G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes from Hot Toys

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Approximately a week ago I was writing a review overflowing with nostalgia, reminiscing about days of old with my Tomahawk helicopter. Here we are, a short time later, and my perspective has now shifted to a totally new flavor of G.I. Joe in many ways. Yes, of course there is a rich history of 12" action figures within the G.I. Joe realm, and if not for the 12" scale, G.I. Joe as we know it would not exist today.

But I'm not entirely sure G.I. Joe has ever been represented in a 12" format like this before. Sideshow Collectibles comes close, but with this figure, Hot Toys takes a new movie-themed design, and etches plastic, metal, and fabric formed art out of it. Yes, folks, this is art, whether you like it or not.

Some folks might ask, what makes this art, and why is this version of "art" more than just a typical action figure or toy? Well, I'm not sure I can properly answer that question, because Hot Toys has their revolutionary sculpting, fabrication, and painting process under lock and key, but I can say, just by having first hand experience with this Snake Eyes, there is absolutely a difference between this figure and something like a Sideshow Collectibles figure. That's not to say one is "good" and one is "bad", but there is something about the craftsmanship of a Hot Toys product that simply feels above and beyond what other toys feel like.

Snake Eyes is a 12" figure using a revolutionary body build that is extremely poseable, yet still maintains a stiffness and sturdiness to the joints. Elbows and knees bend at extreme angles, and keep those positions very well. I'm not entirely sure how Hot Toys builds these body styles, or all the ins and outs of the different body types, but all I know is that in the past I've had some struggles with 12" figures. Their joints were either so tight and "ratchety" that they didn't bend far enough, or they had range of motion such that they did bend far, but they also became loose and wobbly. This Hot Toys Snake Eyes manages to bridge that gap perfectly. The only real restrictions to articulation or joint movement is due to the uniform, which would be the same in real life as well.

Speaking of the uniform, this is where the quality and craftsmanship of a Hot Toys product really shows through. This figure looks like an almost exact representation of the movie version of Snake Eyes...and when you consider the layered body armor, textured fabric, and scores of different materials, that is a really amazing accomplishment. What amazes me is that this isn't just one material and one great design using that material. Hot Toys has managed to take several separate materials and blend them together into one uniform that is an almost exact replica of the film uniform, yet fits and clasps together on this 12" action figure, and still allows full range of motion, articulation, and some excellent positions...almost any that you can think of. There is almost always some sort of degradation of detail when you scale something down to a smaller size, but Hot Toys seems able to maintain an insane level of uniform accuracy and sculpting detail regardless of how large the end result is.

Not only is it accurate, but it is incredibly functional, too. The right application of velcro allows the armored shoulder pads to lift for great shoulder movement, yet remain attached to the rest of the armor. The backpack sword sheath has actual metal clasps holding it to the uniform, yet could also be removed if necessary. The armor is a great light weight plastic, while the shoulder pads are a more leather-type material, over the top of a multi-layered cloth, almost spandex material underneath. Anyone who works with a sewing machine or other sort of fabric knows that achieving this realistic look at a scale this small is nearly impossible. Hot Toys does it and does it to perfection.

As mentioned several times already, the articulation is fantastic, with joints and near seamless movement at all possible points. His neck allows for some great emotion, even though you cannot see his face, and his arms can achieve just about any pose you can think of. The legs are a bit more restricted by the pants, but still can be posed in any manner of realistic stance. He comes with several hands for holding guns, his swords, and also a clenched fist and open hand for more dramatic positions.


One thing that I will admit I was surprised about was the accessories that the figure comes with. I've grown used to Sideshow Collectibles, who absolutely flood each figure with loads of accessories. Several different kinds of weapons, knives, grenades, magazines, backpacks, helmets, and all sorts of other things. Not necessarily the same deal with Hot Toys. Yes, Snake Eyes comes with four extra sets of hands, two swords, an H & K MP7A1, a pistol, two knives, and two extra pins for the replacement hands.

But for what Snake Eyes lacks in the number of accessories, he makes up for in their quality. Both the black sword and the metallic sword are just that... metallic. There is a heft, weight, and sturdiness to them unlike anything made by any other company that I've experienced. Other swords for the 12" scale feel just a bit flimsy like they could snap at any given moment. Not these. These are pure quality.

The stock on the Heckler & Koch slides out nicely and the front handle folds down. The pistol chamber slides back and the magazine is removable. Even the hammer flips up and down.

If I have any disappointments it is just that the knives are really too small to be held in his sword-holding hand, but they are throwing knives and can be slipped between his spread fingers in various ways, so I think that's probably what Hot Toys had in mind there. There are two really nice sheaths for the blades to slide into, one on his hip and one at the small of his back.

I was also a bit surprised that there is just one sword sheath, even though he comes with two different swords, but I understand Hot Toys wants to be 100% movie accurate, and the film version only had a single sheath. I do compliment Hot Toys on including both of his very cool swords seen in the film, even if he doesn't have a place for both of them at once (unless one is in his hand).

Unlike the Sideshow figures, Hot Toys figures use a separate peg for swapping out their hands...the peg isn't attached to the hand. The first few times I removed the pegs you see above it was a bit of a challenge, but once you get used to the process it works well, and they stay in much more securely than one might initially think. The figure comes with pegs already in the hands that the figure has in package, but they toss in two extras just in case of breakage.

So yes, as anyone can tell, this Hot Toys Snake Eyes comes with far fewer accessories than many of his Sideshow Collectibles contemporaries, but I think the quality and the accuracy of the weapons and accessories he does come with more than make up for a lack of raw numbers.

To conclude, this might seem like hyperbole, but opening and reviewing this figure was an experience I haven't had before with the G.I. Joe brand. Every stitch, every sculpt, every accessory seems to serve a purpose, and as I mentioned the end result is almost like a work of art. This figure so closely resembles the movie version and is so wrought full of detail you could almost consider it a poseable statue. A statue that you can move around and put in many different movie-accurate (or just plain cool) poses. It feels solid, it's fun to pose, and is visually stunning.

It is expensive, yes, of that I will not argue. Yes, I understand it likely sails above the budgetary limits of many collectors out there. But I truly believe for those folks who want to make an investment in a very nice, high quality display piece that reflects their love of G.I. Joe and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, you can't get much better than this. Snake Eyes has the presentation and detail work of a high quality statue-like collectible that just happens to be poseable and playable as well. Don't break your bank, but if you can afford it, I don't think you'll be disappointed. I know I'm not.


This item available at Sideshow Collectibles:

Snake Eyes GI JOE Retaliation Sixth Scale Figure (Hot Toys)