Well, this is it: I've finally decided to start reposting my old "Alexx Shorts" G.I. Joe reviews. They're the reviews that lead to what eventually became this blog! I'll be posting them in straight copy-and-paste format, separating them with bold dotted lines so you know where they begin and end, and then I'll post some final thoughts on what I think of the figure currently.
For those unfamiliar: I used to take random pictures here and there, but by the time the Rise of Cobra toys came out, I was getting annoying with how much people had been bashing the figures which were clearly better than the previous 25th Anniversary offerings. I set out to show people how awesome they were, and things went from there, forming into "Alexx Shorts", named so because I thought I was going to keep to a short format with a few pictures. I did not do that.
Oh, what could have been!
WHOA! Where did this come from? One day there's nothin' and the next there's suddenly two Amazon exclusive G.I. Joe four packs. One of them was naturally a "preview" pack for Retaliation, which isn't terribly surprising - but the other was this:
Wow! You mean Renegades still exists to Hasbro?
Okay okay, that aside (and by "that" I mean hey-lets-make-a-new-toon-oh-wait-no-lets-not) this pack is surprising on other levels. Not only is it a random Renegades pack, but some of the figures are sporting new articulation, AND Snakes Eyes is randomly super toon-accurate. But Storm Shadow is not? Also: Duke again! Some of this feels like they made some new molds and just HAD to get them out there, and some of it feels like a letter of apology.
But hey, I'm not here to talk about toy politics! How's about the toys themselves? Lets start with Storm Shadow, and with that, the new articulation:
Getting right down to brass tacks: You cannot avoid noticing those new hips! These new joints are also being used in Hasbro's new Avengers line, and it's friggin' BRILLIANT. It's particularly brilliant for the superhero stuff, because Hasbro has been using a standard hip joint originally started by Toybiz, at the end of their Marvel Legend's run - and those hip joints just drove me crazy.
It's hard to explain and even harder to show in pics, so I'll just try to word it: Basically, when you have a ball hip, there has to be a disk with a peg that goes into the main body somewhere. For the longest time the peg went straight into the side of the hip joint on the body, so that the pegs for both legs would be facing each other. You could move the legs forward and back like you could with the old cut joints, but with that ball you could also move them outward! Plain and simple.
Well, somewhere along the way, Toybiz wanted...I dunno, better hip sculpting? I never thought the hips looked too big to accommodate the pegs, but maybe someone did. Anyway, they took the pegs and had them inserted UP into the main body. That way, the disk creates your forward movement; you can't just push the legs forward. You have to twist the ball to get them forward, or twist the ball to get them to move to the side. Toybiz kept it up until the end, and Hasbro picked it up from them and ran with it. Pick up an Iron Man 2 figure and you'll see what I mean.
Thankfully, someone noticed this was dumb and annoying for play or posing. So, the Avengers toyline incorporates this new idea: it gives you the same articulation, because the pegs are going sideways into the body like they used to, but they're far from pegs anymore. Allow Storm Shadow to demonstrate!
What you're looking at is one leg with a LARGE peg, and one with a SMALL peg that fits into the larger one. Make sense? No? How about now?
The Avengers figures work the same way. One leg is a thick peg that fits into the large hole in the hips, and one leg is a tiny peg that fits into that thick opposite leg peg. And there you go! Same thing as the old days, but without a tiny peg being the only anchor.
But...wait a sec. I know what you're thinking. How does this effect G.I. Joes? They ALWAYS used the metal T-Bar, even when they got rid of the O-Ring. In fact, the T-Bar seems almost exclusive to Joes, because although it works like a dream, they never want to use it anywhere else. There's the rub: Sure, this new idea is awesome for superhero toys plagued by those stupid upwardly mounted hips, but Joes never had any problems! Is this an improvement?
There's where it gets hard to answer. Both Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes, in my pack, had problems with the new joints. I don't want to call it a big problem - because I fixed them and I doubt it's rampant - but the reason you see Storm Shadow's legs taken apart like that is because the thick peg was frozen in place (same on Snake Eyes). All I had to do was the hot water trick, but MAN it was quite a bit of work! Snake Eyes freed right up, but Storm Shadow had to be taken apart and put back together with the scalding water running, so he was a pain.
Like I said though: I doubt this is a rampant problem. Still, it can happen and I wanted to point it out as a possible result of the new articulation. With that out of the way, let's see how they work:
I tell ya: no figure is gona be sitting like that with the original articulation!
You've also got to take into consideration the new rocker ankles, which allows for the most realistic stances that articulation can buy. So, I have to say: I LOVE the articulation, and I actually think it looks a bit better. It's interesting not seeing the gleam of the T-Bar in there, and it makes the whole thing come together.
