#1600: Snake Eyes

SNAKE EYES

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO

“SNAKE EYES served in Long Range Recon Patrols in Southeast Asia. He left the service to study mystic martial arts with the same Ninja family that produced STORM SHADOW. SNAKE EYES was living an ascetic existence alone in the High Sierras with his pet timber wolf when he was recruited for the GI JOE team. He is a qualified expert in all NATO and Warsaw Pact small arms, has a black belt in 12 different fighting systems, and is highly skilled in the use of edged weapons.”

Ah, look at that.  Another hundred reviews.  That means it’s time for—wait, sorry, hadn’t updated the script.  Right.  Hi there dear readers!  Welcome to the Figure in Question’s 1600th review.  Usually on the hundred mark I do a special high-end deluxe review, but I like to mix things up occasionally and space those particular reviews out a bit more as I go along.  So, the deluxe reviews are new going to be every 250 reviews from now on.  So, in honor of this not at all monumental review, I’ll be taking a look at a Snake Eyes figure.  Wooo-eee.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This particular Snake Eyes figure was packed with the Kid Rhino DVD release of the first two mini-series of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon, which hit in 2003.  It’s the 16th version of the character released, and is actually just a slight re-working of his very first figure.  This figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  Sculpturally, he’s the exact same figure as the ToyFare-exclusive Snake Eyes figure from the same year (already reviewed here).  It’s the original Snake Eyes mold, with the version 1.5 swivel arms, and Roadblock’s pelvis piece.  It’s a sculpt that shows its age, but one I still very much like.  The main difference with this figure and that one is coloring (though not paint, as the actual paint applications on these two are identical).  Rather than Snake Eyes’ usual all black palette, this figure is molded in a dark blue, which mimics how he was colored in the cartoon.  Given how this figure was released, it’s certainly a reasonable change, and makes for a somewhat unique looking figure.  Snake Eyes was packed with a pretty decent accessories complement, given his nature as a pack-in.  He included a sword, an Uzi, a pack of explosives, a back pack, and his trusty canine sidekick Timber.  Sadly, I lost Timber at some point, something I still kick myself about.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got the DVD set that included this guy as a Christmas present from my parents some years back.  I know I’d seen it somewhere and expressed interest in it, and they took note of this and got it for me.  Of course, I certainly didn’t ask for the set just for the figure included with it.  That would be preposterous, right?  Who would do something like that?  Not me.  Not me at all.  Despite essentially having reviewed this figure before, there’s just something about this particular variant that I really like. 

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#1461: Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow

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

“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

“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.

#0740: Snake Eyes – Commando

SNAKE EYES – COMMANDO

GI JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO

SnakeEyes90s1

When most people think of Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe, I’m pretty sure the default thing that pops into people’s heads is the whole “ninja” thing. It’s kind of become a defining trait of the character.  That’s actually pretty funny, because he wasn’t originally a ninja. His official designation was commando, and his original figure didn’t even include a sword! Over the years, Snake Eyes has gone up and down the scale of ninja-ness, as Hasbro tries to bring him back to his original roots as just a faceless commando, but it never sticks. Still, it results in some interesting figures!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

SnakeEyes90s2Snake Eyes was a part of the first series of Dollar General exclusive G.I. Joe figures. Yes, that does seem like an odd place to sell exclusive action figures. Just go with it, I guess. Also, point of reference, this is 59th version of Snake Eyes in the small scale line. That’s a whole lot of Snake Eyeseseses. The figure stands roughly 3 ¾ inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. This figure is meant to replicate the somewhat unique look of the fourth version of character, released in 1991. It was the first attempt on Hasbro’s part to take Snake Eyes back to being a commando, before they threw caution to the wind and went full on Ninja Force. This figure has been constructed entirely from re-used parts. Most of them are from the 25th Anniversary update of the third Snake Eyes figure, with a few other assorted pieces thrown in. There’s also an add-on piece for his web gear, which I believe is also a re-use, but I’m not sure from where. The end result is a figure that looks kind of like the original figure, like if you squint or something, but isn’t anywhere near as accurate as some of the other entries in the line. That said, the pieces all work pretty well together, and he still looks pretty cool, so it’s hard to really complain. The paint on this guy certainly does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of conveying the design this is based upon. That figure was pretty distinct with this color palate, playing up the whole “American Hero” part of the title a bit more. This one does a pretty serviceable job of capturing the look. The colors have been toned down ever so slightly, but the overall look is still there. Snake Eyes was packed with a katana and a black display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I never had any luck finding this guy at Dollar General, so I kind of missed out on him for a while. I ended up finding him at nearby small toy shop All Time Toys. I never actually cared all that much for the original figure of this design, so I really don’t mind the changes Hasbro made. He’s a pretty nifty toy, and that color scheme certainly sets him apart from the other Joes!

