Thursday, 23 December 2010

Pursuit of Cobra Wave 3 - 'Arctic Threat' Storm Shadow

Continuing the Wave 3 rundown, I've decided to get the one real weak link of the group out of the way before I deal with the stars - though look out for a Snake Eyes cameo near the end of the post!  (which required me to restore my camera's flash, when I realised how hard it is to pick out the detail on Snakey without it)

It's the pants.  The pants don't match.

So, it's another Storm Shadow.  I don't mind his repeated appearances nearly as much as Duke's because, hey he's a bad-guy ninja, which makes him cool.  What I do mind is when Hasbro don't come up with a valid reason for the figure's existence.  We got four single-packed Storm Shadows over the course of The Rise of Cobra, and each both looked different and were designed with a specific purpose in mind.  Then wave 1 of PoC gave us a 'Desert Battle' Stormy which some hated, due to how different he looked, but I personally loved - he fit the locale, he was recognisable yet still cosmetically distinct from his previous forms, and he had a ton of gear.

This guy...I don't know.  Does that really look like an 'Arctic' ninja to you?  He's got rolled-up sleeves!  And you just know that little vest of his isn't insulated.  What's doubly irritating is, Rise of Cobra already gave us an Arctic Stormy - that you can see in my snowy-day picture story post from this past November - which looked much more suitable for the job.  Argh.

Still, looking at the's a new look, certainly.  The red pants with the angular camo design don't actually clash that badly, and certainly help him to stand out from his contemporaries.

"You will address me as Prince Storm Shadow."

Brand new head design, with a distinctive golden 'crown' which looks heckuva similar to the bloke from Ninja Gaiden, a nod which unfortunately annoys me more because I can't stand those games, or their former chief producer, Tommy Nob-End Itagaki (not his actual name).  In fact, every part of the figure is new, which is a damn shame because that costs Hasbro a whole lot more cash than simply reusing existing tooling and...all that capital for such a negative response from the fans?  Oof.

Not sure why I bothered taking this pic, actually.

Nothing much to say here, although there's a nice enough design sculpted on the back of his vest.  Unfortunately, said vest brings one of the figure's main problems to light...

Are those lines his ribs or something?
Dude needs to get off the Atkins thing ASAP.

See, this guy is one of two PoC figures featuring the 'Whirlwind Kick', a waist-spinning action feature that Hasbro dragged into the line, kicking and screaming, because they like to tweak the collectors with shit like this...or something.  I've no idea why they bothered, actually, but the constraints imposed by said feature means Storm Shadow's got no mid-torso articulation and, perhaps more annoyingly, his vest doesn't have side-clasps to keep it secure, so it sort of flaps around loosely whenever you move his arms etc.  It really does make the figure look a little cheap.

From the makers of Tickle-Me Elmo, it's...
Push-My-Funny-Bone Storm Shadow!

There's the switch to activate the kick, on his left side.  You have to twist his entire lower body 360 degrees to the left first, in order to ratchet the tension in whatever elastic stuff he's got hanging around in his guts.


That's the kick in motion.  Obviously it's a bit hard to demonstrate in still images...and it might have looked better if Storm Shadow's rubbery skirt-thing didn't prevent his legs from bending into a decent 'kicking' position.  Y'know, most of the time, I can ignore a little loss of articulation for the sake of looks, but with a ninja or similarly martial-arts-based guy?  Not so much.  That a figure whose sole existence is based around his ability to kick can't just shows a real lack of thought or care being applied by the designers.

Quite sure you've got enough pointy things there?

Where this figure redeems itself a little is in the accessory compliment.  He doesn't have quite as much stuff as many other PoC types, but what he does have largely works.

"Now somebody git me a fat hawg t'rustle an' we're
gonna have ourselves a bar-bee-que, pardner!"

The rope bundle/sash first appeared with Resolute Storm Shadow (also a terrible figure), and at the time was simply a way to jazz up an otherwise dull-as-ditchwater body design.  Here, though, it actually has a point; Stormy's file card claims he's undergoing a test against the elements where he climbs a mountain to reach an ancient monastery - so, yes, some rope would definitely come in useful.

The rope-sash; not likely to be part of the Ralph Lauren
Winter Collection.

As it should be worn.  Unlike the Resolute Stormy, this guy actually has some decent detailing on his bodywork, so the rope doesn't really stand out so much - but, again, it does serve a purpose.

Hello again, old friends...

The swords and sheath are the same as those that came with every Rise of Cobra Storm Shadow figure.  They work well enough, like they always have, though part of me wishes we'd gotten newly-tooled swords instead.  Ah well.

"Would sir like to be stabbed long, or short?"

FYI, only the longer sword is a katana; the shorter one's called a tanto.  Or so I learned from Red Steel on the Wii anyway.

