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Snake-Eyes (City Strike)

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

Here's a new twist on an old favorite - or, for those in the know, "all games end today."

Snake-Eyes is a ninja master and military commando who trains the GI Joe team in hand-to-hand combat. He infiltrates a suspected Cobra lab located in a large Asian city, using an XN-2 Ascension Pack designed for "silent night" ninja commando operations.

This series of Rise of Cobra toys is the last to use that identifier - beginning next year, the toys will be released under the "Pursuit of Cobra" banner, and will be themed around Cobra "developing a major weapon technology in four extreme environments across the globe," according to the stern-looking portrait of General Hawk on the back of the card, here. So consider this sort of a transition series, splitting the difference between the movie-themed product and the upcoming revamp.

The outfit "City Strike" Snake-Eyes is wearing is not one of the ones seen in the film - instead, it's based on his appearance in Resolute, the animated series that took the spring of 2009 by storm. Hasbro originally had a whole slew of Resolute toys planned, but didn't get to them before the movie toys hit, and has been slowly sneaking them into the assortments ever since. Although, much like the movie, this SE has a molded rubber suit covering his upper body, yet is wearing cloth pants. The toy is all sculpted plastic, mind you - the softgoods are only in-universe.

Snake-Eyes' mask is what really identifies this as the Resolute version. The movie homaged Generation 1, with the "knight's visor" look; this mask is more similar to the kind worn in paintball competitions. There's a modern visor, and a rigid plastic shell over the nose and mouth, rather than cloth. Well hey, maybe it's a G1 reference after all! There's a distinct shape running around his jawline that looks like a little hipster beard: it's like his mask grew a chinstrap beard.

The design is clearly Resolute (which is the reason this figure is so hot right now), but the paint job isn't. Snake-Eyes' pants and gloves are black, but his chest and shinguards are grey, and his boots, kneepads, shoulders and visor are gray. In the cartoon, he was grey from head to toe, with just a few lighter and darker elements for contrast. The apps on the toy make it look like he's wearing shorts, not pants. Really, a show-accurate design would have been preferable.

Thankfully, City Strike Snake-Eyes doesn't include a Stupid Giant Gun. Instead, he gets the ascension pack mentioned on the filecard. It's a large black backpack with shoulder straps and even a belt. There's a lot of sculpted detail on the pack, and a string with a grappling hook on each end runs through the center. However the string is wound through there, it actually gives some "ascent" action: hold the upper hook steady, pull down on the lower hook, and the backpack actually climbs a bit. That's better than similar features usually are. He's also got a pair of crampons, which really don't say "city" strike to me - that's more of a "mountain" strike accessory.

SE has a separate belt and webgear, but they're not removable. His actual accessories include his sword, which fits in the scabbard that plugs into the back of his belt. It worked the same way in the cartoon, though the sheath (and by necessity, the blade) were shorter there - and thus, looked less unwieldy on his back. He also has a knife, pistol, a G36 assault rifle, and some smaller submachine gun. Unfortunately, none of those have holsters of any sort, so they'll just have to lay on the ground when he's not holding them. However, there were no such things on Dave Johnson's original Resolute design, so omitting them here is acceptable. What was on the original design, however, was a small backpack, and the figure includes that as well.

We saw a lot of Resolute prototypes before the Rise of Cobra line started, and for a while it seemed none of them would see release - that's why people were paying upwards of $300 online to get stolen factory samples of this figure. In 2010, however, we're going to be getting two Resolute box sets (a la the Assault on/Defense of Cobra Island packs) that will include every planned figure - which means that "City Strike" Snake-Eyes will probably be re-released in more appropriate colors. But that (still unscheduled) release is no reason not to get this figure right now. City Strike Snake-Eyes may not be the "OMG best Snaek-Eye's EVAR!!1!" that a lot of fanboys are dubbing it, but it is still very good.

Just a shame about the colors.

-- 12/11/09

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