#2529: Arctic Mission Storm Shadow

ARCTIC MISSION STORM SHADOW

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Even before G.I. Joe went heavy into its ninjas, they’d been present for a while.  While everyone associates Snake Eyes with the whole ninja thing, it’s worth noting that he wasn’t so much responsible for bringing it into the franchise, since in 1982 he was still just a commando.  It was actually Storm Shadow’s arrival on the scene in 1984 that really ushered in the ninjas, with Snake Eyes getting a bit of a re-work to match Storm Shadow’s ninja skills for the other side.  The two have subsequently become rather intertwined, and ninjas have become a fixed piece of the mythos.  So, it’s not too much of a shock that Storm Shadow cropped up pretty quickly for this new incarnation of the line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Arctic Mission Storm Shadow is figure 14 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, and is an Amazon-exclusive item.  He’s our first Storm Shadow, so it’s kind of interesting that he’s an environment-specific figure, rather than an all-purpose version.  That said, with the exclusive status on this guy, it makes sense to do something a little bit less standard, while still giving us a taste of the character.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 37 points of articulation.  In the history of environmental specific Joe appearances and Storm Shadows, there’s not actually been an Arctic Storm Shadow (well, okay, there was *technically* one in Sigma 6, but he was just the standard figure with the arms painted grey, so it’s iffy), so this is *technically* a new design.  That being said, he’s actually *not* really a new design, because Hasbro’s aptly repurposed Storm Shadow’s Ninja Force design for this release.  As with any of the designs for this line, there have been some adjustments to update it, give it that slightly sci-fi bend, and just generally fill the larger canvas a bit better, but the broad strokes are certainly all there, and I really like how this thing turned out.  There are a ton of layers to this design, and the most impressive part of it all is definitely the mask and removable hood.  The original figure had a permanently attached hood, but this one takes advantage of the scale and modern innovation for the removable factor, allowing a lot more depth of detail to the underlying mask, and the neck and collar of his uniform.  There’s a lot of really cool details I like in there.  The figure’s shoulder pads are also designed much like Baroness’s from yesterday, moving on their own, and allowing for more movement on the shoulders.  Another touch I like quite a bit is the absence of any sort of a Cobra insignia from his outfit; the Ninja Force figure was released while Storm Shadow had switched over to the Joes, so he didn’t have the Cobra logo, obviously.  Since this figure is *technically* still a Cobra, he can’t very well have any Joe logos either, so instead he got his Arashikage emblem, which definitely looks cool.  Storm Shadow’s paint work is what really sells the Ninja Force-esque design, with the proper black and white with gold accents.  It’s pretty clean and slick, and he’s also got printed eyes, which keep him nice and lifelike.  Storm Shadow is packed with another impressive selection of accessories, including a bow, arrow, quiver, sword, sheath, grapple, and sickle.  It pretty much covers all of the major bases for what a Storm Shadow could need, so I definitely dig it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since this is an Amazon exclusive, it’s probably not too hard to piece together where this guy came from.  He went up for order, and I ordered him, and then I received him in the mail.  Very exciting story, right?  Obviously, I had Snake Eyes, and I needed a Storm Shadow to pair off with him.  I gotta say, while he may not be standard, I really dig how they managed to get this particular design out there, and it makes for a really fun figure.  I can’t wait to see how the proper version turns out.  Also, can we possibly get a V4-inspired “Arctic” Snake Eyes to pair off with him?  Because that would make me very happy.

#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.

#0688: Storm Shadow

STORM SHADOW

GI JOE: RETALIATION

StormShadowR1

G.I. Joe: Retaliation was….ummm….well, it was a movie with G.I. Joe in the title. It was also about 90 minutes long. It was shot using cameras. It had a script, with words even. Was it a good movie? No, not especially. It had its moments, but that’s really the best that can be said. On the plus side, Hasbro did make a line of figures to go with it, and they didn’t totally suck. Let’s look at Storm Shadow, one of the film’s many ninjas and just the worst human prop of all time.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

