Repaints, repaints, repaint...everywhere you look in the online Joe community these days you see loads of people complaining about repaints in the Sigma 6 line, and I gotta say a lot of them have some good points. I definitely do understand the need for Dukes and Snake Eyes...they are the marquee characters for the Joe line and we need them on store shelves for the kids, and I can appreciate Hasbro at least going the extra mile to make the accessories great and make the figures still worth buying, even if they are duplicates.

But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least somewhat disappointed that there are only two new figures in the second wave of Soldier figures, and that one of them is a Storm Shadow repaint, especially because he doesn't really offer a whole lot of new stuff.

Don't get me wrong, the design scheme for this new Storm Shadow with Shouri Crossbow is very, very cool...he looks awesome. But essentially he is still quite similar to the existing Storm Shadow, and while a lot of the Duke repaints provide some new functionallity, for Storm Shadow, a new Crossbow doesn't necessarily warrant a new purchase. The crossbow and related weaponry ARE pretty cool (and I cover them in more depth in the Tech Specs section) but if you own the existing Storm Shadow, I'm not certain that the cool new weaponry and awesome new design elements are really worth an additional $10.00. But for someone like me, who has the compulsion to own everything anyway, the new stuff is pretty neat, and I don't find myself regretting the purchase at all.

First of all, the fact that Storm Shadow is now available at a lower price point is a great thing. A $10.00 COBRA Ninja is cool for various reasons, and he could potentially offer some great custom fodder for people, too. As a nicely designed masked Ninja, there are a wealth of possibilities for this figure, even if you already own the Commando Storm Shadow. But let's break this figure down on it's own merits.

First of all, Storm Shadow has a modified head sculpt which is surprisingly effective, I think. The metallic mouth guard looks very cool and separates this figure some from the original, and gives you some options for customization and for using this as a different character. Sculpting on the hood and the facemask are all top knotch, and he's got the same great animated style that the original had, while still looking very unique. And I know it's a very subjective taste, but in my opinion, the sculpting change on the arms/hands makes a WORLD of difference. It really reminds me of a comic book style (I'm thinking Joe Madureira in particular). The oversized hands and HUGE arm muscles just look really cool to me, but I can definitely see how some fans (that are more in love with the realistic aspects) would have a problem with this. It's almost not as noticable just looking at the figure, but compared to an older version:

You can see the huge difference in the arms and hands. It's a difference I like (especially because it helps make this version distinctive as a potential new character) but also because I just really dig the style itself.

Probably the most distinctive element to this figure, though, is the torso sculpting change, and paint application addition. Instead of the nicely designed martial arts uniform on his torso, Storm Shadow has a bare chest and upper arms, and an absolutely wicked dragon tattoo on his chest. This tattoo is extremely eye-catching and really brings a lot of character to the figure, and also allows folks to use this as a different person entirely. I know I was pretty inspired by the dragon to consider making this a "Black Dragon" character instead of Storm Shadow...keep an eye on our Battle Files Section to see what I plan on doing (and check out what I've done so far).

Storm Shadow's legs are not covered by the cloth uniform this time around, but look to use the same mold as the original, which is fine...they are nicely detailed, and I dig the white/gray paint applications here, too.

Now, it seems that the selling point here is meant to be the new gear that this Storm Shadow comes with. Where the first Commando Storm Shadow came with some very traditional ninja weapons like swords, sais, climbing claws and the like, this one comes with some more extreme weapons, and I have a feeling the ties to TMNT's Shredder character are not accidental.

Instead of your typical katana he's got a very unique almost African style curved sword-blade (called the Daito sword). This sword is complimented by bladed gauntlets that snap onto his arms (and again, give the aforementioned Shredder comparisons some water) and a very elaborately designed oriental crossbow. According to the filecard, this is a special custom crossbow that fires specially functioning arrows. Regardless of its history, it looks very cool, and has a neat real-firing ability. The quiver is also a very understated but cool accessory, too, with a place for his arrows and a small sheath for the sword as well.

When it comes right down to it, having a cheaper alternative to picking up Storm Shadow is never a bad thing, though if you already have the Commando version, I can't really think of major reasons to own this one. His new swords and blades are all very neat, and I do love his new over-animated design asthetics. Are these small additions really worth an additional $10.00 purchase? Nah, not necessarily, but I still really like this figure, and for a re-issue he's got some neat elements that I love. He'll absolutely find a place in my Sigma 6 universe, but I wouldn't expect everyone to think the same way.














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