The 1997 GI Joe line has a weird status with fans at the moment. People remember it, some of the figures have gained popularity they probably didn’t have upon release 20 years ago. But, there’s figures no one talks about still, such as the Storm Shadow this profile is about.
As a kid in the nineties, I had a few options for a Storm Shadow figure, not all of them decent. My brother had a Ninja Force Storm Shadow, which I liked decently, but never stood out to me. Then there was the Shadow Ninja version which I owned, but those toys were terrible for a lot of reasons. Finally, there was this figure. Even back then, the V1 sculpt appealed to me a lot more than the Ninja Force variations, plus he could hold his accessories a lot better, making this my go-to Stormy all the way up to my teenage years.
The best part of this figure is the deco. The black pattern on his torso is directly taken from Ninja Force Storm Shadow, making this figure him in redux form. Like that figure, this Storm Shadow is also a GI Joe team member, hence why he’s sold in a team with Lady Jaye and Snake Eyes. It’s a small touch, but it makes the figure a lot more interesting now than if he’d just been a remake of the original, in a similar vein to the 2005 comic pack figure. The deco is subtle enough that it adds visual appeal to this version, but it doesn’t prevent you from using him as either a Joe or Cobra. As there’s no markings on the figure tieing him to either side, he’s still workable as a Cobra, a role he infrequently adopted when I was a kid, but one that worked none the less. Lastly, he features some grey and beige details the original didn’t have, which highlights the sculpt nicely.
The sculpt is exactly the same as the original figure, which is good. By ‘97, a lot of ARAH molds were already gone or degrading (The shoulder swap on ‘97 Snow Job being one good example, of many) so it was nice to see V1 Storm Shadow still fully intact. Hasbro wouldn’t go on to use this mold very much through the 2000‘s, certainly not to the extent of figures like V1 Firefly. After this, the figure only showed up twice more in the Ninja Cobra Strike Team set as the Black Dragon Ninja and Red Ninja Viper, and once after that again as Storm Shadow in 2005 (but with different shoulders). I see this figure as Hasbro’s best ninja sculpt, so it’s disappointing that it saw so little use. Even more so when you consider the Ninja Force tooling was being used in favor of it. I’m sure that made collectors of the time happy, given how unpopular Ninja Force figures were.
I suppose I could comment on his parts rather than take them for granted. He comes with a katana, wakizashi, nunchucks, bow and quiver/backpack. Exact same parts as the original, which is perfect. All of the parts work well with the figure, as they were intended, but I sometimes forget to appreciate how nice it was for a figure to have his original parts. Later in the 2000‘s Hasbro would start including more random and varied parts that rarely worked with the figures, let alone look good. To my memory, this figure was the last Storm Shadow to include these parts.
All in all, I like this figure a lot. He’s not the original Storm Shadow, but he’s fun and a little unique. He’s also a lot easier to find in pristine white condition than the original, so that’s another plus in his favor. Like other ‘97‘s though, he’s getting a little tougher to find. He tends to float around $12 when one shows up for auction, which seems like a fair price. If you’re okay with ninjas, I think he provides enough qualities to be worth owning alongside the original.