Ah, so we’re starting to see a theme here– take what are certain to be the most popular army builders in the line and make them difficult to find exclusives. Got it. Solid plan.
In fairness, if designing exclusives for Target is what gets Target to carry the line, then I’m okay with that, even if it’s a feat of frustration and acrobatics to try and get the figure. Actually, I have a confession to make when it comes to the COBRA Viper.
I broke. I did it. I paid scalper prices (at least for one of them). What other choice did I have? Yes, I know it only encourages them, but without a local Target store accessible to me and with none of my friends even able to find one for themselves, it was time to face facts– I got lucky with the COBRA Trooper, Roadblock, Beachhead, Baroness and Firefly. That luck was not going to get me any further on the Viper.
That being said, about two weeks after I clenched my teeth as I was clicking the buy button on eBay, Robot Kingdom got a two pack of Firefly and COBRA Viper in stock, that while certainly not MSRP, wasn’t exactly what I would call a “scalper price.” Thus, I’ve got two. Eventually I’ll have more.
The reason I’m not so twisted up over it is because Hasbro’s track record, at least at this early stage, is that they will eventually release the army builder in the main line assortment. The colors may be a bit different, but not terribly so (if COBRA Infantry is any indication).
Heck, they already have card art for the Viper on the back of the package with red boots instead of black– could that be an indication of what we’ll see in a normal retail assortment?
I feel like I have to specify — I do not regret spending scalper prices. I am 100% in love with the G.I. Joe: Classified line and if I have to break the bank for a figure, I’m prepared to do that. The rest of my figures have been more or less purchased at MSRP, which considering where I live, is pretty impressive. It always boggles my mind when people complain that these figures are impossible to find. If you shop online, it’s actually quite easy.
I have TWO (2) Wal-Mart’s and ZERO (0) Targets within a 70 mile radius and I’ve been able to buy every single figure I wanted (while needing a little extra effort for the Target figures). I haven’t been dependent on brick and mortar for my toy collecting in– maybe ten years? Why start now?
All that being said– I suppose rather than harping on how easy or hard it is to find a Viper, I should talk a little bit about the figure itself.
After all, I paid more money for this figure than I have any other Classified figure to date. Was it worth it?
Oh, yes. Oh my goodness– yes.
The COBRA Viper is a key example of what sorts of cool things are possible with this tooling re-use formula that Hasbro is utilizing with the G.I. Joe: Classified line. I believe the figure uses Duke’s tooling from the waist up, with a fresh secondary on the torso as well as the forearm guards that slide over the existing arms. It saves some money on tooling, but completely reinvents the figure in a perfect way.
While the COBRA Trooper was almost a total reinvention of the old school COBRA aesthetic, the Viper leans a lot more into its vintage roots, but still manages to look nicely modernized and updated to fit into the near-future Classified design scheme.
Key design elements like the textured forearm guards, thigh pads and boots are very much a COBRA Viper hallmark, and they’re portrayed well here, giving the figure a unique look.
The COBRA Viper’s headsculpt is again, a nice throwback to its vintage look with some added texture and a nice mirrored finish on the facemask. The goggles are removable (though I added a dab of super glue because they tend to fall of at a moment’s notice).
I find myself really loving the tactical vest as well with its elaborate straps, textures, ammo pouches and a sculpted COBRA logo near the bottom of the vest, all providing spectacular modern twists to a familiar vintage aesthetic.
Back in the day there were some questions about how the COBRA Trooper and COBRA Viper- co-existed. Clearly, back then, the COBRA infantry was clearly a less armored and less “tactical” operative while the Viper was geared out for real front-line combat. In G.I. Joe: Classified the lines get a little bit more blurred as both the Trooper and the Viper appear almost equally tactical. That being said, it gives me great pleasure to heave both within my COBRA roster, I think there’s definitely room for both.
In a way, it seems odd to have a section in these reviews for articulation — after all, nearly every Classified figure maintains the same high standards for articulation and COBRA Viper is no different.
The COBRA Viper manages to balance fantastic design aesthetic and almost flawless articulation, with none of the great range of motion impacted by any of its various secondaries. Butterfly shoulders, double jointed knees, elbows, rocker ankles, the neck joint, hips– this tactical COBRA soldier can achieve nearly every pose you’d want.