Anyone else think he's about to collapse under the weight of those things?

A word of warning; thanks to both the loose vest and the rope, it can be tricky to get the sheaths to stay in place in his backpack hole, since there's two separate bits of webgear getting in the way of the peg.  You can work around it, however.


I have no idea what the hell this thing is supposed to be.  Apparently it came with an old version of Shipwreck.  I suppose something shaped like a fishhook would work with a naval officer, but...for a ninja?  Really?

"They just ain't biting today..."

Seriously, I have no clue how this thing should be used.  I mean, if it was on a long chain, a la 'Desert Battle' Stormy's kick-ass manrikigusari weapon, it'd at least look dangerous, but this thing, if it were made full-scale, would barely extend one foot.  So it's basically got the same reach as Stormy's arms.

"I'll have you outta that ditch in no time!" 

Just out of shot: the Baronness in the passenger seat, arms folded, looking cross 'cause she'll never make it to Castle Destro on time at this rate.  All jokes aside, this is actually the most sensible use I can find for the stupid hook.

One, two, Stormy's coming for you... 

Another cast-off from Resolute Storm Shadow, this tekagi claw has at least undergone a slight touch-up since then, with the new silver paint making the blades seem a little more sharp, and the overall look much more pleasing.

Three, four, don't bother with the door...
('cause he'll probably just jump in through a window anyway) 

The claw clips around Stormy's forearm snugly, much preferable to the dodgy tekagis used in the RoC line (which had a handgrip instead and simply couldn't be made to stay straight when in a figure's clutches).

What skis would look like, if designed by Satan.

Speaking truthfully, I have no idea what these are called.  I do not know if they have ever been used in real-life, whether currently or in the past.  I have my doubts as to whether they would ever be a practical weapon for close combat, as their size would likely make them unwieldy.

But I don't give a toss because they look fucking lethal.

And just like that, a poor figure becomes badass.

They fit fairly snugly around the arms...again, no idea how anyone would use them, but god, don't they look cool?

Useful for kayaking, javelin practice AND killing Joes.
It's the Swiss Army Knife of spears.

Not sure what to call this either; I was originally going with 'pole-ax' but now I'm thinking either 'pikestaff' or 'halberd'.  Whatever the case, it's great, with nice silver paint highlights, an ornate sculpt on the blade and a pointy bit on the other end to give it some versatility.

"Staff only beyond this point, sir."

I think this weapon, moreso than the others, really matches the figure's overall look.  With the ornate headpiece and the Arashikage helix branded on his vest, this Storm Shadow seems almost gladiatorial, as if he's about to engage in some sort of spectator-friendly bloodsport, and the halberd/pikestaff/thing supports that notion.

Suck it.

Just felt like taking that picture.  It's what I'd like to imagine Duke's final moments will be.

On the whole, though, this Storm Shadow is pretty firmly in the 'miss' category.  The constraints of the (stupid) action feature and at least one brain-dead design choice rob him of vital articulation, he doesn't work as an 'Arctic Threat' figure, and despite some curious stylistic choices he doesn't really bring anything new to the long line of Storm Shadow figures already available.  It's a crying shame to think so much new tooling will go to waste, though, so here's an idea for Hasbro: take this guy and the Snake Eyes figure with the same action gimmick (which I don't own), stick 'em together in a 2-figure pack with one of those fold-out diorama backdrops and maybe some extra bits of scenery, like the Rise of Cobra 'Ninja Battles' set, and call it something like 'Arashikage Ritual Duel Pack', or something.  Maybe come up with new filecards to explain that this is Snakey and Stormy when they were still part of the same clan, and are engaging in a practice duel to hone their skills/achieve zen/remember where they left the car keys, etc.  Since both figures have a fairly ceremonial look to them, I think it might encourage more folks to buy them if presented that way.  And yeah, I know - if Snake Eyes is still part of the Arashikage clan, he shouldn't be wearing a mask yet, but if Hasbro were letting fanboy whinging dictate the entire direction of the line, we'd never have gotten these two released in the first place.

Overall Rating for 'Arctic Threat' Storm Shadow:  3.5/10

Snake Eyes:  "!"
Storm Shadow:  "HA!  Yes, it is I once again, sword-brother!  Now, prepare to see
the Hard Master another life!"

Storm Shadow:  "Yes, draw your katana, Snake Eyes, whilst I...prepare
a little surprise for you..."
Snake Eyes:  "?"

Storm Shadow:  "Ah-hah!  This halberd has far greater reach than your
blades!  I'll cut you to ribbons without even being grazed by your steel!
What do you have to say about THAT, eh?"

Storm Shadow:  "What the - oh, c'mon, that's cheating!"
Snake Eyes:  :D

Storm Shadow:  *death gurgle*

 The only rule of ninja wars is: finders, keepers.

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