Snake Eyes (City Strike)
As hard as it is for me to realize this, I've been doing G.I. Joe reviews on a consistent basis for nearly ten years, and what continues to surprise me is that I actually still have stuff to say even after all this time. City Strike Snake Eyes is no different...I knew exactly what to say when I finally got this figure in my hands.
Yeah, I've reviewed hundreds upon hundreds of G.I. Joe figures in my time, but not often are those the only words I can speak when I first get one of these figures in my clutches. Granted, I've been feeding for this particular action figure for over six months now, and he was tops on my list of G.I. Joe toys I had to own, even before we ever saw pictures, so finally getting him in hand (and for retail prices, no less), that was honestly all I could really say.
I continue to be impressed that certain characters are able to be redefined after so long, especially in the case of Snake Eyes. When you have a figure like Darth Vader in Star Wars who gets so many different versions, or even an iconic character like Batman, you essentially see the same figure and same designs, only tweaked over the course of the entire toyline. But with a character like Snake Eyes, we continue to see him reinvented, reconceived, and reconfigured throughout the course of his history. Sure, there are many different variations of the same thing mixed in there as well, but the fact that we can get multiple versions of the G.I. Joe Commando who are all so different, yet all so expertly define a character is just amazing to me.
It isn't often that after twenty-seven years I can honestly say that this is the best version of any particular character released to date. I mean, sure, when we got the Wave 11 Sgt. Airborne in the Anniversary line, I felt pretty comfortable saying that was the best Airborne figure we'd ever gotten... out of all four of 'em. But Snake Eyes? Snake Eyes has received the action figure treatment over FORTY times in the past two and a half decades, and to date, NONE of them has matched the sheer coolness of the City Strike version. From the overall design of the figure to the accessories, the colors, and the articulation, this figure is the very definition of the G.I. Joe Ninja Commando to me, and will be for the forseeable future. I just can't fathom that another version of Snake Eyes will come out in the years to come that will floor me like this version has. It's simply incredible.
I know... I'm a Hasbro fanboy prone to hyperbole, but I'd like to think that I rarely heap immense amounts of praise on figures that don't deserve it, and I don't think I very often label a particular figure the "best ____ EVAH!!", but in the case of City Strike Snake Eyes, it really is, in my humble opinion, the best damned Snake Eyes figure EVAH, which is really saying something for the cornerstone of the entire G.I. Joe mythology.
First of all, he perfectly blends the tech-commando and ninja aspects...his layered facemask and head sculpt is a fantastic translation of his version 1 Commando look with a very cool modern twist. His uniform is a mixture of hardened battle suit, superhero spandex, and baggy military pants, but unlike many versions of Snake Eyes that make the rubber/baggy pants combination look rediculous, this version nails it. His sculpt is sleek and stylish, with a nicely animated feel, yet he still blends in very well with the pseudo-futuristic movie aesthetic.
The kneepads are awesome, the gloves are awesome, the facemask is awesome, the webgear and belt are all awesome. There is no part of this figure that is NOT awesome. Even the paint apps, setting aside an overall black look, are terrific. The different shades of gray with black mixed in, and a hint of silver all compliment each other to perfection, yet still maintain a "covert ops" Snake Eyes feel. The Arashikage symbol on his right arm is only the cherry on the sundae.
As if the figure itself wasn't great enough, Hasbro pulls out all of the stops with the accessories as well. Eschewing the typical spring-loaded hoo hah, we get instead a very nice backpack that is quite large, yet still military oriented, with a built-in zip line and two grappling hooks. If you don't like to burden your ninja commandos with such a huge pack, though, he also comes with a much smaller, more manageable backpack that fits perfectly on his back with his great sword sheath hanging at an angle in a hole on the back of his belt. The sheath seems like it might be just a little on the large side, and could potentially be unwieldy in fast attack mode, yet it still looks incredibly cool, and I love the fact that he's got a great place for it on his back.
However, Hasbro does miss the boat a bit on sheaths and holsters as Snake Eyes also comes with a nice pistol and knife that unfortunately have no place to go when he's not using them. For some strange reason, he also comes with Snow Serpents' spiked climbing shoes that he never really used in the cartoon...it's funny because the comic pack Destro came with them as well, and it just seems like a bizarre addition for a figure, especially a commando like this one. He does come with a complex grappling system, though, so maybe it's not so "out there" after all.
For offensive power, Snake Eyes comes with two great machine guns, the large G36 that the Paris Pursuit version came with as well as a much smaller submachine gun that I can't really identify. It kind of looks a bit small, but again, not knowing what weapon it was based on, I can't really say for sure one way or the other.
Yes, as cool as the figure is, the accessories only serve to make him even better.
What else can I say that I haven't said already? Commando? Check. Ninja? Check. Great range of motion and articulation? Check. Subdued, yet different color scheme? Check. Great weapons, an awesome design, and a cool character? Check, check, and double check. This version of Snake Eyes has it all.
I know over the past several months I've been heaping heavy praise on the design and execution of the Rise of COBRA action figures, but man, one look at this version of Snake Eyes almost makes me say "what was I thinking?" While the Resolute cartoon had it's share of faults, the character designs and style were utter perfection in the G.I. Joe universe, and this is a perfect example of that. Thankfully the movie designs and the Resolute figures work well enough together to exist in a "merged" universe, but if nothing else, I really wish more of these Resolute influenced figures were out there for general consumption.
Of course, by the sounds of it, we've got a Resolute boxed set on the way in 2010, but man it can't come soon enough. I know I've been a bit of a bear about the Anniversary figures in some places online, since I'm so in favor of a new aesthetic, but I'll tell you, Resolute is about as damn good as it gets. It gives the vintage folks what they want, yet still manages to inject enough new hotness for us pesky fans that want to move on. I'm fully vested in the movie universe, and I'm gung ho about the Pursuit of COBRA, but I can't help but wonder what "might have been" when it comes to Resolute. These figures are so, so, SO cool that it's such a shame the general retail world never had a chance to get them on pegs. I'm thrilled that the cartoon got such rave reviews in nerd circles (almost the polar opposite of The Rise of COBRA) and I do slightly lament the fact that the popularity of the Rise of COBRA means that Resolute is probably going to be forever overshadowed by that world. I'm just thrilled that it at least got out there in some form or function, and that the fandom continues the universe in their customs and their discussion, and here's hoping we get some incredible Resolute figures in box set form next year.
Until we get what we want in that regard, though, here's hoping Hasbro does some more Resolute "injecting" into the mainstream line going forward, there's a lot to love there, and a lot of greatness that can be worked into the Rise/Pursuit of COBRA universe. Until then, though, I'll put this Snake Eyes under my pillow and wallow in the sheer awesomeness of it every night. They don't still use lead paint on these things do they?
Buy this figure at Big Bad Toy Store!
(Yes, that's SIX stars out of five...it's my review, I can do what I want, dammit.)