Monthly Archives: May 2012

RED NINJA v5

G.I. JOE : RETALIATION

More G.I. Joe : Retaliation reviews for you action figure aficionados.  For this post I have for you the Red Ninja.  Now you may think you’re experiencing a bout of déjà vu but I assure you you’re not.  Yes I just reviewed a Red Ninja Retaliation figure but this here is another Red Ninja Retaliation figure.  This one came packaged in the Ninja Showdown 3 pack along with Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes.  This was an excellent 3 pack.  The other 2 figures were swell but the Red Ninja is the real highlight.  You see I love having squads when it comes to these generic trooper types.  Years ago I used to literally buy the same figure 5 times over to create units of a particular specialty trooper.  Money and space (or lack thereof) has forced me to cease that practice.  However as long as a figure is re-released with a slight variation then I feel justified in making the purchase.  So when Vipers or Cobra troopers get packaged with vehicles or thrown into multi-packs I’m usually happy to have an excuse to pad my Cobra rank and file troops.  The single packed Red Ninja figure that I reviewed in my previous post was so cool that it was very tempting to buy multiple figures.  Luckily the figure was included in this 3 pack which provided me with a unit (or at least a duo) of Red Ninjas without having to buy doubles. 

This figure is exactly the same as the other one except for the color scheme.  This one is  half red and half black and it looks great.  I’d be hard pressed to say which one I like more but I think the all red one may edge this guy out simply because he closer resembles the comic book incarnation.  There’s not much I can say about this mold that I haven’t already, it’s the perfect ninja figure so suck it Michelangelo.   The dual colors on this figure really had some flare to an already great figure that we had previously only seen in solid white and solid red.  What really elevates this figure is the accessories.  The entire showdown set is loaded with swords and nunchucks and other weapons that it’s kind of hard to say which accessories really go with what character.  Though the coolest accessories in the pack are clearly meant for the Red Ninja.   First off there`s a fencing style mask that can be placed on his head to cover his entire face.  What makes this super cool is that it immediately turns a generic Red Ninja figure into Slice.  Slice was an individual Cobra ninja who was

vintage Slice

featured heavily in the comic books near the end of the run when the focus was on the ninja sub-team Ninja Force.  Slice and his partner in crime Dice has not yet received modern sculpt figures and were unlikely candidates as the era of Joe that birthed them is generally not highly regarded by fans.  I however love this nod to the florescent color-changing ninja filled days of the early 90s.  Another sweet and unexpected accessory is the crazy Asian straw hat.  This thing is super cool and can be worn by any character but Snake-Eyes does look pretty goofy in it.  Red ninja looks rad wearing this bad boy.  These two accessories can now justify me going out and buying two more Red Ninja single pack figures because I can throw this head gear on them and display them as 4 unique looking ninjas.  I wish I had thought of this when I was at Toys R Us  earlier this week.  (Miguel, let me know next time you`re heading in that direction).  This wicked repaint deserves another 9 out of 10.

RED NINJA v4

G.I. JOE : RETALIATION

Yo Joe!  I’m back to review another Joe figure for our special G.I. Joe : Retaliation week.  For those of you who aren’t Joe fans, fear not, I’ve got some great non-Joe toys to review at the end of the week so stay tuned.  Today I’ll be talking about the Red Ninja.  The Red Ninja isn’t an individual character but rather a member of the Red Ninja clan who tend to travel in packs.  The old me would’ve bought a half dozen of these figures to display as a nice little unit of ninjas but my display space is growing smaller by the day so I had to settle for one.  So the Red Ninjas first appeared in G.I. Joe: A Real American hero issue 21, the infamous silent issue.  For those not in the know, issue 21 of Marvel’s G.I. Joe comic is one of the best comics ever written and there isn’t any dialogue in it.  The format has been revisited in homages several times since but never to the same effect.  In the “silent issue” Snake-Eyes (who’s mute anyway so this worked beautifully for him) breaks into Cobra headquarters to rescue the captured Scarlet.  Up to this point Snake-Eyes had really only been Joe’s Commando.  It was this issue that revealed his martial arts past.  During his infiltration he encounters a group of Red Ninjas.  He cuts his way through them quite efficiently but then he finds himself face to face with a white Cobra ninja, as Storm Shadow is introduced to fans for the first time.  After an intense battle Snake-Eyes narrowly makes his escape on a jet glider with Scarlet in his arms.  On the final page a split panel, Snake-Eyes flying off in the glider, a blade has left his sleeve torn, through the tear we see a strange red Jenga looking tattoo on his forearm, what does it mean?  In the other panel, Storm Shadow stands on the landing platform outside the Cobra base, he looks up to the night sky watching Snake-Eyes fly away, on one arm the white bandages that wrap around his forearm have unravelled during the battle, through the loose bandages now blowing in the breeze we see that he has the same red Jenga tattoo as Snake-Eyes!   Wow.  This issue upped the ante of the story telling without saying a word and really began to establish a larger mythos for the world of G.I. Joe.  It was epic.  It came out in 1984 right around the time that the first Storm Shadow figure was released and you can bet that every kid had to have that toy after seeing this issue.  Oddly enough the Red Ninjas who were also featured prominently in the book didn’t receive an action figure for years and years.  It seemed a massive oversight on Hasbro’s part.  As the years went on more and more ninjas were introduced in both the comic book and toy line and yet the Red Ninjas still didn’t get any love.  Not until 2004 did the first actual red ninja toy hit the shelves.  A few versions have been released since then but never has the Red Ninja looked this good.

