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STORM SHADOW (Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins)

I can’t help but wonder who made that initial decision along the way to put Storm Shadow in a white trenchcoat.  Was this all spun out of that G.I. Joe: Reloaded series from Devil’s Due?  Are they to blame?

Whatever the source, the fact remains that this has been Storm Shadow’s “look” in G.I. Joe: Rise of COBRA, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and now in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origin.  I’m not sure if there was a conscious decision to align this version of Tommy Arashikage with the previous cinematic “looks” but whatever the case, it’s kinda cool to have a 6″ version of a figure that’s pretty ubiquitous in Hollywood.

So, here we go… another G.I. Joe movie another Storm Shadow in a weird white trenchcoat.  How did we get here?

In all seriousness, I can kind of see where they’re coming from.  As I’ve already mentioned, the white coat look was first brought about in G.I. Joe: Reloaded by Devils’ Due and for some reason, that’s the “look” that stuck.  Not that I think a modern movie-going audience wants to see a guy running around in white ninja “pajamas” but I would like to think they could come up with something interesting that offsets Snake Eyes in a way that works within the scope of Hollywood motion pictures.

All of that being said, I don’t have a huge issue with this look.  In fact, if asked what the worst things about Rise of COBRA or Retaliation, Storm Shadow would have fallen way down on my list of things to mention.

In a weird way, I kinda dig this.  While we got plenty of action figures for both Rise of COBRA and Retaliation, they were, of course, all built around the 1:18 scale.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that scale, but there’s something cool about having a movie Storm Shadow representation in six inch form as well.

But what really matters is the execution.

As I mentioned in the Snake Eyes review, the first moments getting this figure out of the package felt a little off.  The plastic, at first, felt somewhat thinner or more fragile than other Classified figures, though I couldn’t really explain why.

Keep in mind, once I freed the figure from its plastic prison, I spent a considerably amount of time posing him, playing with him, having little sword fights with Snake Eyes.  I didn’t experience any restriction in movement or have any real concerns about the solidity of the joints anywhere.  So perhaps my initial reaction was mostly kneejerk.

I’m not sure.  All that matters, in my mind, is that the action figure is fun and effective to pose and play with and that is certainly the case with Storm Shadow.  Once I had a few minutes to tool around with him, he felt just as solid as any other Classified toy, and what I was really thrilled with was that the softer material of his coat didn’t restrict movement in the least.

I mentioned with Snake Eyes that the figure felt a bit “sleeker” and more maneuverable than some other figures, but that’s not really the case with Storm Shadow.  That is, of course, more of a result of the design than any functionality impediments.  This figure maintains all the same high level of articulation as the movie Snake Eyes, which is to say great range of motion– but with a lack of calf swivels.  I feel pretty certain this is mostly for aesthetic reasons, their desire to match the movie look necessitating a more seamless sculpt that they didn’t want to interrupt with an extra swivel joint.  It is a bummer, but at the end of the day, if they were going to cut any articulation, the calf swivel was probably the less of all evils.

Posing this figure was just flat out fun.  As with other Classified figures (and Snake Eyes for that matter) I continue to be impressed at just how they can layer the textured fabric in the sculpt, yet still retain such an impressive range of motion.  The baggy pant legs seem like they’d get in the way, but I’m happy to report that neither hip movement nor knee movement is the least bit impacted and the sculpt doesn’t pay even the smallest price.

Yes, the sculpt is amazing.  At first glance it would be easy to cast aside the uniform as just another movie era Storm Shadow, but closely examining the sculpt reveals all sorts of layered cloth, overlaid armor, intricate buckles and straps and a myriad of different textured material, all woven into a singular six inch figure.  It really is impressive.

As with Snake Eyes himself, Storm Shadow looks and feels as though he just exploded from the television screen (or computer screen– just depends where you watched the trailer) and landed on my shelf. For whatever complaints one might have about how the figure is designed, they captured that movie look to near perfection, and there is definitely something to be said for that.

However, all of that talk about the movie aesthetic does bring us down to a particular point– what the heck is going on with that color?  I’m not sure why, but it seems to be a trend that movie themed Storm Shadow figures have a strange “creamy” shade to them.  Is there something about it looking more “real world” if it’s not-quite white?  I’m not sure I get it.  Personally I think this figure would be a lot more striking if its color was a purer white, and seeing plenty of other white figures on the shelf, I can’t really figure out why they didn’t go down that road.

I mean, I’ve only seen the trailer so far and from what I can tell, Storm Shadow’s outfit is– white.  So why isn’t the action figure?

In the grand scheme of things this does feel like a tiny little nitpick, and it probably is, but really, I think the figure would look a lot better if they dialed up that brightness a bit, and I don’t think it would look any less “Hollywood” or “real world”. 

I know I’ve spent nearly this entire article comparing this figure to Snake Eyes, and I’m sorry, but I’m going to do it again.  Like the Snake Eyes figure before him, Storm Shadow comes with a pretty measly selection of accessories.  The alternate Andrew Koji head sculpt, two swords, and a backpack sheath is pretty much it.

Granted– did he really need to come with more?  Probably not. From the limited screen time we’ve gotten the twin swords do appear to be about the extent of Storm Shadow’s repertoire and considering Classified’s Claim to Fame is that the figure can hold all of their weapons– well, I don’t think we needed a whole lot more.

I do want to take a moment, however, to talk about Andrew Koji’s head sculpt.  Because I absolutely love it.  I’ve been watching the television series Warrior off and on over the past few months (mostly so I could see Koji in action) and I’ve become a big fan of him as an actor and as a martial artist.  The limited amount that we’ve seen and heard from him about Storm Shadow has done little to change that.  Seeing his unique look translated in plastic form is an absolute pleasure and Hasbro’s face-scanning system only seems to get better and better.

From the overall sculpt, the expression, even the small scar over one eye, as with the rest of the figure, this head looks like an almost exact representation of the character from the film.  It truly is awesome.

So, no, the short answer is Storm Shadow did not come with a large number of accessories– but in looking to the trailers for inspiration, it doesn’t seem like he needs all that much.  He’s a simple man with simple needs… needs that a couple of stabby swords can perfectly accommodate.

 Anyone who has watched me or listened to me on the Full Force podcast knows just how enthusiastic I am about G.I. Joe: Classified.  As the line goes on, it even threatens to rival Sigma 6 for my affection, which is no small feat.  If they ever do Sigma 6 characters in this line– well, I can’t speak to what might happen.

As it stands, Classified has really been firing on all cylinders and thankfully they’ve begun to be more available throughout retail chains as well.  Things still aren’t perfect from a distribution standpoint, but they’re a lot better.  I love the line so much that I bought these figures from overseas (yes from a legitimate dealer– no they did not “fall of a truck”!) which is something I never thought I’d say, especially when it comes to movie stuff which sometimes feels a bit uninspired.

Hasbro seems to have really found their footing and honestly, even using the movie aesthetic, this Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow have just been a blast to pose, photograph and yes PLAY WITH and I for one am almost as excited to see what comes next for Classified as I am for the Snake Eyes movie itself.