Tommy Arashikage, Lonzo R. Wilkinson, Classified
I can still remember running down to my local comic shop and spending the $8.00 to buy Snake Eyes: The Origin, Parts 1 & 2. I had jumped onto the GIJoe comic train with issue #32 and was desperately playing catch-up on all of the early Hama issues. After all, this issue was going to tell the back-story of one of the most enigmatic characters in the entire series. So, after getting home and plowing through the issue like Sally Struthers at Old Country Buffet, I was floored! Not only were Snake Eyes and Stalker in the same LLRP in Viet Nam, but also Storm Shadow had saved Snakes’ life! My young mind reeled with the implications and my love of Hama’s writing was cemented just a bit further. It only seems logical that one of the most pivotal issues of the classic Marvel series receive comic pack treatment and yet I found myself only half interested in this set initially. We’d already seen Stalker in Comic Pack #3 and again in Comic Pack #7, while Snake Eyes appeared in CP #2, CP #4, and CP #21. Even Storm Shadow had already made an appearance in the classic “Silent Issue” comic pack. So, was this repetition of characters warranted one more time? Read on, and find out one Joe fan’s opinion.
At first glance, it’s hard to look at this figure and think: “Oh yeah, he’s going to be Storm Shadow some day.” This figure represents a milestone in GIJoe, as it is the first appearance of Tommy with absolutely no vestiges of ninja raiment. (That is unless he’s wearing his ninja boxers again and personally, I don’t want to know about it.) For so long ever figure to bear the name of Thomas Arashikage has been clad in some sort of martial arts garb that it’s almost hard to this of this as the same character. It represents Tommy at less conflicted time in his life, back when he was in a LRRP (long range recon patrol) with two other men whose fates were inexplicably intertwined with his own. However, back then he was just “Tommy”—good with a bow and loyal friend to the man who would eventually become Snake Eyes. As such, Tommy’s uniform is a bit more mundane—borrowing pretty heavily from the original Roadblock mold. In fact, aside from the original Storm Shadow arms and a new head, the entire rest of the body is constructed from Marvin S. Hinton’s frame. As such, Tommy is a bit more “built” across the chest than I seem to remember. I understand why Hasbro used the torso that they did—there aren’t many available RAH molds that feature a tank top but somehow I’d have preferred something that wasn’t in a size 44 Large. When you factor in Crosshair’s web gear you’ve got a guy with one gargantuan chest—and no room to sling the included quiver.
If Tommy’s torso is too large, then his head sculpt is just right. The sculptors in Pawtucket did a fantastic job of capturing ole Storm Shadow’s early visage; at a glance, you’d think that this figure had stepped right off of the page. This is exactly how I remember the young Mr. Arashikage—short hair, intelligent gaze, and a passing resemblance to Mr. Spock from the classic Star Trek series. The expression is both youthful and determined as if he can sense what the future holds for him. However, the facial rendering is only reason that I like this head sculpt so much. In the comics, Tommy was always shown wearing a headband—typically made of strip of camouflage. Not only did the sculptors factor in the headband, but they also added in the strip of excess material hanging down the back of his head. For the coup de grace, they decked the whole affair in a fantastic camouflage paint scheme and the end result is visually stunning. So, while a casual observer might be curious as to why Spock is playing Rambo, a Joe fan will instantly recognize this figure as the Viet Nam era Storm Shadow! To top it off, Tommy comes complete with an M-16, Gnawgahyde’s bow, and the same quiver that was packed with Zartan in Comic Pack #74.
Lonzo R. Wilkinson:
Stalker was one of the first Joes I ever owned and as such he’s always been one of my favorites. However, he’s already been released in two separate comic packs (Comic Pack #3 and Comic Pack #7 for those of you keeping score!), so you can understand my hesitancy when I saw that yet another Stalker was being released in a comic 3 pack. However, this figure represents Lonzo back before there was a GIJoe team, back in his Ranger days in Nam and therefore he deserves a second look. Lonzo’s body is like most of the other comic pack figures—comprised of RAH era parts. His torso comes from Duke, and his legs are the same ones we’ve seen for almost everyone one of the original thirteen male Joes since the comic packs began. Unlike with the comic pack Duke, Lonzo actually has molded short sleeves as opposed to different color plastic sections. The end result is a uniform that looks military enough—as long as someone doesn’t look too closely. Many Joe fans might find this body a little bland—lacking many of the accoutrements found in later Joes but it has to be taken into consideration that this figure isn’t a Joe… yet. The end result is a nicely non-descript military figure. I’ll be honest—I see this figure going onto my comic pack shelf and not getting much use after that. Unless some wants a standard army Stalker, he’s just good for historical flashbacks.
