G.I. Joe: Renegades Amazon Exclusive 4-Pack - Storm Shadow

Okay, the first thing I have to say about this figure...as cool as it is, I'm having a really hard time considering a "G.I. Joe: Renegades" Storm Shadow. I just can't do it. Look, the figure is bad ass and I a fully in love with it, but it does not look anything like the character we got on the TV screen, at least not through the first 21 episodes. Does that make it bad? Oh, hell no... this figure is fantastic. I just have a hard time linking it with the floppy-haired, baggy uniformed Renegades iteration of the character.

Is this even possible? Am I really writing a review on figures sculpted in an animated style that were supposedly canceled in favor of the more realistic sculpt? Don't get me wrong, I love the "real world" Joes as much as anyone else, but for G.I. Joe: Renegades especially, I always thought the animated look and feel would translate very nicely to plastic.

Unfortunately, it was never to be. In some cases, that was for the better, as we got what is no doubt the finest Storm Shadow figure that has ever been released in the three decade history of the G.I. Joe line. Not to mention a fantastic Scarlett, Tunnel Rat, and Airtight who not only have the spirit of G.I. Joe: Renegades, but also manage to fit nicely in with the rest of the Pursuit of Cobra and 30th Anniversary figure series as well. Not an easy task.

But just when I'm feeling very happy and satisfied by how the Renegades toyline looked at retail (though don't even get me started on Roadblock, Destro, The Baroness, etc...) Amazon.com absolutely blind sided all of us. To the best of my knowledge, nobody had even seen these animated designs until the bomb hit a couple of weeks ago.

Perhaps the best kept secret Hasbro has had for a while...and dammit, the surprise only makes these figures all the sweeter. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I'm really into these figures. After all, I was a huge Sigma 6 fan, and these figures (Storm Shadow especially) is almost like Sigma 6 done in a 1:18 scale to absolute perfection. Yes, perfection.

This figure is spectacular.

The animated sculpting does make it feel like Storm Shadow was ejected straight from the television screen, and the figure is all the better for it. I cannot get enough of this terrific looking animated aesthetic. The sharp angles of the musculature actually doesn't really resemble Renegades all that much, but works really well for either Resolute or even the Sigma 6 animated series, both of which would have benefited mightily from this concept as well.

Of course the figure sculpting is only as good as the articulation, and I'm happy to say the articulation does not suffer one bit. Initially there were some concerns about the hip joints, and from an aesthetic stance, they certainly do stand out somewhat. But I'm happy to report unlike the first generation Marvel Universe figures which used this design, the articulation does not suffer from it in the least. Like the new Avengers figures, there are two joints that work together, so the legs can move seamlessly forward as well as side-to-side, yet can also spread outwards (like normal ball joints). Yes, they do not "flow" as nicely as Hasbro's typical hip joints, but they still work with amazing fluidity.

Another point to mention is that apparently this animated tooling was slated to be the debut of the "rocker ankles" that everyone loves so much, as both Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes have it. Of course Ninja Viper does as well, but he's just a repainted Storm Shadow, after all.

The paint applications on this figure are pretty much perfect, with his white uniform and red belt looking somewhat similar, yet separate from the G.I. Joe: Renegades style. That is one funny thing, these hard-edged anime-like figures actually don't blend seamlessly with the Renegades concept itself, just more an "animated" concept. Not that I have a problem with that. I love the arm wraps on the arms, and I've already raved about the hard-edged sculpting throughout.

There is literally nothing that I do not like about this figure. It is truly excellent.

Well, that's not entirely true. I do have some minor complaints. Perhaps it's just my figure, but the footholes are almost too small to fit onto the battle stand pegs. It seems like with these small feet, they were only able to make holes a certain size, and that size doesn't quite work with these stands. Also, I was greatly looking forward to taking this figure and putting the 30th Anniversary "Renegades" style head on it, just to get a figure that was perhaps a bit more Renegades authentic. No can do. The neck peg on this figure is too large to accomodate the Renegades style head sculpt for the other Storm Shadow. Bummer.

Minor quibbles, and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't impact my overall love of this figure as it stands on its own merits, but items worth mention at least.

Storm Shadow does come pretty bare bones in the accessory department. He has two swords, his sheath, and a battle stand. Not much, but what he has makes sense, and the unused tooling of the figure itself is clearly the draw here.

All I can really say is "thank you, Hasbro". I honestly couldn't fathom a way that Hasbro would get these figures to market considering the untimely fate of G.I. Joe: Renegades and the drastically different style between these figures and the mainline releases. But someone, somewhere within the walls of Pawtucket knows what Joe fans are looking for, and to them I say "thanks". This is great stuff and the kind of cool "out of the box" thinking that reinvents the Joe brand for me after thirty years.

Yes, I like this figure that much. I only wish there was a chance in hell that we could get an entire secondary line in this style. No way that will ever happen, but an old, cranky Joe fan can still dream can't he?