Judging by the trailers for G.I. Joe : Retaliation it seems as though the Red Ninja clan will be playing a significant part in the film.  The mountain battle between Snake-Eyes, Jinx and the Red Ninjas looks awesome!  Can you tell I’m kind of excited about seeing this movie?  In my last post I reviewed the Retaliation Storm Shadow figure.  In it I told you about the 30th anniversary Storm Shadow figure and how he was held in such high regard by collectors.  I wanted to be able to link to a review of that figure but I haven’t got around to reviewing it yet.  Well this is it.  The 30th anniversary Storm Shadow in its entirety has become the Red Ninja.  I think the only thing they may have changed here is his lower legs, but this figure is basically identical to the Storm Shadow that released a few months back, only red.  So you can see why fans liked it so much, it looks amazing.  The detail in this sculpt is fantastic down to every last wrinkle in the fabric.  It just screams ninja.  As I said in my last post it just wasn’t Storm Shadowy enough for me, but it makes for a great Red Ninja.  It’s not 100% accurate to what we saw in the comic books but it’s very close and if anything its better.  A genius decision by Hasbro to re-use this mold so quickly to get it in the hands in of as many collectors and kids as possible so that it can be appreciated.  9 out of 10.

STORM SHADOW v43 (2012)

G.I. JOE : RETALIATION

We now return to G.I. Joe : Retaliation Week, already in progress.  Let’s talk about Storm Shadow.  You may recognize him as that evil white ninja who battles that good black ninja, Snake-Eyes.  Sadly that’s how he seems to be portrayed more often than not these days; as a one dimensional evil ninja out for revenge.  Storm Shadow is actually an inherently good and a very interesting character if you take the time to look beyond the surface.  He has been a long serving member of the G.I. Joe team, and even had his own comic book series for a time.  He is an honourable character and is actually Snake-Eyes’ best friend as opposed to his mortal enemy.  That is at least if you follow the only continuity that really matters, The original Joe comic published by Marvel and written by Larry Hama.  I like seeing different writer’s takes on things but ultimately it’s the Marvel book that is the “real” Joe in any fans mind.  It’s like with Spider-Man, there have been movies and multiple cartoon series’ and alternate reality comic stories, and video games that all follow their own continuity.  It can be confusing for a new fan.  Is Spider-man a kid in high-school, or a grown up?  Is he married or single?  Is Gwen Stacy dead or alive?  To answer these questions go read The Amazing Spider-Man.  Sometimes it’s tough to swallow but that is the REAL Spider-Man.  If you want the real Storm Shadow, go buy some Marvel comics.  The first Joe movie, Rise of Cobra was riddled with problems but one of the biggest issues was how they handled Storm Shadow.  He’s a prick in that movie.  He tries to beat up the orphaned Snake-Eyes as soon as he meets him, harbours some jealousy, kills their sensei, then joins a terrorist group and bides his time until he can finally kill his arch enemy, Snake-Eyes.  Garbage.  Not only did they make Storm Shadow a whiny bitch and an honourless cold blooded killer but they made it very difficult for  the writers of the sequel to rectify the situation.  I won’t get into how the origin story should have played out or how it differed from the comic books in this post as I have many more Storm Shadow figures to review and I’ll need to have something to talk about then.  Needless to say I was not happy with Storm Shadows history or motivation in the first film but what I did like was actor Lee Byung Hun.  He looked great in and out of the mask and played a great “bad” Storm Shadow.  Because don’t get me wrong, I love a “bad” Storm Shadow and feel that it would have been foolish to make him a good guy in the movie, I just wanted some depth.  If they didn’t have time to explore his background then fine,  just don’t go there.  What pissed me off is the few random flashbacks they threw in which screwed up the potential for other filmmakers to explore the back story in detail in possible sequels (ie. Retaliation).

So I hope I’m not spoiling anything for anyone by telling you that at the end of Rise of Cobra Storm Shadow gets killed and falls into the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean.  Bummer.  When word of the sequel first hit the internet I was very happy to hear that Lee Byung Hun would be returning to reprise his role as Storm Shadow.  You may be wondering how the hell does he come back if he got killed off in the first movie?  Rest assured it makes sense as far as Joe lore is concerned.  I’m really hoping that the filmmakers are able to redeem this character somewhat despite the sloppy set up that was left for them by the makers of the original film.  A scene in the trailer that appears to show Storm Shadow talking calmly to Joe Colton gives me hope that Stormy will be given a chance to show his true colors this time around.