Normally I’d describe Stalker’s head sculpt here but it’s been done before… twice. This is the same head that was used in both Comic Pack #3 and Comic Pack #7 so there’s really not much else to say about it here. It’s a solid design and one that perfectly captures the essence of the Marvel Comics Stalker. I’ll even go as far as to say that this is the best Stalker head that Hasbro has ever done. However, this concludes my comments on the sculpt of the head as I’m tired of talking about it. Lonzo comes equipped with two accessories—one that works and one that doesn’t. First off is his M-16, which makes perfect sense, considering the era in question. Secondly is his SAW Viper backpack, which I’m tired of seeing. I know that sculpting a new communications rig for a comic pack is going to add to the manufacturing costs but it really would have worked better than yet another appearance of the SAW Viper pack. I’ve got dozens of these things already from various comic packs and figure six packs and the last thing I need is more of them taking up room around the house. If you can find one of the Power Team Elite figures with the radio backpack, I’d recommend substituting it for this accessory. It will be more in tune with Lonzo’s comic appearances and will be a lot less clunky looking.
We all get that this is Snake Eyes, right? Okay—good because it’s going to get awkward typing ‘Classified’ every fourth sentence. I’ll admit it—this is the figure that I was least excited about in the entire pack. For one thing, I really didn’t want to actually see Snake Eyes’ face. Secondly, I wasn’t crazy about the notion of a Viet Nam era version of the character. However, now that I’ve got him in hand I’m surprised by just how much I like this figure. The body is made up of the torso, waist and legs of Gung Ho v3 with the same arms as the Lonzo R. Wilkinson figure included in this pack. As with Stalker, it’s body parts combination that works well in creating a generic military look. The Gung Ho torso features a sculpted ammunition belt across the chest that works well-considered SE’s position in the LLRP. The green used for the plastic isn’t an olive drab but is suitable for a toy figure. This looks like something you might expect a military man from the Viet Nam era to be wearing—at least in a comic book.
The head is the area where I thought I was going to hate this figure. This figure represents the first time SE’s face has been shown unmasked in 3.75” plastic form. In the actual source comic issue, our favorite commando was always shown wearing a boonie hat with this face in shadow. To show him otherwise would be to fly in the face of everything Hasbro had done with the comic packs thus far and that was to strive for a comic-accurate representation. Well, kudos go out to the genius that came up with this head as it’s such a simple recipe I’ve surprised more people haven’t thought of it. This figure features the head used for General Hawk in Comic Pack #76 with the boonie hat glued on at a downward angle. To further the shadow illusion, a light coating of black paint was washed across the face just under the brim. In other words, Hasbro added a simulated shadow to help obscure the face and in doing so completely redeemed this figure in my mind. Not only that but if you look closely on the right hand side of the hat, you’ll see a painted picture of SE’s twin sister just under the molded headband. So, not only does the hat sport a killer camouflage paint app but it also has SE’s prized possession from the war. In short, the likeness is perfect! To top it off, our hero comes packaged with the same M-60 that Rock-n-Roll carried in Comic Pack #8. Hasbro did the unthinkable and made an unmasked Snake Eyes that is sure to please most Joe fans.
So, at the end of the day, is this pack worth owning? After all, the character designs are extremely event-specific and won’t fit into too many dioramas. Tommy’s torso is too large and Classified’s hat won’t come off. Is it really worth picking up? I’d have to say “yes” just because of the level of detail that Hasbro put into this set using already-produced parts. Tommy’s got his bow and his web harness that he ripped off as he ran to retrieve his downed friend. SE’s got his sister’s picture tucked into his hat and Lonzo just looks every bit the leader that he is. Sure, it’s a pretty narrow-focused set but it’s one that will look great in the middle of a comic-pack collection. Also, the Storm Shadow head could also be used in a Quick Kick custom or three. Don’t get me wrong—these figures will NEVER become my default versions of the characters but it’s blatantly obvious to me that the design team that put this together did so with the utmost respect for the characters. So, when this set finally hits HTS, go ahead and snag it in good conscience! You really won’t regret it.