Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Classic Clash Storm Shadow
You want to know a secret? I prefer Storm Shadow as a Joe. Yep, that’s right—to me, Thomas Arashikage was never more interesting than when, in the Marvel Comics, he ended his allegiance to Cobra and joined up on the side of angels. Sure, I get it—he started out as the Yin to Snake Eyes’ Yan and that’s how media from Sunbow to G.I. Joe Resolute to Rise of Cobra have portrayed him. Yet, in the entire classic ARAH line, Storm Shadow only had one figure as a member of Cobra—and that was the original ’84 version. With his second version in 1988, Tommy ditched the Cobra sigil for urban camo in what has always been my favorite look for the character. In 2007 Hasbro released a “Generation 3” 25th Anniversary version of the v2 look and many fans thought this was it for the urban redesign. Thankfully, someone at Hasbro sought to give that design just one more update and the figure that was first revealed in the Concept Case at Joe Con 2013 is finally a retail reality. Was he worth the wait? Did we really need ANOTHER update? Read on and find out this Joe fan’s thoughts on the Classic Clash Storm Shadow!
Like many G.I. Joe releases in recent memory, Storm Shadow is comprised of a mix of both old and new parts. Let’s face it—the economy of our fandom has determined that this is pretty much the only way we’re going to see new figures. Kids aren’t interested in G.I. Joe: ARAH anymore and the collector base is shrinking each day. However, that’s a topic for another day. As near as I can tell, Storm Shadow’s recipe is pretty straight forward:
That’s right, Joe fans! It seems like Storm Shadow is sporting some swanky new forearms and forelegs over the basic “ninja chassis” that has seen use from everyone from the Blind Master to the Retaliation Red Ninjas to Slice in the past few years. It’s a solid frame that’s generic enough to work for this reuse and yet functional enough to offer up a pretty solid range of motion. I’m still not a fan of the rocker ankles for this figure only because they don’t work well with the foot pegs on the figure stands but that’s a personal preference. What I do find outstanding are the new braced lower legs and the rolled sleeves of the forearms. Rather than just giving fans another long-sleeve version or opting for the very short sleeves of the 25th Anniversary release, Hasbro instead opted to reproduce the classic design as closely as possible—right down to the Arashikage tattoo on the forearm. Visually, it’s a pretty solid match.
I’m not certain why but the figure’s hands open in a very wide fingers-splayed pose. Visually, it gives him a very dynamic look but it does make the act of holding both his swords and his bow a bit of a challenge. In addition, the hands are actually covered in a bit of thick coat of pseudo flesh tone. I’ve noticed some flaking of the paint around the hinged wrist joints which does put a bit of a damper on my enthusiasm for the figure a bit.
When it comes to the head sculpt, Hasbro could have gone the cheap route and reused any number of recently released noggins. However, Storm Shadow is sporting what appears to be a brand new head which recreates the hood-n-mask look of the original ’88 figure quite well. It does sit a bit high on the neck post which makes Tommy look a bit thinner than I remember but a few moments with a Dremel rotary tool can fix that quite nicely. A side bonus, however, is that the extra head for the Retaliation Ultimate Storm Shadow fits rather nicely on this body for a very slick unmasked look.
When it comes to his kit, the Classic Clash Storm Shadow has something for everyone. While he’s typically shown fighting with blades in more recent depictions, long-time fans of the Marvel Comics series will remember that, while Snake Eyes was superior with the blade, Storm Shadow was unparalleled with a bow. (His ’88 version was packaged with a compound bow!) Tommy’s kit this time around includes:
Really—this is the best of both worlds! Fans of the sword-wielding ninja can use the red backpack and the two blades while fans of the early Hama portrayal can instead utilize the quiver and bow to equip Tommy. Personally, I’ve found the quiver works best as it helps to hold the “floating rope” that came with the FSS 3 Alpine. (An accessory so loose that it utterly refuses to stay in place unassisted for long.) The only thing missing from the backpack is the small SMG that was included inside when the accessory was first released with Storm Shadow v26 nearly 7 years ago. Personally, I’m okay with that as I see Storm Shadow as more of a silent weapons specialist who prefers to leave the automatic weapons to Snake Eyes. Overall, it’s a pretty solid kit and one that should appear to fans of the character regardless of which side of the bow/blade argument they fall.
At the end of the day, is the Classic Clash Storm Shadow worth snagging at retail? I’ll just come out and say it—I really honestly believe so. Is he a perfect figure? No—the paint issues on the hands and the elongated appearance of the neck detract a bit but neither are large enough issues to be considered deal breakers. My own love of the original ’88 design aside, this is a terrific update to Storm Shadow and one that really pays proper tribute to the classic version in which Thomas Arashikage joined the G.I. Joe team. (Oddly enough, he comes equipped with a Cobra stand but I’ll let it slide.) Great range of motion, a nice urban camouflage paint job, and a solid accessory kit mean that this figure will completely replace the 25th Anniversary version for most fans, myself included. He’s one of the best figures released this year and one that fans are sure to enjoy. Of course, that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line: A near-perfect update that renders the 25th Anniversary version utterly obsolete! One of the best figures of 2015 thus far.
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