Now lets talk about the figure itself.  Just a couple of months ago we received an excellent Storm Shadow figure as part of the 30th anniversary line of figures.  That figured was heralded by fans as the ultimate version of the character, packed with so many accessories and alternate pieces to change his look that he would never be dethroned as the definitive Storm Shadow figure.  He was great, but you know…I like this one better.  I don’t know if this one is necessarily the ultimate or definitive Storm Shadow but I do know that he is awesome.  The thing about the 30th anniversary version is that as cool a figure as he was, he just didn’t feel like Storm Shadow to me.  Neither of the heads that he came with were reminiscent of the classic white mask that he first donned in 1984.  It was an incredible ninja toy, just not Storm Shadowy enough for me.   Now this figure is plenty Storm Shadowy.  He’s got great classic elements from the vintage look but has added details that he’s picked up over the years in his various incarnations.  This figure brings together great elements of all the various Storm Shadows in the past to make a fantastic retro-modern reinterpretation.   I love it.  He doesn’t have as many accessories as the 30th anniversary version but most of those things end up at the bottom of a bucket anyway.  He’s got a couple of swords and that’s all I really need.  He also came with a zip line accessory that I would’ve loved as a kid but have little use for now.  This is a great figure, highly recommended.  9 out of 10.

FIREFLY v24

G.I. JOE : RETALIATION

Retaliation Week continues.  Today I’ll be reviewing another vehicle driver, Firefly.  Firefly is the fan favourite Cobra saboteur who debuted back in 1984.  He’s had dozens (2 dozen to be exact) of figures released since then in a number of different outfits and in a variety of colors.  There may be the odd weirdo out there who likes their Firefly in blue or purple or even lime green but I’m sure most fans would agree that the original grey camouflage pattern is by far the best and most iconic version of Firefly.  Firefly was another one of those characters that I loved as a kid but that Doug owned.  I didn’t get my own Firefly until two decades later when the new sculpt figures came about, and now I must have at least 10 different versions of this guy floating around.  I very nearly passed on buying this figure during my raid on Toys R Us last weekend, and not because I have 10 more at home but because he came packaged with a motorcycle.  I’m prejudice against toy motorcycles.  Figures that come with motorcycles usually suck.  They’re all bowlegged  and have strange articulation and handle bar gripping hands, I just don’t care for them.   I almost always pass on a motorcycle if I can.  One of the 4 toys that I did leave behind that day was the other motorcycle which came packaged with Snake-Eyes.  It was actually my girlfriend Vanessa that suggested I add Firefly and his bike to my overflowing basket, “It’s only another 15 bucks”.  The figure didn’t look very interesting and the bike looked stupid but I couldn’t argue with her sound logic.  Into the basket he went. 

Regret is too strong a word, as 15 bucks really isn’t much in the grand scheme of things but I definitely could’ve done without this figure.  I opened him up and immediately saw an issue.  His feet both point inward.  They look fine when he’s posed on his bike like he was in the package but once you stand him up straight he looks like how kids draw people, with their feet jutting straight out.   I’ve been bending them into place as best I can and I’ve placed him on a stand which helps a little.  However this reaffirmed why I don’t like motor cycle figures.  Even if we look past that glaring flaw this figure is still pretty weak.  He has more articulation than the other vehicle drivers, as knee joints were required for him to sit on the bike properly but he’s still really lacking in that department.  A stiff waist, stiff elbows and only side-to-side head movement does not usually make for a good G.I. Joe.   At least Swamp-Viper looked cool, this Firefly is straight up dull.  He’s painted almost entirely in a drab grey that does nothing to enhance the already boring sculpt.  I’d take lime green Firefly over this guy any day.  I could maybe accept the costume if it was at least film accurate but from the pictures I’ve seen he appears to be wearing his iconic camo pattern in the movie, at least a variation of it.

With the other drivers I told you that I’d cover the vehicles later.  With Firefly I’m just gonna get my thoughts on this bike out of the way now as it’s not worthy of its own post.  This bike sucks.  It’s basically a lump of plastic with wheels.  Sure it’s got little handle bars and peddles for his feet but there’s very little about this thing that says “motorcycle” to me.  I can barely tell the front from the back.  And orange?  Why would the guy with the most boring, colorless attire I’ve ever seen be driving around on an orange space bike?  This set could have been somewhat salvaged had they given him a decent bike, the kind you’d believe Firefly would drive instead of this turd.  As an action feature the bike shoots it’s front tire off and another tire slides in its place.  Kinda cool, maybe. If you absolutely need a Retaliation Firefly right now then go get this one I guess but I’d recommend you wait, there’ll be better ones released in time.  I hope we get an unmasked version of Firefly down the road with the likeness of the actor playing him Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone) as that would be a first for the character.  Bike: 1 out of 10,  Firefly:  3 out of 10.

