G.I. Joe 30th Anniversary Storm Shadow (G.I. Joe: Renegades)

Every once in a while when you get a particular action figure, you can almost tell that it has a certain level of importance. Is it overdramatic to call a toy "transcendent"? In some cases, probably, but I really can't think of another word that fits this toy better.

Dictionary.com defines transcendent as "going beyond ordinary limits; surpassing; exceeding." I think that's a perfect translation of what this figure represents, and it continues a stunning tradition of excellence that we've become almost accustomed to with the 30th Anniversary and Pursuit of Cobra toyline.

If you look back only a year or so and see figures like the Pursuit of Cobra Snake Eyes and Cobra Shock Trooper, you can almost tell immediately when a figure is designed to feed back into the line and almost single-handedly helps push forward the entire line. Figures like Snake Eyes and Shock Trooper became the foundation of future figures like Cobra Trooper, Cobra Viper, and the Steel Brigade, among some others, and I get the same impression with Storm Shadow. Keeping in mind how ninja heavy G.I. Joe: Retaliation is apparently going to be, I get a sense that Hasbro built this figure with that in mind, and if that's the case, I couldn't be happier, because as far as ninjas go, this figure is far and away the best ninja representation we've ever seen in 3 3/4" plastic form. If the Pursuit of Cobra Wave 4 Snake Eyes represented the epitome of commando military excellence, this Storm Shadow does the same for the ninja side.

First and foremost, from all appearances, Storm Shadow uses new tooling from head to toe. New head sculpt, new torso, all new arms and legs, and the most amazing thing to me is, even with a pretty generic "look" the figure completely and totally owns me. It excels in nearly every phase of concept and execution. It is almost stunning to me that the same company that produced this figure also produced this one, this one, and oh man...especially this one. I think it's a very clear and distinct evolution from what we saw in 2007 and where things are now from a technical standpoint, and from a skill standpoint. Hasbro simply continues to totally outdo themselves.

Even being a fairly generic concept, the detailed wrinkling of the uniform, the purposeful bagginess of the sleeves and legs, and just the way the cloth has been sculpted to drape, shape, and form, this figure is pure 4" plastic excellence. I can feel nothing to complain about. He contains the improved wrist articulation and manages to be totally poseable and without severe aesthetic hindrance even with all of the various cut joints and points of articulation. Totally incredible.

I know the majority of the fandom out there will latch onto this figure because of the "ultimate classic" vibe with the regular head sculpt and the black sash. Don't get me wrong, I love that component, but part of me loves the Renegades version even more. Not because it's necessarily better, but because they managed to capture the animated ridiculousness of the oversized hood to near perfection without making it look nearly as ridiculous in plastic form. He looks just like the Renegades version does in the cartoon, yet slides seamlessly into the more real world design universe.

Storm Shadow, to put it simply, is loaded. Where I've spent some time complaining about accessory cuts throughout the waves of 30th Anniversary and Renegades figures, I get the impression that Hasbro made those cuts smartly. They reduced some gear throughout less desirable figures if only to make sure the most desirable ones had all of the gear that the fans had been clamoring for ever since early images were shown.

The most glaring accessory absence is the real metal chain weapon that had been seen previously, and I am a bit disappointed about that absence, especially because he used it quite a bit, if I remember correctly, during the conflict with Snake Eyes in his initial G.I. Joe: Renegades appearance.

Beyond that, though, he is still loaded with awesome ninja gear. Two swords, sais, daggers, a fantastic long bow, and a backpack to hold a lot of these offensive weapons are all terrific additions to the figure, perfect homages to the original version, and just all out well-designed and well executed ninja-oriented accessories.

Of course he also has the classic ninja fan, throwing stars, the familiar removable arrow from the Hard Master Comic Pack, as well as differently colored sashes and his two different head sculpts. In every single area, this figure is fantastic, and his accessory compliment is certainly no exception.

I'm not entirely sure I can praise this figure enough. I could write 12 pages on this figure and it still wouldn't be enough. This is a fantastic figure from every step of the way. Design, tooling, paint apps, being able to match Renegades or vintage, even weapons. Good grief this figure is astounding.

But what I find even more impressive than the amount of accessories he comes with? The fact that his newly tooled hands can actually hold pretty much ALL of them. Yes, Storm Shadow can actually realistically hold his sais and his throwing stars. What an awesome detail to add to this figure, and something I feel certain Hasbro will build upon in the future. I am in love with this attention to detail! Having tiny little throwing stars is one thing, but having them able to be held in his hand is just... wow. So cool.

Very good job on this one, Hasbro. Not only is this a great Storm Shadow figure, I suspect it will be the foundation of some very good figures still to come. In fact, the success of this figure as well as the Snake Eyes and Stalker figures has convinced me that Hasbro should seriously consider going back to the well and making some more "ultimate" versions of their timeless characters. Yes, I would love to see a Duke, Flint, Cobra Commander, or Destro done up just like this. That may be heresy to Joe fans these days, but I would have told you I never needed to see another Storm Shadow figure ever again, and then we got this one.

I dare say Joe fans deserve for all of their classics to be treated like this. I think Hasbro would be well served to strongly consider it.


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