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Ninja Showdown

GI Joe: Retaliation
by yo go re

Three powerful Arashikage trained ninjas meet thousands of feet above the ground in a super showdown filled with high flying martial arts moves! They swing from line to line, making incredible leaps and daring drops, only to catch the zipline at the last second to continue the fight!

The first figure in this set is identified as a Red Ninja, which really seems like a misnomer - yes, he's a repaint of the Red Ninja, but he's a repaint of the Red Ninja. There's a bit of red on his arms, gloves, shins and sash, but for the most part he's wearing black. Of course, they can't call him the Black Ninja, because that makes him sound like Snake-Eyes, so maybe they should have gone with a name not tied to any specific color. You know, call him "Mountain Assault Ninja" or "Arashikage Ninja" or anything that doesn't sound like a mistake when you say it.

The Red and Black Ninja may be a repaint, but he makes up for that with an impressive assortment of new accessories. He has the same zipline launcher as his solo-carded brother, but it's molded entirely in black plastic instead of red. He also has a sai for each hand, and those are reused as well. The new pieces are his sugegasa (the conical grass hat), the fencing mask that makes him look like Slice, and a four-pronged tekagi claw weapon. There are enough different potential looks here that you could army-build this guy and still have a nice variety. Well, you could if not for the figures he comes with.

Look, it's a Snake-Eyes. It's the same Snake-Eyes that's probably still pegwarming at your local stores, and has been since the middle of 2012 when the Retaliation toys originally came out. You know, the one with the big blue wing pack? Yeah, that one.

If you don't have the mold yet, you may be surprised by how good it is. The panels of his uniform appear to be stitched together, and there's even crossed lacing right behind his neck, helping seal him in tight. The entire ensemble is topped off by ornate black webgear with pockets covering his entire abdomen. And surprisingly, despite being part of the line known for cutting back on articulation, Snakes moves at the head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, torso, hips, knees, and ankles - and not just plain swivels, but swivel/hinges and balljoints. Impressive!

This figure may share that one's mold, but his paint apps make him look unique. The grey of his uniform is a bit lighter than the mass release, and instead of being accented with black, he gets silver for his kneepads, shoulders and visor, and even the small details like the buckles on his boots. There's a red Arashikage symbol on his forearm.

His accessories are all reused, but that's fine - they're appropriate. He has an Uzi and silencer, an MP5K, and the same swords and scabbards as the solo release of this mold. The webgear covers his backpack hole, so you have to flex it out of the way to plug the scabbards in. Oh no, such a chore!

And finally, we have Storm Shadow, who is also a repaint of the Series 1 figure. This costume doesn't even resemble the one he wore in the movie, so why reuse it so often? It's not that it's a bad design - with its layered cloth panels, random bits of armor, and giant Cobra logo on the center of the chest, it really feels like a Generation 2 design that's been updated for G3 - it's just that it was already available two times before this box set, so what advantage is there in going back to that well one more time?

Maybe the reason is that they needed to pay for all the articulation? While some figures couldn't even get wrists or ankles, Stormy moves at the ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, torso and head. That kind of quality is expensive, and the more times Hasbro can sell this body, the more that cost gets spread around. The greys are darker (going all the way to black in some spots) and cover more of the surface on this version, giving him a unique look.

He gets three of the weapons from Renegades Storm Shadow: a wakizashi sword and two kunai knives. He also has a guandao that's similar to the one Resolute Storm Shadow had, but it's been retooled so it only has one blade now. His last accessory is a new one though, and it's really neat.

In the package, it just looks like a normal bow that's bent way too far to be useful; once you start playing with it, however, you disccover that it's got a big pivot point in the center, and that the bow is collapsible! That's a really cool design for an accessory! There's a hole through the middle that would allow a backpack peg to fit through if Storm Shadow had one. Grab one from storage and equip him however you like!

All three characters in this set are repaints, but they're all repaints of decent molds, so that's nice. Regardless, this set is more about the accessories than the figures (unlike the Tactical Ninja Team box), and it doesn't even offer anyone new. Kind of makes it hard to care about.

-- 06/06/14

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