The purpose of the "Many Faces of..." series is actually multi-fold (yes I realize that is not a word). First, it is a review of many of the versions of characters over the years. Second, and somewhat more importantly, it is housecleaning for me. A chance to look over my collection and evaluate why certain figures are within it. Lastly, there is somewhat a catharsis here. Some of these figures are not going to be in my collection after I write this up. I am evaluating why I purchased them, why I kept them, and why I now don't want them or want them. I am re-evaluating my action figures because, well it's time to do it.
With some of these write ups I have switched out the accessories, especially with figures like Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes (The first two in the series). So if you see some accessories on the wrong figure that is why. It is a bad habit of mine, especially with figures that have had very cool accessories but are less than what they could be. Also I am not at all planning to touch on figures I have already reviewed. For those use the quick links section of the review section. In some ways I wish I had done this last year with my first "purge" of action figures. I could have really covered a great deal of ground and been more comprehensive.
Also this series is purposefully made that I can add to it later. So if you ever come back and re-read them and they are additions, that is why.
A last note, I said some of these figures are leaving, but by the time I post this they are most likely going to be gone, so do not take this as a trade or for sale post.
Snake Eyes has always been in an odd place for me. Hasbro has long insisted on making him the central character of GI Joe. I kind of don't subscribe to that as I think GI Joe only works as an ensemble. Snakes seems to polarize some fans, there are those that simply hate him for being an ungodly, unstoppable super-man. I don't hate him necessarily, but he is not my favorite character at the same time. I also don't subscribe to the idea he is unbeatable. It does seem in recent years the online communities have leaned to that view of Snake Eyes though.
Long, long ago when I was doing "semi serious" GI Joe story, I had Snake Eyes defeated by Beachead. My logic here was two fold, 1. To show that no one was unstoppable and 2. Beachead was an expert hand-to-hand combatant according to the comics. I got a great deal of flak for doing this as well, people went off about how they felt Snakes was too good to be beaten by anyone.
This "undefeatable" label keeps with Snake Eyes in the comics and even in the movie. He's died and came back (similar to the way Storm Shadow did in the original run) and other such things that boggle the imagination. All this combines to make an interesting character totally unbelievable in my mind. Sometimes I will play of this "God mode" ability for the sake of a joke, but it has gotten old in the Joe media at this point.
But any way you slice it Hasbro has Snake Eyes front and center which is part of the reason I started off with him. He has officially had 54 versions (most of them in the past 8 years, 45 since 2002) over the course of the GI Joe 3 & 3/4 inch lines. That is way too much ground to cover but here are some highlights from my collection with some mentions of some others along the way.
But either way you cut it, every year a new version of Snake Eyes gets a ton of attention and is heralded as the "ULTIMATE SNAKE EYES!!!!1!!one!" Most of the time the figure really doesn't live up to the hype, however the last (POC wave 3 version) actually did, probably ending my Snake Eyes purchases forever, but that remains to be seen too. You never know, Hasbro might do something totally different and cool with him in the near future. However if it is another "man in Black" again I doubt I will touch it.
As much as I loved the Version 1 of Snake Eyes, he also didn't hold up well over the years. His thumbs broke, his arm snapped at the shoulder, the old jet pack peg broke off in his back, his leg snapped. Yeah he really isn't in good shape at all, I just thought I would mention this fact up front for you all.
For the longest time Version 2 was seriously one of the most desired figures ever. I finally pieced mine together from various figures that were damaged. That seems a bit out there but you would be surprised how many of my ARAH Joes came to me that way. I used to look over custom lots and spot parts to rare and hard to find figures and grab them, building up figures. But Snake Eyes Version 2 is one of the very few figures that was widely released before 1986 that I didn't have in my collection. Most of my collection gaps were after 1986 as I wasn't as able to grab GI Joe figures as often as I liked. Gas, car, all that other life crap got in the way of collecting. However, unlike many who sold off their collections, I never stopped completely. My speed or like of speed is more economic than lack of interest.