I feel it necessary to point out that there is just something different about the way Classified figures are engineered that I’m really drawn to. Whether its a result of the gear they’re typically wearing, I’m not sure, but they feel larger, bulkier, and almost more solid than the typical Marvel Legends releases, yet in spite of that thicker buck, they maintain an impressive array of articulation that is prevelant throughout each and every figure release.
So here’s another double-edged sword.
One item of note about the COBRA Viper accessories — the goggles on his helmet are removable. In fact they are so removable that I elected to use glue to hold them to the helmet. That’s why you don’t see them in the image above. Of course, his removable gray scarf is also easily removable, I just plain forgot to include that in the above image.
Beyond those two items, the COBRA Viper comes with a pretty vanilla weapons compliment, including a backpack that’s nicely evocative of the vintage version (with some great updated colors rather than the plain, drab black). He also has a futuristic rifle and the same pistol that Duke and Beachhead both come with, only this one in pure black. With the same leg holster as Duke, this figure can hold his pistol very well, and interesting, the rifle has a removable magazine for a nice little extra touch.
The accessories lack the creativity of Firefly and yes, the rifle is a bit more “laser rifle” than assault rifle, but as with other examples, I’m cool with that. This rifle doesn’t look wildly space-aged (like Roadblock’s) and it’s a design that I’m more than happy to live with.
Considering how close the standard COBRA Trooper is to a “tactical” special operations kind of soldier, I’m honestly quite surprised Hasbro dipped their toes into the “Viper” waters this early in the line. With COBRA Trooper, Red Ninja and now COBRA Viper, it’s getting easier and easier to grow an army (well– it would be easier if you could– you know– actually buy the Viper somewhere). There are still some key core characters in the COBRA hierarchy missing, but you can rest assured when guys like Major Bludd, Scrap Iron and others arrive, they will have plenty of troopers to command and control.
I’m happy to say, though, regardless of how much I question the choice to go with a Viper this early, the fact remains that Hasbro absolutely KILLED this figure from an execution standpoint. Sculpting is flawless, the combination of new parts and re-used tooling blends to give us one hell of an update to the vintage figure.
I’ve said it hundreds of times already, but I just want to reiterate — G.I. Joe: Classified is hitting every single high point for me. I understand some folks are frustrated with availability (which, I should note, is likely a good deal due to the global pandemic that people seem to comfortably forget about when complaining) but the figures that have been released are just about as close to a perfect combination of vintage and future aesthetic as I could ask for.
I think people are pretty aware of my diehard love for Sigma 6… I know it’s still early in the line’s history, but these figures are nudging very close to Sigma 6 for one of my all time favorite iterations of the brand. Keep ’em coming.
G.I. Joe Classified COBRA Viper (Special Mission: COBRA Island)
Yes he’s only available in very limited instances through Target, but the COBRA Viper remains a highlight of the line and a figure I greatly hope to see Hasbro repaint and re-release at some point in the near future. He’s a fantastic army builder that every collector deserves to fill their shelves with, without paying the hefty after-market prices.
– Great sculpting, parts and a nearly perfect paint scheme
As if Hasbro wasn’t already creating controversy by going back to the well with the Target “COBRA Island” exclusives, but they had to go and split the fandom over their iteration of Firefly as well. That’s right, everyone, disagreements abound in regards to this version of the COBRA saboteur, yet for some reason, collectors are still beating down the door at Target to get their hands on one.
I will admit, Hasbro’s propensity toward Target exclusives seems dubious, especially considering their choices for characters. Both Baroness and Firefly are, without a doubt, core members of the COBRA cast of characters, yet so far, they’ve both only been available in limited numbers (and wholly unavailable via Target.com). Now, I’m not one of those people who throws barbs and insults and threatens to boycott the line, though I’ll admit, the Target hooplah is getting a little tiresome, especially for those of us who don’t even have a local Target within 70 miles of our home.
Thankfully, in the case of Firefly, someone has been able to hook me up (thanks, John!) but for people who don’t have those connections, I can see why frustration is mounting. At some point you simply either accept the fact that you’ll have to pay hefty secondary market prices, or that you’ll just be content without certain figures.
Granted, Hasbro has already demonstrated (at least with the COBRA Trooper) that they are willing to re-release store exclusives in the mass retail line, and evidently with few enough cosmetic changes that the figure is still highly desirable. Granted, the COBRA Trooper is the only case of that so far, but here’s hoping characters like Firefly (and the Baroness) get similar treatment.
