25th Anniversary Snake Eyes
I’ve reviewed a lot of modern product during these Field Reports. I suppose that means it’s time to review the one that started it all—25th Anniversary Snake Eyes. The 25th Anniversary line began when I had just started graduate school down in Kansas. As such, I was actually completely unaware of any new, non-Sigma 6 Joe product being in production. I just hadn’t really had the time to keep up with the Joe brand since I was in the middle of starting a new chapter in my life. Heck, I don’t think ads for them even showed up at the back of the Joe comic until well after they had hit the shelves. So, imagine my surprise when I was looking around my local Target and found a great five pack of new G.I. Joes sitting on the shelf alongside a few Sigma 6 figures. I was absolutely ecstatic. I opened the flap of the package to see who was in it and while I wasn’t satisfied with one particular figure (sorry, Gung-Ho, you deserved better), I thought the rest of the stuff looked great. Admittedly, opening the box at home to get at the figures was kind of bittersweet because there were some flaws with the figures, but Snake Eyes was definitely the shining star of those early figures to me. Time may not have been kind to this first 25th Anniversary Snake Eyes, but hey, you have to expect some issues when a company is completely reinventing the wheel. If all the figures in the line had the problems that the early 25th Anniversary line did, I’d be right alongside everyone in bashing them, but Hasbro has improved and now creates such high quality product that, though I do miss the o-ring of my childhood, I’m perfectly happy with the modern style of construction. Honestly, my only wish is that some of the figures that didn’t get made right the first time around would get redone right—though that’s definitely not a problem that Snake Eyes has faced.
Introductory wandering aside, you have to admire what Hasbro did with the new style of construction and for me, Snake Eyes was one of the ones that showed me the potential this new o-ringless style of construction had. The last time Hasbro experimented with the way they constructed Joes, we got the t-crotch figures of the very first wave of Joe Vs. Cobra in the relaunch era. I was pretty disappointed with those. I bought a few figures here and there, but I really missed the great articulation the o-ring gave the figure. I know I wasn’t alone in that sentiment because the t-crotch figures went over so poorly with Joe fans that the figures in the next wave were retrofitted to bring back the o-rings. It was a risk for Hasbro to mess with the formula again. I was concerned about the new modern style construction, but they managed to keep the great articulation that made me love my Joes a lot more than my Star Wars figures while changing things up and giving us highly detailed figures. At his core, Snake Eyes is wearing a very basic military uniform. He’s got pretty standard pair of BDU pants with a detonator on one hip and a functional knife sheath on the other. I will admit, the legs are one of the areas where early 25th Anniversary figures do have a pretty bad problem. Around the Joe boards, the issue is dubbed as “diaper crotch”—the way the pelvis of the figure is designed, there’s no way for a lot of these early figures to sit down without spreading their legs out to about a 45 degree angle. This was a construction problem that hung around through the first wave of carded figures. However, in Hasbro’s defense, I should point out that the original plan for the line was a couple of box sets and that was pretty much it. The figures didn’t need to be able to sit in vehicles because there were no vehicles planned. The Joe fans bought them up in such high numbers, though, that Hasbro realized they had an unexpected hit on their hands and then started bringing more figures in. The “diaper crotch” fix was a running change in the first wave of carded figures. Snake Eyes is also wearing a very simple long sleeved shirt. It’s pretty plain,but he does have pouches on his upper biceps. His upper body is also a source of contention for many Joe fans. The modern construction style removes the o-ring-based waist articulation and replaces it with a mid-torso joint. Some of the mid-torso joints, like Snake Eyes’, really stood out and broke up the look of the figure. However, from an articulation standpoint, I do like it. In the perfect world, I would love for there to be a way we could get both the mid-torso joint and a waist joint, but that’s apparently not feasible. While many Joe fans may not like it, I do like that the mid-torso joint is a bit more realistic in terms of articulation. I find I turn a lot more at my own mid-torso position than I do a full waist turn. That being said, I do understand the disappointment in losing the waist joint. Having dabbled in the Marvel Legends line over the years, I do like the versatility that the combination ab-crunch and waist swivel bring. I don’t know why Hasbro is able to do it in their larger-scale figures but not in their smaller scales (both Marvel and Joe). The overall look from the neck down is very simple, but considering it’s designed to look like the 1982 Snake Eyes, that simplicity is understandable. The very basic body is also an indicator of the less-is-more nature of the early 25th Anniversary line. Where possible, Hasbro decided to go with basic parts and then to bring them closer to their original counterparts, they used removable webgear and vests. Not only is it a cheaper way to handle it, but it also makes thing look a little more realistic, at least in my opinion. I think Snake Eyes’ webgear looks great as a removable piece and it moves around with him far more realistically than it would if it were just molded into the torso. Plus, it works better with the new articulation because it’s not going to get broken up awkwardly when Snake Eyes turns his body. It’s actually designed to be flexible enough to naturally move with him when he moves. Snake Eyes’ webgear does a great job recreating his classic torso. It’s a very simple design, just a set of shoulder straps attached to a belt that has a functional holster on it, but it works great. I never had the original Snake Eyes, but I have to say, the details on the webgear stand out so much better as a standalone piece. Of course, if you’re recreating Snake Eyes, he has to be wearing a facemask and set of goggles. The head sculpt is where I really thought Hasbro was making some great changes. Any time I’ve seen the vintage Snake Eyes mold in use, I’ve always thought it was a little weird how his goggles just seemed kind of painted on. This time, they really took the time to give his head sculpt some great details. Not only are the goggles a raised element, but they have a strap running around his head. I love realism on my action figures and Snake Eyes’ head sculpt has it in spades. The goggles look great but the other little details on his face mask really sell things for me. The top of his head has a pair of seams running down and around while the mouth area has vents cut in. I’m not sure if the seams are something that are part of a real-world design, but as someone who likes to shop at military surplus stores for his winter gear, I do have to say I know I’ve seen cold weather gear (heck, I even own some) with cuts out around the mouth like that to prevent your goggles (or in my case, glasses) from fogging up. It’s this attention to detail that really makes me like the Joe product Hasbro has released over the last seven years.