ROADBLOCK v21

G.I. JOE : RETALIATION

Retaliation week continues.  Today I’ll be reviewing Roadblock. I would imagine that Roadblock is one of the most well-known of the Joes.   He was an early release figure, first showing up in 1984, then again in 1986 with a brand new look and then again as part of the Tiger-Force sub-team in 1988.  He was a mainstay of the Marvel comic book series and he was featured frequently in the animated series and prominently in the animated movie.   Joe fans will remember that at the end of each episode of the show a different Joe would appear in a public service announcement warning kids about the dangers of skating on thin ice or petting stray dogs.  Even non Joes fans though may be aware of the redubbed versions of these PSAs that hit youtube a few years ago.  These sometimes hilarious redubbed PSAs became an internet sensation with one of the most popular being Roadblocks “stay away from downed power lines” becoming “body massage”.  That body massage PSA has probably familiarized the general public with Roadblock more than anything else ever had.  That’s about to change though.  For the upcoming movie, G.I. JOE: RETALIATION the filmmakers have cast Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the Joe’s heavy machine gunner.  I was a little worried about this news at first because I thought he might bring a cheese factor to the film that I didn’t want to see.  The guy is cheesy.  Around the same time this casting news came out, Dwayne could be seen in the trailer for Journey 2 bouncing cherries off his pecs at the audience in 3D.  Other Rock films include the Scorpion King, The Gameplan and the Toothfairy so you see what I’m saying.  However, despite his sometimes sketchy film choices you can’t deny the Rock’s likability.  This dude has charisma and he’s bankable.  Even his cheesy movies make money.  As a Joe fan what I really want to see is the brand elevated in status, I want people to recognize it as a great brand full of awesome characters.  I want to see G.I. Joe stand tall as the absolute best toy line out there as it was in its heyday of the mid 80s.  And cheesy as he may be The Rock is the kind of guy who can help get us there.  He’s the type of guy that will draw people to the theater who may have otherwise dismissed the Joe sequel.  So I have fully embraced the Rock and welcome him to the G.I. Joe universe.  After all Roadblock was a pretty cheesy character himself, even before he was whispering “body massage” to unaccompanied minors on a quiet desert road he was the Joe’s resident chef who spoke in rhymes. 

Now Roadblock has always been a big black guy.  What Dwayne Johnson lacks in pigment he makes up for in size.  He’s got a truly intimidating stature.   One thing I love about the modern G.I. Joe figures is that they now come in different sizes.  Guys that are supposed to be big like Roadblock or Heavy Duty are big.  Hasbro has delivered a larger body type for the larger characters which brings a degree of realism that the older figures didn’t have.  This Roadblock makes use of the bigger body and wears it well.  I think the proportions are great on this figure.  The highlight of this figure is the head sculpt.  Where the sculptors seem to struggle with Channing Tatum they nailed Dwayne Johnson.  This thing is unmistakably The Rock.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Wrestling fans end up scooping this figure up as it’s better looking than most of the Rock figures released under the WWE banner.  The body design is nothing revolutionary but it doesn’t always have to be.  The simple camo pants and tank top look great here, and the original Roadblock didn’t wear much more than this himself.  The thing about this figure that had fans in an uproar when images were first shown, were his hands; specifically his right hand.  For some reason Hasbro sculpted Roadblock’s hand with the handle of his gun in it.  His big projectile launching gun than snaps onto the handle.  It’s a weird choice.  They’ve never done it before and I don’t know why they’d start now.  It might’ve been done to allow the character to more realistically hold his oversized weapon without it falling out of his hands, I really don’t know.  Whatever the reason it actually doesn’t bother me.  I wouldn’t want it to become standard practice or anything but on this one figure who really cares.  I know some fans are planning on skipping this figure because of it but they’ll be missing out on a pretty sweet toy.  7 out of 10.

COBRA COMMANDER v49

G.I. JOE : RETALIATION

G.I. Joe: Retaliation week continues.  This week you can get up to speed on the characters who will be appearing in the upcoming G.I. Joe sequel being released to theaters in a mere 10 months.  We’ve started things off covering some vehicle drivers like Swamp-Viper and Snake-Eyes but today I’m gonna review my first single packed figure, Cobra Commander.  As I ravenously pulled blister cards from their pegs this past Saturday I barely looked at the figures I was grabbing.  I  was the only one in the store who appeared interested in these things but in my mind it was as if an armoured car had tipped over on a crowded city block showering the street with hundred dollar bills and it a mad frenzy to grab what you could.  I was feverishly trying to ensure I had one of everything in my basket before some big evil scalper came by and bought everything in sight.  I probably should have settled down long enough to ensure that I was buying quality figures with decent paint applications as there’s nothing worse than getting home and realizing you bought a figure who’s moustache engulfs his nose or who has two left hands.  These things are rare but they do happen;  I have a Thor figure who can attest to it.  One thing I did notice though as I was quickly cramming action figures into my basket was that Cobra Commander was wearing a black uniform.  I thought this was odd as all of the advertising and prototype shots I had seen up to this point were a nice navy blue.  However these types of production changes happen all the time and toys rarely appear identical to the first production photos shown to the public.  So I figured whatever.  I got home and immediately went onto the Joe news site that I frequent to boast about my haul.  I listed off all of the figures and vehicles I purchased.   Someone posted right afterwards saying that they had scored a similar haul except that they had picked up both the blue and black versions of Cobra Commander.  Blue and Black!?  There were variations!?  NOOOO!!  Getting to my Toys R Us was ordeal enough the first time around but now I had to try and get back to check on a single toy that may or may not be there.  How could I have been so foolish as not to check for variants!?   ARGH!!  To save me the trip my pal Miguel went to Toys R Us for me and told me that there were no blue Cobra Commanders to be found.  At least I can sleep at night knowing that I didn’t leave one behind but just knowing that he’s out there will haunt me for the foreseeable future. 

