The original GI Joe Classified Storm Shadow design

As mentioned in today's Storm Shadow review, Hasbro had plans for something new, until they decided to absorb the dumb complaints of a minority who fear change - after all, why do anything to draw in new fans when you can keep selling things reliably to the same dwindling pool of 40 customers you've had for decades?

The art on the website still shows the new design:

That's a bit over-done, but it's still clearly Storm Shadow, and clearly more than a larger version of a toy from 38 years ago.

The truly frustrating this is that we know the design could make for a good toy, because it actually is becoming one. Some company called "Hiya Toys" is licensing GI Joe from Hasbro and releasing 4" figures in the Asian market. And what did they base their Storm Shadow on? The real Classified design:

There have been a few changes, such as removing the Batman-blades on the forearms and the giant dragon tattoo, but they prove that the original design absolutely would have worked, and that running back to the '80s was an unnecessary choice.

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13 Responses to The original GI Joe Classified Storm Shadow design

  1. Ai Muhao says:

    Could I ask? On several of the Classified Series reviews, you've complained about "people fearing change", what's up with that?

    Maybe it's because we never actually got any of the toys here save for a glut of Cobra Commanders and Pimp Daddy Destros (I live in South-East Asia, and I've heard that the local Hasbro actually opted NOT to import much of the Classified stuff out of an odd belief they wouldn't sell), but I've not heard complaints about, say, Cobra Commander being too different from his A Real American Hero look.

    Like, was there a figure that people complained was too radical a redesign or something?

    • yo go re says:

      Apparently some group of fans (I don't know which/where) felt that the early figures, like Duke and Scarlett, were too "sci-fi." Despite not being overly sci-fi at all. Now for me personally, I thought the weapons were a little too futuristic for my tastes (that's why I didn't get the original Roadblock, for instance, because of his weird rail gun thing), but the costume designs were all right. Whoever the complaints were coming from, the Joe design team seems to have taken them to heart, which is why now a "drastic" redesign involves putting little pieces of armor on Storm Shadow's forearms.

      That aside, I hadn't heard of this Hiya Toys thing. That does look pretty good. I think they should have made the silver on his mask lighter, maybe, but otherwise that's a great update...

      • Ai Muhao says:

        Yeah, I can see the weapons being a bit out there, but I did think that the costume designs as they were were fine updates, and certainly not as drastic as, say, the Sigma Six designs.

        I do wonder if the problem was they aren't *recognisably* the ARAH designs, kind of like why there were quite a few fans of the Transformers Prime series who weren't happy with the versions of the characters released in the Transformers Legacy toyline due to not much resembling the originals.

        For me, like I said I haven't collected Joes in decades to I'm actually pretty okay with the "original toy but bigger approach" since they resemble the characters from the old cartoon I loved so much, but I also didn't have any problems with the initial wave of designs.

        Except the B.A.T. I'd have preferred a red faceplate like the cartoon because I do think that's a bit more threatening.

        • Stormtrooper53 says:

          I'm not buying the Classified line with the exception of a few favorite characters, so I don't have a dog in this fight.n(Personally I think this scale is WRONG for GI Joe because it ignores the vehicles.) The first wave of figures pegwarmed hard. After Hasbro changed tack and went with "the same, but bigger" its been difficult to find moat of the figures at retail. I don't think its a minority of GI Joe fans who want larger versions of the ARAH toys.

          • Ai Muhao says:

            I do believe you might be onto something there. I myself wasn't really interested in Classified at first, but now I was willing to fork over quite a bit for the Crimson Twins and Stalker, and eagerly await Zarana and the Crimson Guard.

            It's entirely possible that Hasbro's tack isn't "let's listen to a vocal minority of losers who can't handle change" and more "let's give the customers who're snapping up the ARAH-themed toys what they want".

            I did like what they're doing with the Haslab HISS tank and including parts to convert it into a more classic design, and I do wonder if doing something similar might've appeased both the purists and the "I want something new" crowd. Not sure it'd be cost-effective, though.

          • yo go re says:

            Pegwarmed? They came out, sold through, and then we got months of empty pegs because of the combination of pandemic and that whole big chunk of figures that were Target exclusives. The only things that hung around even a little bit were the two Roadblocks. Duke, gone. Scarlett, gone. Snake-Eyes, obviously gone. If the first figures HAD moved slowly, the shift might make sense, but they really didn't; one or two individual figures out of a case not immediately selling is not the same as an entire line being pegwarmers. People were definitely buying the new designs, which is why we keep saying the only reason to change directions this hard is to answer loud voices.

            (Full disclosure: the things I've seen pegwarming most - after the movie figures of course - are Flint and Lady Jaye, and the recent rerelease of Cobra Commander...)

  2. I don't see why Classified can't do both slavish recreations & fresh redesigns of key characters.

    • Ai Muhao says:

      If I remember right, that's sort of what they're doing with the Transformers Legacy line, isn't it? I do like the upcoming Lio Convoy/ Leo Prime which looks to be a recreation, while you also have the Core Class Dinobots which look to be redesigns so they are now a six-bot team that combine into Volcanicus.

  3. Wendy Grogan says:

    I never thought I'd say this, but.. *sigh* Mattel has the right idea.

    What they are doing with their Masterverse line, including the New Eternia concept art and reinventions, is what GI Joe Classified could be, but isn't. The line needs breaths of fresh air and an alternate universe is the best way to get that. I really wish Hasbro did the same.

    • Ai Muhao says:

      I kind of assumed that this was an alternate universe anyway. Wasn't there some video game that used the Classified designs? As far as I can recall, there was no attempt to tie it into the old ARAH cartoon...

  4. Ai Muhao says:

    Related to the earlier comment thread, now I actually do wonder if part of the reason Hasbro did shift the designs isn't necessarily "to appease loud voices" but also because of sheer recognizability.

    Again, I'm approaching this as someone who doesn't live in the US, but I do remember the initial wave of Classified hitting one or two toystores (I personally recall seeing Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock and Storm Shadow). I remember they actually took some time to move (and now we instead have a glut of the gold variant of Cobra Commander and the money man Destro). However, since the switch to more ARAH-designs, I've almost never seen them on shelves even when friends of mine with contacts in shops and department stores hurriedly send messages going, "Toys R Us has X in stock!", because they're almost invariably gone by the time I get there. I actually lucked out one time and found both Flint and Lady Jaye tucked away behind a bunch of Transformers, clearly hidden by someone planning to come back for them later.

    The live action movie toys? Those languished on our shelves for months, and I know from personal experience that those of us who grew up on ARAH turned up our noses because they weren't "our" Joes and Cobras. ARAH used to air on local tv stations quite a lot (alongside Transformers, Jem and My Little Pony), and we meanwhile never got stuff like Sigma Six or Resolute (neither the cartoons nor the toys).

    For quite a few of us here, ARAH is the only Joe we know. It really wouldn't surprise me if Hasbro opted to tap that market, especially since it isn't backed up by a cartoon or movie or anything, just pure nostalgia from fans happy to see old friends again. Even the smaller retro stuff moves quite quickly, barring overstocked items.

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