G.I. Joe: 25th Anniversary Red Ninja
When Hasbro first announced that the Anniversary line would be 25 figures and be a finite project, I can imagine that there would have been much freaking out had Red Ninja been announced as one of those 25 figures. Thankfully by the time we saw this figure, we knew that the line would be ongoing, so the fans could all put down their swords and forgo the mass ritual suicides...
While definitely not one of the 25 most important or identifiable Joe or COBRA characters, the Red Ninjas had a pretty important role throughout the comic series, and I'm glad to see us get a very nicely comic-accurate version of the Arashikage ninja clan.
Obviously most of the Red Ninja figure is based on the original Storm Shadow mold, and I think that works remarkably well, especially without the sheath and strap over his chest. He ends up with a pretty basic martial arts uniform, which looks great in this way. His newly sculpted head is amazing...the way the cloth wraps around his head and he has those little "ears" makes the mask look exactly as it appeared on the comic book pages, and immediately separates the character from Storm Shadow. The head sculpt alone almost makes this a great figure.
From the neck down, though, this figure still is pretty great, even with the reused parts. It just so happens that the Storm Shadow figure was one of my favorites from the initial group of ten figures, so I have no major issues with this figure using those parts.
What obviously really separates this figure from it's predecessor(s) is that this figure is done up in a very striking red hue. The color of the uniform is a terrific shade of semi-bright red that is vibrant and interesting. His leg and arm wraps are done up with paint "wipes" that darken those colors considerably and adds a sense of realism and "depth" to the figure. The black trim of the uniform, and the wrap around cloth "belt" all add a great dark contrast and sparks up the figure considerably.
While the original Red Ninjas were not affiliated with COBRA, this version has a proud COBRA insignia on his chest, which may not fit the mythos 100%, but it still works okay in my book as well. The Storm Shadow tooling, mixed with the new sculpt head, and this fantastic new paint apps now give us a great, comic-accurate version of the Red Ninja, which is something we've all been waiting for for a long time.
From an articulation standpoint, the Red Ninja shares the body of the original Storm Shadow, which is great, because the range of motion is pretty darn good. Solid, nicely functional joints, easily posed and a sturdy figure, plus the hip articulation is pretty darn good to boot. I see no major complaints from an articulation standpoint here.
Red Ninja comes with all of Storm Shadow's accessories, but also gets a bizarre metallic instrument that honestly baffles me. It looks like something used to capture someone (and also bares a striking resemblance to a weapon that the Sigma 6 "Ninja Flames Kamakura" came with) but really I just have no idea what it could be used for. Beyond that strange weapon choice, though, the swords, sheath, and bow all make a lot of sense and look nice. The soft, somewhat rubber material of the swords bugs me a bit, and lessens the effect of the weapons in general, but that's par for the course with safety regulations these days. All in all, not a bad compliment of gear and accessories for a ninja figure.
While this character does not really warrant inclusion this early in the Anniversary line, I understand the need for reused tooling and I can appreciate why Hasbro went in this direction. The end result is a very nice looking, comic-accurate "Red Ninja" figure that fits in perfectly with the Anniversary stuff and gives us a pseudo army builder for Wave 3. Utilizing a great base figure and adding a nice new color scheme only helps things. A very cool figure all told.