Wednesday, November 2, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe 30th Anniversary - Renegades Snake Eyes

Produced by Hasbro | Released September 2011

SNAKE EYES is a mysterious ninja who helps SCARLETT and the other Renegades. He never speaks or shows his face, but he does reveal himself to be an extremely powerful ninja. He was trained by the ARASHIKAGE ninja clan, the same clan that trained his sworn enemy, STORM SHADOW the COBRA ninja mercenary.

GI Joe 30th Anniversary Renegades Snake Eyes
Released as part of the second Wave of the 30th Anniversary figures, Snake Eyes is part of the GI Joe: Renegades sub-line. I'm really still not sure why Hasbro is tying these figures in with the 30th Anniversary line but at least we're actually seeing these figures being released - an oddity given the Renegades cartoon finished airing months ago and hasn't been renewed for a second Season...

Snake Eyes comes packed in the fairly standard GI Joe packaging. I have to admit I do like the ''clean'' look of the 30th Anniversary packaging in general and although the Snake Eyes as he appears here is rendered in the angular style of the cartoon, it's certainly quite eye-catching.

I still don't think they should be mixing the ''regular'' 30th Anniversary Joes with the Renegades figures, though. It looks very odd on the back packaging to see the clash of art styles used on the ''Collect Them All'' graphic. And of course, there's the fact that the six-portrait slots don't leave enough space for the full line-up...!

Sculpt and Design
I have to admit before we go any further that I've put-off this Review for quite a while. The reasons are two-fold: firstly, it's yet another Snake Eyes figure. I've lost track of how many times I've covered the GI Joe team Ninja Commando and retreading the same old ground doesn't make for much of a fun read. Secondly, this figure just doesn't look particularly exciting in the box. Part of that may be down to the former reason I just mentioned but even if this were a brand-new figure, I'd still have my doubts.

I was therefore quite surprised when I opened the packaging up and found that this Snake Eyes wasn't quite so dull as I first imagined...

The basic sculpt is pretty much what you'd initially expect but upon closer examination there's a little more going on than first appears. His boots (which appear to be recycled from the excellent Resolute/Rise of Cobra City Strike Snake Eyes) have a nicely armoured/angular look to them and are finished-off with some side-strapping. His pants appear to be baggier than a ''regular'' Snake Eyes (which is in-keeping with the animated show's character design) and there's a sense of them being actual clothing with folds and creases, rather than simply being skin-tight, detail-free pants. The upper-body detail isn't quite so exciting, sadly but there's just about enough detail here - such as the elbow creases and wrist cuffs - to avoid the figure being utterly featureless.

Snake Eyes's head is pretty much the standard visor-look you'd expect, although again, there are some nice close-up details such as seams and a creased (or scarred?) brow.

The basic sculpt is augmented with a (removable) belt and shoulder harness. There's some additional detail here such as buckles and strap-effects that you don't initially spot and both pieces fit the figure pretty well. I also like that the belt has a pistol holster and a pouch on the rear into which both swords can be slotted for storage purposes.

Snake Eyes is unusual in that the initial, fairly featureless impression he makes isn't really that accurate - there's actually a fair amount of detail here when you look closely.

The Renegades Snake Eyes features a fairly standard GI Joe articulation set-up, although like many of the more recent figures he also includes tilt-able wrist joints. Sometimes these slightly-bulbous wrists work but sadly in Snake Eyes' case they're simply too swollen to look lifelike, which is a shame as I'm always a fan of extra articulation options.

Whilst the lower half of the figure is relatively problem-free, the same cannot be said of his upper body. I found my Snake Eyes' torso joint had a little bit of Bobble Head Wobble to it - namely that it didn't seem to ''lock'' into position when I posed him. This could of course be simply a problem with my particular figure but it's a shame to see it.

What's definitely not a production error though is the elbow articulation. Due to the shaping of his arms, it's very difficult to get Snake Eyes to bend his arms much beyond about a 60-degree angle. Given Snake Eyes is a Ninja - and therefore should be quite flexible and athletic - it's disappointing to see this limited range of movement.

As for the joints themselves - aside from the aforementioned torso wobble - they're quite flexible but firm and there's really nothing wrong here with the way they work.

As is always the problem with black-clad figures, Snake Eyes' appearance is initially a little flat. Obviously the figure is based upon the animated character's design so there's little Hasbro can do to change his styling but thankfully the show's character designers added some subtle colouring to Snake Eyes in the form of a grey side-stripe and detailing, all of which is reproduced here.