I finally completed this figure in 2005, I felt I had done a great task and fulfilled a great hole in my collection. I actually still feel that way. He is an original and is one of those figures I have fond memories of even though he isn't from my childhood (except in trying to find him, over and over and over). I never, ever saw the figure in the store so that is another reason the figure feels like such an important part of my collection.
After my version 1 was demolished, and I could never track down version 2 it was years later before another Snake Eyes was made. While that was frustrating I actually prefer it that way. The lines each year had a certain level of freshness to them, new characters and ideas were everywhere in the line. Granted 1988 was one of those horrible years, but at least you didn't have tons of reissues. While 1989 was loaded with reissues they were characters not seen for years and brand new takes on them. Snake Eyes is one of those figures that made 1989 a great year for GI Joe.
For the longest time this was my default Snake Eyes, and the mold received several repaints. I never thought the repaints matched up to the coolness of this mold, especially the ones with the huge "GI JOE" logo on the thigh. Those invoked images in my mind of a Cobra patrol looking into the night and seeing a single GI Joe Logo moving around in the night. Dumbfounded all they can say is "Huh, what is dat?" and Snake Eyes in the darkness just does a face palm over the ludicrous design that he knew was going to kill his stealth.
But this mold is one of my favorites from the ARAH series. I am positive the huge knives are a rip off of American Ninja (remember the scene when the sarge pulls out huge knives similar to them? I believe it was in part 2). This figure also had some kick arse accessories like a blowgun and tri-nunchucks (that ended up getting reused to death) along with the standard Sword/Uzi combo.
As I said this is probably one of my favorite molds from ARAH era, and in many ways this was really my first Snake Eyes figure, he is an awesome rendition. One of the things I like too is that his overall look is a slight deviation from previously established Snake Eyes. He wasn't just "standard man in black" this time but at the same time he retained that basic element. Too bad that wasn't a pattern that could be kept.
I have long argued that 1991 was the beginning of the end of the original GI Joe run of figures. Thing is I often feel like the same mentality then is being applied now (at least on a marketing level). This is the year where everything got kind of weird, Eco-Warriors and it seemed every figure had to have some sort of bright color on them (i.e. Orange on BAT's, teal on Low Light, bright yellow on Desert Scorpion, that super red on Cobra Commander's mask, ect). While not all the figures were that bad (yet) it was the beginning point that the colors got super bright and that trend built from there. Snake Eyes avoided much of that at the time but still got some grody red weapons (including a much oversized Uzi). However, this was also the year the spring loaded launchers came in, and to be fair Snakes had one of the only ones I ever liked (a backpack which launched a grappling hook, the only other one I liked was Red Star's RPG).
The colors SE has here are not horrible, but defiantly leave a great deal to be desired. The mold is actually a cool one and I think that is why this figure has sat in my collection so long. But looking at it now I am thinking it needs to go to the yard sale pile, not because I don't like the mold but because he just doesn't match up with Snake Eyes and truth is he never did. The paint is just too bright and too out of character. This mold did get repainted but by that point I think Snake Eyes had too many versions. This mold kind of just got lost in the mix to be honest, now I think it has run it's course.
Next there seems to be a huge gap in my series, from version 4 to version 19. But let's be fair here (keep in mind I am not going to get too detailed here, just covering some high points). First there were some TRU exclusives that I missed, then the "Collector's editions" that I mentioned earlier (that repainted the v3 mold), there was the inexplicable t-crotch JvC mold that was just way short of any kind of 'coolness' goal (This mold was repainted into the ugliest Snake Eyes ever when it was painted green), the next stab was the JvC that many heralded as the ultimate Snake Eyes but had the huge flaw of the oversized guns on the thigh. That brings us up to the Valor vs. Venom era (with a few left out, sorry).
