Monday, August 19, 2013

Ultimate Storm Shadow

Presenting the Ultimate Storm Shadow from the GI Joe Retaliation line.

Now off-hand that's really a big packaging boast - to go claim that it's "the Ultimate." Reminds me of the much celebrated POC Snake-Eyes Ninja Commando which had so much gear and stuff. Snake Eyes was near perfect... ultimate... then I just had to comment: "Where's Timber?" I'm pretty sure that somewhere out there, a Hasbro Toy maker started building a voodoo doll of me.

And let's face it, other than the new hand-grips and foot articulation (Which we've seen before thanks to the Retaliation Ninja Showdown Set), what could Hasbro possibly give Storm Shadow that would be an improvement over the previous Storm Shadows? Especially with the presence of the Desert Battle Storm Shadow which I absolutely love and is nigh perfect!

So yeah: Ultimate Storm Shadow? Let's see.

The Ultimate Storm Shadow presents us with the Cobra-ninja back in his traditional white-ninja garb - sans the trenchcoat-like uniform that he wears in the movies. The blister pack reads: "Cobra ninja Storm Shadow unleashes a whirling ninja attack against G.I. Joe ninja Snake Eyes. Storm Shadow uses his powerful ninja skills and a sleek jet backpack to battle his arch-rival in a mid-air duel."

Frankly the back-pack is the height of absurdity and we'll discuss that later. Happily this never happened in the movie. The Ultimate Storm Shadow comes armed with:

  • A pair of ronin ninja swords with scabbards that are attached to a quiver - like that donned by the classic Storm Shadow, down to the fact that you can open the quiver and store some of his gear in there.
  • A bow and one loose arrow
  • A pair of Sais
  • Nunchucks
  • A pair of kunai throwing knives
  • A poison dart pack with one removable dart
  • A pair of throwing stars
  • And what can only be described as a pair of absolutely wicked devices: a pair of metal prongs that serve to puncture or scratch anything Storm Shadow punches. Devious. (Kubotan)
  • A Battle fan.
  • And that ridiculous jet-backpack
  • A spare head - unmasked
  • A black stand in the shape of a dog-tag
Just realized that he's short one-dagger if the Ultimate Storm Shadow wants to be a re-cast of the original Storm Shadow. 

Sidenote: sometime during the shoot, I was growing really frustrated with Ultimate Storm Shadow's chest-strap. It kept getting in the way of things and looked out of place. Plus there was this small nub that looked like you could mount something on it. Didn't know what it was for till I saw the small hole in the dart-pack. But the angle of the nub was wrong. That's when I realized that the strap was mis-mounted. Storm Shadow wore his chest-strap from right to left, not left to right. 

And if you took the time to switch shoulders, you could mount the dart-pack over his right-shoulder (Though admittedly, mine kept popping off) in the fashion that Altair of Assasin's Creed mounts his. This is a nice major and practical addition to Storm Shadow that I really appreciate - if only someone had packed it properly (You can see the chest strap going from left-to-right in the sealed clam-shell above, but that it goes from right-to-left on the blister pack).

What's to like about the Ultimate Storm Shadow?

I love the sculpt and the detailing. It's happily on par with the POC line figures, and not reminiscent of the Resolute line of figures which was a tad bit more comical - which I really did not like. 

Ultimate Storm Shadow is a fine but simpler and less.... creative follow up to the Desert Battle Storm Shadow

As mentioned, I'm also really loving the dart add-ons to Ultimate Storm Shadow's right shoulder. It's a nice modern touch and a definite nod to the cultural success that is Assassin's Creed. 

And the articulation? Everything we've come to expect and love ever since the POC line started flowing in with the additional foot articulation from the Retaliation line:

Here's the Ultimate Storm Shadow using his throwing stars and his Kunai:

Unfortunately it really is hard to get a good shot of kunai as they should be used - twirling in his hands, but if you want to, yes, the rings will fit over his fingers. Speaking of fingers: Note the huge gaps between the middle and index fingers of the Ultimate Storm Shadow, this makes holding the throwing stars actually a bit more difficult - though you can still balance them in between his fingers - note the shot where he's throwing two of them. This however allows the Ultimate Storm Shadow to better use his sais: 

The wider hands also allow him to grip his nunchucks with one hand. But note that the thicker shafts of the nunchucks prevent them from simply slipping through Ultimate Storm Shadow's hands:

The gaps also allow the Ultimate Storm Shadow to properly hold those devilish looking spikes (Kubotan). I would not want to be on the receiving end of a punch from these. They're so evil in their simplicity you can actually imagine them being made out of Bamboo:

However the gaps in his hands do prevent Ultimate Storm Shadow from ever holding the removable dart from the dart pack:

You will also find some difficulty with Ultimate Storm Shadow's use of his battle fan, but with a little coaxing and patience, it all works out:

Which brings us to his swords. The hilts of the Ultimate Storm Shadow's blades are thicker, allowing him to grasp them with no difficulty whatsoever - which leads to some really cool poses:

And the Ultimate Storm Shadow can dual-wield his blades:

What's not to like about the Ultimate Storm Shadow?

I'm sorry, but I just don't think it's Ultimate enough. It's okay. It's even great. But the Ultimate award in my opinion still goes to the Desert Battle Storm Shadow.

Among the list of my complaints include: The bow. It pegs to his quiver, but the quiver barely holds it in place. It keeps popping off. Also, because of the gap in his hands, he can appear to be holding the loose arrow as you can see to your left, but actually grasp it? Nope. Not possible.

Next up is that spare head. Not only does it look as if someone took a sledgehammer to Storm Shadow's head and crushed his spine so that he doesn't have a neck, the paint job of my particular Ultimate Storm Shadow is sadly lacking. There are blank flesh spots where the paint should clearly be the black tone of his hair. And my particular version is cross-eyed.

Mind you the neck problem is not limited to that spare head. Ultimate Storm Shadow cannot look up or down.

Which brings us to Ultimate Storm Shadow's sleek jet backpack that allows him to do Ninja Fighting Action! This bulky exposed jet engine (Well they got the jet right) with stubby wings that straps on to Ultimate Storm Shadow's back is a device worth of Wile E. Coyote. Why didn't they just give him a drone to play with? Hell I'd take the 7 foot string Sky-Commander gettup over this. See how Storm Shadow tips over a bit due to the weight of the jet-pack? Guess what direction anyone wearing this stupid contraction will be going - hint: his legs and arms will definitely do a lot of flailing.

Press the button on the back and Storm Shadow starts spinning so you can have him kicking in place. So how the hell does he control it? Mental telepathy? Some secret ninja trick?

Everything else about him is serious, why did Hasbro bother with this laughable contraption? These toys are definitely not for kids and we collectors are NOT kids (There are limits to how low mentally and emotionally we can go).

This particular Ultimate Storm Shadow was purchased as part of a pack of 7 from Toy Kingdom in Megamall here in the Philippines. Individually, each one costs PhP 599.75 It is not available as of this time on Amazon.

Ultimate? Not. But pretty nice to have:

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