G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)
Oh, we’re just out of the frying pan and into the fire on G.I. Joe elements that Ethan’s not too big on, aren’t we? That’s right, Ethan doesn’t really care for the Red Ninjas. Let’s discuss. The Red Ninjas were introduced in issue #21 of Marvel’s G.I. Joe comic, which is the famous “Silent Interlude,” the story that also introduced Storm Shadow, solidified Snake Eyes as a fan favorite, and hinted at a possible connection between the two. Storm Shadow was, of course, introduced into the toy line the same year as “Silent Interlude’s” publication, but the Red Ninjas were not part of the line, since they were initially just rather generic looking ninjas meant to serve as Storm Shadow’s back-up. They wouldn’t join the toy line proper until 1993, under the Ninja Force banner, and with a rather different look. It wouldn’t be until the 2000s that we would get the more classic attire in toy form. They then went on the be a key piece of one of the most infuriatingly repetitive sequences in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and also got some more toys along the way. And now they’re in the Classified Series line-up, which I guess isn’t unreasonable. I guess.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
The Red Ninja is figure 08 in the Classified Series line-up, capping off the second main release series of figures. Given how “core cast” the figures have been so far, he’s slightly obscure by comparison, but if you factor in that the Snake Eyes movie was supposed to be hitting this year, likely right around when this particular assortment would have arrived on shelves, it makes a bit more sense. The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation. The original Red Ninja design in the comics was a rather basic one, essentially being standard ninja garb, but in red. Nothing thrilling or anything, but it’s a pretty straight forward look. When it comes to toy designs, they’ve always been a little inconsistent. The v1 figure’s a garish ’90s monstrosity, and subsequent releases have generally stuck to just being repaints of whatever Storm Shadow mold is available at the moment. This one opts to take the basic Ninja look and inject it with, like, steroids, or something. Remember how I was bringing up the whole “over designing” thing on Cobra Commander? Yeah, I think it’s worse here. There’s just too much going on with this guy. He’s got a hood. He’s got a collar. He’s got a faceplate. He’s got shoulder pads. He’s got gear strapped onto gear. Where the Cobra Trooper took a lot of piece meal elements and made them flow into something that felt cohesive, and added a bit of customization, there is neither customization nor cohesiveness with this guy. He’s just got…stuff everywhere. At his core, this figure uses the same body as Snake Eyes, and boy did I love that Snake Eyes mold. Unfortunately, one of the strengths of the Snake Eyes mold was its sleekness and posablitity. This figure throws a bunch of stuff on top of the body, which ruins both the sleekness and the posability, and I don’t really feel that the appearance of the stuff they threw on top of him really justified the sacrifices they made. Posing the figure for the photos was a bit of a chore, if I’m honest, and that’s not what you want out of a toy. The paint’s not too terrible, I suppose. There’s a few different shades of red going on, but I think they come together all right, and the pupil-less white eyes are appropriately eerie. In terms of accessories, he’s at least well-armed, with two swords, two Sais, two Kama, and two axes, all borrowed from the Pulse-exclusive Snake Eyes figure.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
My enthusiasm for the Red Ninja has never been all that high. Honestly, I think armies of faceless ninjas are a little over done as a whole, and it’s hard to dissuade me of that. However, I am still a fan of a good action figure, and figures such as the Articulated Icons Basic Red Ninja did just that. And perhaps that figure did things a little too well, I suppose, because this guy just really doesn’t click with me. He’s one of those figures that feels lesser than the sum of his parts, because there are certainly elements that I like, but I just don’t enjoy the final product all that much. In fact, I so don’t like the final product that I didn’t even opt to keep this one I’m reviewing, which is actually now in Max’s possession. That’s just how it is some times, I guess. With this guy out of the way, here’s to some slightly more exciting army builders.