Hot Toys : G.I Joe Retaliation - Snake Eyes - Review

It is considered that the term or brand ‘G.I Joe’ was the father of the 1/6th hobby that we know and love today.  Branded as ‘Action Man’ here in the UK, these 12” action figures and considered by many as to where it all began, and 49 years later they’re still with us, albeit moved on in design terms somewhat.

The slightly more modern ‘GI Joe vs Cobra’, originally conceived by Hasbro in the 33/4” format, had been in production by Sideshow as a 12” for years until recently the franchise caught the eyes of Hot Toys.  Once the series had been picked up by the film studios, the result was Hot Toys turned their hand at a series of G.I Joe Retaliation figures, depicted in the 2012 sequel (none were produced from the first movie).  So far we’ve seen Storm Shadow, Road Block (yet to be released) and possibly the most desirable ninja of them all, Snake Eyes… and it’s him we’ll be looking at today.

I believe there has been a couple of iterations of Snake Eyes as the 12” Sideshow variant, all of which depicting this mysterious masked ninja in very much a military ‘tactical look’, inspired by the original comic book artwork.  The Hot Toys version, which is a faithful replica of the movie character as a far sleeker appearance, and the armour really gives the figure a distinctive appearance that sets it beyond previous offerings.

I have to be honest and admit I know very little about the GI Joe franchise or the characters.  In reading up a little about the character, I do know that the original Snake Eyes as envisaged by Hasbro in 1982 is a far-cry from the movie ‘reboot’ version, two very different paths indeed.  Whilst I’ve seen both of the recent movies, they were not something that struck such a chord with me that I had to own the figures; and this purchase in particular was purely for parts to be cannibalised for customising.  That said, I can fully appreciate the hard work and effort that has gone into making the figure, and I can understand the appeal and apparent popularity it has within the collecting community.

This particular figure I purchased from Why So Serious, and whilst I had not given it any prior thought in terms of reserving one via pre-order, WSS did have one in stock and after a few mouse clicks in turned up less than 24hrs later; now that is a quick service!

So let’s move on and have a closer look at the figure and some of the features…

As with the majority of Hot Toys MMS releases; this figure comes boxed with an outer sleeve decorated in some excellent art-work, and an inner windowed box containing the plastic trays that hold all of the parts in place.  The box art work is fairly simple but effective with a white background strikingly contrasted by Snake Eyes (movie version?) in a sword wielding pose on the front cover.  Compared to some other Hot Toys releases of a similar price (Barney Ross 2.0 for example), the Snake Eyes figure comes with relatively few accessories.  So what do we get in the box?

  • Five (5) pairs of interchangeable gloved palms including:
    • -One (1) pair of fists
    • -One (1) pair of palms for holding gun
    • -One (1) pair of palms for holding swords
    • -One (2) pairs of relaxed palms
  • One (1) black “military ninja” bodysuit with armour on upper body and arms
  • One (1) black helmet
  • One (1) pair of black boots
  • Two (2) Japanese-styled metal swords with sheath
  • One (1) pair of daggers with sheaths
  • One (1) submachine gun
  • One (1) pistol with holster
  • Figure stand with Snake Eyes nameplate and the movie logo

As you can see, not a great deal included, but then the pre-order price of around £129 is below that of most figures when the average price these days seems to hover between £139 - £149, depending on the figure, some with a slightly higher asking price. 

Removing Snake Eyes from the box, he is ready dressed and outfitted for combat minus the placement of his pistol, one of the two swords on offer and his combat knives.  Starting with the figure itself, let’s take a closer look at what you get for your money.

What makes Snake Eyes ‘Snake Eyes’ is the head.  I must say, I much prefer the look of the sequel to that of the first movie; and when I saw this head I immediately saw custom kit-bash-fodder, so expect to see a custom figure based on that soon!  Although it looks like a single piece, it is actually made up of a series of smaller pieces glued together, although virtually seamless.  Needless to say it is a perfect 1/6th version of the movie counterpart.

The most distinguishing (and desirable) feature of the latest version of Snake Eyes, is of course the tactical upper, bicep and fore-arm body armour that he comes with; something that is quite a unique piece in the 1/6th community.  When InFlames released their Solid Snake Metal Boss figure, a similar kind of upper body armour was highly sought after as a loose item, and I can imagine the same will occur with this piece; I in particular bought this figure not for display but for loose parts. 

The bicep and fore-arm armour pieces are made to fit snugly against the figure and are held in place by a few straps, they can rotate freely to some degree so depending on the pose being achieved you can manipulate the armour into place.  These pieces are really nice and if you’re looking for something to make that ‘Space Marine’ style custom figure, these are the pieces you’ll be wanting!

The upper armour is actually removable (although I wouldn’t recommend doing so) and is held in place by a strap that passes through the back-plate and is affixed to the armoured panel shirt.  The armour itself is made from a flexible black plastic so that it better conforms to the body, and the two shoulder pieces are articulated and held in place with strip of flexible plastic attaching them to the main armour.  On the rear back panel, several pass-through holes are located for the sword scabbard holder and pouches, which attach via hooks to the shoulder area, and loops that attach to the trouser belt.

The rear panel that features the sword scabbard, knife holster and pouches is also removable and features two small pouches that although have Velcro fasteners on the flaps, they are actually glued shut!  It is quite peculiar and a slight shame that Hot Toys felt it necessary to do that.  A vertically mounted knife holster with handle pointing downwards is mounted next to these.

