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Storm Shadow

GI Joe Renegades
by Monkey Boy

Sometimes, companies behave in mind-bogglingly stupid ways. For example, Hasbro created a new Storm Shadow figure, featuring a 100% new sculpt and a vast array of accessories, and then squeezed him into "Wave 3" of the 2012 GI Joe shipments. What's so bad about Wave 3? Well, it was severely under-ordered since it consisted partially of Wave 2 pegwarmers that were still clogging shelves, and partially of new figures that would all be available in the near-simultaneously released Wave 4. The only new figure in Wave 3 that wasn't included in Wave 4? Renegades Storm Shadow.

This means that a toy that would already be flying off the pegs due solely to its desirability as a figure was now a million times more desirable because of its rarity. Since the focus is shifting toward product to support the upcoming film GI Joe: Retaliation, it's unlikely Renegades Storm Shadow will see a rerelease anytime soon, especially since his mold has already been appropriated for the movie-related "Red Ninja" figure. So if you happen to discover one on the pegs, it would behoove you to snap it up post-haste, since secondary market prices don't seem to be dropping any time soon.

But I digress. Enough about how insanely difficult the figure is to actually find. It's time now to make you feel extra horrible by telling you how awesome the figure is that you most likely will never own.

Storm Shadow trained in the Arashikage ninja clan with Snake-Eyes.
When his ninja master was murdered, Storm Shadow blamed Snake-Eyes and vowed to get revenge. He works for Cobra as a ninja assassin and is also a bodyguard for Cobra Commander.

I have seen exactly two episodes of Renegades, and they just happened to be the two-part obligatory retelling of the origin of the bad blood between Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes. In those episodes (and, from what I can gather from screencaps, in the entire series) Storm Shadow looks decidedly different from the character model drawing on his blister card. The SS on the package features a mask that covers everything but his eyes, and the familiar black sash and belt. The promo art for Renegades featured this look as well, but in the series he had a much more loose fitting mask that revealed some of his nose and hair, as well as a red sash and belt without the familiar spiky "buckle."

The toy itself compromises, giving us both looks, and they both look awesome. Like most Renegades-themed figures, SS isn't actually sculpted in an animated style, meaning he'll fit right in with your other Joe figures. The nicely sculpted folds in his baggy white ninja outfit provide detail without overdoing it, and his hands are sculpted with open fingers for more variety in using his accessories. Though I doubt most people will be using the show-accurate head, both heads are sculpted very well. The traditional head sculpt, however, is a thing of beauty. It takes the iconic Storm Shadow look and expertly updates it without going over the top.

There isn't much paint to speak of, since SS's entire outfit is white, but what is here is nice. There's some light beige wash applied to the legs and feet, probably to show dirt accumulation, but it's very subtle and not distracting. There's the skin of his face and hands, the eyes (and hair in the alternate head), and the Cobra logo tampo on his left breast. The accessories get their share of paint apps too, with brown on the hilts of his sais and swords, and brown on the handle of his fan. There's also a nice red Arashikage I Ching symbol on his backpack and a silver buckle on his alternate sash.

R:SS gets the new and improved Joe articulation, featuring the standard G3 joints plus the peg and hinge wrist joints. It allows for a ton of awesome posing, especially with the open fingers of his hands. There are endless ways for him to hold his many accessories, and they all look awesome.

Speaking of accessories, Storm Shadow has quite a lot. There's the extra head, belt and sash, as well as the standard display stand, but that barely scratches the surface. His "primary" weapon, according to the filecard, is the "hand-forged steel heirloom katana sword." In addition to that, the card lists his secondary weapons as: "ninjata shortblade, quiver backpack with secret door, arrow, bow, sai, hand claws, throwing daggers, wrist darts with removable dart." Usually the filecards tend to play fast and loose when describing the accessories and their listing rarely matches what the figure actually comes with, but SS comes with everything mentioned on the card and more (the card doesn't mention his two throwing stars or his nunchuks). He can hold each weapon very well, and aside from the extra sash and head, he can actually store pretty much all his gear somewhere on his person.

The wrist darts (bo-shuriken) plug into a peg on the rear shoulder area of the black sash, the swords fit in sheaths, the two "hand claws" (kubotan) can attach to the pegs on the bottom of the backpack, and the bow can clip in between those two pegs. The backpack itself pulls apart to reveal enough storage space to fit the arrow, the throwing stars, the throwing daggers (kunai), and the sais (as long as you don't mind their hilts poking out from the top of the quiver). The fan and the nunchuks can then be held in his hands, and you're good to go. it's awesome that he comes with so much stuff, but even more awesome that just about all of it can be stored on the figure itself.

The only downside is that many of the weapons are very tiny, and if you lose one you're not likely to be able to find a replacement without dropping some serious coin. The tiny hand claws are bad enough, but I'm going to take the filecard's word on the "removable" wrist dart, because only Low-Light's bullet comes close to being as easily lost as this tiny, thin, gray piece of plastic. I don't know who's in charge of Hasbro's competition to see who can create the tiniest accessory, but it's hard to be impressed by such a feat when you're peering under the couch with a flashlight mistaking every dust bunny and speck of dirt for your lost wrist dart. No fun, guys.

Nevertheless, this is an amazing figure. It's a travesty that his release came and went so fast, and I can only hope that more of these make their way to retail in some fashion, because everyone should get a chance to own such a great figure. He's by far the best Storm Shadow figure ever, touching on all the iconic elements but still giving us something new. Hasbro needs to find a way to get this guy out in force, because this figure belongs in every GI Joe fan's display.

-- 04/20/12

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