StormShadowR2Storm Shadow was released as part of the first series of G.I. Joe: Retaliation figures. You know, the ones that came out a full year before the film’s release due to Paramount pushing back the movie’s release date at the last minute? Yeah, fun times. Technically, he’s based on Storm Shadow from the movie, but, in reality, he’s a mostly made up design. Granted, I like it more that the movie design, so I’m not complaining. The figure stands 3 ¾ inches tall and has 24 points of articulation. Unlike several of the early Retaliation figures, Storm Shadow didn’t have any points of articulation cut, so he retains full movement, which is a definite plus. Structurally, the figure sported a brand-new sculpt. As noted above, it’s not really accurate to the movie’s design. That being said, it’s actually a pretty sound sculpt, with nice proportions and lots of fun detail work. Interestingly, though he’s a movie figure, he seems a bit more stylized than other figures, to the point that he almost seems like he’d be more at home with the Resolute or Renegades figures. It’s nothing really overt or anything, but there’s definitely a bit of flair to this guy. One small nit: his collar is a separate piece, and it doesn’t fit exactly to the body, making it rather obviously a separate piece. It’s slightly annoying. The paintwork on Storm Shadow is pretty decent overall. It’s nothing too fancy, but the grey accents are nice and the small bit of flesh tone and the eyes are pretty clean. The Cobra logo is well done, though it’s actually inaccurate, since (SPOILER) Storm Shadow is no longer affiliated with Cobra in Retaliation. The figure was packed with two swords (one long, one short), a backpack that holds them, and one of Hasbro’s signature oversized missile launchers. Yay!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I mostly skipped out on the Retaliation stuff when it was released, mostly due to being unable to find the few figures I actually wanted from the line and then not really caring enough to buy them when I did find them months later. So, why do I have Storm Shadow? Clearance. He was $3 at Toys R Us, and I was already buying other things, so he felt worth it. (Also, Super Awesome Girlfriend was with me at the time and she will literally not let me put an action figure back.)  After opening him and playing around with him a bit? He was definitely worth it.

#0167: G.I. Joe Resolute Cobra Box Set

COBRA COMMANDER, STORM SHADOW, ALLEY VIPER, BARONESS, DESTRO, ZARTAN & FIREFLY

G.I. JOE 25th ANNIVERSARY

Hoo boy. Yep, this review is gonna be a long one. Typically, I try to do boxed sets as one review for the whole thing whenever possible. That’s not usually that much extra work, until I run into something like the set I’m reviewing today.

This isn’t the first time I’ve looked at GI Joe’s A Real American Hero incarnation, but it’s the first time I’ve looked at this particular branch of it. After the early 2000s GI Joe VS Cobra interpretation started to dwindle, Hasbro once again relaunched the line as GI Joe 25th Anniversary, to coincide with the titular anniversary. It was a combination of boxed sets and single packed waves of figures. Eventually, the line’s sales fell, so Hasbro moved several of the remaining figures to a few online exclusive seven – packs. Yep, I’m going to be looking at seven figures today. Hang in there readers!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This was a one of two online exclusive boxed sets released in the summer of 2010. Both sets were based on 2009’s GI Joe: Resolute, an animated movie that was aired as a series of shorts on [adult swim]. The script was written by comicbook writer Warren Ellis, and it served as an update of sorts to the cartoon from the 80s. This set featured the Cobra characters from the series.

COBRA COMMANDER

Cobra Commander, as the name implies, is the leader of terrorist organization Cobra. He’s one of the few characters that had more than one look over the course of the series, so they’ve decided to give him his more standard uniform that he wears for the majority of the series. It’s a cool design, and serves as an update on his original 1982 figure. The figure stands about 3 ¾ inches tall and features 22 points of articulation. The Commander shares his torso, waist, upper and lower arms, gloves, upper legs, and shins with his first 25th Anniversary figure, and was also an almost wholesale re-release of the Resolute version of the Commander released in the main line. The sculpt looks like a pretty great representation of the Commander’s appearance in Resolute, despite the re-use. Most of the figure’s success comes from his add-on half cape and skirt piece, which both cover up the reused pieces and give the Commander the regal dictator look he should have. The head adds to that, with a nice, more angular update to his traditional mirror faced helmet. The paint on the figure is all very well done, with no real signs of slop or anything. He’s conveyed here in the cartoon’s more muted tones, which accent the figure’s sculpt very well. It would be nice if there was perhaps some more detailing or a wash of some sort to bring out some of the sculpted folds and such, but at this scale, it’s not a huge issue. Cobra Commander includes a sword, a pistol, an ornate knife/dagger and a stand bearing his name and the Cobra logo. That’s a nice assortment of accessories!

