RED NINJA v4
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.