When I first saw the pictures on the internet of this figure I absolutely loved it.  Not that it’s mind blowing or too far off from previous CC figures we’ve received but I think that when compared to the RISE of COBRA version of Cobra Commander this thing is like the goddamn Mona Lisa.  My reaction of giddiness when I first saw the pics of this figure were the exact opposite of my reaction from when I first saw pictures of Cobra Commander figure from Rise of Cobra.  That thing was a frigging nightmare.  Long black jacket blowing in the wind, pin stripe pants, metal chest and glass face…what the hell Hasbro?  The release of those pictures prior to the release of the film was like the Silver Surfer coming to Earth to announce the coming of Galactus; it was the harbinger of doom.   So conversely when the awesome pictures of this figure were released I took them as a good sign that Retaliation would be the G.I. Joe film we fans had been waiting for.  Yes, those were the good old days, early 2012.  Now I fear that the film may be a steaming pile of crap that they’re attempting to salvage with last minute re-shoots.  Oh well, part of me will love it regardless.  Even that ridiculous glass faced commander has grown on me over time, it comes with being a Joe fan.  You take the bad with the good.

So now that I have this figure in hand does he hold up to my high expectations?  Pretty much yeah.  I would’ve preferred the blue version as it’s more classic looking but the Commander frequently dons a black costume and it works quite well here.  The solid black has a few highlights to break up the mostly black figure such as the gold braid on his shoulder but I think the toy would’ve benefitted from a hint more color.  The mold itself is pretty cool with lots of functional looking details.  The helmet is the highlight of the figure.  It’s clearly recognizable as the commander but it’s just different enough to give him a nice contemporary feel.  The figure was light on accessories but Cobra Commander never needed much anyway.   He came with a cobra headed staff that shoots a fireball out of its mouth.  I don’t usually care for these projectile launching accessories but this one is kinda cool and it looks like something CC may have lugged around back in the old cartoon.  I think this is a great version of Cobra’s “fearless” leader, one of the highlights of the Retaliation figures thus far.  8 out of 10.

SNAKE-EYES v.61 (2012)

G.I. JOE : RETALIATION

After the release of the Avengers movie a few weeks ago I did an “Avengers Week” where I reviewed a different Avenger figure each day of the week.  I saw a big spike in my site visits because of my Thanos post.  Thanos is the big cosmic bad guy who is shown in a secret scene after the credits begin to roll to be the one who was orchestrating the whole attack on Earth.  I assume many people stayed to watch the scene but most probably didn’t know who or what they were looking at.  I imagine a bunch of them went home and googled Thanos to read up on him hence my increase in views.  This got me thinking that for the next big ensemble movie, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, I should do a G.I. Joe week.  Only this time I would do it on the week leading up to the film’s release therefore everyone could get up to speed on the characters appearing in the film.  This movie features an almost entirely new cast of characters so casual viewers may not be familiar with Roadblock, Lady Jaye, Jinx, Joe Colton and Firefly.  I was quite excited actually for my “Joe Week Special”.  Unfortunately as you now know G.I. Joe: Retaliation has been pushed back 9 months which makes a Joe week kind of redundant at this point.  I did however buy a ton of G.I. Joe : Retaliation toys this past weekend which apparently might be kind of rare for the next few months as Hasbro has opted not to restock the figures until closer to the movies new release date.  Therefore I’m going to go ahead with a G.I. Joe: Retaliation week anyway in order to give other Joes fans who have been anticipating these figures as much as I have but may not be as fortunate as I to find them, a chance to check them out.  So yesterday I reviewed the Swamp-Viper who came packaged with the Cobra Fang-boat.  Today I’m gonna review another vehicle driver, Snake-Eyes.  Yes Snake-Eyes.  I think this will be my third Snake-Eyes review which I believe makes him my most reviewed character on this site.  As I typed that I realized that I’ve reviewed Iron Man 3 times as well so I think he and Snake-Eyes are currently tied for that honour.  I’m sure there’s a way I could quickly check that statistic but who really cares anyway.

Not soon enough.

