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G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Storm Shadow

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I have a very mixed feeling when it comes to the 1988 version of Storm Shadow.  My first reaction is resistance, because I’ve always loved Storm Shadow as a foil for Snake Eyes, and it was disappointing to me when he shifted over to the G.I. Joe side.  Between him, Zartan, and Destro, it feels like COBRA gets skinnier and skinnier with their credible threats to the Joe team.

That being said, I also have fond memories of this figure.  Back in ‘88 I lived in (very) small town Vermont and rarely had the opportunity to buy new G.I. Joe figures.  I was making my routine run down to the local General Store, just to get candy or something, and happened to take a perusal through the toy section.  Much to my shock and surprise, there were new G.I. Joe figures that I had never even heard of before sitting on a peg there.  Right out in front was the 1988 Storm Shadow!

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Well, because this was a general store in small town Vermont, each figure was like eight dollars, a great deal more than the four bucks or so I was used to paying at the (semi local) department store.  My eyes grew wide, and I immediately dropped the figure and RAN all the way home, desperately digging through every corner of the house for spare change.  Half an hour later, I’d manage to cobble together the required money and travel back to the local store and was practically skipping home with the new Storm Shadow figure tucked under my arm.  It was a good day.

Fast forward too many years and we saw a terrific looking update to this figure at the Concept Case display at JoeCon in 2013 (no he wasn’t in the first concept case, but he was in the second).  With some key new tooling and lots of existing parts it was a pretty nice looking update to the ‘88 classic…actually forget “pretty nice” it looked damned perfect.  But as we know, sometimes figures that look perfect in concept don’t always execute to that same perfection, and the retail release of Storm Shadow does have a few shortcomings.

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The base figure uses most of the G.I. Joe: Renegades/30th Anniversary version of the character, and it’s pretty tough to go wrong there.  As one of the best figures in G.I. Joe’s right history of great figures, that Storm Shadow stands on the mountain top as a shining example of what can be done in the 1:18th scale.  Using the same upper arms, torso, and upper legs as that Storm Shadow, it was tough for this figure to go wrong, and thankfully the lower arms, lower legs, and new head only add to the awesomeness.  I believe these parts were all sculpted and tooled for a retail release of this figure, but I may be wrong on that.  Regardless, the new parts compliment the existing parts perfectly, and it ends up taking a fantastic base figure and making it fantastic-er.  The separated fingers, a remarkable achievement the first time around, continue to be exceedingly useful here, allowing this updated Storm Shadow to really notch an arrow for his bow.

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For the most part.  The only issue I have is that for whatever reason the new head doesn’t sit real well on the existing torso neck peg.  It gives the figure an unusually long neck, but honestly, that’s a pretty quick fix if you’re so inclined.

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The other disappointment to me is that while the concept case Storm Shadow had his trademark belt of pouches, this version does not.  I can only imagine they were costed out somehow, but that’s quite unfortunate because they are one of the defining traits of the figure.  He looked pretty terrific with those pouches, and it’s a pretty glaring omission to look at the final figure and not see them.  Hard decisions must often be made during the production process, I just wish perhaps they had found a way to cut somewhere else so the pouches could have been maintained.

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Beyond those two disappointments, the figure is pretty stellar.  Articulation is fantastic, he maintains the great separated finger hands of the original, and the ‘88 homage paint scheme is crisp, accurate, and aesthetically pleasing.  From a plastic quality perspective, I feel like the figure is a shade or two below some previous years, but doesn’t feel quite as thin and cheap as last year’s 50th Anniversary run.


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Like Spirit Iron-Knife, Storm Shadow comes with a number of great accessories.  Ironically, he comes with the compound bow and arrow quiver that the Pursuit of Cobra Spirit Iron-Knife came with a few years back.  He’s got what appears to be a newly tooled backpack faithful to the original that actually opens up with some great concealed details inside a re-release of a great backpack that came with a Comic Pack version of the character several years ago, and like Spirit, showcases how great some of those past accessories were, even if the figures themselves could have used some improvement.  The backpack was so great, I completely forgot it was originally released a number of years ago!

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He has two swords with red handles and a climbing claw, all of which are very nice call backs to the figure we received in 1988.  Lastly, he has a removable rope harness to replicate the look of that figure, too, though it’s pretty big and doesn’t fit the torso especially well.

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This figure is honestly pretty great.  It has some unfortunate drawbacks compared to the Concept Case version, but as I said, I think we all know that things sometimes get cut in the production process.  I feel pretty strongly that they should have tried to find a way to keep the pouches, and I wish the head sat a bit lower on the neck, but besides those minor complaints, this is one heck of a great looking update to the classic ninja character.

50th Anniversary Storm Shadow
  • Character
  • Sculpt
  • Articulation
  • Paint Deco
  • Accessories


Classic character in his classic 1988 G.I. Joe themed battle togs, this revamped modern rendition of Storm Shadow is excellent in many ways. It drifts just short of perfection with some cost cutting decisions, and part fit issues, resulting in an elongated neck.


