Review by Chris Chung & Fred Meyer
Pics by Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service 3
Supreme Ninja Master – Code Name: Night Creeper Leader
I’ll be the first to admit it—the Night Creeper Leader is one of those characters that came about after my time with G.I. Joe. He saw his debut in 1993, the penultimate year of the classic A Real American Hero line and aesthetically he was much closer to franchises like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter than he was to the G.I. Joe of my youth. Yet, the ARAH era always had a martial arts undercurrent running through it and so the Night Creeper Leader made a certain sort of sense. Plus, the notion of a blind martial arts master is a classic fictional concept—at least it was in the 20th century. So, what do two long-time Joe fans think of this figure? Read on and find out!
Ugh, where do we even begin on this lazy, eyesore of a monstrosity? Do we start by the cosmically stupid decision to do his V-2 coloration that most everybody hates except for a few people here and there? How about the fact that the mass consensus requested this to be V-1 coloration but that was ignored out of petty spite by a certain special someone at the Club who takes all constructive criticism against products as a personal slight against him? Or how about how dumb this turn looks overall? I supposed we should start at the beginning.
The Night Creeper Leader came to prominence by being the defacto leader of the high-tech Night Creeper clan and the original version was decked out in orange and black tiger stripes. While not tactical, the tiger theme fit well within a martial arts background, and the stripes also linked him to the rest of the V-1 Night Creepers. However, in those days at Hasbro, costs were being reevaluated so many figures got a second release in more basic and simple colors. This was cost-cutting move done to maximize tooling return and to pad a wave’s offerings without having to spend extra cash. In this case, the V-2 NCL was just that: an after-though. A cheaply tossed out repaint to pad that year’s line count. And this is the version that the Club wanted us to embrace. Yeah, thanks for nothing.
The NCL’s parts are made up of the same old parts we’ve seen before, plus a Serpentor head. Nothing exiting, nothing noteworthy. Very basic, very plain-Jane, very “$5.00 Family Dollar” pricing.
I can’t believe I’m saying this but quite honestly—I kind of dig the Night Creeper Leader. Don’t get me wrong, when the first digital mock-up was revealed I made no secret of the fact that I was disappointed that the ’94 version was chosen over the more prominent ’93 tiger-stripe version. After all, it was the latter color scheme was used in his comic appearance in Marvel Comics G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #141 and there was something oddly captivating about his garish colored uniform. However, as Chris stated, the creative direction of the Club was to release the Minnesota Vikings/ Louisiana State University color scheme version instead and we have to live with it.
The NCL is very light on paint. In fact, with the exception of his gear and a few details on his person, he has no paint. (But he has a nice chest scar to make him look tough!) Thus like the figure itself, the plastic coloration is boring to the max—a diffused and unimpressive monochromatic waste of yellow and purple that looks more like sports or cheerleading colors than ninja hues. Furthermore, whatever aesthetically-challenged Club staffer who signed off on this forgot to look at their nice photoshopped concept pics and didn’t have the factory properly paint his skull cap, so instead of it aligning with his headband, it sits far atop his head making him look gooney and even more stupid than he already looks.
I’ll actually come to the Club’s defense on that point. (What? Is this a strange parallel universe we’ve stepped into?) It’s not so much that the skull cap isn’t properly painted on as it is the fact that the blindfold used is too thin. Take a look at either the vintage figure or the selected comic panels below and you’ll notice that the Night Creeper Leader’s blindfold was very thick—to the point that it covered his face from the middle of his forehead down to just below his cheek bones. The figure’s blindfold, however, is the same one that the came with the FSS 1 Jinx figure and it just isn’t that wide. The resulting lack of coverage leaves the Night Creeper Leader’s face a bit too exposed to be a perfect recreation of the vintage look and, as a result, the skull cap paint app suffers for it.