Enough about that– what about the figure itself?
There are days when it feels like perhaps I’m following a completely different toyline that most of my collecting compatriots, especially when it comes to Firefly. I’ve heard no shortage of outrage about his “bomb suit” and how a sneaky saboteur would never wear such clunky armor and how it’s a complete and utter abomination to the spotless reputation of Firefly.
Hmm. Right. Well, I don’t buy it. First of all, Firefly doesn’t exactly have a track record of being super sneaky saboteur all the time. Certainly I’m not the only one who remembers the neon 90’s versions (which were AWESOME figures, by the way, get outta here with that hate) or the fact that Firefly bulked up for his G.I. Joe: Resolute version, G.I. Joe: Renegades version, AND his Pursuit of COBRA version.
Also– I mean– G.I. Joe and COBRA ain’t real world. There’s fantasy here and that’s okay, and personally, as long as the character looks bad ass and has awesome looking “near future” tech I’m generally okay without it being a slavish adoration of the real world or the vintage aesthetic.
Firefly ticks those boxes in a huge way. I really, really love this figure. First and foremost, I don’t see him wearing a bomb disposal vest.. it’s armored, for sure, but it allows plenty of range of motion, with a level of protection he might need just in case one of his bombs blows up in his face. It’s bulky and armored, sure, but I think it looks awesome, and that’s really all I can ask. The layered pouches and dinged up armor plate add some great versatility and character to his look, while his shoulders and hips remain fully poseable.
Head-to-toe, Firefly feels like a terrific evolution from his vintage aesthetic. I am absolutely in love with the head sculpt, the angry sneer, the hint of some sort of scarring, the layered fabric balaclava with a mix of standard gray and camouflage. It all looks terrific.
Beneath the armored vest, his gray camouflage is done amazingly well, given off a real urban camouflage aesthetic. I think most folks can tell that the underlying figure belongs to the previous COBRA Island iteration of Beachhead, with the commando-sweater style sculpt on the chest and arms, which suits Firefly to perfection.
As all the G.I. Joe: Classified figures are, the articulation, smoothness of joints and range of motion is simply fantastic, allowing Firefly to drop into all manner of great poses, either for firing, sabotaging, or whatever else you have in mind.
The sculpted texture really stands out at the larger scale as we see several different styles of “fabric” on his arms and his legs (not to mention the armored vest). The result is a figure that, although is colored mainly in different shades of gray, really has some unique styling that takes a timeless character and infuses him with great modern styling.
If I have any complaints, I’m not a huge fan of the weird texture on the boots, I’m not entirely sure what Hasbro was going for either here or with Beachhead originally, but that seems like an odd, relatively minor quibble.
As I already touched on, Firefly has terrific articulation, even with the large vest he wears on his torso. His shoulders can still move thanks to flexible shoulder pads, and even with the front and back flap of the armored vest, his hip movements aren’t hindered in the least.
Firefly has double joints pretty much everywhere, allowing for fantastic poses and firing movements, making him a really great toy to either play with or pose. Certainly the vest hinders his ab crunch somewhat, but it’s not like someone wearing that vest would be able to bend fully over in real life either.
G.I. Joe has always revolutionized articulation, even from its 1960’s roots, and while the Classified line certainly borrows from Marvel Legends, I think it still takes things to a new level, really blending the articulation with the sculpting to the highest possible benefit.
So here’s another double-edged sword.
Firefly is both made and broken by his accessories, and in my opinion there is so much more good than bad. I’ve already talked about his vest, which isn’t so much an accessory as it is a part of him, but there are other pluses and minuses as well.
Firefly comes with a backpack, a bundle of old school TNT, a tablet control, a drone, night vision goggles, and a pistol. What truly continues to amaze me is the way the G.I. Joe: Classified design team goes above and beyond to make all of the accessories fit on the figure. The tablet control fits into the backpack while the drone connects to the top and the bomb connects to the bottom, all while Firefly holds the pistol and wears the night vision goggles.
The interactivity of these accessories is truly awesome and does a terrific job bringing the character to life. Many complaints that I heard throughout the modern era of G.I. Joe was that in many cases the weapons compliment felt just sort of thrown in. Everyone just came with a bunch of weapons, there wasn’t much uniqueness there.
