Let me start this review by telling you that this character’s name is pronounced Shabang. I really think that if you’re going to give a character a goofily spelled name like this then you should provide a phonetic spelling along with it. I always thought this guy’s name was pronounced Te-Je-Bang. Actually, that’s not even true. “Te-Je-Bang” is how I pronounced it but I always figured it was wrong. But who could I ask? How was I supposed to know that a T with a J make an SHA sound? I only just found out the proper pronunciation of this guy’s name a couple of months ago when the Club was kind enough to provide a phonetic spelling when they first announced that he was going to be included in this year’s convention set.
I can’t think of any other G.I. Joe examples of this but it happened to me all the time as a kid who read a ton of comics. I never knew how to pronounce a ton of the creator’s names. I thought “Leifeld” was “Lee-Field” and “Bushema” was “Bue-Scheme-A” and so on. Creators are one thing but there’s nothing more frustrating than discovering you’ve been reading a character’s name wrong for years. I was calling Magneto “Magnet-O” for a decade before I finally heard him referred to as “Mag-Neat-O” in the 90s X-Men cartoon. That boggled my mind. Magnet-O makes way more sense. And there were half a dozen characters in the New Mutants book that I was reading improperly.
Anyway, the first T’Jbang figure was released in 1992 as part of the Ninja Force subset. I had quit collecting Joes by then so I never owned that figure and didn’t have to suffer through calling him Te-Je-Bang during battles. My little brother Brian was into collecting Joes by then though and I’m sure his buddy Thomas must’ve had this guy. I wonder if they were saying it properly.
I didn’t like the Ninja Force figures for a bunch of reasons:
1. They were ninjas. The ninja thing has always been a part of the G.I. Joe: Real American Hero mythology but for years there were only 2 or 3 ninjas. Having a whole squad of them was overkill and it watered down the whole storyline thus diminishing Snake Eyes uniqueness.
2. The figures had action features which meant they weren’t as posable and that their legs and arms would spring out when you didn’t want them to. I was perfectly capable of moving my Joe figures myself and didn’t need the added gimmick.
3. The gimmicks didn’t stop there. We also had color change ninjas who borrowed their shtick from the Eco-Warriors. I have previously reviewed a crappy color changing version of Bushido.
I had zero interest in Ninja Force figures back in the day and I wasn’t thrilled when they took over the old Marvel G.I. Joe comic either, even if it was only for a few issues. I guess I wasn’t the only one who felt that way as IDW promptly snuffed out the lot of them quite unceremoniously in their comic book continuity.
T’Jbang was never revisited after that initial figure, until now, 22 years later. I still don’t like the idea of a ton of ninjas running around but my view on the 90s sub-sets has softened over the years. I wasn’t exactly needing the Ninja Force nor the Eco-Warriors characters but once they were announced as this year’s convention figures I wasn’t opposed to the idea. At least they were new characters to add to my collection instead of more rehashed Dukes and Snake Eyes.
I ended up really liking the Eco-Warriors (even Flint who was a rehashed character) and T’Jbang is another pleasant surprise. The body is made up of reused parts and he has a newly sculpted head. The head is fantastic and very true to the original figure. It would make for a great Iron Fist custom. the chosen body parts also work really well together, so much so that you’d swear they were intended for T’Jbang. All of the key elements of the original figure are hear from the shin and wrist guards to the padded breast plate. The plate sits nicely but the wrist guards do slide around a bit more than I’d like. The shin guards are sculpted on. The torso was originally used for a Storm Shadow figure and it has lots of nice sculpted details like muscles, veins and scars. The bright colors really pop and link him to the other Joes in the set fairly well.
For accessories T’Jbang comes with a display stand, a backpack which can store some of his weapons but doesn’t stay on his back very well, a couple of sword thingies like the original figure came with, a nunchuk thing, and a crossbow. I have to admit he’s really cool and now I’m kind of hoping for updates of the rest of the Ninja Force. 8 out of 10.