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Silver Samurai

X-Men Retro Collection
by yo go re

I already gave up on making customs because eventually companies will release the real thing, now I have to give up third-party stand-ins, too?

The Silver Samurai has but one goal in life: to become the leader of the Japanese underworld! Trained in the martial arts and wielding a massive katana, this honorless samurai may have already achieved his desire if not for the interference of the X-Men!

Silver Samurai is, like Iceman and Dazzler, part of the X-Men Retro Collection, but that's only because of the Supervillain Shuffle: he was created as a foe for Daredevil and Black Widow, then fought Spider-Man a bunch, and had even made arch-enemies of the cast of SNL before he ever met his first mutant. In his first appearance, he was just a really big guy with a tough sword - he didn't even display any specific powers! It took time for him to become the character we know today.

For one thing, First Appearance Silver Samurai barely even looked like a samurai, and wore more blue than silver. Comics were... unspecific in the '70s. It wasn't as easy to do research as it is today. It's possible artist Bob Brown confused samurai and gladiators, and colorist Linda Lessman... did the best she could with 1974 printing technology? Three years later Kenuichio Harada had his second appearance, and Sal Buscema designed the outfit we've known ever since: a few pieces of typical samurai armor, a few pieces of more modern armor, and a cloth suit beneath it all. The old-fashioned stuff includes kusazuri faulds, chest armor, and those nearly horizontal shoulder pads are probably supposed to be sode, just sticking into the air instead of attached to the arms. The sculpt's even given him a yodare-kake throat guard! The modern touches are pretty much limited to the bracers and greaves.

Silver Samurai was one of the figures in that long-ago ToyFare poll, but that one didn't look even half as good as this. It was skinny, the details were soft, and the entire head appeared to be molded as a single piece - on this one, the helmet, the mask, and the exposed chin are all different pieces that have been glued together, creating the most natural look.

As part of the Retro Collection, this figure is based on one ToyBiz released in 1994, which was easily one of the worst Marvel figures they ever made: it was vac-metallized (even the "cloth" parts of the costume), the sculpt meant that he had no elbow or hip joints, and since the helmet and shoulderpads were one removable piece, you couldn't turn his head, either. This one moves like a Marvel Legend should, with swivel/hinge ankles, swivel boots, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, swivel waist, balljointed chest, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged neck, and balljointed head.

He's got two accessories: one sword, and another sword. Surprisingly, they're not two of the same sculpt; it's the curved blades we've seen before, but one is shorter than the other, wakizashi-style (though not quite that short - the bigger one is 3⅞" long, the littler one is 3⅝"). Silver Samurai was created by Steve Gerber, but it was Chris Claremont who first suggested there was some sort of power related to his sword (though at first, it might have just been in the sword itself, not a mutant ability). These swords can fit into the side of the belt, though the scabbards overlap so you'll always have to have one in front of the other.

"Kenuichio" is not a real Japanese name, so whenever Silver Samurai appears in Japanese media, he's generally identified as Harada Ken'ichirō (原田剣一郎). Whatever you want to call him, and whether you want him to be an X-Men villain or a Big Hero 6 team member, this is a standout figure (which explains why he's the second-hardest to find from the series).

-- 01/06/20

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