has this amorphous could-be-a-hood-could-be-a-mask thing. Storm Shadow’s paint is alright. It’s pretty basic stuff, really. Red, white, gray, and black. It’s relatively clean, and makes for a good contrast with Snake Eyes. The white is all molded plastic, though, so he’s done some serious yellowing over the years. The figure was packed with two swords, a backpack, a knife, and a sub-machine gun. Apart from the backpack and knife, the pieces were actually unique to Storm Shadow, not shared with Snake Eyes. That’s actually pretty cool!
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
These two are my very first small-scale G.I. Joes. I had several of the 12-inch ones, but the smaller line was on the back burner for my earlier collecting years. When the first series was first shown in ToyFare magazine, I was pretty excited, and I knew from the very beginning that Snake Eyes was the first one I wanted. Storm Shadow sort of came along for the ride. My dad bought these for me, as a reward for patiently waiting for flooring with him at Home Depot. They aren’t amazing figures. None of this era of Joes really were. But they were my first, and they were fun. I loved having them, and they got me into the whole franchise. Now I have over a hundred of these little guys. Lots of them are better technically than these two, but these two are still my favorites.