Tuesday, March 20, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe: Renegades - Storm Shadow

Produced by Hasbro | Released December 2011

STORM SHADOW trained in the ARASHIKAGE ninja clan with SNAKE EYES. When his ninja master was murdered, STORM SHADOW blamed SNAKE EYES and vowed to get revenge. He works for COBRA as a ninja assassin and is also a bodyguard for COBRA COMMANDER.

The World's Most Elusive Ninja
Ask any GI Joe collector which figure they're missing from the most recent releases and chances are they'll say ''The Renegades Storm Shadow.'' For whatever reason (be it short-packing, popularity, scalpers or just bad timing) Storm Shadow has proven to be an incredibly difficult figure to find at retail, with the figure fetching prices in excess of $50 online.

But, as we told you earlier today the reports of Storm Shadow reappearing at retail are indeed true. Could it be that the World's Most Elusive Ninja may finally be on his way to your local stores? And - more importantly - is he a figure that should be in your collection?

Storm Shadow uses the standard GI Joe: Renegades packaging. Interestingly, the image featured shows the ''classic'' Storm Shadow look, rather than the one sported in the animated series (and things get even more confused when you notice the packaged figure sports the Classic Storm Shadow mask and Renegades red sash...)

However, choice is a good thing, so it's nice to see that fans of both versions of the Cobra Ninja get a figure they'll dig.

Sculpt and Design
The strength of Storm Shadow's sculpt comes in its simplicity. We're in Iconic Ninja Territory here and - truth be told - were it not for the Cobra logo on his shirt, this Storm Shadow could be an archetypal Ninja from any toy line. And that's not intended as an insult. It's simply an expression of how simple - yet striking - the figure's sculpt is. Like I say, ''Iconic.''

That's not to say the figure is without detail - far from it. The whole Ninja suit is wrinkled and creased, with an assortment of cross-over ties, wraps and straps all present and correct. Yet none of these details are overly fussy or detract in any way from the striking impression the figure makes.

Of particular note are the fantastically designed hands. We'll come back to them throughout the Review, as they're a real high-point of the figure in terms of aesthetics and functionality but for now, it's worth drawing attention to how nicely detailed these parts are and how flexible the hand design is.

Storm Shadow also includes two interchangeable heads. By default the Classic Storm Shadow head (above) comes pre-attached but it's a simple enough matter to switch to the Renegades head (see below.) Whilst both are very nicely produced, the Classic head has the edge, simply as it looks so much cooler. But again, I applaud Hasbro for including the option to display Storm Shadow with either head.

Overall Storm Shadow's sculpt is strong. It's clean and functional but with enough detail to keep the eye engaged without being overly complex or distracting.

Storm Shadow scores very strongly in the articulation department, too. Although he lacks rocker ankles, he does feature the newer tilting-wrist set up and this - along with the superbly-sculpted hands - really opens up the poseability of the figure.

There's just something so cool about the way the hands work in terms of posing Storm Shadow. Yes, we've seen ''gun hands'' before with this same articulation but when the joints are connected to such awesome Ninjutsu hand poses, then posing Storm Shadow becomes a hugely fun experience.

The actual joints are - on the whole - pretty good. My Storm Shadow seemed to become a little looser as I posed him and whilst it wasn't to the point of being floppy, I did decide to curtail my photography session, as I didn't want to wear the joints any further. But obviously that was my figure and, as we know, such issues aren't always that widespread.

Wisely, Hasbro continues the ''iconic'' look when it comes to Storm Shadow's paintwork. The figure's basic palette is very simple, with the white outfit being accentuated with black (or red) sash detail. The accessories (see below) are also rather subdued - or rather, lifelike - in their palette choice and the overall impression is definitely one that makes an impact.

There's not a massive amount of actual paint on the figure, with a Cobra tampo transfer on the left breast and his head and finger skin app being pretty much it. Whilst both my heads were cleanly applied, I have to say the hands - or rather, exposed fingers - look as if the painter went a little overboard. They're cleanly applied but it just seems rather excessive. Maybe the hands simply aren't that detailed, sculpt-wise, and the paint app is fine. I'm not sure.

But that minor point aside, this is a cleanly applied, good looking design.

Extras and Accessories
In the past we've seen Hasbro skimping a little with some of the GI Joe: Renegades releases. Not so here.

Here's the full arsenal Storm Shadow has at his disposal:
  • Two heads
  • Red Sash
  • Black Sash (waist)
  • Black Sash (shoulder)
  • Two Ninjato swords
  • Quiver (which opens)
  • Bow
  • Arrow
  • Twin Sais
  • Twin Hand Claws
  • Twin Throwing Knives
  • ''Wrist'' Darts (with removable dart)
  • Nunchaku
  • Two Shuriken
  • Fan

Most of the weapon accessories are pretty much as you'd expect and they generally work well. Of particular note are the throwing knives and Shuriken, which sit superbly in his hands - they'll even slot between his fingers, allowing for a ''fully loaded'' hand of metal Ninja death.

