I recently reviewed the 2002 Storm Shadow figure which helped to usher in the new sculpt era of Joes. I’ve decided now to review his partner in crime (well partner in package) Snake-Eyes. Traditionally Joes had always come in single packs or packaged with a vehicle. There were a few themed multi-packs like the Crimson Twins and Cobra-La but they were rare. When G.I. Joe was relaunched in 2002 no longer were they “G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero”, instead they were branded “G.I.Joe VS Cobra”. To drive the versus theme home all the toys were packaged in pairs, one Joe and one Cobra. There are pros and cons to this. As a kid I would’ve loved to get a new member of each team with each purchase. Drives home from the mall would’ve been way more exciting to be able to play out a brawl between two actual characters instead of having a lone figure battle the dreaded seatbelt snake. A negative to the paired packaging is that Hasbro has a tendency to stick one of the main Joes in every package. So in order to pad my cobra ranks I was forced to buy multiple Dukes and Snake-Eyes. I’m all for double packaging so long as both figures are of good quality and the same characters don’t get rehashed over and over again. The pairing of hero vs villain works best when the two are arch enemies. There aren’t too many cases of arch enemies in the world of Joe. The two organizations just generally don’t get along. If there is one true rivalry amongst the hundreds of Joes and Cobras that’s more than business, it’s the one between Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow. With these guys it’s personal so it makes perfect sense to pair them together in a VS package.
For some strange reason I love this figure. It’s not a logical love, but love rarely is. I know that this figure kind of sucks and it’s riddled with faults but I love it anyway, kinda like my girlfriend ( I don’t think she reads my blog anymore-this is a test). The first problem is the lack of an O-ring. I’m actually glad they’ve found a way to lose the O-ring in the modern Joe figures. The little plastic O’s deteriorate over time and have left much of my vintage collection in ruin. However this early attempt to lose the ring was a fail. These early 2002 toys have what has become known by fans as a T-Crotch. That big flat T shaped pelvis piece that the legs snap into. This type of sculpting greatly reduces the figures ability to move realistically. Snake-Eyes here is stuck in a permanent wide stance and can barely kick. As I mentioned in my Storm Shadow post, this T-Crotch makes the figures seem more like Joe knock-offs than the real deal. The other major problem here is the face. The overly pronounced nose and lips on this figure I think are to blame for Snake-Eyes’ goofy lipped mask in the live-action movie. Snake-Eyes has such a cool face/mask that there is no reason to dumb it up by adding sculpted lips. I realize that the iconic 1985 Snake-Eyes figure was actually the first to add lips but they were much more subtle. This Snakes Eyes has such detailed features that it doesn’t even look like he’s wearing a mask. It’s like he painted his bald head black and slapped on a visor like some politically incorrect blue-man group reject trekkie.
Having said all that, why do I love this figure? Maybe it’s just because of the timing. Having new Joe figures come out in 2002 after such a long wait was such a treat. Absence makes the heart grow fonder don’t you know. I missed G.I. Joe and I was thrilled to have them back. I was excited by the new characters like Neo-Viper to expand the mythos but they needed to be grounded by familiar faces from the past. If it had been all new characters I would’ve written it off as another Sgt. Savage or G.I. Joe Exteme (2 failed attempts to revive the brand in the 90s) Duke, Snake-Eyes, Cobra Commander and the others had to be there as a solid foundation on which Hasbro could build new ideas. This version of Snake-Eyes had lots of nostalgic appeal but still seemed modern and updated at the same time. I like the solid black of the original figure but the shades of gray here with blue highlights works quite well too without getting to loud and colourful. The double sheath backpack accessory is great and just the over-all uniform design is just cool. Also the clunky cheapness of these figures that made them seem like knock-offs actually made them feel tough. This felt like a toy I could play with. Chuck him off the deck, throw him in the sandbox, dunk him in the pool. The lack of joints made for a sturdier more durable toy which had its own benefits. By the end of 2002 the O-ring was back due to fan out-cry and new versions of Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow came out that more closely resembled the original incarnations. This first wave of T-crotched new sculpt figures is the least appreciated wave in the least appreciated era of G.I. Joe. I view them as having paved the way for all the great things that followed: the modern era figures, the comic books and the movies. 8 out of 10.