Storm Shadow (2004 Urban Division)

The Ninja Force Storm Shadow has been one of my favorite of the famous ninja’s redesigns, at least in terms of the uniform. There’s something really interesting about the black and white pattern, and the hooded head is a cool nod to his second figure. But being a toy with spring-loaded action, he was hampered by poseability and proportion issues. It’s funny to think that a play feature would make a figure less appealing as a plaything, but that was the case with Stormy. His compadres didn’t seem to suffer as many of the issues as he did, and that was a shame, since he was the de facto Ninja Force leader. Things like his long neck, tight hip joints, and arms that couldn’t be posed flat at his sides, made me wish for a new version sans gimmicks.

So what do you do when you have multiples of a repaint of a named character figure, and no real use for them? Why experiment, of course. More on that in a moment. First, a little background. I bought several of the Cobra Stirke Team – Urban Division set back in 2004. As such, I have cool squads of Flak Vipers, Alley Vipers, and Night Creepers. I also have handfuls of Firefly, Scrap Iron and this Storm Shadow sitting in baggies, with no purpose.

I used to customize action figures quite regularly, in my days before starting a family. I’d still like to do it, if I could find enough time. That’s the problem for me; most of my customizing ideas are time consuming. Today though, I was bitten by what I thought was a bit of the customizing bug, but it turned out to be more of a fix-it bug than anything else. I really had an itching to see if I could make this Storm Shadow figure more useful and proportionate. I started by attempting to resolve his tendency to stand with both feet together. The plastic used at the time is definitely softer than that of the 80s or 90s, so the legs sometimes have an issue with staying straight in the hip socket. I helped alleviate that a bit by trimming the inside area of the legs where the t-hook sits. Now, the pressure from the o-ring doesn’t cause the legs to come together, and Storm Shadow can assume a more fitting ninja stance.

I tackled his arms next, which had never been able to rest properly at his sides. This was yet another leftover from his old spring-loaded action feature. Without the mechanism inside, there’s no reason for his arms to stick out, since he won’t be windmilling them like a madman. Just a little judicious filing was needed on the torso under the arms, as well as on the underside of the arms, just below the shoulder. The result is a much more natural range of motion, and it makes a big difference. Somehow, it also makes the torso look like it’s more in proportion than it was. As a final bit of improvement on the torso, I also cut away the two tabs that held it in place against the waist.

The final, and most bothersome aspect of the mold has always been the head. It sits much too high on the shoulders. I didn’t think there would be an easy fix for this one, but once I cracked the torso open, I was able to see the issue. The head is not a traditional ball joint, and has a flat end that rests on a tab inside the torso. Some trimming to both pieces, as well a little widening of the neck opening allowed the head to sit lower. The result looks much better, and Stormy doesn’t suffer from a giraffe neck any longer.

I didn’t intend this figure’s entry to turn into an custom/improvement project, but I’m glad I worked on it and really happy with the final product. Now to track down an extra 1992 version and finally do right by the Ninja Force leader. Now that he looks respectable, I think I’ll use this one as a Night Force Storm Shadow.


  • I won this figure off of Listia, and managed to give him two of his original accessories (the only one missing is the tri-chaku). I agree that they should have retooled the mold so that it was more functional (and easy to repair!).

    Still, this was a pretty useful blog entry! Now I’m thinking of trying out those methods! So far, I’ve already filed down the tabs under the torso.

    How do you keep the torso from coming apart all of a sudden after you put the figure back together?

    (Also, if you don’t feel like hanging on to one of those Fireflies and Scrap-Irons, I’ll be happy to take one of each off your hands.)

  • Excellent work, Rob. If I had the time, I’d fix quite a few figures who suffer from similar maladies, particularly the arm and leg stances. Always good to know ’cause… well, you know how it goes. Let us know how the Ninja Force version turned out once you get to him.

  • Going by the last picture, the Storm Shadow on the right is the better looking, in my opinion.

  • That Stormshadow mould is a pain to repair. I have two of the ninja force one and i had to replace his o ring by prying the torso halves apart with my swiss army knife. I also decided to reove the little cogs that make the gimmick work as they were a hinderance.
    One of my ninja force Scarlets legs just fell off and i wasnt able to reattach it. When i pried her open, i noticed all her inner workers were rust damaged. I really liked her head and face sculpt so i kept it for future customs.

    I spend every evening customising or making models [I’m currently making the Robotech figures Matchbox never got around to]. Combined with my other hobbies and collecting habbits. You can imagine i’m fending off the ladies.

    • I’ve been planning for years on adapting the Ninja Force Snake Eyes to a regular o-ring body. I should make the time to work on it. I think I’ve seen it done somewhere on Joecustoms.

  • The Urban Strike set was my favorite TRU 6 pack. The Firefly was the best at the time, the Nullifier was amazing, the Night Creeper was the best repaint of that mold and the all black Alley Viper is equally good. Scrap Iron was flawed, but still not terrible. Then, though, there was this figure.

    Can you imagine this color scheme on a V1 or V2 Stormshadow mold? That would have made this set perfect. But, instead, we got this mold. And, it was only 2 1/2 years since the all white repaint had warmed shelves in the ARAHC.

    Still, with the limitations of the mold, the color scheme was solid enough that I didn’t mind getting a bunch of them as I army built the better figures in the set.

  • Seriously though, how did you get the torso to stay secure after you put the figure back together? I’m planning to replace its o-ring, I gotta know!

    • When assembling figures that don’t use screws, I use a two part epoxy just to be sure the bond is secure. Things like super glue work to an extent, but I find epoxy to give the most permanent bond.

  • I’ve gotta say, Rob, that version of Storm Shadow is looking sharp now. I always felt that was the weak link in the Urban Strike set because it looked so off. I’m sure it was a lot of work to do that, but it’s amazing how just a few changes to the stock figure make it look so much better.

  • @Rob
    Wait, you superglue it together? But then what do you do when you need to replace his o-ring every now and then?

    I’ve been thinking of a method involving certain Lego connector pieces.

    • If an o-ring needs replaced, I would crack the torso open again. None of the glue methods are quite as solid as the original sonic weld. Hadn’t thought of connectors. Interesting.

  • Anything wrong with dipping it in boiling water to avoid any damage to the figure?

  • Most of the fixes I do is ME figures where the elbows don’t have a lot of articulation. That’s fixed by cutting away part of the lower bicep. Duke Arms are the worst.

  • This is a timely article, as I really wished Hasbro would have made these guys with regular screws.I just acquired a T’Ginzu with a broken o-ring.

  • I wish they’d use the 1988 mold. The corrections you made, Rob, were great. Hasbro never would’ve bothered to do that, though. They couldn’t even put the 1983 waist back on the Snake-Eyes V1 figures for the comic packs.

  • Subtle changes, but very significant if it’s a figure you see yourself posing. That Scrap Iron from the set has some oddities that really bother me, too; he’s in the bin for some work someday.

  • The current weather calls more for a snow ninja than an urban ninja. Bushido is probably thinking “Who’s laughing at a snow ninja now?”.

    …. Yeah, Hasbro definately seemed to get a lot of mileage out of the 1984, 1992 Storm Shadow molds (and the 1982 Snake Eyes mold. What happened to the 1985 mold. I recall it was destroyed but can’t remember if it was the one that sank in the Pacific or Indian Ocean or if it was destroyed in the warehouse fire).

  • Very cool, I wish I had had skill and this post a couple years back when I cracked open my extras. They didn’t turn out well.

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