Originally posted at slangards.multiply.com on Nov 7, '09
There are a few toy lines that have become media franchises. G.I. Joe which has been around since the early 1960's is one. They started as military figures, Barbies for boys, with the familiar green fatigues of real american troops and relatively realistic gear. In the 1980's they shrunk to 3.75" to cash in on the success of the Star Wars line that shared that scale. That's when it really took off, becoming one of the merchandising cash cows for toy maker Hasbro.
The line died down in the mid 1990's. With odder product lines in weird neon colors, outlandish weapons, and vehicles that looked more and more ridiculous, the series just lost a lot of it's original fan base. But in 2003 and 2004, Hasbro released Spy Troops and Valor vs. Venom, cartoon series that brought back the original military feel and lead to my favorite line of G.I. Joes, the 8" Sigma6 line.
Now before I start off with this review, I have to warn you that this line has already been cancelled. Around the time the 25th Anniversary figures were released, Hasbro was wrapping up the Sigma6 and related sub-brands in order to move focus back to the 3.75" lines. Bad news for fans of the 8" line, but good news for completists. I was able to score these loose at Greenhills for p1,000.00 each. The only thing missing was their foot lockers.
I know you're probably saying "p1,000.00?! That's a lot of scratch!" When these came out here in the Philippines, they were p1,500.00 on the shelf. Even at that price they were worth it because they were top scorers in almost every department. They were highly articulated, had great sculpts (though on the cartoony side), lots of accesories, and packaging that is still by far the best I have ever seen. Now since this version of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are both from the first wave of figures that came out in 2005 and run upwards of p2,500.00 each mint in the box IF you find them, p1,000.00 seems a great deal.
You should also consider that these are 8" figures, not your standard shorty soldier. Other 8" figures... well off the top of my head, I don't know any other 8" lines, but 7" lines like NECA also cost about p1,500.00 and they have no where near as many accessories nor the articulation that these babies pack.
First off, lets deal with Snake Eyes.
Hasbro went more for the commando look for Snake this time around, though he just happens to carry swords. The sculpt on the Sigma6 line is obviously influenced by manga and other japanese art, with big eyes, hands and feet. A lot of Joe fans didn't go for this, but I actually love the look of this entire line. It really reminds me of Joe Madureira's artwork back in the day. On the whole, the lines of the Sigma6 line are bold and angular, lots of points. Most of these guys have the superhero chin, with ripped musculature that isn't entirely anatomically correct.
The material Hasbro used for the figures is much softer than the plastic used in toys of the '80s and '90s. While on the smaller 25th anniversary figures, this can lead to problems with warping and the loosening of the grip, on these bigger figures, the softer plastic just seems to lend the toys a nice gravity. You really feel as if this is a toy you can give an 8 year-old and not need to worry if it'll still be in one piece tomorrow.
Paint isn't really that much of an issue. There aren't many areas that have it, since he's mostly cast in gray plastic. The most notable painted areas are his face and the Sigma6 logos that are on his person. Both are relatively clean so you don't really need to worry about it when buying.
Now we get to the good stuff. There are 2 reasons that make the Sigma6 line so remarkable. The first is articulation. While they do not pack as many joints as a Marvel Legends figure back in their heyday, they're basically as poseble as ball-joints, which makes up for most of the missing ones. Here's a list:
- Knees Ankles
The second reason to buy these are the accessories. He comes with a ton of great stuff; 2 swords & scabbards, 1 knife & sheath, 1 Uzi sub-machine gun, 1 visor, 1 pair of nightvision googles, 1 gas mask, Ninja whip-star with rope, Zipline handle, 2 suction cup climbing handles, and 2 weapon connector pieces.
With all this gear, there are several configurations you can display him in. The Uzi can connect to a port on his leg, but note that the knife and sheath don't seem to really fit on him. Anywhere I try and put it, it just looks awkward; a little too big or long. I'd have preferred it if I could have just plugged it in to the Sigma6 ports. The swords are a nice touch, though. You can swing out the handles so Snake can hold them like a tonfa.
I've tried putting both scabbards on his back, but it just doesn't work. This isn't one of those figures where you can just load him with all his gear at one time like the Paratrooper Snake Eyes. You're going to have to sacrifice some weapons and equipment. My favorite Snake Eyes is still the commando, so he's mostly displayed with his gun in hand and one sword on his back.
On to Storm Shadow:
Old SS has just as many accessories as his buddy Snake. We've got his customary Arashikage Clan katana and wakizashi with their scabbards, a display stand for both, a staff, a pair of sai, nunchaku, and climbing claws for both his feet and hands. You might also include his pants and the belt that holds his weapons as both are removable.
He also shares Snake Eye's high level of articulation, and with the easy balance that these figures enjoy, they're a breeze to play with. You can stand them pretty easily, even on uneven surfaces. the swords can fit into the ends of the staff so Stormy can have a naginta to play with as well. The scabbard and sai fit into his belt.
I also really like the climbing claws. He's got one for each limb and though they're not really enough to hold him up by themselves, they look great on him. I'd imagine they hurt like a son of a bitch.
The great thing about the Sigma6 line is that aside from having a very high playability factor, the toys are made as a line. Though they don't really look alike, they look very unique and like the old Masters of Universe toys, look best when you display them together. You really don't get the full effect of the line until you have a few of the figures to swap weapons and gear with and display in little action poses. These were literally made to play with.
One more thing about the Sigma6 Joes. There were two classes, the Soldier, which came in the more traditional carded bubble, and the Commando, which came in a transparent box with plastic caps on the end. These caps could be removed and assembled into a nice little foot locker that was used to store all the gear that came with the figure.
Since I got these loose, I'm missing 2. Anyone have any for sale? Let me know ok?