FSS 3.0 Slice
Ninja Force is a pretty controversial part of Joe history. To help offset the losses in market share that the Joe brand was suffering due to the rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (a brand Kirk Bozigian said Hasbro passed on back in the day), Hasbro decided to focus on the ninja thing a bit more and really expand the brand’s ranks of ninjas on both sides. These figures also had built in action features. However, I think the first year of Ninja Force figures were actually pretty great. Their action features were fairly simple and didn’t impact articulation too much. I have fond memories of my childhood Slice figure and I was really excited when the GIJCC put him in FSS 3.0, even though I figured for sure he would be a FSS 2.0 figure since his ninja partner and hetero life mate, Dice, showed up in the inaugural Figure Subscription Service. Much like some of the other figures made a little later than I expected, though, I’m glad the GIJCC waited. Yes, they could have done a fast-and-dirty Slice just by using the fencing mask Hasbro tooled up for a canceled comic pack that was later released in the Retaliation line, but waiting and doing it right left me with a really sharp looking figure and one that really hits all my nostalgia buttons.
Just because the GIJCC waited to make Slice didn’t mean they really reinvented the wheel and I’m fine with that. Customizers have been using the Retaliation Red Ninja figure as a base for Slice since it first came out because it works so well. Why take a different path just because other people thought of it first? While I’m getting a little tired of seeing it, the Retaliation Red Ninja body is a very well-designed body. I’m glad that Hasbro has gotten so much mileage out of such a great body. It may not be a perfect recreation of Slice’s original design, but it definitely passes the squint test, so I’m fine with it. It’s still a basic ninja gi but with some additional armor on his forearms and shins. It definitely captures the spirit of Slice while not having to tool up all sorts of new parts. However, I do have one complaint about the Retaliation Red Ninja parts, the overly shallow foot holes. Slice’s figure stand is almost completely useless. His left foot can get a little traction on the foot peg, but the right foot can’t get on the peg at all. With all the great ninja parts Hasbro has tooled up, I kind of wish the GIJCC would have maybe tapped Resolute Storm Shadow (from the seven pack) for his legs since they also look like Slice’s legs and have functional footholes. Up top, Slice has a brand new head done by Boss Fight Studios and while I’m sure those of you that have read all my reviews of GIJCC product that have gotten new heads are tired of hearing me say this, I have to give these guys props for the amazing work they do for the GIJCC. It’s a little sad that Hasbro cut these folks loose, but man, they are really making a go of it as an independent studio. I kind of wonder if the name Boss Fight Studios will be as well known around the toy collecting community in five years as the Four Horsemen, former employees of McFarlane Toys, are currently. While the GIJCC could have just taken a Red Ninja head and put the fencing mask over it (like I did to make my Slice “custom”), I love that they went the extra mile and had Boss Fight give Slice a new head. This is an incredibly well-detailed piece and it looks great. The crosshatching on his facemask looks great and really fits with Slice’s overall look. The facemask may be inspired by fencing gear, but the black hood is definitely a bit more ninja-inspired than the original Slice’s and I’m fine with that. I like Slice having a bit more ninja flair. It’s a good look for him and it really looks like he stepped off his vintage card.
Slice is a ninja that’s had a surprisingly large number of color schemes, so I’m very glad the GIJCC stuck with the classic red and black version since I think it’s vastly superior to the later Orange Slice, the Shadow Ninja Slice, and the Joe Vs. Cobra Slice. I’ll admit, I was a bit concerned they might go with the Joe Vs. Cobra look since that particular version of Slice came with the same oddly-colored Sure Fire that the GIJCC used as a basis for his FSS release, but thankfully, reason prevailed and we got Slice in his classic colors. The bulk of the figure is red and over that, there’s black trim on the armor, kneepads and edges of the gi. The body from just under his pecs to just about halfway down his thighs has the same star pattern that the original Slice did. Full disclosure, I had to look up the original Slice because I thought it covered more of his body originally, so I was quite surprised that the 1992 figure had just about the same amount of star coverage as this one does. I’m of two minds about it. While he didn’t have the stars on his upper arms back in the day, without it being carried up top, to me Slice looks just a little unfinished. At least the vintage figure had a Cobra sigil on his upper right arm to add a little something to that part of the figure. The stars are definitely vintage accurate, but something just feels a little off with how they look on this figure compared to the original.
Where Slice really shines, though, is in his accessories. The GIJCC decided to take his codename literally and gave him a very wide variety of edged weapons. However, while I love that Slice can carry all his gear at once, he looks like a walking ad for Ginsu knives when he does it. Starting off small, he’s got a pair of fighting claws that slip over his wrists. Honestly, they’re the only accessories I think he could do without. Everything else kind of fits with Slice’s look and MO, but the claws just don’t really work for me. Like the vintage Slice, this version also gets to use hooked swords. While I wish we hadn’t just seen them with T’jbang, much like T’jbang, they make sense because they reference his classic equipment. The original Slice only had one sword like this, but he was definitely carrying one of these back in 1992. To round out his weapons load, Slice gets the same awesome backpack and set of four swords that Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Storm Shadow came with. While I think the hooked swords are getting a little played out, I love that the GIJCC grabbed the Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Storm Shadow gear to equip Slice. They’re pieces we haven’t seen a lot since they were first used and it makes sense for Slice to carry them. I also really love the fact that the swords can be linked. Yes, it’s not the most practical way to use swords, but as an adolescent, my brain was warped by The Phantom Menace. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t warp my brain enough to make me think it was a good movie, but Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber just looked so cool and I like getting that vibe from Slice here, too. In fact, Slice’s overall design is a bit Darth Maul-ish since he wears relatively simple fighting gear, rocks red and black and now fights with a double-bladed sword. Add in the fact that in the comics, he thought he was a real badass and kind of went out like a punk, and really, it’s hard to discount the parallels between Maul and Slice, at least in my brain. The accessories are excellent and really help make Slice a great figure.
I know there are a lot of Joe fans out there that really hate Ninja Force. I’ll admit, there are some figures from the line that I’m not a fan of. However, the first wave of Ninja Force figures was decent because most of them kept most of the classic Joe articulation. Figures like Storm Shadow and Slice weren’t as restricted because their action feature was just limited to their arms. Yes, later Ninja Force figures started taking greater liberties and cut back the articulation more for the sake of “real” ninja action, but even then the designs were solid. For better or worse, Ninja Force is part of the Joe brand’s history and if the GIJCC keeps making Ninja Force-inspired figures as good as Slice, Dice and T’jbang, I’m all for it.