Ninja Showdown Storm Shadow
The Ninja Showdown set really typified the way figures are offered in three-packs. None of them required extensive new tooling…in fact, all three figures were just carded figures offered with different (and possibly better) accessories and in different (and definitely better) paint jobs. While none of the three figures in their carded versions appealed to me, the Snake Eyes and Red Ninja really spoke to me. Since I wanted both of those figures, I’d have to buy a Storm Shadow I didn’t really want or need to get them. However, a funny thing happened after I opened this Storm Shadow. I really started to like him…and I think it can really be chalked up to the more striking paint scheme he has when compared to the carded first version of Retaliation Storm Shadow.
This figure is a complete re-release of the already plentiful Retaliation Storm Shadow. However, I have to credit these sets with adding good figures to my collection that I wouldn’t have necessarily gone after. The mold is remarkably well detailed. It’s an interesting mesh of cloth and high tech armor. I do wish it were a little clearer what was supposed to be cloth and what was supposed to be armor, though. The upper legs have a nice, baggy ninja look to them while the lower legs have some very high-tech-looking shin armor. I kind of see the armored pieces as something like Batman’s suit from the Christopher Nolan movies. It’s a high-tech, lightweight composite designed to afford the wearing maximum flexibility, though there’s a bit of a tradeoff in overall durability and protection. There’s also a bit of the armor over cloth look in the torso and arms as well. Apparently, someone in Hasbro’s design team was also told that high collars are in this year. Both Renegades and Retaliation designs use high collars and this version of Storm Shadow has one. I find myself liking it though. The whole design reminds me of the gear bikers who prefer crotch-rockets wear. It’s very sleek looking yet it’s also clearly rather durable. The figure is quite flexible and poses well, which is a must for me considering he’s a ninja. However, the plastic feels rather soft to me. It’s especially bad in the hands. It’s really hard to keep his accessories in his hands because they gradually deform and lose their grip. I really don’t like it when the slightest wrong glance can cause an accessory to fall to the floor and I really don’t like it when I have to spend 15 minutes fiddling with a figure to get him to hold his gear again. That happened while writing this review, so that frustration is rather fresh in my mind as of the time of writing.
I saw Retaliation Storm Shadow plenty of times on the pegs, and I consistently passed him up. However, his Ninja Showdown twin brother has grown on me and I really think it has to be due to its superior paint scheme. Storm Shadow sticks with the traditional white, black and gray colors he’s worn quite a few times. Even the carded Storm Shadow uses these colors, but Ninja Showdown Storm Shadow benefits from having darker colors. The gray is darker and black is used on his shin and forearm armor instead of the matching gray. I think it helps make the Ninja Showdown version a bit more visually interesting. The gray and black stand out rather than blend in. Plus, he also gets some gray detailing on the front of his mask. Be careful, though, as sometimes the gray isn’t very well placed and doesn’t mesh up well with the existing mold lines on the front of his face. Interestingly, it also makes for a surprising parallel to a new sculpt era figure: the SpyTroops Night Creeper had an armored mask very similar to how Storm Shadow’s mask looks with the gray details added in. Couple that with the combination of traditional ninja aesthetic with some modern high-tech armor and you get an interesting additional use for the figure—an updated (albeit white) SpyTroops Night Creeper. I’ll admit, part of the reason I generally passed on the carded Retaliation Storm Shadow was that he really didn’t look that much like what I think Storm Shadow should look like. However, the Ninja Showdown version takes that drawback and turns it into an asset by creating a look that references one of my favorite new sculpt figures (despite his proportion problems). The other major paint difference is the size of his Cobra sigil. The carded version has a small sigil over the left side of the chest. This Storm Shadow decided to go all out and blatantly advertise his Cobra connections with a sigil that basically fills up the entire open space in the middle of his chest. I do like the color scheme, but there are a couple things I question. First of all, why did the dark gray paint on his chest not carry down though to the rest of his torso? It stops rather abruptly at his chest joint but there are armored details that it could quite naturally flow into on his torso. It kind of leaves the figure looking a little incomplete. Secondly, there are a lot of other details elsewhere on the mold (the tops of his gloves, his shoulders, the back of the figure which ties into the dark gray on his front, and the armor details above his hips) that could have gotten some attention from the paint department but didn’t. As a figure coming from a three pack where really no additional money needed to be invested for tooling, I would have really liked to see them give everybody some great attention from the paint team. Snake Eyes and the Red Ninja faired pretty well in the paint department, but Storm Shadow really did not. What they did was good, but there was so much more they could have painted with the same colors that would have really made him stand out more and I think it’s a shame that they didn’t.
Storm Shadow really didn’t get a lot of accessories (at least in my allocation) and I think part of it stems from the issue I mentioned earlier about his weak hands. However, the two he did wind up getting in the end both look pretty good. First off, I gave him the other kunai dagger. The ring on the end fits nicely around the separated index finger on his left hand. It kind of looks like Storm Shadow is getting ready to surprise and opponent with it. His other weapon is the only new piece in the set, a folding bow. I really think this is a cool accessory. As I mentioned in Rob’s review of this figure that you can find in the archives, it reminds me of
Hawkeye’s bow in The Avengers that he grabs out of a case, snaps his wrist and it’s ready to go. It’s also something I could just see Storm Shadow doing. Let’s be fair, a bow is a bit awkward to carry around, especially if you’re a ninja. It’s a great silent, ranged weapon, but if you can’t collapse it, it can get in the way when you’re jumping around quietly. The bow is hinged simply, though I do wish Hasbro would have mentioned that somewhere on the box or in the instructions. It kind of surprised me when I was fiddling with the bow shortly after opening the set when I was able to unfold it. I didn’t think it was a great piece because it looks a little awkward as a bow when folded up, but when unfolded it’s a great bow. I only wish he had an arrow to go with it. Overall, though, his accessories are good and fit with Storm Shadow.
Once again, the lamest-looking figure in the three-pack managed to surprise me. While he’s still not that great, he’s also not nearly as bad as I thought he was going to be. The figure is definitely superior to the carded version, so I’m all right with the fact that I really didn’t have much of a choice in getting him. The dark gray and black accents on the white body really pop well and make him stand out much more than he did when he was carded on the shelves. The bow really did help sell the figure on me, but beyond that, he’s still not that impressive. The only reason I like him so much is because he wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought he would be. I wasn’t expecting much from him, but he did manage to clear the very low bar I set for him far more easily than I expected.