Thursday, May 31, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe: Retaliation Ninja Showdown Red Ninja

Produced by Hasbro | Released May 2012

Ninja Showdown Red Ninja
We return today to the GI Joe: Retaliation Ninja Showdown three-figure pack to take a look at the Red Ninja. How does he shape-up compared to his pack-mate, the excellent Snake Eyes? Read on and find out.


Sculpt and Design
The Red Ninja uses the same basic body as that used by the previously-released (and rather good) Renegades Storm Shadow, but with some minor tweaks - we'll come back to them in a moment.

The basic design is very good indeed, with this being essentially an Old School Ninja. Metallic knee-pads aside, this is pretty much what you'd expect from a traditional practitioner of all things Ninja, with his robes being particularly well-tooled and featuring a number of folds, creases and other such details, yet without ever looking too busy or detracting from the figure's look. I particularly like that there's a ''poofy'' look to his sleeves and pant legs, which helps give the impression of him being clothed, rather than simply having clothing ''painted on'' if that makes sense.

The Red Ninja is designed to be an Army Builder figure, so personal sculpt detail is kept to a minimum, with his eyes being the only identifying feature. As a uniformed figure intended to represent an everyday Ninja (now there's a phrase you don't hear that often), the Red Ninja works very well indeed. That's not to say he's dull or lacks detail but rather that he's an excellent henchman.

When Hasbro announced they would be introducing some changes to the articulation rigs used by the GI Joe: Retaliation figures, many fans were angered by the news. Hasbro was quick to assure collectors though that they would be treating each figure on an individual basis and any that required a full range of movement - such as Ninjas - would be given just that.

So did Hasbro deliver on their promise?

The answer is a resounding yes.

Like the Ninja Showdown Snake Eyes, the Red Ninja utilizes both tilting wrists (a up/down one and side-to-side one in this case) and rocker ankles - something not seen with the Renegades Storm Shadow. As a result, this is a phenomenally poseable figure, with a range of wide-stances and cool Martial Arts poses being easily within his repertoire. He's a figure that's a lot of fun to pose and even without a base, he's still surprisingly well-balanced.

The joints themselves have no issues, with each being sturdy yet supple and I had no problems getting him to hold a variety of poses unaided.

The Ninja Showdown Red Ninja sports a different colorway to the single carded release, with much of his outfit being black rather than red. I personally prefer this color scheme but it's a matter of personal choice as to whether one is better than the other.

The actual app is very clean, thanks mostly to the parts simply being cast from a specific color of plastic and then combined. However, where there is detail - such as on his face and shin guards - it's very cleanly done indeed.

Extras and Accessories
The Ninja Showdown pack features an assortment of weapons and gear, complete with a suggested allocation for each figure. With the exception of the spear (which Hasbro suggest as Storm Shadow's weapon and so I haven't included it in the image below), here's the Red Ninja's armory.

His basic weaponry consists of a Sai dagger and Ninja Claw. Of the two weapons the claw is the most effective, fitting very snuggly over his wrist and slotting into his hand with ease. I have to admit that the Sai was troublesome, as he didn't seem to want to grip it particularly well. I'm not sure if the plastic of the Red Ninja's hands is a little softer or whether they just need to be heated and re-posed, though. Whatever the reason it's a bit of a pain.

The figure's look can further be augmented with the use of the silver mask or the straw hat, so you can still add some variation to your Ninja army. Whilst the hat is fine (if a little on the large side) the mask has a pretty sloppy paint app, which is disappointing. Perhaps I was simply unlucky.

He also comes with a firing zipline accessory, which is actually a lot more fun than it should be. This weapon can be clipped onto his wrist or gripped by the side-bars and then used to swing your Red Ninja around. It's very cool, very childish and a lot of fun.

The Red Ninja does not include a base.

Final Thoughts
There's a lot of good stuff to be found among the GI Joe: Retaliation line and the Ninja Showdown Red Ninja is one such toy. But even then, he's not without his problems.

Although it's possible to overlook some slightly sloppy apps on his accessories or the limited range of armament available (and to be honest, I've struggled to really find his ''hero'' weapon), the real issue is that a lot of his gear simply doesn't sit well in his hands. Sure, the claw fits perfectly and won't provide any issues but the Sai is simply too small for him to grip and the spear seems a little too heavy/cumbersome for his slightly bendy fingers to really hold properly. Many a time I found myself posing him only to look away and - a moment later - to hear the tell-tale sound of the weapon dropping from his grip. 

All is not lost, though. Thanks to his articulated wrists he can hold some very cool unarmed Martial Arts poses and - strangely - I found that he had no problems holding accessories from other figures, so if - like 99% of Joe collectors - you have a few spare weapons lying around, you can quickly arm him with something more suitable.

Gear-related issues aside, though, this is a great figure. The articulation is fantastic, the sculpt is great and given that the three-figure pack he's a part of also includes the excellent Snake Eyes (and the soon-to-be-Reviewed Storm Shadow) all for about what you'd pay for two single figures, you really can't pass him up at that price.

A great figure marred slightly by poor gear.

Final Score: A-

Image Gallery


  1. You're holding the sai wrong, which is why you're having problems with it. The blade and the prongs are supposed to go in between the fingers, that's why he has the extra finger separation. He can even hold it upside down with no problems.

    1. I don't think it's technically ''wrong'' to hold a Sai by the hilt but yes, you can slot it into his hands (in the same way as you can with the Renegades Storm Shadow) but at the same time, it *should* work both ways, which is why I criticized the accessory.

  2. This figure is great. I think the armor on his wrists, hands, knees and calves makes this sculpt more interesting. As cool as that 30th anniversary Storm Shadow is, I think he is a bit over-hyped, and this body looks better on the red ninja.

    1. I agree he's a great figure. I'm just floundering a little because of his gear. You know how most times you get a figure, pick-out a weapon, pose him and go, ''yup, that's it?'' I've yet to really manage that with the Red Ninja, even after trying some other spare weapons I had lying around. I'm sure I'll find something, though.


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