Sideshow Collectibles 12" Red Ninja - A guest review by Chris "Mysterious Stranger" Polanski

Ninjas.  Love them or hate them, ninjas are as ingrained in G.I. Joe as olive drab fatigues and laser rifles.  As odd as that may sound it’s really a pretty tame idea when compared with some of the more outrageous concepts introduced over the years (I’m looking at you Eco-Warriors).  When Storm Shadow was introduced to the Sideshow line I thought that would be it for ninjas but they have given us not one but TWO more ninjas to fight alongside him AND a diorama environment for all of them to play in.  The upcoming exclusive Ninja Viper adds a nice contrast to the figure I’m reviewing today… the Red Ninja.

I have to be honest and say that I seriously considered skipping the Red Ninja.  As high quality as the line is I just wasn’t getting a “gotta have it” vibe from this figure.  But now that I have him in hand I have to say I’m seriously looking at getting another, if for no other reason than to fill out the upcoming Arashikage diorama.  As with most of the other Sideshow figures I’ve reviewed, I’m looking at the exclusive version.  Aside from the second head this release is identical to the regular one.

The Red Ninja figure could have easily been a straight recolor of Storm Shadow but he gets a lot of new parts to make it a nice unique addition to the line.  His shirt and sash are reused from Tommy but really how many different styles of ninja clothing are there?   He does get new pants that are more in the traditional style than Tommy’s.  I have to discuss the pants for a moment because I feel the style, while accurate, hampers the articulation. The “droopy” look hinders his leg movement and you really can’t get a lot of “ninja-y” poses out of his lower body.  It also makes it nearly impossible to use the included stand as the brace is of the newer style that comes up between the legs rather than around the waist (I swapped it out with a waist clip for these pictures).  Still, the pants look great and fit really well.

Where Storm Shadow had simple wraps around his arms and legs, the Red Ninja is a little better protected.  He has nice armored pads on his shins and lower arms that break up all of the red and give him more of a fighting warrior look.

The head wrap and head band work well together and really help set him apart from Storm Shadow.  Though it takes a little work to get them to look right, especially after swapping heads, it looks really good.

I should probably talk about the heads for a moment because they are what really give this figure its personality.  The standard head features the red face mask and the pointy “horns” on the top, almost identical to the 25th anniversary version.  Even though you can only see his eyes, he’s got a lot of personality under that mask.  The sculpting of the eyes reminds me of the menacing facial expression of Firefly and the Cobra Troopers.  In that regard he’ll fit in nicely with your Cobra troops.  But I do have an issue with the flesh tone of this head.  It seems a bit on the red side, almost as though he was sunburned or getting flushed in the face.  Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but the color doesn’t match the body, which is more of a tanned color.  But since most of his skin is wrapped up under the outfit I can’t complain too much about this.  Besides I have the exclusive head to swap it out with.

In my opinion the exclusive head with the armored mask is a much better sculpt.  The standard head is good if you’re army building these guys or just want a background figure for your display.  But if you want more character than a simple angry ninja, then the exclusive is the way to go.  First, he has a bit more of an Asian look to him that I think really fits the figure.  Second the flesh tone matches much better and the facial expression, while a bit simpler and more passive still has a sinister look to it.  Most of the exclusive items are just extras to add a little character to the figure.  This one however makes the figure for me.

When it comes to accessories, Sideshow really doesn’t disappoint and they continue that track record with the Red Ninja.  He comes with the same extra feet and hands as Storm Shadow and they add some significant display options to the figure.  When you consider all the wonderful toys he has to play with you’ll be thankful for all those extra hands.

I haven’t looked at Storm Shadow in a while so I’m not sure what gets reused here.  I can safely say the sai and swords are from Tommy but the rest appears to be all new.  He comes with a lot of sharp objects to do some serious damage.

If the throwing stars aren’t enough for you he also comes with three throwing knives.  Need to poke someone from more than an arms length away?  Grab the 2 piece bladed pole staff and start stabbing.  The staff is very well sculpted but is a bit thin so it doesn’t fit tight is some positions.  But once you find the sweet spot it looks fantastic.

With his knife and sheath safely tucked into the sash around his waist he can freely twirl around the bladed hook and with real metal chain to get medieval on you.  It is a nice multi-purpose weapon with the hook blade on one end, a pointed weight on the other and the nice metal chain in between the Red Ninja has lots of options for maiming with this.

And for some good old fashioned sword play he has his long and short swords, both of which fit nice and snug against his back under the rope belt around his torso.  As with most of the accessories you have to play with the sheathes a little bit to get them to fit just right but again once you find the right position they look really good.

I have to say, for a figure that I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about getting I’m really quite impressed with the Red Ninja.  I just wish I had acted sooner and snagged another one to put on display.  Even with the droopy pants problem this is still a solid figure and one I’m glad to have in my collection.