50th Anniversary Storm Shadow
I’ve talked before about how much I love the modern versions of Storm Shadow based on the 1988 Storm Shadow. That was my Storm Shadow so any time I see something that references that figure, I have to pick it up. In the 50th Anniversary line, the Classic Clash two-pack gave us a Storm Shadow based on that iconic look. That meant I really wanted to get that pack and while there are a couple of missteps, he’s a great figure and I’m very glad Hasbro released this version of Storm Shadow in the 50th Anniversary line. I may have said that Retaliation Ultimate Storm Shadow was probably the last time we needed to see Storm Shadow for a while, but after giving us a break from him for a couple of years, it’s nice to see this specific version of Storm Shadow getting some attention again. I’m still a little burned out on Storm Shadow, but at least it’s been a while since the 1988 version has been remade.
Like most modern ninja Joe figures, 50th Anniversary Storm Shadow uses a lot of parts that were first created for 30th Anniversary Renegades Storm Shadow. That’s fine, though, because that is an amazing figure. Even more interesting though is that, unlike most of the recent releases, Hasbro tooled up quite a few new parts for this Storm Shadow to bring him more in line with the vintage look. The legs are a combination of old and new parts. The upper legs are shared with Renegades Storm Shadow, but the lower legs are brand new with the vintage-inspired bamboo armor covering his shins. It’s nice that this detail got recreated and I’m glad Hasbro used some new tooling here rather than going with the outdated pieces from the 25th Anniversary DDP-inspired Storm Shadow. The torso is all from Renegades Storm Shadow and that’s fine by me, even if some fans were a little displeased that Storm Shadow lost the newly-tooled pouch belt that he wore in the second concept case. Honestly, I had that figure as a kid and didn’t even realize that piece was missing. Maybe I’ve just gotten so used to not seeing, but I don’t think it’s a make or break detail. However, I will have to say that I’m a little disappointed by the coil of rope he’s wearing. I don’t know who it first came with, but it’s never fit anyone all that well and it’s awfully loose on Storm Shadow too. Like the legs, the arms are a combination of old and new and they effectively recreate the 1988 look. The upper arms are from the Renegades Storm Shadow, but the lower arms are bare and all new. They’ve got the open fingers, but I’m really not as sold on them as everyone else is. Yes, it means he can hold the arrow in a realistic fashion, but it makes him holding his other accessories kind of awkward. Considering he doesn’t have any of the other pieces that make having the splayed fingers worthwhile, I’d much prefer seeing Storm Shadow with neutral grip hands. Up top, Storm Shadow has a brand new head. I’m of two minds about it. The stare is intense and I think it fits for Storm Shadow, but the overall design is just a little off. The top of the hood is awfully low and it distorts the overall shape of his head. The head itself also rides a bit high on the neck ball, leaving Storm Shadow looking a little giraffe-necked. The head could have used a little reworking to make it look a bit more natural but things still look okay. I’m glad Hasbro was willing to tool up new pieces for this figure rather than just rerelease the Retaliation Red Ninja mold in its entirety again. There are a couple of flaws here and there, but it’s nothing that ruins the figure for me and it looks much closer to the 1988 look than the 25th Anniversary of this figure did, so I’ll take that as a win.
The paint work on the figure is solid and a vast improvement over the product released in the 50th Anniversary line’s first year. Like pretty much every version of Storm Shadow out there, the base of the figure is white, though there is a subtle gray wash on his shin armor. Like the 1988 version, Storm Shadow has gray geometric camouflage over his ninja gear. It was a great look back then and I still think it looks close to 30 years later. The gray camouflage is crisply applied, though it does have a little trouble getting all the way into some of the sculpted folds. Like Retaliation Budo, Storm Shadow has a slightly more ethnic skintone to reflect his Japanese heritage. However, I think the skintone is applied just a little too thickly overall. The details on his arms and face look just a bit muted. The Arashikage tattoo on his right arm looks as good as it did back in the day and I’m glad it’s still there. The best part, though, is what’s missing from his paint scheme. Storm Shadow was released with a Cobra base and initially Hasbro was planning on putting a Cobra sigil on the figure as well. Thankfully, someone at Hasbro realized that this version of Storm Shadow was at least non-aligned if not outright a Joe, so they pulled that detail from the paint masters. I know a lot of people are pissy he came with a Cobra stand, but honestly, it’s not a big deal. As long as the Cobra details on the figure are gone, I think it’s fine.
