Repaints—some people love them and others hate them. After all, why should you buy another version of a figure you already own just because he’s now been released in a slightly more military shade of green? It doesn’t make any sense, right? If it were any other toy line, I’d say that you’d be nuts to buy another figure in altered colors but Hasbro has a habit of making their Joe repaints a bit more interesting and, to this army builder, that’s all that matters.
Valor vs. Venom Night Creeper:
I’ll be honest—I was disappointed with the wave 4 Night Creeper. Sure, he was sporting a new green color scheme and his mask had been given a facelift, but his equipment was sorely lacking. He’s a Night Creeper—a hi-tech ninja and all he came with was a drone that couldn’t stand and a sniper rifle. Add in the fact that he came packaged with Link and I just couldn’t see getting many of these packs for just one single figure. Thankfully he’s now armed in a fashion befitting a modern ninja: sword, dagger, Uzi. It works for me.
Wave 5 fixed the problems I had with wave 4. The green used for the figure is a bit more dynamic and the black trim used for his belt and harness come together quite well. The eyes on the head are still covered by the green lenses that give the figure a real air of mystery. While it was nice to see his eyes in the first version this head redeco gives the figure a more “faceless” aspect and this works well in an army builder wave. Yes, the body proportions are still off on this mold but I don’t see that changing any time soon. Hasbro would have to radically retool the figure to fix this issue and it just doesn’t seem like a fiscally viable move. Of all the figures with odd proportions the Night Creeper seems to bother me the least. Maybe it’s the fact that the figure just has a slick design but this is a figure I can forgive the flaws on because the design is just so darned tight!
Cobra Ninja Trooper:
I never had the original mail-away Ninja Viper when I was a kid. In fact, I didn’t discover his existence until 1998 when I was perusing Yojoe.com late one night. While I found the color rather odd I could see what Hasbro was going for. After all, I was one of those who originally thought the Red Ninjas were Storm Shadow’s apprentices. It was at the GIJoe Collector’s Convention that I got my first glimpse of the updated Ninja Viper (now called Cobra Ninja Trooper). It was a great homage to the original and a figure I could see myself getting.
First off, we can finally see how the first GvC Storm Shadow would have looked with an o-ring! While I wouldn’t part with my Wave 4 Storm Shadow for anything I was disappointed when I heard that the single pack version of Storm Shadow was cancelled. I’ve always thought that the first version of Tommy Arashikage since the relaunch had a lot of potential—limited only by the lack of the standard o-ring. After all, what good is an action figure of a ninja if his poseability is completely limited by a t-crotch! This fully realizes that potential while retaining all of the detail that I liked about the original. It is interesting (and a bit odd) that Hasbro remolded the head for this figure—shrinking it down a few hat sizes. While the head is now in proportion to other figures in the Valor vs. Venom series it seems a bit small—almost as if the ninja had a run in with a witch doctor that didn’t go so well.
The color scheme on this figure is really pretty good when you consider him an homage to the original Ninja Viper. There is, however, one thing that bugs me about this figure and it’s something that I have a hard time getting past. Hasbro has been experimenting with different skin tones since GIJoe returned to shelves in 1997. The RAHC figures were all too pale, Nunchuck was a bit too “red”, and poor Tiger Force Alpine looks a bit anemic. Those figures, however, at least have a skin tone that, while extreme, appears to be mimicking living flesh. The Ninja Soldier, on the other hand, has a skin tone only found on the victims featured on CSI. In other words, these guys look about three weeks dead to me! The skin tone isn’t any flesh hue—it’s gray. Literally, it’s as if all of the life were sucked from them and they were tossed in a freezer for cold storage. I don’t know why this color was chosen as it has NOTHING in common with the original Ninja Viper. Now, it’s not enough to stop me from grabbing a few of these guys but it makes me look forward to the day when I can put them on the shelf with a Palisades “Army of Darkness” Ash and have “Evil Dead 4: Lost in Translation”.
Overall, if you’re a fan of the martial arts aspect that has pervaded the RAH mythology, you’ll want a few of these sets. They’re troop builders after all and they’re good troop builders. While I don’t necessarily agree with the color choices on the Ninja Trooper or the fact that they’re supposed to be recruited from the ranks of my beloved Neo-Vipers, I can see these figures having a real place in most Joe fans collections. As with previous troop-builder waves I can only advise that if you want these packs, get them now while they’re still reasonably priced! They’re available at JBL sponsor GIJoeHQ.com!