This mold is almost like that promise from a first date, she means well but it just didn't work out. This mold got several repaints (as was Hasbro's MO at the time, often being packaged with more desirable figures as they insisted on putting GI Joe's into two-packs). He originally came in gray with Action Attack Storm Shadow (UGGGH, more on that figure in the Many Faces of Storm Shadow). There was also a single packed version that was all black. This one came from a pack with the Ninja Lightning Cycle. But at the time I felt it was a bit better than the gray attempt.
Personally, with hind sight being 20/20, I think the figure shows many of the problems with that era of GI Joe. While many categorize the whole era as "New sculpt" for convince I have noticed 3 distinct moments of the era. First is the T-Crotch figures of JvC, next is the O-ringed but badly proportioned figures of late JvC and Spy Troops. Then there is the Valor vs. Venom era that had many issues addressed while creating new ones. Some in particular in this figure is shoulders that look too broad and the hips. Honestly I like this figure overall, but I cannot continue to justify it within my collection. There is really nothing dynamic or interesting about it. It's ok but not something I feel I HAVE to keep.
The next one was a huge debate for me...
For a time this was the "Ultimate" Snake Eyes to me. His one major flaw was his hands (Which were switched out with VvV Double Clutch I believe). Still he was a cool figure and captured much of what I loved about Snake Eyes. I especially liked the detailing on the thigh with what looks like some sort of timer intended to be added to some explosives. He also has a nice knife sheath on his ankle. Also unlike many figures of the era he fits in with the ARAH figures quite well.
I decided to keep the Timber he came with at least, one of my fav molds of the old wolf. But as for this figure I really don't see a place for him in my collection. In the not too distant past he was my default Snake Eyes, now he seems to be in limbo, not quite good enough for that role but not terrible at all at the same time.
Being in that Limbo state makes him go into the go away box, I do like him and a big part of me does not want to let him go, but space is a huge issue right now, that is probably why I kept the write ups to a minimum on him.
While he was the last of the Valor vs. Venom line he was no where near the end of Snake Eyes in that time frame.
Comic packs were making a huge impact in the Joe world, mostly because at that time you would get three figures in a pack vs. the two we get now. This was the first set for the Silent Issue of the Marvel GI Joe series (GI Joe #21 for those keeping score) and Snake Eyes got a new head for this set. The head was interesting to say the least and as far as I can tell has never been redone.
What ended up happening with this figure is I used him as a replacement for my Version 1 that had bit the dust years ago. He was a bit different while defiantly being Snake Eyes. While there were repaints of the Version 1 at that point, this one seemed a bit more unique to me. In some ways a bit more fun as well. Thus I doubt he is going anywhere, I think instead of a repaint of the version 1 I will keep this in it's place. I like it, what else can be said.
This version of Snake Eyes came from the TRU Artic Set, which was a weird set. A clear Mirage, Blue Snow Job called Frostbite. I think it is fair to say Hasbro was just filling a request for another 6 pack with that one. But this Snake Eyes does stick out at the same time. He takes the V4 head sculpt and slaps it on the body of Sub Zero adding in a black and gray paint job with some white and green highlights. Simple, effective, and looks cool. He also breaks the conventional snake eyes accessories with no Uzi or Sword. In short, I kind of liked him just for being a bit different. Sure this is not a practical artic wear, a person would stick out like a sore thumb in the snow in this outfit, but at the same time sometimes what works with a character isn't what works in the real world (more later).
This is not the first stab at Snakes in snow gear, but I felt it was one of the better ones. The other attempt from a comic pack was just V1 head on a Snow Job body. While on paper this sounds just like the figure above the application fell very short to me. This figure was a great deal better IMO. Easily he is a keeper to me.
From here a few more Snakes came out, but they didn't really interest me, I will be honest, I remember the release of these figures in different order but I am trying to keep with the established releases.
The line went to Direct to Customer internet exclusives and then to the Sigma "I have never understood why anyone liked it" Six line. To be blunt, with the off scale and weird proportions that made the JvC-VvV figures look normal I felt like Sigma Six was living proof Hasbro was trying to polish a turd and slap a GI Joe logo on it to see if Joe fans will really buy anything. Up until the DTC/Sigma Six point I often feel I was suckered, I supported the hell out of GI Joe in the hopes for a vast improvement of the franchise. Did that happen ultimately? Some argue yes, others left the hobby all together. My vote is some good things happened but not everything was sunshine and rainbows.
