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Storm Shadow

GI Joe: Retaliation
by yo go re

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

Cobra ninja Storm Shadow unleashes a whirling ninja attack against GI Joe ninja Snake-Eyes. Storm Shadow uses his powerful ninja skills and a sleek jet backpack to battle his arch-rival in a mid-air duel.

Ever since the 25th Anniversary Collection in 2007, the Generation 3 GI Joe figures have been about updating the old designs and giving us good, modern toys. And it's been great. But now it's starting to get ridiculous. At some point you cross the line from "let's update the spirit of this design to something modern" to "we must slavishly re-create the past in a slightly larger form," and then you're into MotU Classics territory. You want to get to here, not keep pushing on to here, you get it? And now GI Joe is getting dangerously close to falling over the nostalgia line.

(Yes, that paragraph is just cut and pasted from the Snake-Eyes review. If Hasbro's just going to revisit the past, then so are we.)

In 2012, Hasbro released a Storm Shadow figure based on the Renegades cartoon. It was very popular, and was, at the time, the best Storm Shadow toy ever released. So for all the fans who never had a shot at that one, the good news is that this figure is mostly identical: everything between the knees and torso joint are the same mold! He's got new shins, but not the ones seen on the Red Ninja/Budo - those were armored plates, while this one just has cloth wraps. He also has new bare arms (with wrapped up forearms), and a new upper torso with pointy shoulders, all in service of re-creating the Generation 1 appearance.

He's wearing the traditional skintight white mask, with no extra hood on top of it. It's very angular and angry-looking, thanks to the furrowed brow. But reminding us all that this is a movie toy, not ARAH, he also comes with a second, unmasked head, this one portraying Byung-hun Lee. It's the same head Paris Pursuit Storm Shadow had, but it could just as easily be a comic-​based Tommy Arashikage if you want it to be. It must be said, however, that the head sits a little low on the neck.

One of the most appealing things about Renegades Storm Shadow was his huge complement of accessories. Well, good news, this figure comes with every single accessory that figure had! Check the bullet points, son! We're talking a two-piece backpack, a pair of swords, a bow, an arrow, two sais, two kunai throwing knives, a pair of hand claws, a war fan, a set of nunchucks, two throwing stars, and a pad of throwing darts with one removable dart. Granted, there aren't as many paint apps on the gear this time, but it's all here. And yet we're not done!

This Storm Shadow also includes a weird jetpack thing. It's designed with a lot of similarities to the classic CLAW glider, but sticks off his back perpendicularly instead of laying flat. Why does it do that? Because it has a rather goofy action feature: press the plunger on the back end and the harness at the front spins. What? Why? It's not an awful piece, just... strange. But hey, since it's fully contained in a single accessory, it shouldn't ruin your enjoyment of the figure.

Oh, and look at that! There's a hinge on the harness, so you can fold the jetpack down like a normal backpack! Good choice, designers!

Ultimate Storm Shadow is, like Snake-Eyes, a slave to the past. In his case, though, it's not an update of the toy, but rather the comic/cartoon appearance (the lack of sleeves being the main giveaway), and that's why he gets slightly more of a pass than Snake-Eyes did. In fact, the first Storm Shadow to not have sleeves didn't come out until 2005, and this is only the fifth (out of 49) to share that feature. The Renegades version is still better (it has two different "looks" and the accessories get paint), but this one is near the top.

-- 03/14/14


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