#0347: Snake Eyes & Agent Scarlett

SNAKE EYES & AGENT SCARLETT

GI JOE VS COBRA

SnakeEyes&Scarlett

In 1965, Hasbro invented the action figure with the very first GI Joe. The figure offered a take on the traditional doll idea, but meant for boys. He was 12 inches tall, had a cloth outfit, and was a pretty straight forward military man, offered in a variation for each of the four branches of the US military. After the end of the Vietnam War, soldiers and war were seen in a more negative light, so Hasbro had to change things up. This led to the Adventure Team era, which prevailed for most of the 70s. At the end of the decade, they faced another issue. Thanks to Kenner’s smaller scale Star Wars line, the industry was moving to smaller, less accessorized figures. Hasbro had to move quickly to reinvigorate GI Joe for a new audience, leading to the creation of GI Joe: A Real American Hero, which reworked the scale and made the line a collection of unique characters. It also provided the Joes with their first real foe, Cobra. It has remained the definitive take on the GI Joe concept pretty much since its inception. While the line never went away, after the 80s the line dwindled, until it was once again re-worked in 2002. That’s when I came on board. The line operated mostly on new sculpts, but there were a few re-releases mixed in. Today, I’ll be looking at one such release, with Joe mainstays Snake Eyes and Scarlett.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pair was released as an exclusive two-pack through Toyfare magazine. They were meant to tie-in with the then current GI Joe VS Cobra.

SNAKE EYES

SnakeEyes&ScarletWilson1This is the 15th version of the ever silent ninja/commando/everything but the kitchen sink, Snake Eyes! Snake Eyes is 3 ¾ inches in height and he features 14 points of articulation. He’s meant to be a slightly more high quality recreation of the very first Snake Eyes figure, so he unsurprisingly used a lot of the same pieces. He’s mostly built out of the version 1.5, after Hasbro added the now standard swivels to his biceps, but instead of the original, he’s been given that of the second version of Roadblock. Not sure why that is, but I assume Hasbro had a good reason. Anyway, it’s a pretty great sculpt, even if it does show its age just a little. Obviously, it’s a tad more simplistic than most modern day sculpts, but that’s not too bad. He still has his fair share of detail, and he looks pretty great! The paint is a key point on this figure, as the original Snake Eyes didn’t actually have any. For this one, they’ve added some additional details to the various pouches and straps on the body to give him a little more variety. There is also a shade of very dark gray applied to the visor on his head, which was so subtle I almost didn’t notice it at first. Overall, the paint is pretty good, but there are a few areas where he has some bleed over. Snake Eyes included a submachine gun, a sword, some explosives, and a back pack, which a pretty impressive accessories compliment!

AGENT SCARLETT

SnakeEyes&ScarletWilson2This is the 6th version of Scarlett, or Agent Scarlett as she’s called here. She’s 3 ¾ inches in height and she has 14 points of articulation. Like Snake Eyes, she’s meant as a recreation of the original Scarlett figure from way back in the very first series of GI Joe: A Real American Hero. The figure is a complete re-use of swivel-armed version of the original figure, which is reasonable. Admittedly, the Scarlett sculpt is not as nice as Snake Eyes. Her arms sit a little bit far out at the shoulders, and the face is rather on the mannish side. It’s not terrible, but it’s not the greatest. The paint on Scarlett is a bit more intensive than that on Snake Eyes. All in all, it’s pretty good. There’s no real slop or bleed over, so that’s good. They’ve also made her a bit more colorful than her original incarnation, which is probably for the best. Scarlett comes armed with a crossbow and two swords, as well as a backpack.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

GI Joe was mostly in a lull when I came into the world of action figure collecting. As such, my first real introduction to the property was GI Joe VS Cobra. Once I had gotten the newer figures, I began looking into the older figures, particularly those of Snake Eyes. Thanks to an article run in Toyfare magazine, I learned of the second version of the character, which I really wanted. It didn’t prove easy to find, so I had to go without it until recently.