Like the animated character, Snake Eyes the figure uses a fairly flat palette. There's nothing really wrong with that (and it makes sense, as he'd hardly be a master of infiltration and stealth if he were clad in bright yellow) but it does make Snake Eyes initially appear a little bland. Again though, like the sculpt, there's some nice paint detail that emerges as you examine the figure. His boot details, Arashikage logo and visor are all small - but effective - examples of this.

The actual application is very good, with neat edging and no real overrun or spill.

Extras and Accessories
Accessories can really make or break a figure. Where the previously-seen Renegades Duke was gimped in terms of gear, Snake Eyes fares a little better. But his equipment cache is not without its problems.

As is de rigueur with all single carded GI Joes, he includes his own custom stand. Unfortunately getting him to stay on it can be troublesome, as his booted feet don't quite fit the raised pegs properly and it requires a little balance and work to get him to remain attached to it.

Weapon-wise, Snake Eyes comes with a Katana and Wakizashi double-whammy of sword goodness. Both are cast from a light grey plastic but lack any form of paint app. I'd have preferred to see the blades or hilts painted to add some extra detail, as the actual sculpt is pretty good and both weapons fit nicely in Snake Eyes' hands.

He also comes with his plasma pulse blaster (which bizarrely features a ''silencer.'') Whilst this weapon appears cumbersome it's a superb fit in his hand, thanks to the lack of any kind of trigger guard. It also slots fairly comfortably into his belt holster, although its size can make some poses a little hard to achieve. Again, it's molded using the same grey plastic with no paint detail.

His arsenal is completed with two smaller weapons, which I assume are supposed to be lashed together to create a double-ended Kyoketsu-shoge (essentially a blade on a rope.) Or maybe they're simply supposed to be throwing knives of some sort. I'm really not sure what their exact purpose is, especially as the card back describes them as ''twin tek-sai'' and ''ninja grappling hook.'' So unless a piece went missing when I opened the figure, Hasbro has clearly removed some of his accessories at the last minute - something that's even more obvious when the card continues to explain that the figure also includes ''ARASHIKAGE blade with stand,'' an accessory shown at the San Diego Comic Con that didn't make it to the final release.

The final accessory is a backpack that slots through the straps into his back port and can be used to hold the  grappling hook/tek-sai/throwing knife accessories. Although it's simply an open-ended box, it works well enough and the pieces remain in-place relatively snuggly.

It's just a shame Hasbro - yet again - promised some interesting accessories but failed to deliver.

Final Thoughts
I've gone through quite a journey with this figure. My initial lack of interest was overcome somewhat when I started to examine the figure more closely. Indeed, I even thought to myself that this could be the definitive Snake Eyes at one point. But as I continued posing him, Hasbro's gimpage of his accessories began to take away some of the shine and now I have to admit I'm actually a little torn as to whether this is a good figure or not.

On the positive side, the figure's first-impression blandness is quickly overcome when you start to look more closely. There's a lot of cool detail in the sculpt, the paint app is nice and it's certainly a good representation of the show's take on Snake Eyes.

On the downside, it's yet another Snake Eyes (and we've seen better ones), the accessories - whilst they work well enough - are uninspired and the fact that the packaging refers to equipment he doesn't come with is annoying. Add to this the articulation that's a little weaker than it should be and you're left with a bit of a bad taste in the mouth.

I think we have to face the fact that Hasbro is cutting as many corners as they can with the Renegades figures. I'm sure they're simply releasing them to attempt to recoup the cost of investing in the design and production of the toys and are doing so in the most cost-effective way they can. That means no Renegades-specific line and - worst of all for collectors - skimping on the figures' gear.

It's a shame because if the Renegades Snake Eyes had been equipped with some better accessories, he'd have been a ''must have'' figure. As it stands, he's simply a ''good but not great'' take on the character and whilst younger fans will probably enjoy playing with him, for collectors - especially those who already own a Snake Eyes figure - he's really a bit of a missed opportunity.

Sculpt and DesignB+
Extras and Accessories B-
Final ScoreB+

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  1. Picked this one up myself and was happy with my purchase. Great review.

  2. He is good. It's just a shame his accessories don't really match-up. It's too bad, as he could have been excellent.

  3. Thanks Jdub - glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Very thorough. Much appreciated.


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