I got this figure as a present from a buddy of mine, which is why I think I have held onto it for so long. While it was intended to be a redo of V2 Snake Eyes for the 25th anniversary line, I felt it was done the cheapest and least amount of effort. One of my major problems with the 25th line in the beginning was the fact that the chest articulation created an odd hump in the torso. Many lines have had this type of articulation before and since, even lines produced by Hasbro, without this hump effect. Oddly when you mention this fact to some fans they start going off about how the articulation is "more realistic' and completely missing the point of what the "hump" does to the figure.
This figure is the exact same as the 25th version of the V1 with a new bandolier on it and a new head. It totally misses many of the details that made the V2 such a much more interesting mold than the V1. Because of that huge defect I passed on most of the 25th Snake Eyes. But no matter what I couldn't pass them all up...
Inevitably another comic pack for the Silent issue had to be made. Well not really but Hasbro thought so. What I liked was the fact this figure had battle damage. This is the first Snake Eyes with battle damage and as such he is unique among the Xerox copies. Pretty much the 25th line was slight color alterations with the same body and occasional changes in the accessories. This was at the least something different and new. Granted it is mostly that same old body from the 25th anniversary.
Being that he is kind of unique, he is an easy one to call as a keeper. Unlike the other 25th versions of Snake Eyes, this one brought something new to the table that I think makes it worth keeping.
The 25th line kept going and went to the Snake Eyes well again with their stab at V3, as you recall this was my favorite mold of the ARAH line...
To be blunt they fall way short and truthfully I think I am being a bit generous. A major flaw is the knives that sit so high on the chest it looks like Snakes will hit them if he turns his head, this is true no matter which way they are sitting on his chest. He also inexplicably has a set of night vision goggle drilled into his head. I say drilled because I can see no practical way that these are even attached to his head. The pictures I have seen of these types of night vision goggles they are hooked o a helmet or something. Not the case here, but I am sure someone will tell me I am totally wrong.
A good aspect of this figure is the knives do come off the chest and can be used, which is a great aspect, but only one good quality of many flaws. Although the variation of the sword is kind of neat, but not great.
Being as this figure is such a huge disappointment and has no practical purpose in my collection I think I am selling it. Sorry 25th fans just can't find a way to give this one a good rating.
On the other hand this figure is something cool. The premise is just the same as the comic pack, take Snake Eyes head, slap it on a Snow Job body, paint and you have an artic version of Snake Eyes. However this time it appears there was no Snow Job to put the head on, so Hasbro made a new one. The body was vastly different but also kind of cool. Very much an artic while being Snake Eyes as well. Give that figure and Uzi, snow shoes and a sword and you got a Snake Eyes to be proud of. You don't even have to change the color palette.
Unlike the Comic pack version, this mold has much more depth and detail, making it look ten times better than the first try.
Ultimately, this is a keeper I think. While I am also keeping other Artic versions of Snake Eyes, I think this one is one of the best of the bunch. He is different from most Snake Eyes that (I feel) get shoved down our collective thoughts.
Nest up is another huge fav of mine, if only because he represents a fond memory of my childhood. This figure comes from the DVD packs that collected the GI Joe Mini-series and also the Mass Device. This is the figure from the original Mass Device Mini-Series in which Snake Eyes is trapped in an irradiated mine. When I was a kid I really believed he was going to die when he walked out past the Cobra Troopers (Hey, I was a kid).
But one thing I really like about this fig is how it is done, the translucent parts are not the key point even though this figure could easily have been all translucent. But the fact that there are points the translucent pieces are painted over is very cool and fun.
If there ever was a keeper this is probably it. A great variation of the old idea but also invokes childhood memories.