STORM SHADOW

Storm Shadow was Cobra’s resident expert in all things ninja. He served as a counter point to GI Joe member Snake Eyes. Storm Shadow’s design was based on his original design, with some thorough tweaks to update it a bit, I suppose. He stands about 3 ¾ inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. He shares his torso, arms and waist with the 25th Anniversary Quick Kick figure, but everything else is new. Storm Shadow also features a hood, sash and shirt as add-on pieces, allowing you to dress him how you like, I suppose. All of the pieces are well sculpted, doing a decent job of capturing the character’s look from Resolute. The add-on pieces look a bit bulky from certain angles, but it isn’t too bad. The paint is serviceable, but not the greatest. There’s a few spots of sloppiness, and he could really benefit from a wash of some sort. The details really get lost in the white. Storm Shadow includes two katana, a backpack with sheaths for them, a claw attachment for his hand, and a stand with his name and the Cobra logo.

ALLEY VIPER

The Alley Viper is this set’s army builder. Admittedly, not the most practical way to release such a figure, but don’t let that color your opinion of the figure. He stands 3 ¾ inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. Most of his basic body comes from either the basic Resolute Cobra Trooper or the previously released samurai version of Storm Shadow. He has a new head, helmet, goggles, and chest armor. These pieces make a world of difference, making the Alley Viper look like a brand new figure. The sculpting it really great here, with lots of little texture work, especially on the torso piece. The paint on the figure is clean, and looks great all around. The Alley Viper includes two large rifles, and a display stand.

BARONESS

The Baroness is the right hand…woman, I guess, and has been a fixture of Cobra since the beginning. Her figures in the past haven’t been the greatest. This one’s not the worst, but it’s not an amazing. She’s a little under 3 ¾ inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. She shares her body with the previous version of Baroness from the 25th Anniversary line, with a new head. The body is perfectly fine. Nicely proportioned and all. The head is another story. It seems like it’s more of a molding issue than a sculpt issue, but nonetheless, it’s not a very good piece. The paint is serviceable. It’s all very cleanly applied, but there’s nothing super impressive. She includes a removable pair of sunglasses, two sub machine guns, and a display stand.

DESTRO

Destro was Cobra’s weapons supplier, though more often than not he was just treated as a part of the Cobra hierarchy. His design deviates the most from his original look, but that’s understandable. His original design was probably the most dated of the original designs. He’s the tallest member of the set, clocking in at a full 4 inches and featuring 22 points of articulation. Destro’s only shared piece was his head, which he shares with all of his previous 25th Anniversary releases. Everything else is brand new, and it’s all very sharply sculpted, which is really cool. Like Cobra Commander, he’s got a very regal sort of look to him. His paint work is simple, but it’s all cleanly applied. It looks accurate to the show. Destro includes a machine gun, a briefcase containing a sub-machine gun, two pistols, an alternate cybernetic arm, and a display stand.

ZARTAN

Zartan was the leader of the Dreadnocks, and the resident master of disguise over at Cobra. He stands about 3 ¾ inches tall and features 22 points of articulation. He shares a head with the previous 25th Anniversary version of the character. I believe all the other pieces are new. He looks pretty spot in to the character’s look in the cartoon. The sculpt is decently detailed, and properly stylized, which looks pretty good. The paint is perfectly fine, with no real slop or bleed over. He’s done nicely, but the color scheme is pretty bland, so he kind of blends in. He includes a smaller gun, a sniper rifle, and a display stand.

FIREFLY

Firefly was a beloved show by creator Joss Whedon, cancelled after just 13 episodes… No wait, sorry. Firefly is a Batman villain who…no, that’s wrong too. Firefly is actually Cobra’s something expert. Not certain what, but he looks while doing whatever it is he does. He stands 3 ¾ inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. He shares his body with the Resolute Cobra Trooper, with a new head and a body armor add-on piece. All of the sculpting work is solid, with some great detail, particularly the stitching on the mask, which is a cool touch. The paint is once again solid work, but like Zartan, it’s really drab. For as cool as people seem to think the character is, he’s not the most exciting figure. He includes a rifle, a missile, a rocket launcher thing (not pictured), and a display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Resolute box sets were what really got me into the 25th Anniversary line. I had enjoyed the cartoon quite a bit, and I really liked the updated designs, so I was all aboard for the figures. I had initially really wanted the set for Cobra Commander and Storm Shadow, but once I got the figures in hand, I really enjoyed the Alley Viper, way more than I thought I would. Not that Commander and Storm Shadow are bad. Sure, the set’s not all perfect (I’m looking at you Baroness), but it’s a lot of fun and it was a great way to get an instant set of all the main Cobras.