When I got word that my local Toys R Us had these figures for sale I rushed over there as quickly as I could.  I was already armed with the knowledge that these toys were not being re-stocked after the initial shipments so that saved me the trouble of deciding whether or not I should buy this and that or should I wait until later.  Knowing later meant 9 months from now I just bought everything they had.  Almost.  I left 4 toys behind.  I didn’t buy the single pack Duke/Channing Tatum because the character/actor and toy all kind of suck.  For that reason I also passed on an airplane vehicle that included a Duke figure as the pilot.  Pilot Duke actually looked better than single pack Duke because he had a full helmet but he wasn’t worth the price of a plane that I didn’t want in the first place.  The other two toys I left behind were the single pack Snake-Eyes and a Snake-Eyes packaged with his motorcycle.  Gasp!  Yes I left behind Snake-Eyes, the coolest G.I. Joe of them all.  I left those two Snake-Eyes figures behind for a couple of reasons.  First off, I already have a million Snake-Eyes figures.  There was nothing new or special that I could see about these figures.  Secondly, I was buying the Ninja Dojo 3-pack which included a Snake-Eyes plus I was buying the Ninja Commando 4×4 which also came with a Snake-Eyes.  So I still came home with 2 new Snake-Eyes figures and that seemed like plenty.  The figure included in the Dojo 3 pack is fine, pretty standard, nothing special.  Now you may be wondering why I would’ve bought the Ninja Commando 4×4.  I typically don’t buy vehicles unless I need the figure and I just told you that the last thing I needed was another Snake-Eyes.  Well when I saw this Snake-Eyes figure on the back of the package he just looked…cool.  He looked new and he looked special and that’s what I need in a Snake-Eyes figure.  The single pack and Dojo versions looked like Snake-Eyes but this is the only one that looked like Retaliation Snake-Eyes.  From the movie stills and trailers I’ve seen, this is what Snakes is gonna look like in the movie.  His visor is sleek and jet black with a downward curve, and his body armour is sleek as well, free of bulky pouches and grenades.  It didn’t hurt that the vehicle was pretty cool too.  It’s a repaint of the classic AWE-Striker which I never owned as a kid (Doug did)  and I missed my chance to buy the 25th anniversary rerelease a few years back.  So this was my first chance to own this  classic vehicle.  I’ll review that later.

So like Swamp-Viper I really like the look of this figure.  Thes design is something we haven’t seen before on the Arashakage ninja.  As I mentioned, it’s very sleek and clean.  The chest and head have a high gloss finish on them that really makes this figure stand out from the crowd.  The issue here again is articulation.  This Snake-Eyes is a vehicle driver so Hasbro has taken away all of his articulation.  He moves like an old Star Wars toy.  Straight legs and arms, side to side head movement, that’s it.  Stiffest ninja I’ve ever seen.  I previously reviewed a rather stiff Snake-Eyes figure but that guy was practically a contortionist compared to this guy.  I feel the stiffness hurts this figure more than it did Swamp-Viper.  The Viper’s outfit was bulky and he is a pilot by trade so maybe he really didn’t need to move much.  Snake-Eyes on the other hand is a ninja warrior who needs to be agile.  Also the head on this figure appears large, minor melon-head syndrome.  I really don’t think that it  would be an issue if I could rotate his shoulders out and widen his stance.   But since he’s stuck standing there like a sign post his head will forever remain melony. This was so close to being a very cool figure.  5 out of 10.

SWAMP-VIPER v3

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

Before I get into reviewing this toy let’s talk a little about the movie it’s based on.  G.I. JOE: Retaliation, the sequel to 2009’s G.I. JOE: The Rise Of Cobra was slated to hit theaters on June 29, 2012.  I could not have been more excited.  Even though the first movie was disappointing this one had new writers, a new director and a new cast and the trailers made it look very promising.  This is the film I was most looking forward to this summer, despite the pending comic-book fueled awesomeness of Avengers, Batman and Spider-Man.  Avengers did not disappoint.  Amazing film.  So much so that it remained number one at the box office for 3 weeks, trouncing another big-budget film based on a Hasbro property: Battleship.  I was doubtful that Retaliation would be as good as Avengers but I was counting down the days til I would find out.  It’s only a month away!  Or rather it was only a month away.  It was announced this week that Paramount was delaying the release of the film so that it can be converted to 3D.  Delaying it until March 2013!  That’s 10 months away!  What the f**k!  This sucks for all kinds of reasons, the most obvious being that I now have to wait another year to see the film.  It also sucks because I feel that this is an indication that the movie may not have been as good as I was hoping, it may even suck.  After seeing how the Avengers laid the smack down on Battleship maybe producers didn’t want to risk pitting another “toy movie” against the upcoming super-hero juggernauts of Batman and Spider-Man.  The delay also sucks because it basically means the the animated series G.I. Joe Renegades and the 30th anniversary toy line were cancelled for nothing.  We were told that Hasbro canceled the show and ended the current toy line because the movie and it’s corresponding toy line were being released this summer and they didn’t want to confuse audiences by having multiple versions of Joe out there at the same time.  The delay means we could’ve had a whole other season of Renegades and a few more waves of 30th anniversary figures like the previously announced Kwinn and Data-Viper (R.I.P). Hasbro has said that they’re now going to hold back all of the Retaliation related toys until the movie comes out next year which makes sense but sucks for us Joe fans who were dying to get our hands on them.  I read Friday on GeneralsJoes.com (the site where I get my Joe news) that canadian Toys R Us stores had started receiving the Retaliation figures this weekend as scheduled but would not be receiving any re-stocks of the items due to the delay, so what arrives this weekend would be it for the foreseeable future.  Needless to say I went to Toys R Us and pretty much bought up 1 of everything they had.  It ended up being perhaps my single largest toy haul of all time.  17 figures and 4 vehicles.

