When Hasbro first announced that figures would contain action features the news spread across the net like a flu virus through a grade school. Fans were upset-- proclaiming that they were giving up on the line, starting petitions, and generally acting like fans. After all, Hasbro had made a drastic change to the tried and true standard configuration of their beloved Joes. A few months went by and Hasbro made another announcement: figures that had been action-attacked would receive standard o-ring treatment in a later wave. Fans rejoiced and immediately began counting down to the day that they would finally have a new-sculpt o-ring Storm Shadow figure. Well, that day has arrived.
Ever since his first appearance in GIJoe: Reinstated I’ve been a fan of Kamakura. I love the original Joe characters but, to me, if the line is to continue then new blood is needed on the team. The whole notion of Snake Eyes training an apprentice made sense to me and I was shocked when Hasbro released a Kamakura figure. It seemed that the new Joe ninja had found his way into Joe history. When Kamakura was released in Valor Vs. Venom I was one of those who denounced the figure—both for his action attack and his mustard yellow mask. (I swear that he was the mustard guy from Fark.com!) Add in the action attack which rendered his right arm useless and his “micro skirt” that cut off all leg movement and you had a figure with little or no redeeming value.
Okay, I have to admit—the new design has grown on me since watching the VvV DVD a few times. While I miss the Arashikage tattoo on his right arm, this new design makes a lot of sense. Having forearm guards on both arms makes more sense than having the guard on just his left arm, as the previous version sported. By coloring the balaclava charcoal gray and his arm and leg guards silver, Hasbro has essentially saved this mold. While not as colorful as the previous Kamakura, this figure is a nice solid design—not too simple, not too complicated. I like the fact that his dog tags are visible reminding us that he’s not just a ninja, but a soldier also. I like the shade of green used and the figure’s proportions are spot-on. Yet there is one thing that keeps me from really appreciating this figure—his “micro skirt”.
Ever since GvC started, Hasbro has experimented with adding more detail to the figures—most notably by adding a rubberized piece to the waistline to simulate a long coat or robe. In some cases like the original Kamakura it works and in others like Rollbar and battle helmet Cobra Commander it didn’t, instead limiting the poseability of the figure. Unfortunately Kamakura falls into the second camp. The skirt, while containing some nice detail, is comprised of a less-flexible plastic than the first Kamakura’s skirt and is only slit on the sides. The result is a piece that will not allow the figure to sit or even bow. Some leg movement to the sides is possible but I’ve already noticed the skirt is starting to show signs of strain from attempt to flex it in any way. This figure was sooo close to greatness, only to have a lack of foresight on the design team’s part get in the way. Apparently the Arashikage clan died out because the new generation of ninjas was inflexible as both Jinx and now Kamakura suffer from this problem.
Kamakura does have one thing going for him and that is the new sword. Now, I have no idea if this is supposed to be the Tatsuashi that was featured in VvV, but we’ve finally got a new sword and scabbard mold! The pommel of the sword sports some nice sculpted detail and is shaped similarly to Count Dooku’s lightsabre hilt. The blade has a “double helix” design etched down it’s length and the scabbard features a dragon design that is similar to the one found on the back of the new Storm Shadow figure. I’m led to wonder if this is a happy accident or an intentional similarity that could possibly be explained in the upcoming Ninja Battles DVD. The sword helps to redeem this figure in spite of the mini-skirt incident but not quite enough for me to give this figure a glowing endorsement.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Hasbro for giving Storm Shadow an o-ring!! If any figure in the Joe-verse needed an o-ring it was Storm Shadow! This new figure is fantastic—staying true to the fantastic Draxhall Jump design that surface on the web a few years ago while still maintaining the full range of poseability we’ve come to expect from a Joe figure! Storm Shadow is a remold of the previous VvV version and there are some differences. First off, Tommy no longer has the crotch that went down to his knees. Secondly, the torso seems to be slightly less detailed. Apparently the Arashikage Ironing Technique paid off, as there are far fewer wrinkles in his uniform. The skirt that fits around his waist now rides a bit higher than his previous version. Lastly, and this could just be my eyes playing tricks on me, but his head is taller and narrower than the previous version. Does any of this make this a bad figure? Not in the slightest! I honestly love everything about this figure! His color scheme is simple yet effective being comprised of basic white, red and black. (Just like 60% of all of the high schools in America!) Gone is the yellow from the first version as well as the orange-red used on the mask of VvV wave 1. There’s really nothing more to say about the figure—as he is just so sharp that I’m going to let the pictures talk for me.
His accessories are also new; Storm Shadow is sporting a new backpack, new curved swords, and a two-piece Bo staff that gives him some amazing reach. While I’d love to see him come with a bow befitting his specialty, I’m quite happy with the accessories on this figure. In fact, the set does one thing that I haven’t seen in a long time—every piece fits securely on the backpack! While the braces that hold the swords are a bit thin, they still hold Tommy’s weapons well enough to hold up to being carried off by one of my cats. All in all, a fantastic figure!
This set is a mixed bag; Storm Shadow is plastic perfection and a fitting update to one of Joe’s most distinctive characters. Kamakura is a mostly-good update (sort of like ‘mostly-dead’) to a great character, but one that is limited by a design oversight. At least Kamakura’s problem is fixable and, once I find a second set, I’ll be whipping out the X-acto knife and correcting it. Otherwise, this is a good set and one that is worth picking up for no other reason than the best Storm Shadow figure I’ve seen in years!