Sunday, October 11, 2009

Slice like a ninja

I'm going to ramble a bit, but I promise there's a point to this madness. If you don't feel like reading me gripe about comics, movies, and other things, skip on down to the toy review.

During the Christmas season of 2004 I worked at the Toys R Us on Harbison Boulevard in Columbia, SC. One day after work I drove over to Heroes and Dragons, a pretty awesome comic book and toy shop in the area. They were having a sale on their backissues for $1 a piece. Buck comics rate pretty highly with me. I completed a lot of runs of books and started collections of others that I still haven't finished-- I don't like to spend much money (anyone who knows me will attest to this fact), and finding comics for a buck is rare anymore.

One of the series that I started collecting on a whim was G.I. JOE: Reloaded from Devil's Due Press(DDP).

G.I. JOE: Reloaded was an experiment in gritty military fiction written by a guy who knows about as much about the military as I know about nuclear physics. John Ney Rieber started writing the series, but was clearly... distracted. The individual plot lines were very clouded, his artistic direction to the various artists of dissonant talents was confusing, and the overall direction of the series was just poorly planned. Then... suddenly... in the middle of a story arch... Rieber decided that he was a pacifist and would never write a military comic book again (he's been writing military books ever since then, so go figure). Thanks, John! I read several of the books you wrote for DDP, and I am certainly glad you stopped writing when you did. Transformers/G. I. JOE? EUGH. EEEUUUUUGH! What a miserably confusing clusterpuke of a comic book.

Around issue # 9 of Reloaded it was announced that Chuck Dixon would take over the book. Dixon attempted to pull the book up from the nose dive it had been put into, but it was too late. The title lasted 'til issue 14, which was wrapped up about as quickly and clean as could be managed with the short timeframe. It was really depressing to see the book plummet, head back up, then get cut off just as it was gaining ground.

Now, I say all this to make a point. I started collecting the book from the starting block... I was there for the issue before the first issue that kicked the whole thing off. I collected it past the $1 sales stuff and into the "3 bucks-an-issue" territory and even into the "let's-pay-8 bucks-for-rare-backissues-online" territory. The series was bad. No... BAD. Horrible. Terrible. Gag-inducing. But I kept coming back for more. Why? Well... it's as simple as one character: Snake Eyes. Rieber took an interesting route with the silent ninja/commando: he was freaking nuts. It was never revealed what did it, but something in Snake Eyes' past had driven him quite beyond the point of sanity. He had become a killing machine, pure and simple. Emotionless, cold, deadly. It was suggested (somewhere in the senseless babble that Rieber chose to call a comic book script) that Snake Eyes had worked for Cobra Commander at some point. He had decided, for some unknown reason, to be a good guy, but he sure didn't work like a good guy. He was a shark trapped in a man's body. Rieber has said that his favorite character to write was Snake Eyes, and it shows.

I say all this to make a point. I promise I'll get there in a minute.

When Reloaded was shelved, I was pretty sad, because no other book or cartoon had characterized Snake Eyes quite like that book had.

Then... I saw this:

Whaaaaa? Bloodthirsty, butt-kicking, killing-machine Snake Eyes? How dare they????

G. I. JOE: Resolute was an 11 episode mini-series that aired in 5 minute installments on Cartoon Network. It was written by Warren Ellis, an actually talented (GASP!) comic book writer. It kicked all kinds of butt all night long, Sweet Suzie. I could go on and on about it, but let's just say that Snake Eyes was the main reason almost everyone watched the thing. He did NOT disappoint. He was a brutally efficient killer, and he showed almost no emotions doing the dirty work he did. He had a driving force behind his violence, but there was no super-well-defined origin for it. They showed his youth in training with the Arashikage ninja clan briefly, but never went into anything else.

I then heard there was going to be an action figure line... YEAH-YUH!

Then I heard the Resolute figure line had been cancelled due to Hasbro's promotion of the live action movie. I will not get into the many ways and reasons for my hatred for that movie, but let's just say that killing the Resolute line did NOT help things.

But... BUUUUUUUUT... there was a bright shining star in the field of turds that fell out of that movie (the action figure line from the movie is actually a really, really, REALLY nice toy line-- I just hate the movie): They were going to release the Resolute Snake Eyes in the movie series! Oh yes. OH... YES...!

Well... I found him tonight. I now hold in my hands little Mr. Slashy McStabbington himself!

How is the figure? Read on:


One thing I can say about the G I JOE movie line packaging is that it is very pretty. No different here. The figure and accessories are showcased quite well, and there is tha standard JOE filecard on the back. One thing that really made me smile is that they didn't even bother trying to make the character picture on the card look like the movie character. This is a totally different kind of character, and he deserves to be spotlighted as such. It's really weird seeing the Resolute Snake Eyes in the movie line, but I'm happy as a hog in crap to have him.

Sculpt, articulation, and paint:

Simply beautiful. The guy is ripped, but lean enough to look like he's capable of killing ten men in ten seconds. He has some nice gear sculpted on his belts and the cartoon's aesthetics are translated into 3D quite well.

He's articulated out the wazoo, much like all the figures in the 25th Anniversary and movie lines. He has what appears to be 22 points of articulation. Not too shabby for a 3.75 inch tall figure. All of his joints are really well made and durable. His ankles are VERY tight, and I've been having to deal with getting them just right to keep him standing. I'm sure it has more to do with the newness of the figure to me than the actual articulation. I'm still learning how to best pose him for stances. Each figure has its own little quirks, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt here.

The paint is just fine as well. Little to no slop and clean lines. Mostly he's molded in plastic that matches the color of the character, so that cuts down on paint wear and excess paint applications. I'm usually not find of gray Snake Eyes figures, but there's something about this one that just works. It matches the look of the character in the cartoon, so I'm very happy.


One thing that can be said about the movie line: they come with a LOT of stuff. Each figure I've purchased from the movie line for custom fodder has come with a crapload of accessories-- way more than any of the 25th Anniversary line came with and way more than you get with almost any other figure of similar scale. Snake Eyes here comes with 11 accessories:

1 backpack
1 climbing harness
1 sword
1 sword sheathe
2 assault rifles
1 pistol
1 knife
2 ice boots
1 stand

The climbing harness is kinda junky and unneccesary. However, it is well-sculpted and I'm sure kids will love it.
All of the accessories fit his hands perfectly, and the sword fits nicely in its sheathe. One really nice feature is the fact that the sheathe REALLY attaches to the belt... I mean I had to pry that sucker out after I put it on. I think it's going to stay there from now on-- but it's nice to have an accessory actually stay put on a figure for a change.

One annoying thing about the accessories is that there aren't really any places to store them on the figure. It's not a huge issue, but if a figure is going to come with 5,000 guns and sharp things it helps for him to carry them on his person. It doesn't really matter... his sword is on his back and he can double grip his rifle, so I'm good.

I guess I've talked enough. I'll let the pictures do the talking for me:

City Strike Snake Eyes is a REALLY nice figure with a load of articulation and accessories. Kids should dig him and adults should adore him. He's easily the coolest Snake Eyes figure I've ever owned.

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