original Swamp-Viper

I may not have bought everything at once had the film not been delayed  because I would know that these toys would be available all summer and some would end up discounted.  I usually don’t buy vehicles and only ever do when they come packaged with a unique figure not available separately.  Such is the case with Swamp Viper, who came packaged with the Cobra Fang-boat.  Now the Fang-boat is just another repaint of the Cobra Water  Moccasin which was first released way back in 1984.  I really didn’t need another one of these boats despite the change in color scheme.  However the accompanying Swamp-Viper looked really cool and the price was reasonable plus I had a bad-case of G.I. Joe fever so I bought it.  I’m glad I did.  The Fang boat is quite nice but I’ll review that separately later.   Swamp Viper is better than nice, he’s rad.  At least in design, in execution…not so much.  I previously reviewed Swamp Viper version 2 who was just a green repaint of the Cobra firebat pilot, AVAC.  I like the AVAC design so I liked Swamp-Viper version 2 but I would’ve preferred a new design for the swampy soldier rather than just a boring old repaint.  Well this time Hasbro has delivered a brand new Swamp-Viper, most likely based on the original Swamp-Viper design.  I never owned the original which came out in a convention set in 2003(which was actually a re-paint of the 1993 released Mega-Viper which I also never owned).  I really like the design.  The nearly fully domed head with the seam down the middle looks like something out of a science fiction movie and looks menacing.  The body is unique and not really based on any previous designs.  I think it all looks great though with the padded chest, knee-pads, and enough pouches to appease Rob Liefeld.   The color scheme is pretty sweet too with the maroonish red with black and grey highlights.  So what does suck about this figure?  The articulation.  As a cost cutting measure Hasbro decided to greatly reduce the articulation on the figures packaged with vehicles in the Retaliation series.  I’m guessing their logic is that these figures will be sitting in a cockpit most of the time anyway so why do they need articulated ankles.   Stiff ankles is one thing but Swamp-Viper and the other 3 drivers I got don’t bend at the knee, the elbow the waist and even their shoulders don’t pivot.  They feel more like cheap knock-off than real Joe figures.  That major flaw aside, I really like this guy.  7 out of 10.

BLACK SPY

SPY VS SPY

For as long as I’ve had money I’ve pissed a lot of it away on action figures, and before that I had my parents piss their money away on action figures.  I’ve always had fairly structured collecting habits.  As a kid I collected G.I. Joe, Transformers, Wresters and Masters of the Universe.  Later it was Battle Beasts, then Spider-Man, then Gundam and so on.  I’d buy a random things that didn’t fit into any of my collections from time to time but it was rare.  Most of the oddities that I had as a youth were gifts from friends and family.  For the past couple of years I’ve been collecting G.I. Joe, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Marvel Universe and the occasional DC character.  Well since I started this blog I suddenly have an insatiable appetite for odd toys that don’t fit into any of those categories.  In part it’s because I don’t want this site to get too repetitive and fall into a G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Transformer, G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Transformer pattern.  I want to keep things fresh and interesting for you, my beloved reader.  Of course, there may be some of you that visit my site strictly for the G.I. Joe reviews or strictly for the Star Wars so you may actually be annoyed by me constantly reviewing stuffed animals from my childhood or whatever.  Now that I think about it, it’s likely that the majority of you have a specific property that you enjoy and my randomness is unwelcome.  Oh well, as I was saying, my want for figures from random toy lines began so that I could entertain you but now I think I do it more for myself.  I’ve been having tons of fun trolling around ebay looking for deals on old Inhumanoid and Captain Power figures.  Things I never owned as a kid but have a nostalgic fondness for anyway.  Things that my friends and cousins may have owned.  Recent ebay purchases include a Lone Ranger figure, a bunch of Fisher Price Adventure People, some Crystar figures, a Silverhawk and some Air Raiders.  I now officially collect everything.   My girlfriend and mother will be thrilled with this news.

So this week I added some pretty sweet figures to my collection under the banner of randomness.  On my Wednesday visit to Strange Adventures I saw that they had  two sets of vinyl Spy vs Spy figures.   The figures were packed together and I assumed they were a good size judging by the size of the box.  I held the box, looked at the $50 price tag and hummed and hawed.   Do I really need these right now?  Maybe they’ll go on sale sometime in the future.  Strange is known for its frequent and generous sales.  I set the box down and went about browsing.  But then some other dude grabbed a set and purchased it.  Oh no!  Only one left.  They may have had a backroom stocked  full of them but I couldn’t take the chance.  Bought.   When I got home and set the giant box down on the coffee table I was curious as to whether Vanessa would even know what these things were.  I was pleasantly surprised that she not only  knew of the spies and was a fan.  We unboxed them together and were both quite impressed with the actual product.