This figure is funny cause on paper I should hate him. The "hump" is barely covered, the color is purple of all things and he is a forced figure from a multi-pack. There is also a repaint of him in more accurate colors for the V2 figure. All that and yet it is one of my favorites.
I know part of it is the fact that this figure does have the parts the first stab at a 25th version of the V2 should have. But for some reason the figure kind of invokes memories of the cartoon series. As a kid I love both the GI Joe Cartoon and the Comic but part of me liked the cartoon better. The cartoon had some weird episodes but also there was a certain "zing" to it. Even in the stupid episodes there was a level of fun that I think never translated into the comic very well. The comic was much more serious, which is fine but as a kid I was concerned with fun. To be honest as an adult my priorities haven't changed much, fun is a primary factor. This invoking of fun kind of gives this figure a certain appeal to me that other versions can't do.
In short, I like him a lot.
I just get a good feeling from this figure, more than anything that is why I started collecting. He stays for that reason alone.
Next up is a figure that makes most people do a double take.
This is the "training" Snake Eyes that came with the Hard Master (who was a repaint of the 25th version of Snakes V3 figure). However one thing I like about this figure is that he is a departure from the "man in black" idea while still being capable of holding on to the character.
Really he is a simple repaint from the 25th Storm Shadow body, which in all honesty is one of my favorite 25th anniversary bodies because the torso articulation does not produce the "chest hump." The Red Ninja head is also used, but really a Ninja is a Ninja so not a whole lot of variance is required. In fact, Snakes wearing a similar outfit to Storm Shadow in his training days makes perfect sense (cause really, what else is he supposed to wear). Truth is I really don't have much of a use for him, but at the same time he is different, in a very good way.
So can you tell I intend on keeping this one? To be fair though I unloaded most the 25th Snake Eyes I didn't want last year. This is probably close to the last one I want to get rid of though.
We hit a pretty good gap again, it should be pointed out that in this range we get mostly repaints of the various 25th SE's. Not much IMO, but Hasbro keeps saying Snakes must stay "front and center." Really nothing new comes in until...
This is the Rise of Cobra version. Realistically though, this is your typical "man in black" yet again. While he does look almost exactly as he did in the movie, the movie also really didn't take any liberties until much later in the film (more on that later). He isn't bad though, but more kind of there. But it is far from a perfect figure too. There are many, many flaws, one of them being the huge visor SE is given.
He also has the skinny arms many of the post 25th figures have suffered from. Instead of a scabbard for the standard sword, he has a small tab that barely holds onto the sword. This tab does constantly cause the sword to come loose all the time. Not sure what the designers were thinking here, but it doesn't work for me.
But even with those flaws he isn't bad. A bit boring after so many Snake Eyes though. Not sure what else could be done here to make him more dynamic or different, but the fact is he just is another repeat of the tired formula.
In the end, although he isn't a bad figure, he really serves no purpose in my collection.
The next figure just shows how one detail can make a figure 10 times what it was.
The long coat really makes this figure. That and right after the last Snake Eyes this one actually does have a scabbard. But what I really like about this figure is the fact is that he is something different while retaining that "man in black" look to him and also keeping all the basics of the previous figures. Many complained about how this figure didn't have a hood like he did on the box art. While a hood attachment, switchable or otherwise, would have been icing on the cake, I still dig this figure for the simple fact that he is so simple and yet so different.
Long coats seemed to be the rage the year this Snake Eyes came out. In fact I think the only figure not made cooler by the addition of the long coat was Cobra Commander (that will be talked about later in another set of reviews).
I hope it's clear this figure is hanging around. I admit calling him "Paris Pursuit" was kind of stupid since this is not what he wore until after the scene in the movie. Still that doesn't make him any less cool and different, while being the same. I simply am so impressed by that aspect of this figure that I love it.
Now on to something actually kind of funny...