Probably the most important accessory is Storm Shadow's Quiver/Backpack. The piece fits superbly into the figure's back port and is one of those piece which, when removed, make the figure look naked or unfinished, so integral is it to the figure's overall look. The pack features a number of pre-molded arrows, plus space for the extra ''loose'' arrow (although why it's cast in silver rather than black I don't know) and an additional double-sheath, into which Storm Shadow's swords may be slid.

Toward the base of the Quiver are a number of slots, into which an assortment of Storm Shadow's weapons may be placed when not in use. In the above image you can see I've attached the Hand Claws and Throwing Knives but the slots can also accommodate the Sais and the bow.

Except... they kind of don't.

You see, whilst Storm Shadow's array of gear is impressive, the actual execution lets it down somewhat and  many of his weapons just don't quite work as they should. The bow is slightly too skinny to sit firmly in his hand; the arrow is a pain to get him to grip; the Quiver's storage slots are just too shallow to really hold the gear in place properly (items don't ''clip'' into place so much as they just sort of hang off the slots); the Ninjato sword hilts are a little too bulky; the ''Wrist'' dart launcher (which actually attaches to his shoulder strap) features a removable single dart that's Low-Light bullet-tiny and is sure to be lost after a few minutes of play; there's nowhere to store the Shuriken, and the fan seems to be very precariously balanced in his hands.

I found it hugely frustrating trying to get Storm Shadow to keep his gear in-check. Pieces would regularly drop off or pop-out as I was trying to move him, let alone adjust his pose. My advice is to get your Storm Shadow posed with the gear you want to display him with in a controlled environment (such as at a table or on a sheet on the floor) and then give him a shake. Anything that falls off, put in storage, unless your Storm Shadow is going to be used solely for display purposes. And even then, make sure he's not near the edge of your shelf or is behind glass, because I dread to imagine what would happen to a fully-loaded Storm Shadow were he to fall to the floor.

Final Thoughts
I've seen reviews of Storm Shadow in which he's described as ''the perfect GI Joe'' or ''the perfect action figure.'' Without wanting to sound like a naysayer or give the wrong impression about just how good Storm Shadow is, he's not quite at that ''perfect'' level. On paper, he could have been. In practice, though, there are some problems that stop him hitting that high.

Storm Shadow's gear is a real two-edged sword. Whilst it's a huge plus-point in his favor and I'm pleased to see Hasbro really giving him a fantastic array of weapons and accessories, it's disappointing to see that they just didn't quite deliver on the actual quality. A number of his weapons just won't sit properly in his hands or attach to the Quiver/figure in a way that allows you to store them safely. It's so frustrating because with just a little more attention to the production quality, Storm Shadow would be so much closer to being completely awesome.

But I'll admit- I am nitpicking. Yes, some of the accessories are pretty weak, but others are superb. OK, so it's tough to display him with all of his gear but you can simply cherry pick which pieces you want him to carry and equip him with those items alone. And despite the negatives surrounding some of his gear, the actual figure is amazingly good. It's iconic, superbly detailed, poseable and a lot of fun.

Just one word of advice though: Storm Shadow is coming to a store near you. Don't pay the scalper prices for this figure. He's not worth $50 (although I'd struggle to think of any single 3 3/4'' figure that I'd pay that for, to be honest) but if you can find him at retail or online for a reasonable price, then you'll certainly enjoy owning this figure.

Minor issues aside, this is an awesome figure.

Final Score: A

Image Gallery


  1. I finally found this guy at Target the other day. He may be a bit on the skinny side for me, but is still made out of awesome.

    By the way, he cost me $8.99. What's the deal with all the Hasbro figures going up in price, including the old stock of Capt America, Thor and Iron Man figures?

    Walmarts in my area had all of those old 3.75" figures on clearance two weeks ago, but then the Avengers figures hit the pegs and they were all priced at $8.99, and at TRU they're all $9.99.

    1. Yeah, Walmart's Joes are still at $6.97 but to be honest, most Walmarts round here have nothing in stock. As for the other figures, most of them are about 2 months away from landing at Ross!

    2. So now the Targets in my area increased the price on G.I. Joes (not Star Wars or Marvel though) to $10.99. I hope I don't get to the point where I'm willing to spend that on a G.I. Joe figure, and I hope this is just Target trying something out and not supposed to be the new norm price.

      What is weird is that Target is the cheapest place to get 6" figures (ML are $14.99 and DCUC $15.99), so what gives?

    3. Yeah, I'd heard Target had bumped their prices up (ditto with TRU, or so I hear.) Insane.

  2. Glad to see you have him now Kev and he looks great!

    1. Yup. I was rather lucky last night but that said, I think there'll be more of him on shelves soon.


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