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Dark Ninja Master

GI Joe Sigma 6
by yo go re

At the end of its run in 2007, Sigma 6 was taking a noticeable change. Things had started out with a definite military feel - exaggerated yes, but military nonetheless - but the final series leaned toward some sort of "ninjas vs. samurai" theme, with Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes both released in big samurai armor, and a new major villain, the Dark Ninja Master.

The rogue Dark Ninja Master was exiled to a cave beneath Arashikage Mountain for betraying the ninja clans. After finding the Moon's Blood, a mystical stone of great power, he was able to channel the energy of dead ninjas, making him almost unstoppable. Seeking revenge, he has emerged from his subterranean prison to destroy all ninjas. Only two people can stop him: Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes. The two adversaries must join forces, for only by working together will they be strong enough to defeat this evil super-ninja.

The original Real American Hero continuity was pretty much taken over by the ninja drama, but there were a lot of Joe fans who didn't like it. They're the same ones who think the Joes never should have stopped wearing green uniforms. They probably wouldn't have liked Sigma 6 going ninja, but then again, but the odds are good they're the same fanboys who hated Sigma 6 from the beginning, so they never would have known. Ah, their loss. Since the Arashikage clan had the Hard Master, the Soft Master, the Blind Master, the Silent Master, the Young Master and however may more, a more fitting name for this guy would probably drop the "Ninja" and just make him the "Dark Master."

The Dark Ninja Master holds an interesting place in the Sigma 6 line as the only character with a 100% unique mold. Most of the others eventually lent bodyparts to later figures, but DNM wasn't introduced early enough for that. He's barechested, and his baggy pants are held up by a sculpted rope belt. He has straps around his shoulders and biceps, and his hands are wrapped. The shins have the same sort of wraps, and they continue down onto his otherwise-bare feet. He's wearing grey greaves with golden dragon kneepads, the only bit of armor on his body. He's a risk-taker!

While the hands and feet look like they're wrapped in leather or some other thick fabric, the Dark Master's face seems to be wrapped in bandages. Only his eyes are exposed, and they're blank white, suggesting his unnatural state of being. All the white here is broken up by the brown headband, which holds a gold and red disc on the forehead. He has real rooted hair, which on any other figure might look stupid, but here, just makes him look more wild and untamed. Two silver strands of (sculpted) hair fall down from behind his ears.

The most striking thing about the Dark Ninja Master (yes, even moreso than his hair) is his paint scheme. At first glance, it looks like he's white with dark red stripes, but look closer in the package, and you'll notice he's actually molded in translucent red plastic, and all the white is painted on top. It's a really clever bit of design, doubtless intended to make his tattoos look like they're illuminated with some internal power. Sadly, the plastic is a bit too dark for the "glow" to work consistently, but when it does, it's very nice.

This set is heavy with accessories. The Dark Master wears an armored sash around his waist, with three removable knives stored in the front. He has a riotously huge sword, 10¾" long, that can store on his back thanks to a removable scabbard. There's another, smaller sword, a hatchet, a large knife of some sort, and two hooked implements connected by a cord. Bladed nunchucks? Something.

Okay, that's it for the sane weaponry. From there we move on to the hinged punching dagger, where the blade opens like scissors for more damage power. And the spiked chain, with its three removable throwing stars. Madness! Finally, there are two white oni masks that can slip onto his face. One is accented with red, the other with blue, and they have unique sculpts. According to the packaging, these are Soul Catcher masks that allow him to channel the power of ancient ninjas. Is there nothing about this figure that doesn't boggle the mind?!

Even for a Sigma 6 figure, the Dark Ninja Master is large. He's 10" tall, which puts him a full head above Snake-Eyes. Articulation is typical for the line, with balljoints at all the major junctions. Since he was released near the end of the line, his right hand has the springy Kung Fu Grip. His fingers and toes are slightly splayed, so you can have him hold the kunai knives in there - yes, he can hold them in his toes. Outstanding! Who ever would have believed that if they didn't see it for themselves?

The Dark Master is a lot of fun. No, he's not the usual GI Joe figure, but that can be a good thing. He's well made, and the tattoo gimmick is neat. He's got a ton of wild accessories, and is definitely unique. The ability to hold the knives and stars between his figures is something new, and the extra masks give him some variety in your collection. There's even a swanky cardboard backdrop of his home in the Arashikage mountain behind him in the package. No question some folks will think he's "too weird" to be a GI Joe figure, but they're just missing out on an excellent toy.

-- 10/09/09

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