…And really, even back in the day, who thought the blind fold was a good idea anyway? C’mon, be honest! Freddie, were you one of these? Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard a hundred apologists trying to retcon away the blindfold into something unique and special, but let’s face reality: It’s stupid. And if you disagree with me, you’re a puppy-hating racist.
Finally, and with much irony, NCL’s skin is flesh colored plastic, not gobs of paint slathered on like Bombstrike’s, so at least his flesh isn’t ruined.
I’m actually glad that this figure is molded primarily in the flesh tone plastic. Personally I hate painted skin on action figures but I’m probably in the minority. The Serpentor head works well enough to recreate the vintage character look but I really wish the Club had just splurged on a newly-tooled head as they did with Slice. I think it would have gone a long way in silencing some of the criticisms I’ve heard level as this figure.
His gear includes:
Nothing interesting about the NCL’s gear and nothing to even remotely indicate he’s the leader of a syndicate of “high-tech” ninjas. In fact, nothing he has is high-tech at all, so it’s a laughable assertion on his filecard. (And one that Hasbro also failed to capitalize on back in the day.)
The thing about the Night Creeper Leader’s gear is that it’s somewhat similar to what he used in his comic appearance. The crossbow is the same one that was included with the 25 th and Rise of Cobra Night Creepers and the swords are his signature weapons. I’ll admit that the two MAC-10’s took me by surprise but there’s something completely amusing about a blindfolding guy wielding two SMG’s that aren’t known for their accuracy. The throwing knives and the shuriken tie into the sculpted detail on his web gear although I don’t find them particularly useful only because there is no way to stash them on the figure. As such I can see them easily getting lost and that to me is a wasted accessory. I’d much rather have eliminated the thrown weapons and included a scabbard for the swords instead. Otherwise, the gear is “okay”—not great but in keeping with his previous appearances.
As stated with Bombstrike, one thing that’s becoming an increasing problem, are the Club’s accessories being made out of thinner, more fragile plastic than the normal Hasbro offerings. For example, with the FSS and convention figures, the weapons are especially prone to show white stress marks after normal handling. I don’t know if the Club uses a different factory than Hasbro proper or not, but the differences are quite clear.
Actually, I’ve noticed this as well. The accessories are getting softer and that sometimes makes fitting them into the figure’s hands a bit tricky. The Night Creeper Leader’s gear is nowhere near as soft as Cross Country’s wrench but they’re a lot softer than I’d like.
Overall the Night Creeper Leader is an utterly wasted piece of crap designed for the handful of people who seemingly have fetish with bland, uninspired figures with poor color choices. This figure also demonstrates the sheer lack of consideration the Club has with the community and their distressing disconnect with what the fans want. With hardly any paint and no new parts, this figure offers nothing new for fans, and gives nothing more. With spare parts at home, anyone can make a custom of the NCL without having to spend the cash on this junk. A definite pass.
On the plus side, he isn’t as bad as Alpine…
At the end of the day, is the Night Creeper Leader worth picking up? The answer to this question is really going to depend on which version of the character you prefer. If you’re more of a fan of the ’93 version then this figure is an exercise in frustration. His look is close to the original but the colors are all off. If you’re a ’94 devotee (or a fan of the Vikings) then this is probably the version you would have wanted all along. (If you’re a fan of the DiC version I can only say “I’m sorry”…) For the most part I’ve found the figure to be a bit of a surprise in the fact that I was prepared to write him off until I got him in hand. While his color scheme utterly frustrates me the figure itself isn’t all that bad. With a better blindfold and the ’93 color scheme I’d give him a resounding “BUY” endorsement. As he stands I’m going to say that fans of the latter era ninjas will want to snag him but he is one of the figures in the FSS than many Joe fans could utterly skip and not feel that they were missing anything.
The Bottom Line: The Night Creeper Leader is a surprisingly fun figure that could have been made so much better with an updated blindfold and a better ’93 color scheme. He’s decent but he’s not for everyone.