1 – Base figure (30th Anniversary/Renegades Storm Shadow) is fantastic
2 – Nice selection of newly tooled parts which look great.
3 – Great backpack, which really opens and contains nicely detailed gear
4 – As with most of these ninja figures, articulation and figure balance are both stellar


1 – A little paint slop mixed within the gray camouflage
2 – Apparent cost cutting removed newly tooled pouch belt seen on the concept case figure
3 – Head and neck fit is off, making the figure’s neck look a bit too long
4 – Existing rope for torso doesn’t fit great

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Blowtorch

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When I reviewed Spirit from the Classic Clash 2-Pack I made reference to the fact that while I wasn’t in love with the 25th Anniversary version of the figure, the accessories almost made up for it.  I kind of feel the same way about Blowtorch, though his accessories aren’t quite as cool.

Blowtorch is one of those frustrating figures to me.  He has a great sculpt with some good colors and very nice accessories, but has a few limiting factors to me, most of which are his elbow joints.  When this figure was first made a number of years ago they hadn’t quite perfected the bulky cloth sculpt while maintaining great articulation.  As a result, Blowtorch’s thick padded uniform ends up restricting his elbow movement far too much for my liking.  I have some room for forgiveness for a lot of aesthetic choices like that, however when a guy whose specialty is essentially his flamethrower weapon can’t even hold said weapon, that’s a bit of a turn off.  Because of the elbows he cannot even hold the flamethrower two-handed, so I have a hard time finding some love for the figure.

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However, there are some things to love about this version of Blowtorch.

I know most folks reading this are aware of the homage to Gary Head with the Sightline figure, and that’s a terrific aspect of this series of 50th Anniversary releases.  What some folks may not know, though, is that Gary’s relationship with legendary sculptor Bill Merklein revealed some early concept art for Blowtorch, including a piece showing him in this green and gray color scheme.  There was a lot of fandom clamor for a version of Blowtorch in that color scheme, so in a way, I consider this figure also an homage to Gary, and I’m glad it’s out there for that reason.  Not only that, but as much as the color scheme for Blowtorch does make sense from a flamethrower perspective, seeing the figure in a darker color shade is enjoyable as well.  Add that in with the whole throwback to the canceled Pursuit of Cobra figures, and there are some things to appreciate here.

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From head to toe this is just a repaint of the 25th Anniversary Blowtorch…that fact alone is a bit off putting when you consider that the original 25th Anniversary Blowtorch was never that much of an in demand figure, and for some reason we got the figure re-released in the Pursuit of Cobra (almost exactly the same) and then re-released again last year in the 50th Anniversary line.  Now we have him for a fourth time, although at least this figure has a drastically different paint scheme.  As I said, I understand the temptation to do this figure, I just hope we can now consider Blowtorch retired for a long while.



The G.I. Joe flamethrower comes with his typical accessories, including the helmet, oxygen mask, flamethrower, backpack, oxygen tank, assault rifle, and two mines.  They’re all repurposed accessories from the Pursuit of Cobra/50th Anniversary versions, and while it’s nice to get some of the gear in slightly different colors, there isn’t much really new and exciting here.

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It’s difficult for me to rationalize the decision to release yet another version of a somewhat mediocre 25th Anniversary figure, but with the fandom demand for the canceled Pursuit of Cobra repaints, I can see why Hasbro would want to lean that direction.  That being said, from a personal perspective I don’t have a lot of love for another Blowtorch repaint, even as an homage to a canceled vintage version.

50th Anniversary Blowtorch
  • Character
  • Sculpt
  • Articulation
  • Paint Deco
  • Accessories


Paying homage to the unreleased Pursuit of COBRA figure is a great idea in concept and a nice way to appeal to the collector crowd, but I have a hard time finding satisfaction in the third release of this already somewhat sub-par figure in a few year span.


1 – Great paint scheme as an homage to the original Bill Merklein concept art
2 – Nice love letter to collectors for going to the unreleased well


1 – 25th Anniversary sculpting restricts elbow motion
2 – Downward pointing hands add to the arm issues and don’t even allow a realistic pose with his signature weapon
3 – Fourth time getting this figure is not the charm

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary “Silent Strike” in stock at Big Bad Toy Store

I feel safe in saying one of the most anticipated G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary sets for 2015 is the “Silent Strike” set which is slated to come with a stealth Skystriker, a COBRA HISS with their new rail gun system, as well as some great figures including Captain Ace and Sightline himself.

As many will recall, Sightline is named after Gary “Goggles” Head, the mouthpiece of our tight knit G.I. Joe community who unfortunately passed away far too young several months ago.

Along with this, Ace and Sightline are members of the “Wolf Squad” Hasbro’s new (somewhat informal) team concept.

Fans are rampaging Toys “R” Us stores across the country looking for this set, but Big Bad Toy Store has your hook up right now. Click the link below and grab it…save yourself some gas and some trouble.

New Kindle Worlds Novella – Welcome to Wolf Squad!

I’ll admit, I geeked out just a little bit during the GeneralsJoes Q & A when designer John Violette mentioned the Wolf Squad.  I geeked out so much I immediately started writing a new G.I. Joe Novella, my first fan fiction since my Dio-Story universe ended!

Fans who are familiar with the line up for the upcoming 50th Anniversary assortment in 2015 will find a lot in common here.  Using the mentioned “Wolf Squad” as an inspiration, I crafted an exciting story pitting Joes against Cobras with the characters and vehicles from this upcoming line.

It’s a Novella and it’s available on Kindle Worlds now!  Check it out!

Any reference to Wolf Squad here is my own take on the idea, nothing endorsed by Hasbro…and this is a “stand alone” story, though may end up being somewhat of a spring board into something…we’ll see.  🙂