Storm Shadow (1992 Ninja Force)
In 1992, the sub-group mania begun the previous year continued, as two new groups appeared on toy shelves, the Drug Elimination Force and Ninja Force. Like the other groups, each one featured both packaging and action features different from the main line releases.
The Ninja Force burst on the GI Joe scene with shockingly bright hot pink packaging, “real ninja action” and soft goods sashes, ribbons or hair. I didn’t mind the packaging or the colors of the figures themselves, as they represented an offshoot of the Joe team that wasn’t intended as part of the main military force. However, if you feel the need for a ninja to blend in with your green garbed Joes, there’s always Nunchuk.
On the subject of camo, I’ve always found this Storm Shadow’s look to be striking and a nice change from the other versions of the character. The file card describes Storm Shadow’s outfit as a specialized “Chameleon” camouflage battle uniform. I wonder if the paint scheme is intended to represent the uniform in mid-change from black to white? It wasn’t portrayed as such in either the comics or cartoon of the time, but I have to wonder. Otherwise, the pattern sort of reminds me of Zartan’s transformation effect in the Marvel comics.
This Storm Shadow was plastered on a lot of the advertising and miscellaneous ephemera of the time. He made multiple appearances in the DIC cartoon in this get-up and the Ninja Force played a prominent role in the Trans-Carpathia storyline of the Marvel comic. Interestingly, in 1997 a modified version of this camo was seen on the 1984 Storm Shadow mold included in the Commando Team three-pack. A little soon for a homage?
Now about the elephant in the room with the Ninja Force: the articulation. I really don’t have a problem with it on most of the line. The only figures that I think truly suffered were the “kicking action” figures like 1993 Snake-Eyes and Scarlett. My biggest concern with the action features was the lack of a screwhole in the backs. When the O-ring wears out, you’ll have to crack the figure open like a walnut in order to make a repair. That’s a more complicated surgery than I like to attempt on my Joes.