Finally: I'm not sure if this is the way to go from here on out, but I'd be interested to see how this worked without the thigh swivel. The thigh swivel is neat for the ninjas, but it would be superfluous with anyone else. For instance, Duke certainly doesn't need that. His standard articulation works just fine without it; so I wonder how the new peg system would work if you took out the thigh swivel? Would it be better than the T-Bar? Just food for thought. My final say is that I like the new style, but the thigh swivel wouldn't be needed with everyone.
Alright! With that out of the way, lets get to the figures themselves!
DAAAAYMN, Storm Shadow, you lookin' fiiiine! Perhaps it's the animated style, but this figure seriously jabbed his swords into my list and climbed to the top of it. He might be my favorite Storm Shadow ever. Funny thing is that he doesn't look anything like he does in the toon! If I'm not mistaken, I believe this is based off of some early promotional stuff. I thought I remembered seeing that pic of Storm Shadow when this show was being pitched (or something like that) and it's obvious he changed when the show went into production. Perhaps this is how he would have looked in the second season? Kinda funny that they made a figure of him!
Who even cares about that though? Look at this sucker!
You go and find me another ninja G.I. Joe figure that can reach BOTH swords! Go on! You won't find 'em. Somehow the articulation works SO well in his arms that he looks great with them bent or straight. I think it's the way that the articulation is cut, which once again shows that people are willing to try new things, but not continue them. It's amazing how many different things they've tried in terms of sculpting G.I. Joes, and yet, so much of it was used only once or twice! I doubt we'll see arms like this again (unless they're smart and reuse these parts elsewhere).
The only problem I have, is that the right hand doesn't grip the swords they give him. The left does just fine, but the right kinda lets the sword just fall out. I've found plenty of other weapons he can hold, but it's a bit disappointing that his hand is too wide to hold the stuff he comes with.
Somehow, not even that could ruin my enjoyment.
Now, before we move on:
Awesome tat, and placed where it should be. AAANNNDD...comparison?
Another slight problem with this and Snake Eyes' mold: they're tall! Head swapping will have to be very careful work:
...because some heads just ain't gona fit. Still, in terms of figures that are ripe for mixing: i'd say Storm Shadow is on the lower end. He's just too awesome to throw his parts elsewhere. I'm not really broken up about the size.
Funny thing about size, though: there was only one guy I could compare him to...
I dunno what it is! Am I alone on this? Totally 3 3/4 Sigma 6 Storm Shadow! Or close, at least. Okay, moving along.
Okay, one more. *sigh*. I miss you Sigma 6. I seriously stopped takin' pics at this point to play around with S6 Storm Shadow a bit.
ALRIGHT, let's move on! We all know how awesome Sigma 6 was. ALL OF US.
Second verse, same as the first! The Red Ninja sports the same mold as Storm Shadow and he pulls it off with crimson class! (well maybe more of a burgundy class but, sue me, I like alliteration). He's a muted red with a bit of mustard yellow, brown, and black. A red ninja that may actually be able to hide without complete darkness!
I love this guy, almost a little more than Storm Shadow, because I have a million of him and only a few Red Ninjas. That, and the Red Ninjas I have are from the early 25th line and...well...they cannot be compared. Seriously, here's the comparison shot I tried:
I'm gona go back in time and replace the 25th Red Ninja single packs with this guy. As it is though, since I've only got one: the face just screams "singular character!"
Oh, I forgot to picture it, but the Red Ninja sports a Cobra logo, while Storm Shadow does not. I like this! Leaves Storm Shadow open (like he sorta is in Renegades) and plops the Red Ninjas in with Cobra (even if the filecard says they work for Storm Shadow).
On a final note, I was screwing around a bit with the red cloak that comes with this figure:
The cloak was always a little big on the smaller 25th heads, so I thought it would work well with these two!
Yay, Snake Eyes again! This time he's sporting a collar so popped that, in Japan, he can pull it off and use it as a Blinding Flash Boomerang Cutter Finishing Move.
I'm not sure how many reviews I've done where I say this but, yes, once again, this is an awesome Snake Eyes and you should buy it blah blah blah. I'm sorry! They just keep DOING this! It's seriously not my fault that Snake Eyes keeps coming out awesome. Granted, I suppose this is a very unique look, so it's not exactly the end-all-be-all that the PoC one was (WHOOPS, I never reviewed that, did I?) Still, I can't help but enjoy the look for what is it, and especially for the jump-off-the-screen quality. My only problem with that (the fact that he looks like he jumped right out of the toon) is this:
WHAT. I mean, the first one is a cool figure but, come on! You mean Hasbro had this mold around and THIS wasn't the single pack one? You chose that frankenstein figure over this trenchcoat of awesomeness? I don't get it. I can't imagine that this mold was JUST made for this crazy random Amazon 4-pack. It's possible, but it doesn't make much sense. Why even bother with that other figure when this could have been made?
