Retaliation Ultimate Snake Eyes
Wave Three of the Retaliation figures, while a juggernaut of a wave, unfortunately suffered from the fact that the other two waves of Retaliation figures didn’t sell that well in stores. I have literally never seen a Wave 3 Retaliation figure out in the wild. Heck, I barely saw anything from Wave 4 either. I’m glad I’ve finally gotten over my reluctance to buy online, since I wouldn’t have any of the Wave 3 Retaliation figures if I’d tried to find them at brick and mortar stores and that would be a shame. Everything in this wave is impressive, even yet another Snake Eyes. This is listed as the Ultimate Snake Eyes and I have to admit, having probably gotten around a dozen versions of Snake Eyes over the last few years, this is the most impressive one I’ve ever bought. I only hope that it being called “Ultimate” means that it will be a while before Hasbro decides to do anything with Snake Eyes again. Even with the issues I have with it, it’s still hands-down the best Snake Eyes Hasbro has released and I think any subsequent version is going to have a hard time clearing the bar that this version has set.
I really like this new/old design for Snake Eyes, but in my opinion, he does leave just a little bit to be desired. Snake Eyes’ head is the only part that’s recycled, though his body mold technically first saw use as the Collectors’ Club Frag Viper. However, considering the GIJCC just didn’t paint all the Snake Eyes specific details that were molded in so you’d ignore them, it’s clear this mold was always meant to be Snake Eyes. Before getting to the nitty gritty of the mold, I’ll bring up my only real criticism. Snake Eyes is a little too scrawny for my tastes and that really changes the overall look of the figure. I realize a martial arts master would be a relatively lean fighter, but the leanness combined with the skin-tight nature of his costume screams superhero more than it does soldier. Even the most fanciful Joes still had a bit of a military vibe, but this Snake Eyes really doesn’t and it kind of bugs me. I don’t quite know why because I legitimately enjoy superhero comics, but I think even my most fanciful and sci-fi-inspired Joes had at least a little military element and I just don’t feel that here. Despite my issues with his scrawniness, though, I can’t really fault the design. It shows just how much Hasbro has done in just six short years. In 2007, Hasbro gave us a Snake Eyes based on the second ARAH version, which is what he wore a lot in the cartoon. However, it (and the other two later versions based around this particular look) definitely exhibited the flaws of the early 25th Anniversary figures. After six years, I think collectors can finally say they have a perfect modern translation of the classic 1985 Snake Eyes. The legs are very streamlined, but still have the ankle pouches and the holster and knife sheath combination. Heck, they’re even on the same sides as they were back in 1985. The torso is a bit more like a wetsuit than a shirt, but you still get the same feeling as he had back in the day. He’s got a removable dual-belt like the original 1985 molded detail. To complete the 1985 look on his torso, he’s also wearing a newly-sculpted version of the grenade bandolier. It looks better than the first 25th Anniversary attempt at it and it fits his body better than it looks in those photos. I’ve since fixed it after looking at it to make sure it wasn’t tweaked out of alignment before I criticized its fit. However, I do wish it had a scabbard for his sword. I realize this detail wouldn’t be 1985 accurate, but I’d appreciate an actual scabbard. You can frog the sword through the strap, but I’m pretty sure that’s what tweaked it out of alignment in the first place. The arms really impress me because of their faithful recreation of the 1985 details, most notably the wrist-mounted crossbow. That little thing looks great. It’s a great addition and really helps sell the idea that this is the ultimate version of Snake Eyes. They’ve done an excellent job of recreating the 1985 version’s classic look. Finally, we come to the one reused part of the mold, his head sculpt. This head was first used on the Retaliation Wave 2 Snake Eyes and even though it’s not the head I was expecting him to use, it’s still a good look. I imagine it was done as a concession to the Retaliation branding, but really, I’m okay with it. Everything else from the 1985 look got updated, why shouldn’t he be wearing something more like a fancy helmet instead of a visor over a ninja mask? Plus, the seams on the helmet aesthetically fit pretty nicely with the seams the body suit has. I’ll admit, personally, I wish he looked a little more like a military ninja and less like Spider-Man, but it’s still an incredible figure and Wave 3 shows just how much the Hasbro design team has improved in just six years. Those first few waves of 25th Anniversary figures were a little hit or miss, but Retaliation Wave 3 is nothing but hits in my opinion. The design team has really started hitting its stride in the last year and they definitely carried those lessons 50th Anniversary line, at least in terms of design and construction.
