Retaliation Ninja Showdown Red Ninja
Hi, my name is KansasBrawler…and I’m a Ninja Force fan. While I’ll admit that the figures had flaws, there were still some pretty good figures released under that banner, especially in the first year. Figures like the new Storm Shadow, Slice, Dice and Nunchuk are all great designs, have great colors and aren’t too badly restricted in the articulation department. The later Ninja Force years (counting the Shadow Ninjas in there too) were pretty tough, but that first year of Ninja Force was pretty amazing. While both Slice and Dice have gotten updates from the GIJCC’s Figure Subscription Service, Hasbro did throw us a bone by referencing both those characters in retail releases as well. The Resolute Comic Pack Storm Shadow (with a little bit of aftermarket paint work) created a cheap and passable Dice and the Retaliation Red Ninja makes a decent stand in for Slice. If you’re reluctant to drop the money on FSS figures, Hasbro did find a way to make these classic Cobra ninjas available if you’re willing to use a little imagination.
Ninja Showdown Red Ninja is a straight-up repaint of the amazingly designed and amazingly hard to find Renegades Storm Shadow. I’ll admit, I was initially a little bitter about my inability to find that figure at retail, however, now that I’ve got him in my hands as the Red Ninja, I’m okay without having Renegades Storm Shadow. I like using him this way better than as another Storm Shadow. The design is great, and the added articulation is incredible. I’ve gushed about this base mold before on the site when I did a Field Report on the Dollar General Storm Shadow figure. If you want the blow by blow, check there. Most importantly, this is a ninja figure that can really move. I’m glad they kept the articulation here since Hasbro did later invest tooling dollars to create stripped down version of this figure for the Wolverine movie line. A ninja figure that can’t move is kind of silly to me, so I’m glad this Red Ninja retained its full range of motion. “Red” Ninja is a bit of a misnomer on this figure since I would say the bulk of the figure is black. It’s still great, though. The black and red color combination looks very ninja-like, but it also echoes the look Slice had back in the day. It’s not a perfect parallel, but it’s close enough and that’s definitely the mantra of modern Joe collecting.
The Ninja Showdown set really didn’t explain which accessories went with each figure, so this is just what I’m going with. Your mileage may vary, but this is what I like for him. First of all, the Red Ninja gets the fencing mask that was originally tooled up for an unreleased training version of Snake Eyes from a canceled Resolute comic pack. It really helps sell the idea of this figure being Slice. When he’s wearing this mask, I like to equip the Red Ninja with the shortbladed sword and a sai. The sword reminds me of Slice’s original weapon and I think would be an excellent weapon to use with his “Scorpion Slash.” It’s a shorter blade so it’s something I see of as more useful for stabbing someone in the back than facing your opponent face-to-face. I don’t know why, but Slice being a dirty fighter was something my kid brain latched onto back in the day. That characterization carried into my play patterns with him where I always used him as that guy who thinks he’s so tough, but in reality is just a coward. Yeah, if he’s fighting you on
his terms, he’ll probably win, but in anything close to a fair fight, he’s in trouble. I also feel that the sai is an appropriate weapon for Slice here. The original Slice had a black sai molded onto his forearm. I remember thinking that was really cool as a kid since it was the first, realistic toy line that I’d seen using a sai. I remember them from Ninja Turtles, but no toys I was familiar with had real people using that weapon. I’m glad Slice now has a sai he can actually use. Topping off the weapons kit, I also gave him one of the two kunai daggers. The kunai originally came with the Renegade Storm Shadow, so the Red Ninja’s hands are designed to carry it. I have it tucked in his sash as a last ditch weapon. For alternate headgear, he can also wear a large Japanese hat called a sugegasa. If you’ve seen the movie Big Trouble in Little China or are familiar with the Mortal Kombat series of games, you’ll recognize this wide-brimmed, pointed straw hat. Wearing the sugegasa, I see the Red Ninja as more of a temple guardian. That’s why I like him equipped with the pike that was originally used back in the Valor Vs. Venom Ninja Battles set. For a piece that was glorified set dressing, it’s really gotten around over the years. It’s a great piece and looks like it would belong in the hands of a temple guard so I think it works with the Red Ninja in this capacity. I like the versatility Red Ninja’s gear provides. With different headgear, you get two totally different figures. That’s something you don’t see with Joes a lot. Were I an army builder, I would appreciate being able to amass a group of temple guards or a group of ninja assassins at the same time.
Despite some of its flaws, the Retaliation line worked very well, in my opinion. Yes, some of the initial articulation cutbacks were annoying, but in the long run, those cutbacks were only temporary. Add in the fact that a lot of figures still used parts from the 30th Anniversary or Pursuit of Cobra lines and when you look at it objectively, very few good figures got saddled with bad articulation. Plus, I’m glad that the Retaliation line was able to get me the Renegades Storm Shadow figure at a reasonable price. I’ve never been big on Storm Shadow, so I didn’t need another version of him from the Renegades cartoon, but the figure was so well designed and well accessorized, its lack of presence in my collection nagged at me. However, between the various iterations of ninjas from Retaliation and the Ultimate Storm Shadow, I have the amazing Renegades Storm Shadow figure in a version I’m more likely to display since it’s a good stand in for Slice and the amazing Renegades Storm Shadow accessories for use with an incredible, modern version of Storm Shadow’s classic look. It’s the best of both worlds in my book. Either version of the Retaliation Red Ninja is great, but I do like the Ninja Showdown version slightly better because its black and red color scheme is just a little more visually interesting than the pure red of the single carded release and its gear makes him a throwback to Slice.
The vintage Ninja Force line did feature some highly detailed sculpts. It’s too bad that Hasbro went with gimmicks lifted from their WWF lines plus the fact that they were released during the not-so-stealthy Neon Era. (Pink Mask Banzai and Powder Blue Bushido?)
This figure does make for a cheaper alternative to the FSS Slice. And yeah, Retaliation did give us a lot of excellent stuff to be thankful for: Some updated army builders, nice movie characters, Kwinn, and the return of the classic Tomahawk! Not bad for what might be the line’s next-to-last gasp for some time to come.
I made a modern custom Banzai using R.O.C snake eyes as the base. I’d load the photo if my drives werent on the fritz.
What really annoyed me about the ninja force was their portrayel in the comic; they were a group of identical, super ninjas whom no one could beat.
The hat reminds me of the star wars E.U character K’krukk [i dont know if i spelled that right] He was a whippid Jedi and when his figure came out, the fans were outraged that he didnt come with a sugegassa.
Amazing action figure!