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GI Joe Renegades
by Monkey Boy

Hasbro loves them some Snake-Eyes. That's just the way it is, love it or leave it. If you're a GI Joe fan, you learn to accept that Snake-Eyes is a way of life. So it should surprise absolutely no one that the first figures based on Hasbro's GI Joe: Renegades cartoon include a Snake-Eyes among their ranks. Hasbro has consistently shown that it can make new and awesome versions of GI Joe's resident commando ninja, but they've also missed the mark quite a few times (you make almost a hundred different versions of anything and you're bound to have some filler). So where does Renegades Snakes fit?

Snake-Eyes is a mysterious ninja who helps Scarlett and the other Renegades. He never speaks or shows his face, but he does reveal himself to be an extremely powerful ninja. He was trained by the Arashikage ninja clan, the same clan that trained his sworn enemy, Storm Shadow, the Cobra ninja mercenary.

That about sums Snakey up, if a bit awkwardly. Whenever I question my writing skills, I can always count on action figure bios to give me a solid boost of confidence. Snake-Eyes "helps Scarlett and the other Renegades." What is...why the...I do not understand.

Anyway, the Renegades designs were almost painfully simplistic, which caused quite a controversy when they were revealed. While the show, by all accounts, ended up being pretty enjoyable, fans still wondered: how would the super simple designs translate into toys?

The answer is, they kind of don't. The toys clearly try to duplicate some of the smoother, simpler aspects of the cartoon, but they stop way short of anything resembling, say, Sigma 6. Snake-Eyes is an extreme example; he's pretty much totally made up of existing parts, many of them coming from previous SE figures. To be fair, a lot of the parts come from the Resolute styled Snake-Eyes sculpt, which was in fact a cartoon design, though nowhere near as simplistic as the Renegade version. The result is a decent approximation of the newer cartoon design, although a much more detailed example of it. He's got the baggy pants, the kneepads, the steel-toed shoes, and the shoulder straps, but there are buckles, rivets, and pouches not present in the sparse cartoon style. His head is, I believe, from the accessory-loaded Pursuit of Cobra version, which works pretty well.

The paint also reflects the cartoon fairly faithfully. Snake-Eyes is mostly a dark gray-blue with lighter gray accents. His kneepads and mask are silver, and he gets double I Ching "Arashikage" designs in red on his shoulders, just like the cartoon version. His shoulder straps and belt are molded in a different, warmer light gray.

So there's not a whole lot of new stuff in this Snake-Eyes. What sets him apart? His accessories help. The original promotional images of this figure showed him coming with a lot more stuff, but he still gets quite an arsenal in his final version: a "plasma pulse blaster with silencer", two small throwing blades (one "closed" into a single blade, and one "opened" to a trident), and two swords with different blade lengths. The beauty of it is that not only can he hold all his accessories, he can actually store them all and have his hands completely free. The throwing blades go in his tiny backpack, and the swords slide into a pack at the rear of his waist. The big ol' gun can be secured in a clamp that hangs off the left side of his belt. He also gets a display stand.

Initially I really dug this guy. However, there's really not a lot that separates him from any other solid Snake-Eyes figure. The weapons and storage capabilities are cool, but the sculpt is quite literally nothing we haven't seen before. This isn't a new radical take on the character, and while it stands on its own as a very good figure, it isn't a particularly necessary one, considering the glut of great Snake-Eyes toys out there.

-- 10/21/11

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