Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
Valor vs. Venom Wave 7: Snake Eyes vs. Swamp Rat

  Review & pics by Fred Meyer

Snake Eyes and the Ninja Lightning

If any single figure from this wave, aside from the repainted Viper, had Joe fans drooling with anticipation it is the new Snake Eyes sculpt. When a character is as popular as the Joe team’s original commando it’s hard to find a version that fans can agree on as the “definitive” version. It’s almost like reading Little Red Riding Hood—“this version’s too tall”, “this version’s too short”, or “this version’s visor is just the wrong shade of black”. Hasbro, however, seems to be continually trying to create that one perfect Snake Eyes and so the Wave 7 version is the newest release. Packaged with a killer repaint of the Swamp Rat, does this figure make the cut? Has Hasbro at long last found one figure that all fans can agree upon? Read on….

Snake Eyes:

Snake Eyes frontSnake Eyes back

For this particular incarnation of Snake Eyes, the design team seems to have gone more “commando” (no pun intended) than “ninja” and I, for one, am glad! In fact, this Snake Eyes seems to be a direct nod back to the 1985 Snake Eyes v2 right down to the visor on the head. The overall design seems surprisingly simple—a pair of black pants, boots and a dual-layer shirt (notice the rolled sleeves of the over shirt) with a mask. The molded gear attached to the uniform is simple, yet practical: knife, shurikens, and what appears to be either a data pad or an Ipod. There are no oversized holsters that plagued that Spy Troops version, no proliferation of trench knives or gadgets. This is a figure that seems designed for stealth; he travels light and makes little noise. In other words, this design captures the most basic essence of the character. The uniform itself is loaded with some nice details that give it the appearance of being made of cloth rather than spandex. Aside from the rolled over shirt sleeves, both the pants and visor shown wrinkles in the “fabric” which definitely makes SE look more commando and less superhero. Also, the belt, boots, and kneepads all look extremely realistic. He even has an ankle sheath—although none of his included weapons will fit in it. When it comes to character design, I think Hasbro has a winner here.

Snake Eyes has an Ipod?

Snake Eyes profile

Even SE’s gear seems to be more commando-oriented this time around. Both of his rifles are new weapons and the UZI features a folding stock! He does come equipped with the obligatory sword but no sword sheath. His vest is removable and can be modified to carry his black-matte bladed weapon yet I see myself leaving the sword behind. It’s nice to see Snake Eyes return to his “pre-ninja” roots ala the 1982 version and I think that’s how I’ll leave this figure in my collection. The only issue I have with Snake Eyes seems to be a combination of a slight design flaw and a really tight o-ring. My figure seems suited to standing at attention only. Any movement of the legs to the side simple causes them to snap back to attention. I swapped out the o-ring with one from the plethora of Mirage figures I seem to have accumulated but the problem remains. It would seem that the fit of the torso and the legs simply doesn’t allow for a great deal of sustained lateral movement. It’s a shame as this figure is otherwise quite poseable—being the second Snake Eyes mold to feature rotating wrists. I’ve read of a few modifications to the bottom of the torso that fix this issue but I haven’t yet attempted any myself. So, until then this figure will be one that is visually stunning but not quite perfect when it comes to articulation. One important “accessory” of note is Snake Eyes’ wolf companion Timber! Not since the 1985 v2 have we had a “real” wolf accessory packaged with Snake Eyes. The inclusion of Timber is a fantastic “hat nod” to older fans as well as something that should appeal to younger fans as well. The wolf is solidly made and features a dark paint wash down its back—just like Timber used to appear in the Sunbow comic series. All in all, this is a terrific update of a classic character. It’s not THE Snake Eyes figure but on a design-level it’s pretty sharp.

Snake Eyes gear


Swamp Rat:

Swamp Rat frontSwamp Rat back

Swamp Rat is yet another example of how a new paint job can further improve an existing character. The first Swamp Rat figure had a very desert paint scheme comprised of pale earth tones. The second single carded version leaned toward more of a jungle scheme with a primarily green and gray body. It did, however, lack the serape of the first figure. The third time is apparently the charm as this version is the best looking yet. The use of black for the outer panels of the uniform with the red highlights really brings this figure to life for me. In fact, this is the first version that I’d really consider a “swamp” rat. (The first version will always be the ‘desert rat’ to me.) The lighter shade of green and the use of gray all blend together to create a very satisfying whole and the dash of red used to bring out the Cobra sigil seals the deal for me. It’s always nice to see repaints take a figure and improve upon it and Hasbro continues that trend with this presumably final repaint of the Swamp Rat. Again, there are no complaints from this Joe fan.

Swamp Rat closeup

Swamp Rat gear

In the end, this is a pretty good two-pack. The Swamp Rat is a terrific and practical repaint of a previously released character. Snake Eyes is a terrific redesign of a fan-favorite that pays homage to one of the most beloved versions of the character. Design issues, however, hamper the figure’s movement and therefore keep me from enjoying it as much as I could have. Also, right around the time I found this figure I also found the single card wave 3 version in all black. As a result, I just can’t give this figure the label of “definitive”. It’s a great figure and one that most Joe fans are going to love but my quest for that “perfect” version will have to continue on for just a while longer.

Snake Eyes torso bare

Swamp Rat armor

Snake Eyes comparison #1

Swamp Rat in the bush

Snake Eyes comparison #2

Swamp Rat comparison armored

Snake Eyes & Kamakura: Master & Apprentice

Swamp Rat comparison #2

Snake Eyes final comparison

Swamp Rat vs. Dart

Snake Eyes vs. Storm Shadow



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