Red Ninja Leader (2008)
I appreciate ninjas. What can I say, I’m a child of the 80’s. I’m not talking about a modern, ironic appreciation either. I’m talking about something that goes back to the heyday of ninjas in the 80’s. A time before Real Ultimate Power, and before Pirates vs. Ninjas. A time when you couldn’t pass a magazine rack without seeing a one-off ninja magazine (promising to reveal the art of ninjustu) or a movie theater without a Canon ninja film (preferably starring Sho Kosugi). I’m pretty sure that any 80’s kid worth his salt owned at least one throwing star, and also probably once contemplated buying a pair of tabi boots.
So it’s with longtime appreciation that I approach each new Joe ninja release, whether it be Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow or any of the lesser-knowns through the years. I was excited to see quite a few ninjas in the 25th anniversary line, including Storm Shadow’s 1988 look, as well as Ninja Vipers, a Red Ninja and even a Ninja Ku black Storm Shadow. Although a lot of them utilized most of the first 25th Storm Shadow mold, I scooped them all up. How could you go wrong with a rainbow of ninjas!
The Red Ninja moniker had been applied to figures back in the O-ring days, in the vintage line as well as later comic and multi-packs. I was disappointed in all of them, since my memory of the red ninjas was focused on Marvel issue 21. The single-carded Red Ninja in the 25th anniversary line was an homage to the Argentinian Satan figure, but did finally feature a new head sculpt based closely on the design from issue 21.
The Red Ninjas in the Snake Eyes vs. Red Ninja Troopers multi-pack used the same mold and though they didn’t exactly match the look from their first comic appearance, were still a nice set. The pack also presented a leader for the nameless ninjas. He’s a fun diversion from his totally red companions, given his contrasting vest and ’88 Storm Shadow roped backpack. Including a leader figure for generic troops, even with just a few accessory and paint changes, is always a welcome sight to me.