That all changes here. Firefly comes with gear that feels truly uniquely his (though I wouldn’t be surprised to see it repurposed elsewhere at some point). The fact that he can control the drone with his tablet, pull the goggles over his eyes, etc… is all so great and gives him a wealth of “play value” even though people tell me I’m too old to play with my toys.
That being said, I’m not a huge fan of the pistol he comes with. I’m pretty forgiving with the “future tech” style weapons, but Firefly’s is just sort of– I dunno. It really does nothing for me.
As I continue to say with each of these reviews– the presentation is truly striking. At first the idea of multiple artists felt a little off. But Hasbro has proven me wrong time and time again and Firefly is no different.
Yes, the fact that this figure is only available in limited quantities at Target is frustrating. Believe me, I know. I don’t even have a local Target to shop at.
That being said thanks to the kindness of friends in the G.I. Joe community, I’ve had no issues getting every figure I’ve wanted from this line so far, and I’m thrilled for that. Firefly is yet another fantastic update and upgrade to the classic version who manages to look very much like his old school rendition, but with just the right modern updates.
Bulky tactical vest or no, I LOVE this figure. He’s versatile, fun to play with and makes a great addition to my growing COBRA roster.
G.I. Joe Classified Firefly (Special Mission: COBRA Island)
This version of Firefly is a terrific update from the original. I truly love his accessories and the sculpting, and while the paint applications feel pretty straight forward and not especially risk-taking, they work for the character. Wish he had a better pistol.
– Great sculpting and parts use
– Fun accessory compliment
– Head sculpt full of character
– Target Exclusive
– Not a huge fan of his pistol
– If you do remove his vest, paint apps are lacking
I sit here, excitedly on the verge of PulseCon 2020, eagerly awaiting G.I. Joe news this weekend and have finally gotten some time to post updated reviews of G.I. Joe: Classified.
Wave 2 is my next target, featuring Gung Ho, COBRA Commander and Red Ninja! Another solid wave of fun figures with classic twists and awesome modernization. It seems like each figure is just furthering my love of this line, and something tells me that will only increase with whatever reveals we might see this weekend.
Once again a really fun time to be a G.I. Joe fan!
G.I. Joe: Classified has really endeavored, in it’s relatively short history, to try and walk that line between classic familiarity and new, modern elements. Gung Ho is a great example of how they try and marry those two different era’s.
Early artwork for Gung Ho on the back of the package indicated that Gung Ho might actually have a shirt. At the end of the day, Hasbro went with the more familiar open-vest concept, which has created its own share of disruption among the fandom.
At the end of the day, I think fans need to accept that while these Classified iterations are certainly inspired by classic characters, they’re not necessarily designed to be exact replications of those older school characters. During my reviews of these figures, I’m going to endeavor to measure them on their own merit and not necessarily in comparison to the character’s history.
Gung Ho is a perfect example of why I want to take that approach. It would be easy to rail on this figure because he doesn’t have the right tattoo (the USMC logo is now copyrighted..) or that he’s got the wrong hat (he’s not wearing a Marine cover as the old figure was) but at the end of the day do either of these things impact the overall coolness of this action figure?
Maybe. But not in the ways you might expect.
From a pure “coolness” standpoint, Gung Ho is fantastic. In my mind, he’s almost the perfect blend of classic inspiration and modernized enhancements, with his open vest being layered with some great plate armor to give the figure a more 21st Century feel.
Grenades are on his shoulder strap, and while the base figure for Gung Ho is essentially Roadblock, there is some terrific additions that make this figure stand out. This is a perfect reason why using the rubber secondaries on top of the base figures is such a terrific formula.
First of all, the new head sculpt obviously goes a very long way to take this familiar base figure and give him a more Gung Ho look and feel. The high and tight haircut, the mustache and the determined scowl on his face are all great additions that manage to immediately separate this figure from the previous Roadblock version(s).
The familiar hat is removable here, which is a nice touch, too, even if technically the hat he wears is not a Marine hat.
The rest of the figure is nicely adorned with some of those additional secondaries I mentioned above. Many of these secondaries were also used on the COBRA Island Roadblock, so there’s some great consistency, but also a nice variation here as well. The wrist communicator especially is very cool, and the grenade strap on his thigh (on the opposite thigh compared to Roadblock) add great variation. I also really love the removable elbow pad on his left elbow.