Aside with a brief flirtation with baby blue in the 1990s, Snake Eyes has always worn a predominately very dark uniform. Being based on the 1982 version, this version of Snake Eyes is no different. However, in lieu of going with straight black, the Hasbro folks went with more of a charcoal gray color and I think that’s a much stronger choice. My biggest complaint about a lot of Snake Eyes’ figures is that the details get lost in a sea of black. While the 25th Anniversary Snake Eyes is still rather monochromatic, the details stand out much better just because they aren’t done in all black. The black stands out nicely on his goggles and makes it seem as though they’re tinted so he doesn’t have to worry about glare. Beyond that, though, there’s really not much black elsewhere on the figure. I think the webgear might be a little more successful if it were black rather than the same charcoal gray as the figure, but beyond that, it’s still a solid look overall. The small details on his webgear and arms, namely the snaps on his various pouches, get attention and the grenade also stands out nicely with some green paint on it. Overall, there’s a lot of dark gray on this figure, but at least being a little lighter than your standard black-on-black Snake Eyes figure, you can actually see the details in the mold.
Snake Eyes also gets a good deal of equipment, all with ties back to his original figure. Snake Eyes’ primary weapon has always been the Uzi and this version is no exception. The Uzi Hasbro designed for this figure is great and it looks nice in his hands. I do wish they hadn’t bothered molding in a trigger guard just because it does keep it from fitting in his hand as nicely as I would like. Hasbro tried to mold in an extended trigger finger for each hand, but there’s not enough clearance for the trigger finger to actually fit in the trigger guard so it just makes things a little awkward. Snake Eyes also gets a pistol to fill the holster on his webgear and a knife to fill the sheath on his leg. They’re both decent pieces, but I think they also both ride up a little high in their respective sheaths. The knife handle kind of gets in the way of his leg articulation. I appreciate that Hasbro has gone to functional holsters and sheaths, but it’s also clear that at the beginning of the 25th Anniversary line, they hadn’t really ironed out all the kinks. His final accessory is a satchel filled with explosives. This is a great piece. It looks natural slung over his shoulder and the detailing on the satchel itself is incredible. The satchel itself looks like a burlap bag and they even went as far as to paint the ties that are used to hold it shut while he’s carrying it. They really made sure to make this piece look good, and I like that considering that was probably the piece that most people cared about the least. I remember when I was a kid, equipping figures was mostly about their guns and occasionally their backpacks. I know I didn’t bother using Lady Jaye’s satchel all that much and I’m sure if I had the original Snake Eyes back in the day that his satchel wouldn’t have been used more than a few times right after I got the figure. The fact that Hasbro was willing to give so much attention to a piece that’s not nearly as iconic for Snake Eyes as his other pieces shows how much care and effort the Hasbro design team put into the 25th Anniversary line.
This version of Snake Eyes may not be the best version Hasbro ever made of him comparatively, but it’s still a remarkably solid figure. Yes, he has many of the same flaws that most of the early 25th Anniversary figures did and yes, Hasbro has released figures that are far superior to this version in the intervening years. However, in the hypothetical scenario in which the 25th Anniversary line didn’t take off like it did and this was the only modern style Snake Eyes figure we got, he’s a satisfactory piece. The charcoal gray figures looks a lot better than the all black versions we’ve grown accustomed to because you can actually see the details on the mold. I view the 2007 Joes along the same vein as the 1982 figures should be. In both years, Hasbro was experimenting with a new way of creating action figures. Not everything—like the arm articulation on the original figures or the “diaper crotch” of the initial 25th Anniversary figures—was a success. However, in both instances, Hasbro also learned from their mistakes and in short order gave us some the best-articulated, best-looking action figures out there on the market. Part of me does wish the current Joe product was a bit more kid-friendly since a brand can’t survive on nostalgia alone, but beyond that critique of the brand as a whole, I don’t see anything egregiously wrong with a majority of the early 25th Anniversary figures. There were some stinkers (Gung-Ho, I’m looking at you…please stop making me do that), but as a whole, the 25th Anniversary box sets were a relatively auspicious way to kick off a new style of Joe for a new era.