Comic Pack Storm Shadow (25th Anniversary)
I think my favorite part of the 2000s Joe relaunch was the new uniform the artists at Devil’s Due Publishing designed for Storm Shadow. It was a unique look, but it really worked well for the character and it was honestly a pretty cool design. I was kind of shocked that, considering all the versions of Storm Shadow we got during that relaunch, Hasbro never made a figure based on the DDP version of him. However, Hasbro decided to reference this look during the 25th Anniversary line but unfortunately, some really bizarre choices take what should have been a figure that I would find super cool and turn him into yet another Storm Shadow in my collection that I don’t have on display because he’s not that great. Truthfully, thanks to Retaliation Ultimate Storm Shadow, I don’t think we need another Storm Shadow action figure, but I would love to see Hasbro take a crack at the DDP version and actually make a good version of this great design.
Because he’s an early 25th Anniversary line figure, Storm Shadow relies pretty heavily on parts reuse. I don’t mind reuse in theory, but Hasbro chose some really bad parts for him and it kills the figure. Storm Shadow’s legs are the only place where he gets new parts, which while appreciated, is a really strange choice. The lower legs have what looks like bamboo armor on the front of them, which is a nice detail, but it doesn’t really mesh well with the rest of the DDP inspired look. The upper legs and knees come from the 25th Anniversary Cobra Trooper and that’s a really great choice. While he may not have straps on both legs like the DDP design, it’s close enough that it works. I only wish we’d had the Tomax/Xamot legs by then because the snakes on those thighs would have done a great job at standing in for DDP Storm Shadow’s big snake knee pads. The upper body is where things really go off the rails because he uses 25th Anniversary Gung Ho’s chest and arms. The arms, with their elbow straps, do an okay job of standing in for the DDP look, though he’s missing bands on his biceps and big gloves. However, the shirtless chest just makes no sense at all. Normally, I can at least come up with some idea as to why Hasbro made a weird choice on a figure, but I just can’t for this Storm Shadow. Thankfully, this version of Storm Shadow has an amazing, art-accurate piece of webgear that at least hides the awkward Gung-Ho musculature. The webgear has really big shoulder pads and a y-shaped harness that runs across his chest and hooks to his belt. They even kept the added detail of the cords that go from the y-shaped piece around under his arms and connect to the back of the webgear. This is an amazingly cool piece, but it just makes the figure look even weirder. It honestly looks like Storm Shadow got dressed in a hurry and forgot to put his shirt on under his chest harness and didn’t realize it until he got out the door and just went “Eh, good enough…” Up top, Storm Shadow uses the standard 25th Anniversary Storm Shadow head and it works pretty well for this figure, though I would have preferred seeing the 25th Anniversary Firefly head being used here because it has the raised seams that many artists used when drawing this version of Storm Shadow. However, considering this figure came with Firefly, I understand why Hasbro didn’t use that piece and I’ll give them a pass for making this call. The 25th Anniversary Storm Shadow head is a good enough piece and he does have a pretty good angry stare, so I think it fits well with the DDP-inspired design. It’s honestly just a shame that Hasbro didn’t rethink some of their parts choices before sending this figure into production. It looks and feels kind of like a rushed job and sadly, it takes a figure based on a design I love and turns him into something kind of crappy.
