Thursday, June 14, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe: Retaliation Ninja Dojo Kamakura

Produced by Hasbro | Released May 2012

GI Joe: Retaliation Ninja Dojo Three-Pack
Today sees  the final entry in our triple-header Review of the GI Joe: Retaliation Ninja Dojo Three-Pack in the form of the Arashikage student, Kamakura. Has this student mastered all things Ninja or will he be held-back a grade? Read on and find out!

Sculpt and Design
Initially, Kamakura holds a lot of promise. He's a pretty neat-looking figure, thanks to his combination of Ninja jammies and armor plates and the hood piece is a particularly cool bit of design. And on paper he's definitely a winner, combining cool Ninja aesthetics and weapons with the a commando concept like his mentor, Snake Eyes. It's quite disappointing then to discover that whilst he does have a few moments of brilliance, the overall effect isn't anywhere near what it should have been.

Whilst the basic design is neat and there's some good detailing on the folds in his clothing, his armor plates are kind of cool and generally everything is pretty much as it should be, there's a major, major problem with the figure's sculpt in that his left leg is significantly longer than his right. I'm not talking fractionally longer. I mean significantly longer. Granted on a figure of this scale it's probably only a couple of millimeters but it's enough to not only be plainly visible but also majorly impact the figure's poseability, something we'll come back to in a moment.

I honestly can't understand how Hasbro could have let this slip through. I know this Kamakura is based on the Tornado Kick Snake Eyes but I don't recall that figure having this issue. Perhaps this figure is using a different groin piece and it's throwing the leg off. I don't know.

It's a shame, as leg issue aside, Kamakura's basic sculpt is pretty neat.

As mentioned above, Kamakura's miss-matched legs make posing him a bit of a nightmare. It's very difficult to get him to stand in any kind of pose without looking hunched over. It seems even Hasbro struggled with the figure, as the rear of the pack shows Kamakura in what appears to be an ''uhoh! Bad taco!'' pose.

The other major issue is that the armor plates Kamakura wears on his wrists and shins can be quite limiting - and no, Kamakura doesn't include the new wrist or ankle joints, which further compounds matters. I found it difficult to get Kamakura to stand without being top heavy or off-balance - and that was even with a stand. I dread to think of the contorted poses he'd wind-up in should I have tried without the stand.

Add to this a few items of gear that further inhibit articulation - which we'll come back to in a moment - and posing Kamakura quickly becomes an exercise in annoyance.

At least his paintwork is pretty neat, with a generally clean app and the little Arashikage tampo on his arm being a cool (and for once, applicable) touch. 

Extras and Accessories
Like the basic sculpt, Kamakura's arsenal of accessories is - in principle - very good. It's just a shame then that the execution doesn't quite match the concept.

Before we look at the issues, here's a quick run-down of his gear: removable webbing, removable hood, slot-in backpack/sword sheath, machete, Arashikage blade, twin swords, SMG and removable silencer. So overall it's a pretty decent level of gear that allows for a variety of play/display options.

Sadly, some of it just doesn't work. Slotting the backpack/sheath into his back port can be difficult, thanks to the webbing's tendency of riding up. This also makes getting the hood to stay in place an annoyance, as the shoulder straps of his webbing will often dislodge it. The weaponry is also somewhat miss-matched in terms of size, with some weapons fitting comfortably in his hands and others refusing to remain in his grip. And whilst he can be displayed with all his gear, you'll find that the slightest touch will result in him either dropping one of his weapons or an accessory falling off. I personally found the best way to display him was in the manner shown in the opening image: hood removed and holding his twin swords. You may find an alternative way to display him but for me, that's how he'll be on my shelf.

Kamakura does not include a base.

Final Thoughts
I missed-out on the Rise of Cobra Kamakura so I was pleased to see Hasbro giving us a second bite of the cherry (even if it's a different figure.) It was disappointing then to find how poorly constructed this Kamakura is. The oddly-proportioned legs, the weird groin articulation, the lack of tilting wrists and rocker ankles and the generally weak way everything is assembled makes for a less than satisfactory experience with the figure.

Play with him and you'll lose his gear within the hour. Pose him and you'll feel as if everything is being held together by your faith in him not falling over or dropping an item. It's not a fun feeling at all and getting him to stand in any pose that doesn't look as if he's experiencing severe stomach cramps is truly frustrating. And it's a shame because on paper this is a great figure with some nice details and a good range of accessories. It's just that greatness has been lost somewhere between the translation from paper to plastic.

A potentially good figure, ruined by thoughtless production and weak execution.

Final Score: B-

Image Gallery


  1. While I agree that the new ankles would've helped him immensely, I really like this figure. I'm not a big "he's got to carry all of his accessories" guy to begin with, so I just chucked the Snake Eyes sword away right off the bat and looped the nunchaku around his backpack (which is supposed to sit with the swords horizontal, not diagonal - it's pretty snug in that position since it's got a concave shape).

    But I've always liked the concept of the character - sort of a halfway point between a fully commando Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow's pure ninja - and the colour scheme's pretty nice. I'd give him a straight B, leaning upwards to a B+. The weird legs are the only real issue, although I got him standing on a double-peg stand without too much headaches.

  2. I do like to display all my accessories, to be honest, as to me it feels like a wasted opportunity. (And thanks for reminding me about the Nunchaku, which I forgot to include in the Review!)

    For me though the legs just kill him. I can't get him to stand in any kind of decent pose without looking like he's having major stomach cramps or something...


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