1988 Storm Shadow

1988 Storm Shadow

Storm Shadow as a GI Joe is a concept I’m not so sure about. At this point, it seems to be something that’s been mostly forgotten about, which I find weird since Tommy was a good guy for more of ARAH than he was bad, but I suppose it goes to reinforce the notion that GI Joe died after 1987. Regardless, this was a pretty fun toy, and it also completely changed the character of Storm Shadow from it’s release to the line’s cancellation in ‘94.

Despite being a year of toys I like a lot, 1988 has a lot of random guys, and not quite as many surefire winners like you had seen in years prior. From that end, you can see some of Hasbro’s motivations for bringing Storm Shadow back with a new figure, since from what I understand of the old stories, the original was one of the first ‘84 guys to sell out anywhere you could find Joes. Plus, your only other big-shots were probably Road Pig, Iron Grenadier Destro and Sgt. Slaughter, two of which were vehicle pack-ins. To a mild extent, it makes Strom Shadow the poster boy for 1988, which surprises me, as it’s not something I normally think about.

I don’t think this is my favorite Storm Shadow sculpt overall. The hooded design does a nice job of differentiating this figure from the original, while maintaining the look of a ninja, though I find the sculpt leaves something to be desired. It’s detailed, and the proportions are alright, though speaking of the later I tend to find that the way the figure goes from baggy sculpted pieces to thin sculpted pieces to be a little jarring. It’s not necessarily wrong, just awkward by sight and feel, like around his shin guards, or the bagginess of his perpetually lifted sleeves. On his own, it’s a fairly good ninja toy, but when compared to the standard set by the ‘84 Storm Shadow sculpt, I don’t think it’s quite as nice.

While plenty of details go without paint to show them, I think the deco is one of this figure’s stronger elements. You have the distinctive Tetris-block cammo that premiered in ‘88 and saw seldom use afterwards. We probably lost a few nice paint masks for the cammo, but I like it, and the figure seems a little more memorable for having it. You also have the Arashikage clan tattoo featured prominently on Storm Shadow’s right arm, which I think is probably the most substantial detail featured on the figure. Without that one detail, I think this would be a much more boring figure, but it’s presence is cool and eye-catching, especially since the rest of his colors are a fairly monotonous mixture of white and gray.

Storm Shadow includes a red backpack and sword, a black claw and compound bow. Like a lot of ‘88 figures in my collection, I have the misfortune of not having completed this guy years ago when prices were cheap. Fortunately in this figure’s case, his parts were reused quite a bit in the following years, so the claw and bow are parts I have several other copies of. The bow is a bit hard for figures to hold, so I don’t like it too much, but both parts look alright. The backpack is one of those with hooks for sliding his sword into; this was a common gimmick in ARAH, though one I’m also not so keen on. To me, it seems like the clips had too much of a tendency to stress the sword or break off, which limits them to just looking odd on the backpack. I think these parts being bright red looks a little weird too, but there again, this figure didn’t have a lot of color, so that’s probably the motivation for that.

After it’s use here in the US, the mold went to Brazil and later Funskool who used it for very similar releases. Then the mold was recalled by Hasbro who put it to use for a pair of repaints, a boring and uninspired green figure in the ’04 Ninja Cobra Strike Team set, and a Red Ninja Viper included in a comic-pack. Both of the later repaints are fairly mediocre, and I think their boring decos make the mold seem a lot worse. The lack of a satisfying repaint from this mold makes him one I’d be tempted to buy some extras of for customs, but that might require more energy than I’m willing to put in, given this release is already good enough.

Mint complete examples of ‘88 Storm Shadow go for around $20, though I notice the figure is both fairly common and also one that frequently goes well above that price, and slightly below it too. To me, that means the figure is probably worth less than $20, but there’s still some holdover pricing from the seller’s market of the past few years. While it’s not my favorite version of Storm Shadow, nor one I’ve even used in pictures until just the past year or so, it’s still a very solid toy, so I think the pricing is about right for it.

gi joe ninja force storm shadow cobra gi joe hasbro vintage 1988 gi joe ninja force storm shadow cobra gi joe hasbro vintage 1988

1988 Storm Shadow Links:

Forgotten Figures

Attica Gazette

Half the Battle

Joe A Day


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5 Responses to 1988 Storm Shadow

  1. Past Nastification says:

    Nice review as always.

    My problem w the figure is the camouflage, as it’s oversized and doesn’t break when it falls over different areas. Nit picky? Yes. I just can’t imagine the pattern on the hood and the mask lining up perfectly.

    As far as the re-colors, I actually thought the red (were there two early 2000’s re-colors, maybe one w a muddy wash?) was a better version than the ‘88 one. That might be because I had started to drift out of Joes by then, and like you still saw Stormy better as a villain. Maybe an anti-hero, but definitely not a Joe. So, in red, the mold gets to be an entirely different character.

  2. A-Man says:

    I totally disagree about the Ninja Cobra Strike Team version. I think it’s the best use of this mold and the best figure in that set! But I also think Storm Shadow V1 is overrated as a mold and recolored Jinxes just look like recolored Jinxes.

    Anyway, 1988 Storm Shadow was back when it was allowed to change character looks without 20 million nerd fanboys saying “That’s not _____ “. I mean, many still felt that as the kids/preteens they were at the time, but there was no forum to hear them. People hated Destro having his own team, Storm Shadow being a Joe, CC in the armor, etc…like everything GI JOE was supposed to stay frozen in 1985.

    The figure was good, the red pack and sword not so good.

  3. Great review and pics. I like the comic scene re-creation in the first one. This was THE Storm Shadow for me–so to me the default has always been that he’s a Joe. This was one of my first GI Joe figures, before I understood the backstory, so he was just a ferocious ninja at first. I used to load him down with accessory pack versions of Beach head’s pack and bag so he was ready for anything, especially with what I thought was a grappling hook launcher on the backpack. I was probably inspired by the 1989 Batman movie. As I learned more about the lore, I loved that this guy had the Arashikage tattoo on his wrist. And he got a new lease on life after the Benzheen storyline.

  4. Sam Smith says:

    I agree with the General. The 88 Stormy was THE Stormy for me; it hit me at the perfect time of my childhood. I was too young when 84 Stormy came out, so I never had one as a kid. Later — when I was around 10 years old — I saw an 84 Stormy at the hobby shop near my home, but was unimpressed with the head sculpt, the swivel neck, and the short sleeves. I’ve always felt that 88 Stormy was a better figure in nearly every way as compared to 84 Stormy (except for 84 Stormy’s backpack). That’s probably sacrilege to say, but…there it is.

    One of the things I admire most about 88 Stormy is the flexibility in his design. There are no Joe or Cobra markings on him. As kids, we viewed his faction affiliation as fluid. On some missions, he was still a Cobra assassin (white uniform and red accessories helped make that believable). On other missions, he was a Joe, consistent with file card and comic book (the block camo helped make that believable, as only Joes had that pattern at the time). Frankly, he fit in very well with both sides, and that was great for imaginative play.

  5. Mike T. says:

    He came out after I was pretty much out of Joe. But, my younger brother got one and I thought he was one of the coolest figures I had ever seen. I had a couple of adventures with him against the ’85 Snake Eyes.

    Now, I don’t use him very often and I’m not sure why. The mold is still pretty great. But, I see Stormshadow as a Cobra as that was my childhood introduction to him. So, it’s tough to use this fig as a Joe and I prefer the ’84 Stormshadow as the Cobra version.

    Love the last pick with the different sword.

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