Hasbro did a great job of recreating this figure’s 1988 accessories and I think that was a great call on their part. Not everything is perfect, but I appreciate the effort. My only real complaint about his gear is his bow. While I like the engineering behind the collapsible bow, it looks awkward in Storm Shadow’s hands. I would much rather have seen the Pursuit of Cobra Shadow Tracker bow show up here. Storm Shadow also gets the Shadow Tracker arrow backpack and arrow, so it would have been a nice fit. Aside from the misstep on his bow, the rest of Storm Shadow’s gear is great. Hasbro went back to the 25th Anniversary line and grabbed the great backpack they created for the DDP-inspired Storm Shadow. It surprises me how molding that backpack out of red plastic brings out the similarities to 1988 Storm Shadow’s backpack. I picked the DDP-inspired Storm Shadow pretty quickly and never noticed those similarities until now. It’s a great piece and it’s even better that it is a great stand in for this figure’s original backpack. The backpack can carry two swords, so Storm Shadow gets the pair of dragon hilt swords that came with that backpack the first time it was used. Honestly, it’s really nice to see these pieces again just because they haven’t been used to death. Finally, just like in 1988, Storm Shadow also comes with a climbing claw. I remember thinking that accessory was so cool back in the day and the modern versions of it have always been great. It looks great on Storm Shadow’s hand and it’s a nice addition. My only complaint is about what’s missing from his gear load. Aside from the bow and arrow, everything else originally came with the DDP-inspired Storm Shadow. However, there was a cool mini-Uzi that figure came with that could be stored inside the backpack and that’s missing from this version. Yes, the weapon wouldn’t have been vintage accurate, but I really liked that piece and I think it would have been neat for it to be included here since the backpack was designed to carry it. Beyond that little complaint, though, I have to say that Storm Shadow has a pretty great gear load and it’s amazing how well Hasbro chose accessories that reference this figure’s vintage gear.
Like a lot of modern Joe product, Classic Clash Storm Shadow isn’t perfect. However, he’s a far better representation of Storm Shadow’s 1988 look than the 25th Anniversary version was. I believe the Joe brand needs to innovate if it wants to survive, but during the 25th Anniversary line, there were some classic looks that only got recreated once and really suffered from the lack of available tooling. I don’t think every classic figure needs to be recreated in modern form, but some looks like Storm Shadow’s 1988 look or Snake Eyes’ 1985 look are so iconic they need a better modern representation than they got. Honestly, between Gung-Ho and Storm Shadow, my personal needs list is pretty well done. All the figures I thought deserved better have gotten better looks based on their classic designs, so I’m all for a lot more innovation coming down the line. I don’t quite know where the Joe brand needs to go next (though grabbing Stiletto from the Joe writing community and letting the fans pick her via the Hasbro Pulse poll and the new character Tombstone are a good start), but I’m cautiously optimistic, considering how 2015’s figures were a pretty solid mix of vintage-inspired figures and new looks for old characters with the occasional new character thrown into the mix and 2016 is looking be the same way. It’s a great way to keep old collectors interested (since sometimes there is some resistance to new characters from the old guard) but still tries to grab the attention of young kids. I realize that it’s been a while since the Joe brand has been about
kids, but most of what was released in 2015 was very kid-friendly and I’m glad to see that. Maybe the Joe brand won’t lie as fallow as it has recently between movies.