I assume that most people who are fans of Spy vs Spy are fans because of the strips in MAD magazine.   If you’re not familiar, the spies appeared frequently in the magazine on a silent, single page comic strip.  They may have been in every single issue, or maybe even multiple times an issue I don’t remember.  I actually never owned an issue of MAD in my life but they always seemed to be around.  The strips were pretty much always the same, one spy would set a trap for the other but it would backfire on the plotting spy.  Sometimes even a double backfire if you can believe it!  My fondness for the spies stems mostly from the Spy vs Spy games that we used to have on our family Commodore 64 computer.  This thing was a dinosaur as far as computers go but they were huge in the 80s.  Games came on floppy discs, the actual big floppy ones, about the size of a napkin.  The Commodore had a DOS operating system and the games were pretty simple looking.  For back in the day though the graphics were wicked.  Doug and I would spend hours playing Ducks Ahoy and Park Patrol years before any of our friends owned Nintendos.  Spy vs Spy 1, 2 and 3 were some of our favourite games.  The screen was split top and bottom, one player controlled the white spy and the other the black spy.  The object was to find the briefcase and then fill it with hidden items scattered about.  Once it was full you could escape on a plane or rocket while the other guy got blown to smithereens.   The first game took place in a multi-level hotel, the second a jungle island and the third in the snow.  If you happened to bump into the other player while you were running around looking for items you could duel with swords.  A design flaw meant that whomever was on the left side always won.  Doug and I would find each other and then run in circles to claim the winning side.  Whoever got the most pokes in from the left side would win and the loser would turn into an angel and float into heaven, only to respawn elsewhere.  It was super fun. 

This figure looks exactly how I would want figures of these characters to look.  The big black eyes, long pointy nose, oddly shaped fedora, the strangely curved body and limbs capture the look of the strips fantastically.  I love that these are such oversized figures, it really lets you appreciate the simplicity of the design.  These characters are perfectly suited for the vinyl designer toy market.  The sculpt is simple and little articulation is required.  I really don’t think these figures could look any better.  The box included a handful of accessories for the spies to share.  There was a bomb, a stick of dynamite, a knife, a gun and a bunch of alternate hands so they could hold all of these items.  It’s a great set and it was worth every penny.  8 out of 10.

By the way, feel free to speak your mind in the comments section below dear readers.  Do you like the randomness of this blog or would you prefer I focus on one particular line?  Did you enjoy my Avengers theme week?  Did you enjoy my guest review with Andrew?  Please let me know what you want to read about.

PIPE BIRD

I’m still reeling from the news about G.I. Joe: Retaliation being pushed back 9 months.  I’m not sure what this will mean for the toy line but I can’t imagine it being a good thing.  I think I may need to take a break from reviewing G.I. Joe figures for a few days until I’ve had a chance to come to terms with this ridiculous move by Paramount.  So today I’ve decided to review another one of those weird oddities that I have sitting around.  This here is a keychain of a furry pink bird smoking a pipe.  A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Mack the Mouse, a beloved stuffed animal from my childhood.  I told you about how Mack was won for me by an Aunt at the country fair.  This little guy came from that same fair.  At least I’m pretty sure he did.  He definitely came from a fair and that’s the only one I recall going to regularly as a kid.  Doug and I won all kinds of stupid crap at that fair.  Most of our prizes were pretty small as we weren’t the aces that are Aunts and Uncles were.  I remember Doug and I had accumulated a pretty decent collection of those colored feathers on metal clips over the years.  I’m sure they must’ve been the “thanks for trying” prize that every kid got.  Another popular fair item was the logo’ed mirror.   Reflective squares of varying sizes that usually had a metal band’s logo  painted over top.  I think I may have had an Iron Maiden one, but the one I proudly displayed on my shelf for years was of the Playboy bunny logo.  Doug had a few but the one I remember the most was his AC/DC Highway To Hell mirror.  It was bigger and of better quality than the little ones we had; he clearly had to actually pop some balloons to win this thing.  The image was of a devil reaching out with his arms.  It was the type of thing that the longer you looked at it the more detail you would see.  Like what at first appeared to be just  a trail of smoke was actually a road or the “highway to hell” upon closer inspection.  He probably still has that thing.

When it comes to this keychain I remember winning a pair of them one year.  Besides this bird there was also a white gorilla who instead of smoking a pipe could suck his thumb.  I loved both of these guys and had them sitting on the same shelf  as my Playboy mirror for many years.  I also just flashed back to this fuzzy yellow googly eyed thing that also sat on the shelf.  It looked like cousin IT from the Addams family except with big eyes , a red clown nose and a sign on his chest that said “Kiss my Grits”.  I never really knew what that meant but I liked that yellow furball anyway.  I’m not sure what my criteria was for keeping or discarding stuff as a young teen.  I kept my toys longer than most of my friends and when it finally came to toss stuff out or sell it off at a yard sale I kept the pipe smoking bird but tossed the thumb sucking monkey.  Why?  I liked them both.  They take up no room.  Why not discard both or keep both?  I dunno.  Grits is gone, the Playboy mirror is gone, the chocolate ladybug that I kept for 15 years is gone and yet the mangy old bird keychain remains.  He actually isn’t much of a keychain anymore, the chain has long since been pulled off.  What remains is an “action figure”  that doesn’t really belong anywhere in my collection.  I’m sure no one reading this post even cares and may be wondering why review this thing?  Well for the same reason I reviewed Mack, this groddy tobacco  smoking arms instead of wings bird is part of my childhood and I kinda love him.  I actually feel bad that I threw out his monkey companion.  5 out of 10.