For some reason, the fanboys got it in their heads that Rise of Cobra was going to somehow ruin GI Joe, that it was going to disrespect everything we'd grown up loving. But as soon as the movie opened, that idiot prediction was proved wrong. Sure, there were some changes, but a lot of things came right out of G1 - for instance, the relationship between Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow.
If you only watched the Real American Hero cartoon, well, we feel sorry for you. But more than that, you probably think Storm Shadow's
nemesis is Spirit or Quick Kick: Snake-Eyes was only a minor part of the cartoon, because it's hard to write episodes around a guy who can't talk. Nope, in reality, he's the Batman or Wolverine of GI Joe, and his rivalry with SS has been a cornerstone of every incarnation. The movie didn't dare pass it up!
In the comics, Snake-Eyes went to train with Storm Shadow's family only after he'd gotten out of Vietnam. The movie moves that earlier, so the two met as children, and that's what this set gives us.
Something you may not have realized is that Young Snake-Eyes was played by Mark Hamill. At least, that's the impression I get, since the head on this figure looks like it came directly off a Galactic Heroes Luke Skywalker. It didn't - it's a new sculpt - but the innocent grin, the tousled, sandy-blonde hair... it certainly looks very "Luke-ish."
Luke-Eyes is wearing a black gi, because it's very handy when you can color-code your characters throughout different stages in their lives. He's wearing a red belt, but that's always been the traditional Arashikage color - it's not necessarily an indication of his skill rank. His shoes are black, as well, and there's a flash of skin at his neck. Coverage could be better on that one.
Young SE is wielding a pair of wooden tonfas,
molded as part of his arms. He did use that type of weapon in the film, so it's an appropriate choice. He moves at the Springfield Four (neck, waist and shoulders), which is typical for the "Heroes-scale" toys. His paint is crisp, although the skintone is a bit browner than you might expect. I guess he's been doing a lot of training outside in the sun.
If Snake-Eyes is Luke Skywalker, Stormshadow's
secret is that he was once a beautiful young lady. Okay, okay, we kid - long hair does not a female make. It's just that the cartoony style of these toys hides any of the already scant male identifiers in a child's face, so Brandon Soo Hoo looks more like a Brenda.
Young Storm Shadow is wearing white, of course, and he, too, has a red belt. He's armed with a large silver sword, and has more of a "martial arts" pose than L'il Snakey does: all his weight is on his back foot, and he's holding his sword high. His right hand is posed
with the first two fingers extended, as though for a strike, but the bend of his arm makes it look more like an unintentional salute.
Tommy's skin is paler than his friend's - much paler. Thankfully, the paint of his dark black hair doesn't spill down onto his face. His eyes are slightly crooked, but that sort of mistake is always something to watch out for on Heroes figs. The silver paint doesn't bleed onto his hands, and there's a fine red Arashikage symbol on the blade. Overall, it's nice work.
If you like Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes, this is definitely a new way to see them. Surprisingly, this is the only Combat Heroes two-pack to feature both ninjas - both the RAH and ROC sets have split them up, to encourage you to buy more toys. Rise of Cobra may have moved the pairing of these two warriors earlier in their lives, but their story remains the same. And this may be an unusual representation, but it's still cool.