While the design of the figure is absolutely awful, the paint work is actually fairly well done. Like most Storm Shadow figures, there’s a lot of white here. His pants and mask are both white, but both have a few added splashes of color to make things more interesting. The shin armor is painted tan and the straps on his legs are black. Up on the head, there’s a nice Cobra sigil on his forehead. That’s something we’ve not seen on a Storm Shadow before or since, so it does add to the uniqueness of this figure. Since Storm Shadow’s shirtless, the figure’s chest and arms are molded out of flesh colored plastic. The flesh colors match quite well across the body and mesh with the exposed skin we see on his face. The bicep bands are painted with a dark red and the paint is well applied, with no slop. Storm Shadow’s wrist bands are black, and again, the paint work is slop-free. He’s got the traditional Arashikage tattoo on the outside of his right arm and it’s crisply done. The paint work on his webgear is passable, though it’s not perfect. The webgear is molded in black, which works well for the DDP-inspired look. The cords are painted in gold and it looks quite a bit like the color the comics used. The four throwing stars on his chest and the belt buckle get painted in silver. The paint work on the throwing stars is a little sloppy, though, with some overrun onto the black. Considering how tiny these details are, it’s not really surprising. You have to be really up on the figure to notice that a couple of the throwing stars are painted badly, though, so I’ll take that as a win.
Where this Storm Shadow really shines, though, is in his gear. Again, this is part of what makes this Storm Shadow so maddening. Everything he comes with is great, but the figure itself is just so poorly designed that it doesn’t make sense to have him on display. Like the great 1988 version of my childhood, this version of Storm Shadow has a cool fighting claw. I remember loving that accessory as a kid, and the modern version is even more impressive because it actually fits on him like it would a real person rather than just clipping on to his forearm. Like some of the later Ninja Force figures, Storm Shadow also comes with a pair of kunai linked together by a string. I’m not quite sure why the kunai are linked, though. Usually, if a kunai had a chain hanging from the end of it, it had a small weight that the ninja would use to strike their opponent with from a distance rather than another kunai. However, the kunai is still a great and wicked-looking weapon, so I love seeing it here with Storm Shadow. Storm Shadow has a great backpack with places to carry both his swords. Even more impressive, the backpack opens up and there is all sorts of cool gear permanently molded inside. However, the backpack contains one more accessory, a small removable Uzi. This is a great little piece and the engineering on this weapon and the backpack is incredible because it stays securely where it’s supposed to but it’s not extremely difficult to remove. Storm Shadow’s swords are also inspired by the DDP redesign. There he carried two swords that were the same length with very intricate dragon head pommels. That’s what this Storm Shadow has and it’s amazing how detailed these swords are. The pommels look great and the gold paint used to bring them out is just icing on the cake. All this gear is good, I just wish it came with a better Storm Shadow. If it did, I think there’s a very real chance this 25th Anniversary figure could still be on display even though many of those figures are currently in storage because they look so dated.
In case you couldn’t tell from the review, I really wanted to like this figure. I know not all Joe fans like the DDP era of comics, but it was my first real exposure to G.I. Joe comics and I really enjoyed the ride. Truthfully, the best part of the series was the great modern redesigns they gave a lot of the main characters. Storm Shadow was conspicuously absent from the first story arc, so when he appeared in Issue 6 to break Cobra Commander out of Dr. Mindbender’s custody, it was a great reveal and the uniform he showed up in was flat out awesome. There are a few comics sequences that I can remember just by quickly thinking about them and that’s one of them. I think part of what sold it was the writing, but the artwork and Storm Shadow’s great new uniform really helped make it a memorable comics moment for me. However, the one figure that was inspired by that look is just too off model and too poorly designed for me to like him. The legs work surprisingly well for the DDP Storm Shadow look, but the Gung Ho parts, with their bad design and shirtlessness are just too much for me to accept. I don’t quite know why Hasbro went back to these bad parts. Honestly, the 25th Anniversary Snake Eyes torso would have stood in well for the DDP Storm Shadow’s shirt and 25th Tomax/Xamot arms would have been great for the bare arms. Like I said at the top of the review, I’d love to see this design revisited and done right. It’s an eye catching look and I think it has more fans out there than are willing to admit it since hating on the DDP era of Joe comics is pretty popular among the online Joe community. This is another version of Storm Shadow that I think could be right up the GIJCC’s alley. Sure, fans would probably be livid that Storm Shadow was showing up in an FSS series, but who cares. It’s still a good design and I think the Four Horsemen could really help make this design look incredible.