Thursday, April 21, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe Pursuit of Cobra - Arctic Threat Storm Shadow (With Whirlwind Kick)

Produced by Hasbro | Released November 2010

Storm Shadow is a Ninja mercenary who works for Cobra. He undergoes a difficult test to strengthen his willpower and endurance. Battling extreme cold, he climbs a snow-covered mountain to reach an Arashikage temple. As his final test he must defeat the Temple Guardians - and he does so with a powerful whirlwind kick.

Packaging Shots

Arctic Threat Storm Shadow (With Whirlwind Kick)
One of my pet peeves with the GI Joe line is that they're not always too precise at keeping up with their own naming conventions. This figure is a prime example of this. We've already had an Arctic Threat Storm Shadow as part of the Rise of Cobra's Collection 2 Wave 4. Yet this is a different take on the same concept. Given that there's a  Snake Eyes (Temple Guardian) figure in the latest Wave, why didn't they simply call this one Storm Shadow (Temple Attack) or something similar? Instead, we've got two figures with a near-identical name, the only difference being one has the (With Whirlwind Kick) suffix - and that's a suffix I added myself. 

Anyway, what of the figure itself?

The core sculpt is pretty interesting. This isn't Storm Shadow in his usual Ninja garb and instead sees him clad in almost ceremonial armour. It's an unusual look but it seems Hasbro enjoy producing some quite extreme variants of Storm Shadow, given we've got the Desert Battle and Paris Pursuit versions both wearing quite different outfits.

The figure is clad in loose pants with knee-high greaves/leg protectors and a grey short-sleeve gi/tunic over a black, short-sleeved shirt. Over this he's wearing a (removable) chest plate of lamed armour. The look is finished off with wrist bracers and a mask/helmet featuring a gold dragon-inspired headpiece. There's a lot of detail on the armour and it works very well, with the whole ensemble looking like multiple layers and pieces rather than simply being painted-on parts. 

One detail I particularly like from a visual point of view is the gi's ''skirt.'' It's a simple belt-piece that is held in-place with a small clasp on one side. The skirt gives a great impression of being part of the tunic (rather than simply a belt) and it gives Storm Shadow a great silhouette and shape, especially with the layer of armour he's then wearing over it.

The rest of the sculpt is also nicely detailed. His hands appear to have knuckles and tendons, the armoured chest piece has a texture of its own and there are some intricate details like ridges on armoured plates and lifelike creases in the pants that really show a lot of thought went into this figure. It certainly holds your attention.

The head sculpt is also nicely done, with the hooded mask being set-off with the golden dragon headpiece. This piece features ''bones'' and even little clawed ends, which look great. The folds around his nose and mouth finish-off a very cool-looking sculpt.

Unfortunately the articulation doesn't match-up to the sculpt and is beset with a number of problems.

To start with, the arm articulation is quite poor, with Storm Shadow's muscles restricting movement quite substantially. He seems a little muscle-bound (literally) and the figure's range of poses are reduced because of this. Similarly, his feet - which can be tilted forward and backward - are restricted by the shin plates he's wearing. 

Secondly, the gi skirt - although a great-looking piece - gets in the way of his hip joints and again, the range of movement is quite restricted. Yes, there are slits at the side but the whole piece is a little too tight and it makes turning the hip joints quite difficult.

Perhaps worst of all is the silly Whirlwind Kick feature. Like the Jungle Assault Snake Eyes, Arctic Threat Storm Shadow is lumbered with a silly play gimmick. Twist him at the waist and then press the tiny button on his flank and the hips spin around as he performs his Whirlwind Kick. Except it's not a kick really and is more of an unwinding. But ''Whirlwind Unwind Feature'' doesn't sound as cool.

This ''feature'' not only makes his hip articulation virtually redundant (as the waist joint only holds certain poses, even when he's not wound-up) but there's also an odd angle to the whole waist/hip assembly. He seems to be constantly leaning backward or almost falling over. Perhaps it's the cast or maybe it's the gi skirt - or even a combination of the two - but it's annoying and I don't like it.

Paint is pretty well applied, overall. The camo stripes on his pants are cleanly done and there's some nice two-tone weathering on his boots. Oddly Hasbro's designers chose not to sculpt any kind of ''hard line'' edge on the actual boots, so it was left to the paint team to indicate where the boot ends and the pant-leg begins. They did so with a clean edge, but I'd have preferred a sculpted line.

The remainder of the paintwork is cleanly applied and looks good. There are some nice asymmetrical details such as differing pads/plates being coloured on his bracers and there's a particularly nice, very subtle wash applied to the chest piece that accentuates the texturing of the piece. And there's a very cool Arashikage symbol painted upon it, which is a nice touch.

The only area that's not so great is the head. The dragon wing crest is painted gold but is a little ''gunky'' around the claws and the inner edges where it meets the mask. I think it's residue from a black wash applied to the gold, but I can't really be sure. It's only there if you look for it but it's a shame the finish isn't quite so crisp here as it is elsewhere.

Arctic Threat Storm Shadow has a pretty good range of weaponry and accessories.

As mentioned, the basic figure has a removable gi ''skirt'' and chest piece. Over this is a (removable) length of rope (which is molded from plastic, rather than being some kind of cord/thread) and his double scabbard holds the Katana and Wakizashi swords he comes with. This scabbard is the same as used by the Paris Pursuit Storm Shadow, and fits nicely into his back port. Just be aware though that the rope and chest armour have a tendency to dislodge this piece, depending how you pick-up/handle the figure.

Storm Shadow also comes with a Naginata-style spear/polearm, a short-length claw weapon, two longer-length ''ice traction blades'' (which also fit over his arms) and a short-length hook on a cord-style weapon.

What's great about his gear is how well it works with the figure. Every piece fits into his hands or over his wrists as it should and there's no danger of him dropping his gear. Granted there's nowhere to store the longer-length claws/blades but with a little bit of work you can get him to carry most of his gear, which I like.

Each piece is also nicely painted, with clean apps and smart colour choices and they really finish the figure's look well.

The only minor negative point is the figure's base isn't as good a fit as I'd have liked. Storm Shadow often appears to be balancing on the foot pegs and getting them into his feet ports takes a little effort. He's quite stable once he's on there, though.

Final Thoughts
Arctic Threat Storm Shadow is a great-looking figure with some superb accessories, let down by weak articulation and the silly Whirlwind Kick gimmick. Yes, I know he's a toy and is intended to be played with, but given the complexity of his gear and the violence of the kick feature when it's unleashed, I'd imagine a lot of kids will wind-up with a figure completely bereft of any equipment and a lot of collectors will be very wary of how they pose this toy, as one twist too many could see you adding a ticking timebomb to your display case...

The actual look of the figure is great and I can't wait to stand him beside the Temple Guardian Snake Eyes (of which I'll no doubt be buying three so I can use the spare heads and dress each as Snake Eyes, Slice and Dice) but it's just too bad that all that good work is marred by the sub-standard articulation.

If you're looking to only buy one Storm Shadow from the Pursuit of Cobra line, I'd say go with the Desert Battle one. Although his look isn't the traditional Ninja-style warrior, it's still a very good figure. If you're a completist though or a fan of Storm Shadow then there's really not that much wrong with this toy, providing you can live with the Whirlwind Kick ''feature'' and you've the patience to work around the limited poseability.

Production QualityB+
Final ScoreB

Image Gallery


  1. I still need to get a Storm Shadow figure so now this one is in the running for one i might get. : )

  2. I was just disappointed with the articulation. The Whirlwind Kick ''feature'' really makes him a pain to pose. He looks great though!


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