One complaint folks have also had is with his tattoo. Understanding that the familiar USMC logo is now copyrighted and unable to be used on the figure, I think they could have done a bit of a better job on the tattoo, though this one doesn’t bother me too much.
I love the color scheme on this figure, too. Where many of the first releases had some bright, gold armor and some vibrant colors that many folks found jarring, Gung Ho is very muted and subtle, with some great camouflage on the legs and more blacks and metallics, making the figure feel a bit more real world and less “video gamey” than some previous releases.
From a design perspective, Gung Ho is an absolute home run.
Gung Ho’s articulation is spectacular. Using the larger figure buck, he feels solid and rugged, but retains exceptional range of motion. The open vest retains the chest crunch, and he has the same double jointed knees and elbows as other figures, the rocker ankles, swivel wrists and ball joint shoulders as well as the multi -jointed neck and head.
There is so much to love about this figure, and the articulation is a big source of my satisfaction with Gung Ho.
As great as the Classified line has already been, the biggest prevailing argument among fans is certainly focused on the weapons. There is a delicate line to walk between real world weapons, which might be frowned upon by retailers and buyers these days, and more sci-fi weapons that are more easy to explain away as fantasy.
The challenge comes in finding that right balance. Hasbro has struggled with this with some figures (see Roadblock) but has done fantastic work with others (see Duke). I’m happy to say Gung Ho leans far more towards Duke than he does Roadblock.
His three weapons would never be mistaken for anything real world, but do resemble those real world weapons, even if they are based somewhat on some of the Nerf gear Hasbro sells. The three weapons resemble a shotgun, a bullpup style rifle and what looks like an automatic style grenade launcher, which is a great tie-in to his vintage version who was well known for his own grenade launcher.
Along with the weapons, he’s got a backpack with places to store the guns, which is something Classified has done very well along the way, having an available spot to store all of the various gear. Lastly, I suppose you could also consider the removable hat as an accessory as well.
All things considered, I really like Gung Ho’s accessory compliment. A great blend of sci-fi and real world and some just plain fun weapons to boot.
Like the other figures in the Classified line, Gung Ho has some terrific and unique packaging art, this time courtesy of James Paick who does a really great job blending real world military with the future sci-fi artwork. Gotta love the Mamba in the background as well. Great stuff.
The moment I saw initial images for this Gung Ho figure, I was digging it. I really love the layered armor vest, the removable hat, the weapons, and just the overall look and feel of the figure.
No, he’s not powder blue, and no, his hat isn’t 100% accurate to Marine standards, but the figure is a whole lot of fun and has some terrific gear and makes for a nearly perfect addition to the G.I. Joe: Classified roster.
G.I. Joe Classified Gung Ho
Terrific figure. Takes the spirit of the original and adds so many neat, new twists that I just can’t help but love the end result. One of my favorite Classified figures so far.
– Larger Buck serves the character well
– Removable hat and accessories blend fantasy and realism well
– Great paint deco
– The tattoo could be better (or give him a shirt!)
– The hat doesn’t bug me, but I understand why folks don’t like it
I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say that COBRA Commander is the most important character in the G.I. Joe mythology. It’s likely without COBRA Commander, the entire Real American Hero universe simply would not exist, which is why it’s puzzling to me that Hasbro struggles to nail the essence of the character so often.
I would argue that in the vintage era, after ’84 COBRA Commander was not given justice again until the mid 90’s, though I know a lot of folks love the Battle Armor look. I’m not necessarily one of them. In Rise of COBRA, the character essentially didn’t exist (Rex was a poor substitute) and in the Pursuit of COBRA, while I totally love the armored skullface bugsuit look, it doesn’t necessarily jive with the spirit of the Commander.
What about this one? Well, I’m happy to say, Hasbro, you did a good job this time around.
COBRA Commander is deceptively difficult to “get right” because the character means so many different things to so many different people. Sunbow fans see him as a bumbling moron who is barely able to lead a global terrorist organization, while comic fans see him as a sinister ringleader of a secret cabal of domestic and international terrorists.
Hasbro themselves would probably prefer to wipe the term “terrorists” from COBRA’s vernacular entirely, so you need to have a design that works for any of these elements (or all of them).
