Storm Shadow (Jungle Strike) - Pursuit of Cobra Pre-Production

When images and pre-production samples began to leak out into the public eye, and even when figures were shown at JoeCon last year, Storm Shadow seemed to be the butt of quite a bit of scorn and pithy comments. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why. This version of Storm Shadow is quite simply the balls.

Sure, it's easy to complain about the head sculpt...the somewhat oversized wrinkly mask look does seem somewhat out of place on top of the bare chested figure, and the removable hood certainly doesn't help. It's totally non-functional, there's no other way to say it. But once you get over the funky hood and the different head sculpt, from the neck down, this is one bad ass version of everyone's favorite Cobra ninja, in a totally new style.

Sure, he's got the trademark white gi underneath there, but with the crazy tribal tatoo camouflage he really stands out a lot better than he would in the straight white. I know, mixtures of grays and reds and browns does not make for an effective jungle camouflage, but the figure still looks terrific, regardless of what environment he's meant to do battle in, and he retains a lot of the vintage elements of Storm Shadow, which so many long time fans are clammoring for.

From neck to waist, he borrows the excellent tooling of the Arctic Storm Shadow from the Rise of Cobra line, but from the hips down, he's all Resolute, which is cool to see, since that version of the character has not been yet released to retail, and didn't even show up in the bevy of overseas auctions that have been appearing throughout the past year or so. As such, this is a new look and feel for the character, and a very welcome one. The head sculpt is also from the Resolute version, but for whatever reason, Hasbro used the Rise of Cobra version for the torso and arms, even though the Resolute Stormy has a bare chest as well.

Like the other Pursuit of Cobra figures we've seen, the figure itself is only a small piece of the overall puzzle, and like the other figures, it's the accessories that really put these guys over the top.

On his own, the Jungle Strike Storm Shadow is a pretty neat, if somewhat plain looking white-garbed ninja warrior. But once you start getting him all geared up, holy crap does he become something much different and much cooler.

Firstly, the webgear is absolutely incredible. Intricately sculpted straps go down over his chest, around his legs and waist, and they're full of great features. The trio of throwing knives adorn his chest (unfortunately they are not removable) and two hooks hold twin submachine guns at his side.

Yes, submachine guns. Apparently, the Pursuit of Cobra universe Storm Shadow ain't afraid to throw down with some gunfire, if the need arises. If I have one complaint about his webgear, it fastens pretty tightly around his thighs, which makes his legs somewhat tough to pose when he's got the gear on. A bit disappointing, but just a bit.

He's got the somewhat familiar Resolute Storm Shadow backpack with twin swords as well as his guns, and he also sports a great newly tooled climbing claw and two crazy bladed weapons that I haven't seen before. There is a metric ton of gear crammed into this figure, and I haven't even gotten to the coolest part yet... the backpack glider!

Similar to what Snake Eyes used in the Resolute cartoon (in fact, if Snake Eyes appears in the upcoming Resolute 7-pack, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this included), Storm Shadow sports a great spring-loaded backpack that snaps open into a glider, complete with angry looking Cobra sigil, hooks for his legs, and handles for his hands. It is an awesome touch. I absolutely love it, and I LOVE this new mentality that the Hasbro designers are getting into. They're really finding some cool ways to integrate play features without dumbing down the toy and adding obnoxiously sized spring-loaded weapons. Between this backpack and his kick ass twin Mac-10's, this is one fully equipped Cobra ninja who is set for the 21st Century.

I am continually shocked by this newfound sense of fun and whimsy that Hasbro has managed to capture with the designs of these upcoming G.I. Joe figures, and I just really hope we get everything we're hoping from the line. While the fandom remains sharply divided as usual, I have seen more unification with the Pursuit of Cobra than I've seen in a long time. In fact, if Hasbro can meld G.I. Joe: Resolute with the Pursuit of Cobra into some G.I. Joe main line series throughout 2010, I think they will have a great finger on the pulse of the collector, and still manage to make some great toys that the general public will love, too.

Based on the reactions of the fans, I wasn't certain I'd be as in love with Storm Shadow as I was with some of the other early leaked figures, but I'm happy to report that is not the case. In my opinion, this figure only keeps on with the very high standard Hasbro has already set with this line, and I am almost giddy with anticipation of Toy Fair on February 13th, just waiting to see what else Hasbro can come up with.