Shang Tsung (1995 Mortal Kombat Movie)
The unreleased 1995 Ninja Commandos figures have had their collective photos spread thru the Joe internet fandom for years. Hasbro appropriated some of the cancelled Ninja Commandos molds to help produce figures for the Mortal Kombat movie line. Shang Tsung is the only figure that is head-to-toe the original unreleased mold–Budo. Bits of other figures from the series showed up in other Mortal Kombat movie figures like Liu Kang and Rayden (who appears to be Ninja Commando Flint except for the head).
When I picked Shang Tsung up at Kay Bee Toys in ’95, it was only because I found the mold to be different and interesting. The previous series of Mortal Kombat figures I knew were obvious reuses of Joe molds, but this one I couldn’t quite place. So I picked it up simply out of curiosity, not knowing years later I would find out its true origins thanks to the wonders of the internet.
The figure gives off too much of a samurai vibe to resemble the movie Shang Tsung. But hey, you can just call him Budo if you want. In a way, it’s too bad a movie-accurate Shang Tsung wasn’t released. As cool as it is to have a figure based on a cancelled Joe mold, I would kill for a Joe-scale Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa figure.
The usual articulation hindrances of spring-action features are here, but it’s not a big deal to me in this case. He doesn’t have the chunky torso or giraffe neck of the Ninja Force figures. I’d say Hasbro scored a flawless victory with this release.