There was a brief moment in the history of G.I. Joe: Classified where it seemed as though the Red Ninja would be our primary army builder. Announced well before the news was made public about the Target exclusive COBRA Trooper, Red Ninja seemed poised to be the momentary backbone of the COBRA army.
In a way, the focus on ninja warriors made sense, after all the Snake Eyes film was on the verge of release and certainly ninjas were set to take center stage in G.I. Joe mythology again. But that was a few months ago and it feels like the whole world has changed since then. Snake Eyes has been bumped to October, 2021, the Target COBRA Island figures have been announced (and released), and G.I. Joe: Classified has officially exploded into the collector landscape in a way the brand has not seen in a very long time.
But, I digress… all of that was to say that even if the Red Ninja was the momentary default COBRA army builder, now that I’ve got him in hand– I might have been okay with that. This figure is awesome.
The first thing that becomes crystal clear with the Red Ninja figure is that G.I. Joe: Classified has managed to take the philosophy of re-used tooling to great lengths. The core figure of the Red Ninja is a straight repurposing of Snake Eyes from Wave 1, but thanks to a dynamic new headsculpt and awesome new secondaries, the same parts get a whole new life in some pretty exciting ways.
Since this figure was first revealed, it’s become clear that reused tooling is going to be a constant throughout the line, which aligns with action figure production philosophy over the past many years, but G.I. Joe: Classified’s approach is exceptionally well thought out. Figures like Gung Ho, Roadblock (v1 and v2), COBRA Trooper, Beachhead, etc… manage to take a smattering of existing parts and really add some neat new elements to create whole new characters from the same core parts.
Building upon the Snake Eyes base figure, Red Ninja adds some key new pieces to really separate this figure from its initial release.
First and foremost is the new head sculpt. While the old school Red Ninjas were more or less just ninjas in red uniforms, this version totally takes things to a new level. His awesome skull-themed face mask and head wrap really add some sinister themes to the character. I love this blank eyes, as well, revealing that perhaps these characters are under some sort of mind control.
I can already visualize COBRA Commander infiltrating the Arashikage Clan, who might not be intrinsically evil, and using some sort of technology to brainwash the warriors into doing his bidding.
Along with the new head sculpt, he’s got some amazing secondaries as well with shoulder pads, straps, sheaths and all sorts of other bells and whistles that bring this character to life.
Along with the sculpting additions, I feel the need to talk a bit about the color scheme, too. Once again Hasbro utlizes the larger scale to add some really unique color schemes, with the cloth parts of the uniform a more muted red/brown hue while the layered armor is a bit more vibrant and metallic in shade.
With some great black and browns worked in, the figure really has some depth of color, even as a “Red” Ninja and there is a lot to love about this figure, not just from a sculpt perspective, but in color scheme as well.
Because Red Ninja uses Snake Eyes as a base, the articulation is fantastic as one would expect. I still remember getting my hands on that Deluxe Snake Eyes a few months back and being completely blown away by the range of motion and the balance of the figure, and my awe with the seamless flexibility of figure continues unabated with the Red Ninja.
One thing I was a bit concerned about was how the added secondaries might hinder some of the more advanced joints, but I’m happy to say that the design of the chest gear and the belt still allow for the great movements of the shoulders and hips as we all hoped it would.
For those of us who got their hands on the Deluxe Snake Eyes from Hasbro Pulse don’t see a whole lot new with the Red Ninja’s accessories, but that doesn’t mean they’re not awesome.
He comes with a plethora of edged weapons, all of which were originally released with the aforementioned Snake Eyes, but considering the limited release of that figure, this may indeed be the first time many collectors are getting their hands on these weapons.
What’s really cool about the Red Ninja’s gear, though, is how well it fits into the various sheaths and holsters (including the removable backpack pictured above). There is a place for pretty much everything (as long as you include the Red Ninja’s hands as “places”) and even with his weapons all stashed away, he still stands and poses successfully.
The Red Ninja artwork is really amazing. I love the textured paint work on the package, it adds some incredible depth to the figure, and really shines a light on the sinister nature of this character. So, so cool, and Furio Tedeschi really nails the spirit of the Red Ninja. Mind blowing work!
In the grand scheme of things, the Red Ninja is a pretty minor player in the G.I. Joe landscape, and in spite of that, Hasbro’s treatment of the character is anything but “throwaway”. They put a ton of effort and execution into this Red Ninja figure and manage to take a pretty minor character and give him some great, new personality.
G.I. Joe Classified Red Ninja
The Red Ninja takes a classic character and adds some unique twists. Where the old school Red Ninja was a relatively straight forward ninja in red pajamas, this version has several cool, modern elements which stand it apart from the crowd.