The Classified COBRA Commander utilizes the Battle Helmet style, which is certainly the most iconic, and while there has been some strangeness with this initial release (a lighter blue “regal” version vs the darker blue retail version) the end result feels like the right choice.
As mentioned, COBRA Commander is the battle helmet version and that ‘s a great choice. It’s mostly the same look at he’s always had, but with some minor changes to the helmet design, looking a bit more streamlined than he did back in the 80’s. I like that they also gave him a sculpted riser along the top of the helmet, which mirrors the Sunbow look nicely.
The figure itself remains pretty regal in appearance and actually takes some visual cues from the vintage Crimson Guard (which of course opens up the question about whether or not we’ll see Classified-themed Siegie’s somewhere along the way). There’s a separate strap and shoulder pad with cape that adds a nice flair to the underlying design, which makes me think they could use this figure as a Crimson Guard easily, just by putting a different secondary on top of the existing body.
I love the looks of the layered gauntlets with sculpted COBRA logo’s and like many of the six inch scale figures, Hasbro takes advantage of the larger canvas to introduce some really cool different textures throughout.
The material at the bottom of the coat and the shoulders is an awesome break point in the smooth texture of the dress uniform and resembles snakeskin in a way, which is a pretty awesome touch to the figure that adds some great detail.
I know there’s been some disagreement about the best color scheme for COBRA Commander, I’m really happy they chose this muted, darker blue shade over the “Regal” variation for the mass retail release. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the regal version as well, and have one on pre-order, but this darker blue meshes with the COBRA Troopers more effectively and feels a bit more real world than the more vibrant colors of the regal variant.
COBRA Commander’s articulation is fairly effective. The secondary strap limits his torso a bit, and the jacket limits his legs, but it’s not like COBRA Commander is doing head-high side kicks or anything. I will say the elbow articulation for COBRA Commander feels a lot more poseable and functional than others. I’m not sure if there’s an actual structural reason for that, or if the narrow sculpt of the arms just works really well with the elbow joint.
Regardless, the extra bend of his elbow allows for some much more interesting arm poses, which is a neat touch.
Unlike many of the other Classified figures, COBRA Commander comes with very few accessories. Pretty much all he comes with is a snake-themed knife, a snake-themed pistol, and two replaceable hands. Granted, COBRA Commander doesn’t need a ton of accessories and the ones they’ve chosen work really nicely.
I love the nasty curved blade of the dagger and how seamlessly it fits into the sheath on his strap. I’m not 100% sold on the pistol, its design is a little clugey, though I get what they were going for with the snake-themed sculpt.
What I REALLY love about COBRA Commander are the hands. There is so much potential for a wealth of interesting combinations that I’ve started to wonder why they don’t just include replaceable hands with everyone. They make a huge difference with the index finger, the closed fist and the opened fingers. It really adds some fantastic character to the figure. A small addition that makes a huge difference.
As with all other Classified figures, there’s unique artwork on the box and while I was a bit on the fence about this approach up front, those fears have been proven unfounded. The unique art on each box goes such a long way towards improving the presentation of the figure, though it seems clear by looking at the art that it was initially commissioned for the regal variant of the figure. Regardless of that, Dan Mumford did some fantastic work on the artwork for the figure and it adds a lot to the look of the figure’s package.
COBRA Commander is a central pillar to the G.I. Joe mythology and Hasbro has done a good job translating the character to a somewhat different format and different scale. He’s got plenty of classic old school vintage cues, but some really great modernization as well.
I find myself really enjoying this update– they’ve really done a good job with most of these updates and COBRA Commander is no exception.
G.I. Joe Classified COBRA Commander
I absolutely love this COBRA Commander. Some great inspiration from the vintage version, but with a nice modern touch. His removable hands are a great bonus.
There was a brief moment in the history of G.I. Joe: Classified where it seemed as though the Red Ninja would be our primary army builder. Announced well before the news was made public about the Target exclusive COBRA Trooper, Red Ninja seemed poised to be the momentary backbone of the COBRA army.
In a way, the focus on ninja warriors made sense, after all the Snake Eyes film was on the verge of release and certainly ninjas were set to take center stage in G.I. Joe mythology again. But that was a few months ago and it feels like the whole world has changed since then. Snake Eyes has been bumped to October, 2021, the Target COBRA Island figures have been announced (and released), and G.I. Joe: Classified has officially exploded into the collector landscape in a way the brand has not seen in a very long time.