Snake Eyes is always a bit hard to make look interesting since he’s pretty much wearing all black, but they still managed to do a good job with his colors despite his limited options. The figure is basically molded in black plastic but to keep him from being boring as some of his other Retaliation brethren, his detailing is done in two different shades of gray. Most of the gray on his gear is a light gray, but the straps that hold his holster and knife sheath on are a darker gray. Thankfully, the gray is also very neatly applied. Paint errors are always annoying but when it’s a far lighter color over a dark surface, I find them maddening just because I can’t not see them. Even more impressive, the grenades also get attention from the paint team, being painted olive drab. They could have just left them gray and it would have made sense, but I appreciate they did something to make them stand out a little more from the rest of the figure.
While his accessories are by no means ground-breaking, Snake Eyes’ gear is great. Everything fits well with Snake Eyes and there’s nothing really out of place in terms of gear choices. Snake Eyes’ gear choices have been pretty consistent through over 30 years of being a character. As a commando, it makes sense to be carrying a pair of knives, a pistol, and a silenced Uzi. To make him a ninja, all you need to do is add in a sword. Snake Eyes carries great versions of all these weapons. The knives are your typical modern knives, but I think the pistol is new. I just don’t recall seeing a pistol this small before. It fits very snugly into his holster. The Uzi with a removable silencer is something we’ve also seen before, but who cares. It still looks great. Snake Eyes is also carrying the great eagle-pommeled sword with the funky blade. It’s an iconic design and it looks very nice slung across Snake Eyes’ back. Snake Eyes does carry a bit of additional firepower in the form of an assault rifle. It’s the same mold that Rise of Cobra Paris Pursuit Snake Eyes came with a few years ago. I really like this mold and it really does look at home in Snake Eyes’ hands. Discounting the assault rifle, everything else is something that came with originally Snake Eyes and he can carry all his vintage-accurate accessories at once. However, there’s one more accessory to be mentioned. The year 1985 marked the first time we met Timber, Snake Eyes’ wolf companion. No homage to that look would complete without Timber. I’m not sure if this is a new piece or not. It’s definitely new to me, but I think I saw it mentioned in someone else’s reviews that it came with the 2009 G.I. Joe Box Set that was also Sunbow inspired. Even if it’s a repeat, it’s a great version of Timber for many reasons, but one in particular really stands out: articulation. Timber has an articulated neck. You can have him staring ferociously ahead, as though he’s guarding something but you can also have his head tipped up like he’s howling at the moon. It’s not a lot of movement in the grand scheme of things, but I like that I can have the option of having Timber stalking or Timber howling. The other modern Timbers have always left me a little cold because of their dynamic stalking pose. However, this one is positioned somewhat neutrally, but through the simple addition of a balljoint, you can get angry stalking, at rest or howling all out of one version of Timber. That’s a major success in my books. I’m not quite sure about the tan spray on his belly, but beyond that, Timber is very well executed.
Billing something as “ultimate” is always a ballsy move. It sets the expectations very high. However, this version of Snake Eyes really rises to the challenge. While I’ve never had a strong opinion on Snake Eyes’ role as the face of the brand, for better or worse, that’s what Hasbro has decided to do with him. If we keep seeing figures of this caliber for Snake Eyes, I’ll have no issue with him showing up a lot. There is no way around it, this is a great figure. Aesthetically, I’d like to see him look a little less like he’s wearing superhero spandex, but beyond that little criticism, he’s an incredible version of Snake Eyes. Hasbro did a great job of taking his 1985 look, reproducing it faithfully but still updating it to reflect the modern aesthetic. I’ll admit, it took me a lot longer to warm up to Snake Eyes than it did the rest of the wave. He was on my list of three figures (with Ultimate Cobra Commander and Ultimate Roadblock) that I wasn’t quite sure I wanted from the wave. I figured I’d just flip all three of them for some quick cash if I didn’t like them since it was just simpler to order the full case. However, once I had them all in hand, it was clear to me I wouldn’t be parting with any of them. Snake Eyes is a great figure and it’s good to see some tributes to the classic line still coming out in under the Retaliation brand.