Budo Samurai Warrior (2013)

Talk about out of place. Budo has never been totally at home among his teammates, as even his original figure looked more like a traditional samurai than a special missions military operative. That’s not to say I don’t like the concept of the figure. In fact, I find it more interesting than many of the more movie based figures in the assortment. A GI Joe figure attired in armor from ancient Japan? Works for me. Who says the modern lines have to be all about realism? It’s actually refreshing to see a little unexplained weirdness among the Joes again. Too bad the line doesn’t look line it will continue. I wouldn’t have minded getting a certain accountant/falconer or mind control specialist among the Cobras in a future assortment.

Budo is one of the most impressively detailed sculpts I’ve seen in the modern GI Joe toys. There is an amazing level of crispness in the armor, and even in the undersides of the arms. I hadn’t seen a lot of photos of the figure broken down without the outer cloak, so I was expecting the pieces underneath to be less detailed. That’s not the case. The whole figure is just marvelously rendered. The only thing that could improve it would be a few more paint applications. Naturally, articulation is stiff in the legs thanks to the extra armor, but who really cares in this case. This guy doesn’t look like he needs to move all that much anyway. Under the helmet, the head has a lot of personality, and conveys a determined, stoic countenance. I wouldn’t mess with him.

If anything is missing in this instance of an unexplained figure, it’s the background information that could have been provided via a file card. The lack of those little tidbits of extra info that were a boon to sales in the past are sorely missed. After all, Budo’s old card gave him a little colorful exposition to balance his offbeat appearance. A Harley riding, heavy metal fan who also wore an old samurai getup in the field just somehow seemed to work back in the day. Without that knowledge on the back of the card, an innocent child might think this figure was from a cutscene where the Joes ended up stranded in Japan’s past. Hey, it happened to the Turtles, why not Joe?



  • Love the new Budo! You nailed it Rob.

  • I couldn’t wait to have this one in my collection. But I was disappointed with how stiff and how hard/impossible he is to pose. But he looks cool just standing there. They should have made saya for his swords and put them on the figure so he could Stan with his swords sheathed.

  • He’s awesome. I like to believe that he’s in ceremonial attire so he’s only as misplaced as marine dress blues Gung-ho.

  • I never quite got how Budo fit into the line back in ’88, but at least we had his file card to go by. With the line going to generic movie packaging with no file card whatsoever, plus the inclusion of non-movie characters such as Kwinn and Budo here, it truly feels like the line’s last gasp, even more so than the ’94 Battle Corps stuff which still had an additional year in the planning-to-production stages.

    As for the figure, maybe one of the designers is an Akira Kurosawa fan? (Although the head sculpt resembles anyone but Toshiro Mifune’s character.) This figure is a true oddity but sure to have its fans out there. The lack of articulation is likely to keep me from picking him up as I would have rather found a Night Viper or Crimson Guard instead.

  • @Scruffyronin I somehow get the feeling that dress blues Gung ho [or gung ho in general] would not get along with Budo

    What has really irritated me about some of the modern figures [such as Renegades cobra commander] is that clothing hinders their movement. The gi joe brand has always been about interactivity. The only figures from the 82-94 run that couldnt ride or drive vehicles were Deep six v1, Golobulos, the lunatrix aliens and the armour tech guys.

    As for gi joe and time travel? I beleive they tried it once in 1986 and it isnt looked upon fondly.
    Maybe Budo’s into samurai reinactments?

  • @ Clutch “it truly feels like the line’s last gasp”. Certainly seems like it don’t it? Hasbro has no idea what to do with Joe. Super detailed, under-articulated obscure characters for nostalgic adults is not going to sustain the line. This figure is just silly, are those antlers or tree branches stuck to his head. Almost as bad as Tonto having a dead bird stuck to his head.

  • @Troublemagnet
    From what i’ve seen of toy componies efforts in the past few years, i get the impression that everyone on the design team is an accountant. It was probably an accountant that had the brilliant idea of shipping Bumblebee’s nine per case.

    Sad to think that twenty years ago, i could walk into any toystore or supermarket and find an end cap full of Joes. Now i have to travel halfway across the state to make do with a few c.o.r.p.s figures. Anyone got a TARDIS?

  • @ Skymate
    *That* is what changed (BTW, has anyone seen case assortment allotments from the classic ARAH? TF G1 is well documented but I haven’t had such luck with GI Joe and while I can compile which figures go with which assortment, I can’t do the # per case from the cardbacks). For the most part, figures were shipped all even within their group, with carryovers (except for early GI Joe and some TFs like Soundwave, Starscream) being available for 2 years and shipping with reduced numbers (in G1, they shipped 1 per case). In the case of an odd number of new figures, some shipped with a little more (in G1, Mirage, Sludge, Octane & Broadside for example) or a little less (in G1, Skids, Targetmaster Scourge). It changed in the ’90s in 2 ways:

    1.) Shipping more of ‘popular’ figures or shortpacking chase figures. This is what people hate most. Back then, I would assume 1985 Snake Eyes shipped at the same number or close to it as his other 1985 assortment mates (BTW, there were usually 2-3 active case assortments at a time, with older figures divided up and tacked onto them). This is directly attributed to dooming a few toylines, like the 2002 He-Man, where IIRC, 75% of the figures arriving were He-Man or Skeletor. It’s a recipe for shelfwarming. I think it also doomed the Iron Man toyline from the ’90s. This is just soooooo stupid.

