1991 Snake Eyes

1991 Snake Eyes

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not a huge Snake Eyes fan. I like him, but I don’t love him, and he plays a reduced role in my GI Joe world. In the 12 year run of the original ARAH line, there was 5 major Snake Eyes figures, and of them, this may have been the best design. I’m still pretty ambivalent to it overall though.

Truth be told, I don’t think most of the original Snake Eyes toys were all that good. You have the unpainted ‘82/’83 figure, with a soft head sculpt and relatively little going on. An okay ‘85 figure, which is more interesting than the first, but still has a kind of doofy sculpt. An ‘89 figure which comparatively was very nice with tons of accessories. Then you had one other figure, with the Ninja Force (and Shadow Ninja) figures that came out after the ‘91 figure, and those were easily the worst. It’s odd, given that this design is a little more obscure, but I think there’s a case to be made that this was the best Snake Eyes figure for a few reasons.

One thing I really like, is that this Snake Eyes returned him to his look as a commando, and downplayed the ninja thing a little more. I’m partial to Snake Eyes as an enigmatic commando, though most of the toys put more emphasis on the ninja angle. Parts of the toy still look overtly ninja-like, but we see a return to the the goggles and mask combo, which really ties him to the original sculpt.

I also really like that this is one of the only Snake Eyes toys that isn’t totally monochrome. While the figure still features mostly black as a base, details are shown with blue, light-gray and even a little red and silver for the mask. It’s not so overbearing that it screams “90‘s toy”, but breathes a lot of visual interest into Snake Eyes that the other versions of him sorely lack.

His parts are okay, but not the figure’s strong suit. He includes an orange, suppressed SMG, two orange swords, and a backpack missile-launcher with a grappling hook. In terms of gear, the older Snake Eyes figures beat this one by a longshot, though I think his gun looks nicely interesting despite the orange. The grappling hook was a creative way to incorporate a missile launcher, though I never was very hot on parts like this, even as a kid. Probably the nicest thing is that he includes two swords, allowing him to wield them akimbo, which is neat.

There’s a couple repaints of this mold, which are pretty good in their own right. You have the ‘04 Desert Patrol figure, and another one from ‘05 in the Heavy Assault Squad. The thing is though, is that most of these figures really don’t surpass this one in terms of coloring. They’re more reasonable looking, but this figure already was a nicely colored toy, and the repaints tend to diminish that, with generic color schemes that are far less eye-catching. I’m glad they exist, though the ‘91 release remains the best use of the mold to me.

For all of us GI Joe cheap-o collectors, this Snake Eyes is still nicely affordable. A mint complete figure tends to go for around $7, though do note that the second sword is often times missing. It’s not a perfect figure, but this might be my favorite Snake Eyes from ARAH. He presents a lot of qualities and is an all around solid figure of a mostly over-exposed character.

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1991 Snake Eyes Links:

Forgotten Figures

3D Joes

Joe a Day

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4 Responses to 1991 Snake Eyes

  1. Mike T. says:

    You can get his gun and sword in gold from the Night Fighter Guile figure. They’re still relatively affordable. And, you can find the weapons by themselves from time to time. There’s also a neon green version of his weapon that’s really hard to find that came with the European exclusive Rock Viper. I think his pack might have a variant color in that line, too.

    The 2000’s repaints proved this mold is one of the best Snake Eyes designs. Both the Desert and HAS figures are strong. And, the head is amazing on the Winter Ops figure. Too many collectors pass the 1991 by due to the colors of the weapons. But, with 1989 gear, this is really a great figure, too.

  2. A-Man says:

    The goggles are so big, maybe that makes him more friendly looking?
    I think I like 1991 SE overall more than 1989. It’s more symmetrical, no molded on weapons you cannot use, there’s no silver details to rub off. No weird comic book origin where it was pieced together from Cobra torturer’s clothes (okay, maybe that’s the best thing about 1989’s Snake-Eyes).

    The downside is 1991 SE has a thick torso and orange weapons.

  3. R.T.G. says:

    This figure is the best blend of Ninja and Commando that any Snake Eyes figure managed to achieve. There’s some very strong sculpting on this mold, and it looks like it was more of a basis for a lot of the new sculpt era Snake Eyes figures (The first two specifically)

    I’ve found that the red 1985 Snake Eyes accessories from some of the TBM releases really go well with this figure.

  4. Jester says:

    My personal preference is for the 1989 Snake Eyes (although I think the Ninja Force version also has certain things going for it). For whatever reason, he looks the most ruthless and dangerous of all the ARAH variants (which perhaps explain why Larry Hama added that note about having a fondness for small, fuzzy animals to his filecard).

    As for 1991 Snake Eyes, I think the best thing anyone ever did with it was the Impel trading card, where the artist recoloured the costume with a palette of dark blue, grey, black and a little bit of khaki (and adding 1989’s trench knives, interestingly enough). Quite striking, really: https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/v2QAAOSwAwFj4q-A/s-l1600.jpg

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