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Storm Shadow

GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

Take two! ...or maybe three?

Storm Shadow is an elite Cobra ninja operative and an exiled member of the Arashikage ninja clan, one of Japan's legendary families. He trained in their methods of infiltration and combat. Extremely skilled, blindingly fast, incredibly resilient, and devastatingly lethal. Elite-level expert in a variety of martial arts and an array of ninja weaponry. Destined to be the leader of the Arashikage before fate took a turn and sent him on a different path and into the ranks of Cobra.

There was already one Storm Shadow in the Classified line, as figure #14, but that was when distribution was faltering, so I never saw one. And since the design was based on his "good guy" costume, I wasn't really interested in making any sort of effort to find him. He's like Gung-Ho that way: if I'd come across him in a store, then maybe, but I wasn't going to give it any effort or thought. But when this one was announced, I was excited enough to preorder it!

This is the traditional Storm Shadow design, the all-white uniform he's been associated with since 1984. Because this toy is 50% larger than the olden days, we get things like seams on his mask and little wrinkles around his eyes. Sadly, we don't get an alternate unmasked head - and the balljoint it's mounted on is a different size than the movie figure, so you can't even cheat and borrow that one. Boo!

(If you're planning to do some custom work anyway, the movie head has the larger socket, so it can sit on this body, but it doesn't actually attach firmly; you'd need to fil it in slightly.)

We know, from the character art Hasbro put on the official website, that they originally intended to give Stormy a fancier design - still a white ninja, but with more modernized details. We know that exact scheme can create something nice, because we've seen it work before. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Joe design team have given up on that kind of creativity and fallen into the exact kind of "the same thing, but bigger" cul-de-sac we warned against in 2014. So this is a white suit.

There are some minor - minor - cosmetic differences between Classified Storm Shadow and Real American Hero Storm Shadow. The fact that he doesn't have any sleeves comes from the cartoon, but the armored plates over his forearm wraps is new, as are the gloves, and the fact that his boots now have black soles. Way to innovate, Hasbro!! These are nice changes, but mostly meaningless. One thing that's definitely new is the inclusion of a hood; Resolute did that, but it's a new tweak for a distinctly ARAH-inspired take. Having the wraps on his arms and legs be gray rather than white adds a little visual contrast, but the black on his belt feels slightly sloppy.

Storm Shadow stands a little over 6⅛" tall, making him a bit shorter than most of the Classified men (the site lists him as standing 5'11", which seems big for the character, but is still less than this figure's height). He moves with a balljointead head, hinged and balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders on pectoral hinges, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel forearms, swivel/​hinge wrists, hinged chest, balljointed waist, hips that are a balljoint mounted on a hinge, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, and swivel/hinge ankles. Plus a swivel for the ties on his belt, making for more dynamic poses. The head pops off so you can choose between having the hood up or down, but we really wish he included some alternate hands like Snake-Eyes did; we want him to be able to chop!

In addition to the two versions of the hood, the figures includes two swords, a compound bow, and a backpack that combines scabbards and quiver in one. The bow can store on the backpack, which is nice, and one of the arrows can be removed and clipped into bow like it's going to be fired (though on the wrong side for a righty). The shurikens on his sash are just molded elements, but they're painted silver so they look like he could pluck them off and use them. The only vintage accessory he doesn't have are his nunchuks. The backpack has a padded texture in the center, and the Arashikage symbol raised above it. Because he's working for Cobra, the hilts of his swords are designed to look like snakes. If there's one thing fascists love, it's consistent branding!

Storm Shadow, this figure that I was so looking forward to, is a disappointment. I mean, it's absolutely an amazing update of the original figure... but that's all it is. There's no art here, no effort. The sculptor's work is undeniably skillful, but the design that guided it is not. You could make the same thing yourself with the Articulated Icons figures. Maybe the proposed redesign went too far, but this one doesn't go too far enough. Stop sitting on your hands, Hasbro, and create something rather than just trying to re-create.

-- 11/25/22


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