But, I digress… all of that was to say that even if the Red Ninja was the momentary default COBRA army builder, now that I’ve got him in hand– I might have been okay with that. This figure is awesome.
The first thing that becomes crystal clear with the Red Ninja figure is that G.I. Joe: Classified has managed to take the philosophy of re-used tooling to great lengths. The core figure of the Red Ninja is a straight repurposing of Snake Eyes from Wave 1, but thanks to a dynamic new headsculpt and awesome new secondaries, the same parts get a whole new life in some pretty exciting ways.
Since this figure was first revealed, it’s become clear that reused tooling is going to be a constant throughout the line, which aligns with action figure production philosophy over the past many years, but G.I. Joe: Classified’s approach is exceptionally well thought out. Figures like Gung Ho, Roadblock (v1 and v2), COBRA Trooper, Beachhead, etc… manage to take a smattering of existing parts and really add some neat new elements to create whole new characters from the same core parts.
Building upon the Snake Eyes base figure, Red Ninja adds some key new pieces to really separate this figure from its initial release.
First and foremost is the new head sculpt. While the old school Red Ninjas were more or less just ninjas in red uniforms, this version totally takes things to a new level. His awesome skull-themed face mask and head wrap really add some sinister themes to the character. I love this blank eyes, as well, revealing that perhaps these characters are under some sort of mind control.
I can already visualize COBRA Commander infiltrating the Arashikage Clan, who might not be intrinsically evil, and using some sort of technology to brainwash the warriors into doing his bidding.
Along with the new head sculpt, he’s got some amazing secondaries as well with shoulder pads, straps, sheaths and all sorts of other bells and whistles that bring this character to life.
Along with the sculpting additions, I feel the need to talk a bit about the color scheme, too. Once again Hasbro utlizes the larger scale to add some really unique color schemes, with the cloth parts of the uniform a more muted red/brown hue while the layered armor is a bit more vibrant and metallic in shade.
With some great black and browns worked in, the figure really has some depth of color, even as a “Red” Ninja and there is a lot to love about this figure, not just from a sculpt perspective, but in color scheme as well.
Because Red Ninja uses Snake Eyes as a base, the articulation is fantastic as one would expect. I still remember getting my hands on that Deluxe Snake Eyes a few months back and being completely blown away by the range of motion and the balance of the figure, and my awe with the seamless flexibility of figure continues unabated with the Red Ninja.
One thing I was a bit concerned about was how the added secondaries might hinder some of the more advanced joints, but I’m happy to say that the design of the chest gear and the belt still allow for the great movements of the shoulders and hips as we all hoped it would.
For those of us who got their hands on the Deluxe Snake Eyes from Hasbro Pulse don’t see a whole lot new with the Red Ninja’s accessories, but that doesn’t mean they’re not awesome.
He comes with a plethora of edged weapons, all of which were originally released with the aforementioned Snake Eyes, but considering the limited release of that figure, this may indeed be the first time many collectors are getting their hands on these weapons.
What’s really cool about the Red Ninja’s gear, though, is how well it fits into the various sheaths and holsters (including the removable backpack pictured above). There is a place for pretty much everything (as long as you include the Red Ninja’s hands as “places”) and even with his weapons all stashed away, he still stands and poses successfully.
The Red Ninja artwork is really amazing. I love the textured paint work on the package, it adds some incredible depth to the figure, and really shines a light on the sinister nature of this character. So, so cool, and Furio Tedeschi really nails the spirit of the Red Ninja. Mind blowing work!
In the grand scheme of things, the Red Ninja is a pretty minor player in the G.I. Joe landscape, and in spite of that, Hasbro’s treatment of the character is anything but “throwaway”. They put a ton of effort and execution into this Red Ninja figure and manage to take a pretty minor character and give him some great, new personality.
G.I. Joe Classified Red Ninja
The Red Ninja takes a classic character and adds some unique twists. Where the old school Red Ninja was a relatively straight forward ninja in red pajamas, this version has several cool, modern elements which stand it apart from the crowd.
– Great new secondaries on top of solid base tooling
– New head sculpt is sinister and awesome/li>
– Ramps up familiar classic nicely
– An odd choice so early on in the line
– Weapons are mostly reused from Deluxe Snake Eyes