    2.) Constantly tampering with the case assortment mixes. This is the broader change of toy companies from a year to year model to a month/few month to few month model. From what I’ve seen of Beast Wars case assortments and time tags, they rolled out new figures over the course of a year instead of all at once or in two places. Sometimes cases would change just to add in 1 new figure. Sometimes figures weren’t available for a whole year even. This seemed made to foster a mentality of trying to encourage toy sales year round under a message of “Get it now because it may be gone a short time later!”. This suggests a change by the late ’90s (in fact, it seemed like around 1997 it started to transition towards a sub-year pattern).

    Also, toys seemed to erode due to a few things: the rise of video games and the fall of tv cartoons. The video game industry now pulls in more money than Hollywood and it’s now more common for people to buy many games a year and now some households have 2 generations of gamers. GI Joe benefitted most from cartoons being huge and parents only buying kids a handful of games a year and playing time was usually controlled (to some extent) because kids in grade school having tvs in their bedroom in the ’80s was not a common thing (lingering fears of “tv rots your brains”, etc) and parents usually wouldn’t let a kid monopolize the evening playing video games on the living room tv most nights (they want to relax, watch things too).

    Also, back in classic GI Joe, cartoons were HUGE. The networks actually produced a full slate for several hours Saturday morning and in the ’90s, Fox & WB were quite active then and producing weekday afternoon blocks. Then there was syndication, which provided cartoons for weekday mornings and afternoons and Sunday mornings too. Tv stations actually used to devote blocks of time to kids. That all changed with new regulations put into place in the late ’90s when the industry was deregulated (a bill that was the worst of both worlds)- it tightly regulated what kinds of commercials could be shown with cartoons, which, for private stations (the majority of US tv stations) was a deathblow for cartoons and syndicated cartoons (unless they were E/I) could no longer exist without a patron. Even Disney had to put their celebrated Disney Afternoon under the aegis of UPN. Beast Wars’ successor Beast Machines, to exist, had to sign onto Fox. Pokemon started in syndication and went to WB (though that was because WB snatched it up because it was getting hot). Cartoons were once lucrative for independent stations who usually didn’t make the most money because of a lack of affiliation bringing in big name programming (same with syndicated sitcoms and action hours like some Star Trek series, including some old ones. Brady Bunch famously took off in syndication along with Gilligan’s Island, Star Trek TOS, and I Dream of Jeannie. That success led to some shows going first-run into syndication). Without the ability to make money off of several hours of their schedule, Fox ditched the cartoons due to angry affiliate stations (why the celebrated Fox Kids afternoon ended at the end of 2001). WB seemed to endure it, but the quality clearly suffered. Also, networks had to show 2.5? hours of E/I programming a week, which includes reairing the same few cartoons or kids educational programs that are 1 or more decades old, stuff the networks clearly aren’t going to be making money off of the commercials during. Saturday mornings now look like PBS or like they are aimed at ages 1~5, not ages 5~tween as they used to. Cable channels with cartoons are the last refuge left, but it’s not the same because of their 24 hour schedule and different priorities. The bill that changed things was a major victory for big tv/cable/radio giants because they could gobble up the competition and for the ‘concerned parents’ groups, who gutted network cartoons and de facto banned first-run synd. cartoons (it was the same group with that irate lady campaigning against GI Joe in the ’80s as being “war toys” and all that). Independent stations weren’t hurt as much because by the time the bill took effect, few were left, most having affiliated with Fox, UPN, or WB, bringing in active primetimes and Fox & WB owned the afternoons, weakening independent cartoon offerings through the competition and by fielding so many hours, many companies went to Fox or WB to solicit development instead of syndication.

    And *that’s* how we got from the GI Joe of the 80s & early 90s to the GI Joe (and toy industry) of today.

  • @Little Boa
    I think you just earned a doctorite
    Over here, 95% of the cartoons which either ran in the breakfast or afternoon [most people only got four chanels] were either Hanna/Barbarra’s worst or just bad in general [no offense to HEY ARNOLD fans but kids in my era didnt take to it as there were too many cross cultural differances].
    We also had angry/concerned parents groups who thought war toys were harmful to children [such as Gi joe and Transformers] but i never remember anyone getting hurt over them. The cloest thing my junior school freinds and i came to violance was when there was an argument over who got to be Sergeant Slaughter
    Other franchises were worse though. When Australian tv picked up power rangers in Febuary 1994, this led to me seeing many kindergaten aged kids hurting themselves or each other as they were trying to fight in the same manner as that awful show. When Pokemon was really big in ’99, the local toyshop [the same one i used to get my Joes from] had more break ins than any other shop in the country as kids were that desperate for the peices of s**t they would stoop to smashing property to get them.

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