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.