Shang Tsung (1995 Mortal Kombat Movie)

The unreleased 1995 Ninja Commandos figures have had their collective photos spread thru the Joe internet fandom for years. Hasbro appropriated some of the cancelled Ninja Commandos molds to help produce figures for the Mortal Kombat movie line. Shang Tsung is the only figure that is head-to-toe the original unreleased mold–Budo. Bits of other figures from the series showed up in other Mortal Kombat movie figures like Liu Kang and Rayden (who appears to be Ninja Commando Flint except for the head).

When I picked Shang Tsung up at Kay Bee Toys in ’95, it was only because I found the mold to be different and interesting. The previous series of Mortal Kombat figures I knew were obvious reuses of Joe molds, but this one I couldn’t quite place. So I picked it up simply out of curiosity, not knowing years later I would find out its true origins thanks to the wonders of the internet.

The figure gives off too much of a samurai vibe to resemble the movie Shang Tsung. But hey, you can just call him Budo if you want. In a way, it’s too bad a movie-accurate Shang Tsung wasn’t released. As cool as it is to have a figure based on a cancelled Joe mold, I would kill for a Joe-scale Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa figure.

The usual articulation hindrances of spring-action features are here, but it’s not a big deal to me in this case. He doesn’t have the chunky torso or giraffe neck of the Ninja Force figures. I’d say Hasbro scored a flawless victory with this release.


  • The Mortal Kombat line provided a lot of great custom fodder courtesy of those old Joe bodies but I never heard the story about these guys either. I him a LOT better than the previous two actual Budo releases. He’s got a meaner look in his eyes and the detailing is superb. As usual with these later figures the lack of paint apps is the only low point here. Shang Tsung merited at least five different colors throughout him, including the helmet.

  • Steven B. Williams

    There was going to be a Ninja Commando Flint? Praise the Lord the subline got cancelled because I can’t wrap my head around the idea of Flint being a ninja. @_@

    • Guess you didn’t know that one of the other Ninja Commandos was Road Pig. Yeah, Road Pig!

      Flint, Budo, Storm Shadow (oddly without a full face mask), Road Pig and some new baddie named Knock-Out.

      • Yeah, the Ninja Commando Road Pig torso made up movie Liu Kang, and his legs shared with Shang Tsung here. Goofy idea and goofy figure.

        • Wasn’t the Liu Kang head the G.I. Joe Collectors Club used for their “Adventure Team” Dr. Venom? I thought I read that somewhere, I may be remembering wrong.

  • Jonah Hardenbrook

    I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this figure before, but I kind of dig it. There seem to be a lot of cool little details in the uniform, it’s a shame they aren’t painted to stand out.
    It does look like it would make a great Budo, but as I mentioned under your Budo entry, I don’t really have a use for Budo dressed like a samurai in my Joe team.

  • Pingback: mortal kombat arcade stick

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.