In the meantime, I purchased this set from Toyfare to hold me over. I remember being extremely excited when I first saw the order form in the issue in which they were offered! My always supportive Mom was feeling particularly awesome, so she ordered the set for me. Since then, it’s easily remained one of my favorite pieces of my GI Joe collection. It’s a great set and I really love it!

#0270: Snake Eyes – V2

SNAKE EYES – V2

GI JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO

SnakeEyesV2

The 3 ¾ inch line of GI Joe first launched in 1982, with 16 figures, sharing as many parts as possible. It was a hit, and those original 16 have since gone on to become rather memorable, simply for being there first. However, many people don’t see that first year as the one that defined the line, but rather see 1985, the line’s fourth year. It’s the year that introduced the ball jointed neck articulation that would become standard for the line, as well as introducing fan favorite characters like Flint, Lady Jaye, Shipwreck, the Crimson Guards, and Tomax and Xamot. It also featured the line’s first re-do of a previous Joe, Snake Eyes, beginning his reign as one of the line’s central characters. Today, I’ll be taking a look at that second Snake Eyes figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

SnakeEyesV2WilsonSnake Eyes was released as part of the 1985 series of GI Joe: A Real American Hero, which was the 4th series of the line. As indicated in the title, it’s the second version of the character in the line. It is also considered by many collectors to be the definitive take on the character. This is the figure that added the character’s definitive knight-style visor. The figure stands 3 ¾ inches tall and features 14 points of articulation. The figure features a brand new sculpt, which interestingly enough never saw any re-use or re-release, which is surprising given Hasbro’s penchant for re-use and the popularity of this particular figure. The sculpt is pretty much par for the course for a vintage GI Joe figure. It’s fairly basic, but that’s part of the appeal of the figure. The simplicity works especially well for Snake Eyes’ design. The paint on Snake Eyes is once again fairly basic, with a few areas of dark grey details and some silver on his right arm. For the most part, it’s pretty cleanly applied, although there is some bleed over on his bandolier.  Snake Eyes included a sword, a back pack, an uzi, and his pet wolf, Timber. However, my figure was purchased used, so he only has the back pack.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Snake Eyes version 2 is a figure that’s eluded me for roughly ten years. When I got into GI Joe with the GI Joe vs Cobra line back in 2002, I was thrilled with the line, and quickly began looking into older figures from the line. Snake Eyes was by far my favorite character at the time, so I was very interested in versions of him. Not too long after, the magazine Toyfare ran a feature on the Top 20 GI Joe toys, with this particular figure ranking #3 on the list. As soon as I saw him, I knew I wanted one, but acquiring one was no easy feat. Toyfar eventually ended up releasing an exclusive Snake Eyes figure, but that one was built out of the first version, not the second one that I really want. Still, I got that one to tide me over (incidentally, that one still remains one of my favorite GI Joes). When Hasbro launched the 25th Anniversary line, I picked up the update of the V2 figure, once again to tide me over.

Last week, while on vacation with my family, we visited a nearby toy store called Yesterday’s Fun. We’ve been there a few times before, and they always have some pretty cool stuff. I walked around and found a few figures I was interested in, and when I walked up to the counter, I noticed a box of loose GI Joes in a glass case. I politely asked to go through them, hoping to find that Snake Eyes figure. Alas, he wasn’t in the box (although I did pick out a few others I’d wanted). Then, as the owner put back the box, I noticed a small selection of Joes sitting next to the box. Sure enough, there sat Snake Eyes, front and center. I can’t begin to describe how excited I was to finally get him after looking for one for so long!