Putting a figure in all white that is normally in black really doesn't work. Just look at the white Darth Vader from the comic pack. What happens is your brain looks at the figure and thinks "That ain't right." Such is the case with Arctic Snake Eyes. While admittedly it is more practical, sometimes practical just looks silly. Case in point, scroll up to the other Arctic Snake Eyes in this series and while you know in you heart they would be huge targets in the snow they also look much cooler. This figure is a joke. He shouldn't be but somehow he is.
He does have nice pickaxes (that were recycled for the recent Arctic Destro) as well as other nice accessories but really, its a white Snake Eyes.
Now I would be remiss if I didn't mention there is a foreign variation of Cobra Invasor (who was Snake Eyes but given a Cobra Symbol because Hasbro didn't send along character info with the molds to other countries) that was all white with a silver head in the old days. Difference there is the figure was never intended to be Snake Eyes but something else. After all the figure did have a different name. Although I admit it did look kind of odd. I believe the figure was made in either Brazil or Argentina. But again it wasn't Snake Eyes (actually not sure what it was supposed to be, but it is something to note).
Now here is the funny part about this figure. It is so funny I am keeping it. There is a novelty to it that just makes me chuckle and, to be blunt, he is good for a laugh. I doubt that is what the designers were going for, but even his visor is white, how can you not laugh.
Oh boy, I probably and about to get a ton of heat for this next one...
I mentioned that there is a version of Snake Eyes every year that someone tries to call "The Ultimate Snake Eyes!!!!" and that rarely does that figure live up to the hype. The year ROC hit, this was the "ULTIMATE" Snake eyes that year but to me he fell way the hell short of the goal, and I mean way the hell short. I am sure there will be comments from some fans about "Oh God you hate GI Joe" "You're not a true fan" "You can't do a real objective review!" (That one is asinine since reviews, by their very nature are opinion pieces, but I digress), and "YOU DA SUXXORS!!!1!!one!"
Fine, but how can an "ULTIMATE" version of a character have so many glaring flaws...
If you look closely you see a very weird torso joint. While many figs after 25th annoyers have had huge problems with this joint, this one is beyond anything seen yet. Instead of the "hump" we get a funky bump all around the edge of the joint, why, UMM I have no idea. But the argument about the hump being chest muscles is eliminated with that design. I looks like he has "ring around the chest" or something.
But also he has the typical scrawny arms when viewed from the front. His scabbard is very bendy and easily warped, and one of his guns looks like it should have been made for a 2 inch figure rather than a near four inch one. He can hold it but it looks ludicrous, like he is holding a kids toy or something. This is the "ULTIMATE SNAKE EYES!!!1!one!" Really?
The gun looks comedic in his hands like something out of a bad cartoon. Then of course there is how his sword actually sits on his back.
Moving the scabbard over would only make it slap the back of Snake Eye's leg. The scabbard will not fit on his back at all. Basically it is stuck there.
Every year I do a favorites list of the figures I acquired in 1:18th scale. The year this figure came out I got questions about why he wasn't included but Paris Pursuit was, well I hope that explained most of the reason why. The one thing I actually do like about this figure is the black highlights beside the head and the black pants. That is something cool and different that gives Snake Eyes a unique look while not violating the simple parts of the character.
I have often said this figure was the same old, same old, but really I was avoiding a fight, truthfully I am saying goodbye to this figure anyway so why worry about it now. I once asked someone what was so great about this figure, the response was "He's the bees knees" and yes I responded just like the Gecko. Still I have not seen or heard much that says this figure is good, other than "It's cool." It's things like that which make me think there are people who are just stuck in this line of thought that certain companies and toy lines can do no wrong. Sorry, nobody is perfect, especially when figures like that are released.
And so with that I know I am severally rubbing against the grain of some people and, of course, some are going to give me crap for it. Still I am just going to say it, I DON'T LIKE THIS FIGURE!!! I don't care how much he goes for on eBay, he is overrated and really is over hyped in my opinion.
With that I wrap up this first installment of "The Many faces of..." I cleaned out a bunch of figures and said much about Snake Eyes as a character I think.