Red Ninja Leader (2008)

I appreciate ninjas. What can I say, I’m a child of the 80’s. I’m not talking about a modern, ironic appreciation either. I’m talking about something that goes back to the heyday of ninjas in the 80’s. A time before Real Ultimate Power, and before Pirates vs. Ninjas. A time when you couldn’t pass a magazine rack without seeing a one-off ninja magazine (promising to reveal the art of ninjustu) or a movie theater without a Canon ninja film (preferably starring Sho Kosugi). I’m pretty sure that any 80’s kid worth his salt owned at least one throwing star, and also probably once contemplated buying a pair of tabi boots.

So it’s with longtime appreciation that I approach each new Joe ninja release, whether it be Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow or any of the lesser-knowns through the years. I was excited to see quite a few ninjas in the 25th anniversary line, including Storm Shadow’s 1988 look, as well as Ninja Vipers, a Red Ninja and even a Ninja Ku black Storm Shadow. Although a lot of them utilized most of the first 25th Storm Shadow mold, I scooped them all up. How could you go wrong with a rainbow of ninjas!

The Red Ninja moniker had been applied to figures back in the O-ring days, in the vintage line as well as later comic and multi-packs. I was disappointed in all of them, since my memory of the red ninjas was focused on Marvel issue 21. The single-carded Red Ninja in the 25th anniversary line was an homage to the Argentinian Satan figure, but did finally feature a new head sculpt based closely on the design from issue 21.

The Red Ninjas in the Snake Eyes vs. Red Ninja Troopers multi-pack used the same mold and though they didn’t exactly match the look from their first comic appearance, were still a nice set. The pack also presented a leader for the nameless ninjas. He’s a fun diversion from his totally red companions, given his contrasting vest and ’88 Storm Shadow roped backpack. Including a leader figure for generic troops, even with just a few accessory and paint changes, is always a welcome sight to me.


  • Nice paint apps.

  • Red Ninja Leader is pretty spot on to the guys SE sliced and diced (no pun intended) in the classic G.I. Joe #21. I think my first exposure to the genre began with 1981’s “Enter the Ninja” featuring Franco Nero and Christopher George. Then came the “American Ninja” series with Michael Dudikoff and Steve James. (The perfect guys to play Snake-Eyes and Stalker in live RAH action, hands down.) And yeah, I knew at least three guys who stashed ninja paraphernalia under their beds where others usually kept their Playboy mags.

  • I don’t hate ninjas at all, but I think Joe sometimes goes overboard (I mean Flint with Ninja Commandos and Roadblock now?) Not everyone needs to be a ninja.

    Still I did SE, SS, Jinx, Slice & Dice, and of course Red Ninjas. This is a cool fig that I dig a great deal.

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