The armoured undershirt is truly a remarkable piece of clothing.  One thing Hot Toys do well is reproduce clothing items from the 1:1 scale movie counterparts, with attention to detail on the materials and textiles used and everything looks perfectly in scale; this piece is no exception.  A semi-rigid armour panel is on the front with non-functional quick-release clips that seem to serve no real purpose other than give the garment a tactical look and feel.  It is quite difficult to be accurate about the colours used here as some might say it is a dark grey colour, although photos show a distinct ‘blue’ hue in places.  Faux ribbed leather surrounds the shoulders and neck area, with a high-neck like piece that passes through the head hole in the over-armour.  The top is aided in removal by a zipper that runs up the back, stopping short of opening entirely about 10mm from the top of the neck.
The trousers are a bespoke custom ‘combat’ edition with two side pockets on the thighs that are padded out with material to give the impression that they’re full along with two pockets at the top and flaps to simulate pockets at the rear.  The lower behind the knee to the ankle there is a functional zipper which increases the width of the trouser, offering slightly more room, or stayed zipped for that tailored to fit look.

The boots are definitely based upon Oakey tactical boots with a custom armoured piece that straps to the front which gives them the feel of something a ninja might wear.

With the uniform looked at in detail, lets strip it all off and take a sneaky peek at the body that lays beneath.  Hot Toys have used a custom black coloured true-type for the under-body, adorned in typical HT fashion with a padded under-suit.  Personally I would prefer if they would avoid these padded undergarments and just use a slightly more muscular body as they do have a tendency to restrict articulation somewhat; around the hip region in this particular instance.  I would say that this figure is based on their narrow-shoulder figure in terms of dimensions, but if you’re planning on using parts from Snake Eyes on a custom figure, you should be fine with a say a TM21 without any padding.

So let’s take a look at some of the weaponry provided with the figure; two swords, two knives, a pistol and a sub-machine gun.

Starting with the obvious place, the swords; both of these are produced in real metal, the most striking of which being the chrome one with tactical black handle.  Strangely it is the black-bladed sword that is mentioned by name in the movie, referred to as ‘The Blade of Justice’, apparently made from ‘indestructible’ black carbon fibre… uh-huh, good luck making a sword out of that that holds a sharp edge.  My personal favourite, as I’m sure would be most is the chrome one and if this were a figure I was going to display ‘as is’, this would be the one he’d be wielding.

The sub-machine gun is that of the Heckler and Koch MP7, something that not very many of exist in the 1/6th world, the last one produced by Hot Toys was for the Sucker Punch Baby Doll character I believe.  Although nicely weathered, it is not as detailed as perhaps it could have been, and dare I say that some of the ‘smaller’ manufacturers such as Soldier Story for example may have done a better job if they’d had the opportunity.  The magazine is removable, the fore-grip folders and the stock sliding action functions, but elements like the flip-up tactical sights are one-piece moulded plastic and I have to say I’ve seen better.  I’m not saying it’s terrible, but for the price you pay for a Hot Toys figure, I perhaps expect a little more.

This leads me onto another negative point unfortunately in terms of realism and quality, and those being the tactical knives provided with the figure.  I would have expected that these would have also been die-cast metal as per the swords, but they are indeed just chrome effect plastic, and worse still the para-cord that passes through the handle is plastic, yes that’s right moulded plastic!  It actually looks like something you would have got with a child’s Action Man toy, not a £130 collectable figure.  This is one tiny little piece of the figure as a whole, so I’m pleased to say it is for me the only really negative I can find, but if you compare these knives to that offered by Art Figures ‘Soldier Of Fortune’ figure that I’ve reviewed; theirs are real metal and real cord handles… and that figure was £45 cheaper!

The last weapon in the collection is the pistol, which is a lovely piece indeed.  Features we come to expect from Hot Toys are present such as the spring loaded ‘cocking action’ slide, functioning hammer and removable magazine; it also comes with a nice belt mounted rigid holster, but no spare magazine.  The pistol itself I’d never seen before so assumed it was something dreamt up for the film, but it turns out to be a FN (Fabrique National) FNX chambered in 9mm, whereas a FN Five-7 was the previous pistol of choice in the first movie. 

And lastly, as standard we have the usual Hot Toys ‘Crotch Grabber’ stand with movie logo and custom name-plate. 

So in conclusion, what do I think of the figure?  Although I opted for this one as a ‘parts buy’ only, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it at all and it really is a nice piece.  The ONLY reason it is not something I would choose to display is that space is a premium and I can only display my custom work or those figures that really mean something to me, and unfortunately G.I Joe Retaliation was NOT a movie that ticked that box.

In terms of positive aspects of this figure, I think the overall appearance and aesthetic is superb, Hot Toys have really nailed the essence of this character.  The uniform and armour pieces are very good, and as mentioned previously this is something that Hot Toys do excel in.  In terms of value for money, the figure is not the best equipped for the price, but it does fall into the lower priced bracket (relatively speaking for Hot Toys figures) and really it does have all of the items you see the character using in the movie so not much more could be added.

The only negative aspects of this figure that are worth noting is the quality of some of the accessories, I just feel that for the price you are paying Hot Toys could have made more of an effort with the knives, and the primary weapon (the MP7) could also have been a little more detailed, especially when you compare against some of the other less popular manufacturers.

Overall however, I great figure and movie fans will not be disappointed…

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Why So Serious for their excellent service and would well recommend them if you’re in the market for new boxed figures.  Whilst they don’t stock loose parts, they do carry the latest HT releases and often have some of the older ones in stock too!

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