Produced by Hasbro | Released April 2009 [Reissued March 2011]
In a world filled with supernaturally powered criminals and thugs, none are more feared than the ninja warriors of The Hand. Every one of them is a supreme fighter, devoted utterly to the will of The Hand. When they are given a target, they never stop, never rest, and never surrender until it is tracked down and destroyed.
The Hand Ninja was originally released as part of Series 1's Wave 3, back in 2009. At that time I wasn't collecting Marvel Universe figures and so I was never able to pick-up this figure (although I did find Ronin and the later-renamed ''Chaste Ninja'' figures, both of which use a lot of the same body parts.) Hasbro has recently started putting out a number of ''revision cases'' of toys, featuring some of the harder-to-find Marvel figures. I personally applaud the move, as it allows collectors to get their hands on some of the figures they may have missed, but I can also see this causing a lot of anger among people who've paid online prices for ''rare'' toys. Interestingly, unlike some of the other revisions (such as the Ms Marvel and Warpath figures) this toy does not appear to sport any form of variant costume or modifications over the original.
Anyway, enough history! Onto the figure itself.
The body is basically a reuse of the Ronin figure from the previous Wave with a new head sculpt. That's fine, given that they're both Martial Artists and they're wearing Ninja-ish garb although purists will I'm sure be disappointed that their costume isn't comicbook-accurate. As mentioned, this entire sculpt was used as part of the Toys R Us-exclusive Soldiers and Henchmen pack, in which he was initially described as a ''Hand Ninja'' and later retconned to be a ''Chaste Ninja.'' Hasbro has clearly gotten their mileage out of this sculpt!
The details are pretty good, overall. The body is nice and chunky (without being overly large) and the armour/costume looks good. There's a nice dynamism to the sash and the armour pieces feature intricate etching/detail that breaks-up what could have simply been large swathes of plastic.
The head sculpt is pretty cool, too. The hood looks like a headpiece (rather than a misshapen head) and there's a mouth-mask that looks like a cloth piece, rather than - again - being a weird head defect. The head is detailed enough to make it interesting but thanks to the mask, it's also anonymous-enough to allow the Hand Ninja to make a good Army Builder figure, especially given the arsenal of included weaponry.
What's not so great is the articulation. Whilst it's good to see both torso and waist articulation (a joint Hasbro's recent releases seem to have discarded) the ''skirt'' of the Gi he's wearing pretty much make it impossible to bend him at the hip or bend his legs forward. Forget about making him sit-down.
It's a shame this part is so prohibitive (especially given he's an acrobatic Ninja!), as the rest of the articulation is very good. The sculpt allows for some great poses and the joints to a good job holding them.
Paint-wise, the figure is very good. Although quite subtle, there's a slightly darker wash used to accentuate the shadows and folds of the costume and a metallic red is used on his chest, arm and leg armour plates. It's again, very subtle and is only visible when you really look closely but it works well.
The face details are very cleanly applied, with his weirdo, pupil-less eyes and eyebrows being accurately painted with no spills or splodges. The only minor point was that I found a lump of ''gunk'' on his hood, left over from the wash's application. This picked-off cleanly though.
The Hand Ninja comes with a Naginata, which was previously seen with the Black Panther figure (although it is repainted for the Hand Ninja), a Katana (recycled from Ronin) and a short, straight dagger. Each weapon fits well into the figure's hands and gives a variety of posing options, which makes this a great Army Builder figure.
Like all Series 1 Marvel Universe figures, the Hand Ninja comes with his personal Fury File but - sadly - does not include a stand.
I have to admit, I've been a rather disappointed with some of the recent Marvel Universe figures I've purchased. The upcoming Wave features a few I might pick-up if I see them and there are some good-looking figures promised for later this year but on the whole, the line just seems to have become a little predictable and stale. I was therefore surprised at how much I enjoyed posing and photographing the Hand Ninja.
The figure looks great, has some superb accessories, is well-produced and is much more interesting than some of the more recent releases like Spider-Man 2099 and Iron Man 2020 or the re-issued Ms Marvel and Warpath. OK, so his skirt is horribly restrictive and the figure may not be comicbook-accurate, but that doesn't really matter given the quality and overall fun this figure brings.
He's not going to win anybody over to the Marvel Universe line but if you're a collector and the Hand Ninja isn't in your display case, then I'd strongly advise you do your best to rectify that. And given that he's now on-shelves as part of the revision wave, you've really no excuse not to treat yourself.