G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Crimson Shadow Guard

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Ever since they were first revealed back in the new sculpt era, I’ve been resistant to the concept of the Shadow Guard.  First and foremost, the Crimson Guard are already supposed to be the upper echelon of elite Cobra operatives, do we really need a MORE elite Elite Cobra operative?  Crimson Guards were always undercover officers and administrators, and not so much the field combat arm (with the Crimson Guard Immortal at least filling out that role somewhat), so I couldn’t figure out how the Crimson Shadow Guard fit in there.  Plus, there’s the whole crimson theory…what’s the purpose of a Crimson Guard who isn’t actually crimson?

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From a field operations standpoint, I do have to admit I love the G.I. Joe: Retaliation version of the Crimson Guard.  His tactical vest, newly tooled helmet and terrific accessories all add up to a great update to the Elite original.  Much as I hate to say it, getting a Shadow Guard version of this combat equipped Crimson Guard is kinda neat.  I love the new head sculpt, and the parts choice works well, too.  I’ve never loved the original 25th Anniversary Crimson Guard legs, so repurposing the Alley-Viper legs for this works well for me.  Same with the Shock Trooper arms.  It gives the Crimson Guard figure a more combat oriented look with far better articulation and range of motion than the 25th Anniversary version.  The more modern sculpting and articulation has done wonders to make the figure look cool, but still retain a somewhat regal air.

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Even as a repurposed figure in just a new paint scheme, I like the Shadow Guard, but don’t love it.  I still struggle to rationalize his purpose in the Cobra hierarchy, but I know there has been some fan demand out there for it, so Hasbro’s decision to satisfy those fans makes sense.  It also helps that the basic construction of the figure is a lot of fun, regardless of where it fits in the grand scheme of things.


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Crimson Shadow Guard comes with the Retaliation Crimson Guard tactical vest, backpack, sword, and bevy of offensive weaponry.  They all work well and for a more combat oriented version of this Elite trooper I enjoy them quite a bit.  The weapons work for ornamental purposes or actual combat purposes, and the designs are great, too, even if it’s more of the same.

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I can’t quite figure out how this guy fits into the grand scheme of things, but the figure execution is nice.  Much of the credit for that goes to the Retaliation designers, but the Shadow Guard concept is done well here.

50th Anniversary Crimson Shadow Guard
  • Character
  • Sculpt
  • Articulation
  • Paint Deco
  • Accessories


Using the really fun G.I. Joe: Retaliation Crimson Guard as a base figure, the Crimson Shadow Guard makes for a nice version of the new sculpt era COBRA division. While I can't quite rationalize the existence of this branch of the Crimson Guard in my head, the execution is nice, I like the figure build, and he's got some great gear.


1 - Great sculpting courtesy of the G.I. Joe: Retaliation rendition of this figure.
2 - The black paint apps do have an air of menace
3 - Lots of great accessories
4 - I'll never complain about revisiting concepts from the 2003 - 2005 era


1 - Still don't quite understand the need or purpose of the Shadow Guard
2 - The figure could have used some nice gold trim in certain places


6 thoughts on “G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Crimson Shadow Guard

  1. I’ve come around to the Shadow Guard over the years. The way I see them is that they are sort of Cobra’s secret counter-intelligence force. Whereas the Crimson Guard function abroad, the Shadow Guard function internally, weeding out moles, spies and mutineers.

  2. A lot of people consider the Shadow Guard to sort of be Cobra’s version of the gestapo, sort of like their secret police. A force even above the Crimson Guard who only answer directly to Cobra Commander, and if they come for you, you know you’re in deep trouble.

  3. This figure is ok, but I feel like the plastic is just a wee bit off compared to the other figures I’ve opened so far. At least with the legs. And my left leg joint is so loose, that the figure cannot realistically stand on its own for very long. Which is unfortunate. I’ll have to open another to compare and see if I want to troop build these guys.

  4. I’ll add to this con: “Still don’t understand the need or purpose of the Shadow Guard or my own need to own the figure. God help me, why am I drawn to this? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, ALEXX.”

  5. I always thought of the Crimson Shadow Guard, especially with their martial arts weapons, to be a sort of “industrial espionage ninja”. While the regular Siegies infiltrated the boardroom, the CSG simply broke in at night and took what they wanted, planted evidence, arranged “accidents” and insurance fraud, etc. It steps on the toes of the Night Creepers a bit, but they’re mercenaries and it makes a bit of sense that Cobra would sometimes keep things closer to home. I believe the original Shadow-Vipers also did pretty much the things I describe, so it’s not the first time Cobra didn’t outsource. Maybe the Shadow-Vipers even evolved into the Crimson Shadow Guard.

  6. Great review as always Justin. I had the same thought as you as to how the “Shadow Guard” would fit into my Joeverse. First I was going to use this figure as the high ranking CG who would eventually become known as Overlord. But now I think I’ll get a head and red beret from Marauder and make a Black Major custom.

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