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Storm Shadow (Paris Pursuit)

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

Imagine if you were playing a videogame and just when you think you've beaten the final boss, your lifebar suddenly dropped off the top of the screen and impaled your character: something you'd taken for granted as a non-interactive element stepped up and caught everyone off guard? Scary, huh? That's the reason ninjas wear black.

A ninja mercenary hired by Cobra, Storm Shadow can be counted on to carry out his employer's orders. The ruthless martial arts master is sent to Paris to make sure a destructive demonstration of powerful, new nanomite technology goes according to plan.

The traditional "ninja" outfit is actually the non-descript costume of a kabuki theatre's stage crew. Since audiences are conditioned to ignore the crew while the story is going on, it's a huge surprise when one of the faceless masses pulls a sword and attacks the hero. There's no law saying ninjas have to wear black, or that Storm Shadow is somehow "wrong" for wearing white. It's all about escaping notice, and when you're as skilled as Tommy, that's no big deal. Besides, when they go to the Arctic, even Snake-Eyes starts wearing white to blend in, so if anything, Storm Shadow was a trendsetter.

This is the second Storm Shadow in the Rise of Cobra toyline: the first had him in his full coat and mask, totally "ninja-ed" up. This version is slighly more civilian, supposedly representing his appearance in the Paris segment of the film - thus the Paris Pursuit identifier. Of course, it's not quite accurate, since he was wearing a business suit then, but whatever excuse you need to release this figure is fine.

Paris Pursuit Storm Shadow has traded in his knee-length coat for a shorter jacket, and he's left the collar open slightly to allow us a glimpse of the button-down shirt beneath. The jacket seems to provide a bit of padding, judging by the sculpted details on the sleeves. Proving that a comfortable ninja is a successful ninja, Stormy seems to be wearing tennis shoes, which gives new meaning to the phrase "a fresh pair of kicks."

The main thing that sets this figure apart from the other Storms Shadow is that he's unmasked - this is the only Lee Byung-hun figure in the line so far. The likeness is decent, but not perfect. Compared to the painting on the card, the differences become apparent: his nose should be flatter, his jaw brought in just a bit, and his hair isn't really that poofy. Bear in mind, those are just the complaints of a close inspection; when you look at him, you still see Storm Shadow, and that's what really matters.

Articulation, of course, is right on par with any modern Joe: balljointed neck, torso and hips, swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, and ankles, swivel wrists, and hinged knees; plenty for a ninja throwdown! The paint on his hairline is sloppy, but that's the only error. His Cobra symbol is crisp, and the silver used for his zipper and detailing has no spillage. The majority of his costume is actually an off-white, rather than pure blanc. The shirt collar peeking out, though, is plain white, providing an unexpected bit of contrast.

It isn't just the Stupid Giant Gun (actually an ugly missile launcher) that will be thrown directly from Paris Pursuit Storm Shadow's packaging to the parts box to be forgotten forever: no, the figure also comes with some ridiculous black suction cup that has grey handlebars. At least he uses a rocket launcher in the film: what's the suction cup supposed to be?

The rest of the accessories are very nice - very classic. He's got a pair of sais, a katana and wakizashi that both fit in scabbards on his back, and one of the movie's pulse pistols. The weapons all get multiple paint apps, white and silver, which really keeps them from looking cheap. Yes, it's a minor detail, but it helps, especially on the gun: this looks like something Storm Shadow would be carrying, not just some random armament for any Cobra M.A.R.S. trooper.

Back during Generation 2, Hasbro had a mailaway offer for an unmasked Storm Shadow, which I ordered, but which never showed up: so yes, the main reason I got this figure was to fill that hole in my collection. Luckily, the design may come from the movie, but the final product will work wonderfully as a RAH Storm Shadow, if that's what you want. I wish he'd come with a removable mask, but that's really all I'd change. The first movie Storm Shadow toy, with the longer coat and the masked head, may be truer to the cinematic version, but as far as a simple GI Joe toy goes, Paris Pursuit Storm Shadow is much better.

-- 11/27/09

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