G.I. Joe: Retaliation - Budo

First of all, a huge thanks to pre-production collector Glumby for sliding this figure my way after he received an early sample. It was a packaged sample, so I feel confident that this is a production level figure, and should not differ from the figures you get off of your local shelves.

Even in 1988 my younger self questioned exactly why a dude in full on samurai gear would be working alongside a covert military operation. Larry Hama was able to write a filecard that not only explained that (somewhat) but also injected some great character into Budo, which was pretty awesome. A Harley-riding, sword-swinging samurai special ops trooper? Yeah, I gotta admit that sounds pretty neat.

The G.I. Joe line actually has a history of these samurai designs, from the original Budo to the Sigma 6 Samurai Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes, and with the proliferation of ninjas in G.I. Joe mythology, I suppose a dose of samurais only makes sense.

I will admit right up front that Budo isn't high on my list of characters I desperately need to see redone...but it's obvious one of the Hasbro designers has a fascination with Japanese lore and that has served them very well with figures like Storm Shadow and the upcoming movie themed Blind Master. It makes for an awesome collection of accurate feudal Japan looking characters, but that doesn't always mesh seamlessly with 21st Century military aesthetic.

From the minute you look at him, it is evident that Budo was crafted with care and love and a deep rooted respect for the source material. The layered sculpting on the arms (where the armor looks almost sewn into the fabric) to the overlay shingle-material skirting, this figure was pulled from Japanese history books and etched into plastic form. His head sculpt is fantastic, looking very authentic to old school Japanese samurai as we know them, with some great emotion etched into that tiny plastic face.

The colors of the figure are good, though a little bit monochrome. There are pretty flat areas of brown and black without an abundance of detail in the paint apps. Judging be pre-production images, there was supposed to be a lot more variation in shade and "gloss" with certain areas of the figure, but the end result is something that just doesn't have a wide array of painted detail work. Honestly, though, the highlight of this figure is the intricate sculpting work throughout the samurai pads with beautiful ornamental details throughout. It's truly amazing.


First and foremost, I feel it necessary to say something about the surprise that collectors received when in hand images of this assortment were finally shown... the battle stand is back!

Using the template for the Amazon 4-Pack, Hasbro elected to pull some strings and get these battle stands back into G.I. Joe packaging, which is great. Granted, there's only one peg, and I'll most likely replace them all with Marauder stands anyway, but hey, at least its something. Now, about those file cards...

Budo comes with a great overhanging cloak with twin straps that go down over his chest, a very nicely designed piece of armor around his torso, and a pretty wicked looking deer-antler helmet. The mask looks pretty nasty and mean, and the ornaments throughout the helmet are immaculately well sculpted and designed. His armored vest also has a nice pocket in the belt where one of his swords can slide and be held. He comes with two samurai swords over all.

It's a nice accessory compliment that suits a samurai figure very well. G.I. Joe has always walked that borderline between realistic military, ninja, and wacky science fiction, so in that way, Budo doesn't necessarily stand apart from the crowd, though I'll admit, among this hyper-realistic G.I. Joe: Retaliation line, he seems somewhat out of place. The layered accessories look fantastic, but they do restrict his movement, making him a wonderful looking ornamental figure, but not one of the most functional ones.