Bah! Enough. Behold his majesty:
I am in love with posing this guy! Even the coat is flaired out enough to not get in the way of awesome poses. He holds his swords nice and tight, and the fact that his sheaths can disconnect means that he can hold it like a badass! There were so many pics I didn't end up taking because they would have all shown the same spectacular sweetness.
Then I took them anyway because I can't help myself.
There isn't much else to say about how awesome he is, so I might as well mention my few detractions: For one, he's got his clan logos on his shoulders, which is a little strange 'cause I didn't know the Arashikage just had ninja trenchcoats lying around. Course Snakes could have tampoed those on himself but...why? It's not really a complaint, but it does get in the way of using the figure for customs, if I wanted. Other than that, this guy is similarly TALL!
When I took off the jacket, that was the first thing in my mind! Granted, this is straight off the animation, and his body is real lanky like that; but I still find it funny. It's kinda crazy that (since the RoC version was so small) you can have a nutty range of sizes for Snake Eyes. But man, that's all I can think of for complaints! Not even complaints; just interesting things to mention.
Hey, it's Duke again! Not the same thing as "Snake Eyes again" or "Storm Shadow again" but seriously, we just got this exact guy!
...or did we? There are a few differences between the single pack version and this new one. I didn't review the single pack one yet, but I'm still a bit torn on which is better. One funny tidit is that, in a pack of mostly abnormally tall guys, Duke sits shorter than his previous version! He does, however, seem to mimic the toon a bit better than the single pack. Granted, I think the single packs were supposed to go for "realistic" versions of them (hence Snake Eyes' look) but as you can see, a bit of a lighter color change and he still looks animated regardless of the "realistic" face (if that's what you wana call it).
Like I said, though: I'm kinda torn. Both figures have good points! They both look good, they both hold thier weapons well, and they both pretty much mirror the toon as well as I'd like. Looking a little closer, though, you can see the wrists on the new one look a bit better (not as bulbous), but the kneepads are...man those a huge! They are a bit wider on the toon, but not that wide! I look at those and I think:
Not that the wide pads look bad, mind you. I actually like 'em! I still think the smaller ones look closer to the animation, but the big ones don't bother me either.
So, I don't think they needed to put a Duke in here, but neither am I crying foul. I like 'em! Not as much as I would have liked a shorter Tunnel Rat, but it's still cool.
Best thing about him is the accessories!
He's got two rifles, two pistols, and two smaller pistols. So bascially: if you were bummed about the lack of Renegades-style weapons with some of them (*cough*Tunnel Rat*cough*) then you've got a great little batch to outfit the others in fantastic metal colors! I seriously love the designs of these weapons and am very glad that they shoved these all in with Duke.
You have to steal some stuff from the single of Renegades SE, but bascialy you can recreate the look! The Renegades are almost complete!
...well okay, woefully incomplete. No Roadblock, gooey Ripcord, armored jinx, Baroness, Zartan (sorta), MindbenderrrrrRRRAAAAGH WHY DID YOU CANCEL-----
The final result of this 4-pack is: Spectacularly awesome! The new articulation works, the weapons help to outfit my other Renegades, the figures look amazing, and this is the most fun I've had posing a Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes in awhile (that's even considering the ones I already gushed over in previous reviews). I can understand how this is an easy pass for some, but I can't help calling awesome toys when I see them, and these are awesome, fun, and just look fantastic. I'll understand if you've had enough of these guys, but for toy fans that haven't overloaded on them yet: Total buy.
Okay, I'm going to skip all the whining about how much I liked the Renegades cartoon and the fact that I miss G.I. Joe advancing and doing new things.
.....okay. Okay, I'm over it. Moving on.
I'm not over it.
This is an AWESOME set. Was then, still is now. The new articulation would have brought hope for things to come, except that this set came out after the show had already been canceled, so it was like: "Uh, we sculpted these, so I guess we should do something with them?" Don't get me wrong - I love that they sold them! The figures are just also a sad window into a world where G.I. Joe kept doing new and interesting things to stay relevant.
Regardless: If you have a chance to get this set, I'd snag it. The figures still hold up, and they look fantastic. They're a good look at what Hasbro might have had on their hands in terms of a new sculpt for Joes, if they had continued. You don't have to worry about that anymore, since nearly everyone and their mother has picked up the slack and are creating a new realm of Joe scaled toys for you and me, but at least take a gander at the ball that Hasbro totally dropped. It was a nice ball. Sturdy, bouncy, and shiny.