G.I. Joe Kre-O - Ninja Temple Battle w/ Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Red Ninjas x 2
More of a glorified Kre-On figure pack than a real build set, the Ninja Temple Battle is just a few little structures and four ninja mini figures, and really, that's okay with me. Especially considering the massive Arashikage Dojo is supposed to be coming out this fall, I think this small ninja temple set works fine as an introduction.
I'll admit I'm actually kind of surprised this is all we got for ninja elements in the first series, considering how strong a focus there is on them throughout the Retaliation branding.
The temple is fine, it's nothing really exciting. There's a main temple gate entrance, a stand for what looks like a stone tablet, a little weapons rack, and a little training center with two swords that hook into it. It reminds me quite a bit of the old school Ninja Battles set that came out around the Valor Vs. Venom era. As such there is limited play value, with most of the attraction here due to the mini figures, which represent pretty central characters to the Joe mythology.
I think the ornamental structure of the temple is pretty cool, where the building blocks are able to replicate an Oriental look and feel pretty nicely. The dragon deco decals are very nice, and the Arashikage branding is present, but understated. I really like the stone tablet, it gives the surroundings an almost mystical feel, and you get a sense of reverence for it. Pretty nice idea, even if the set is small and somewhat limited play-wise.
The Mini Figures
Obiously when you consider who these characters are, the quartet of figures in this set are the main draw here, not the temple itself. You cannot have the G.I. Joe mythology as we know it without Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, so Hasbro is certainly banking on them to sell this set, and probably correctly.
Snake Eyes is decoed in his '85 uniform, which is clearly his most visible uniform, so that makes sense. I love the chest strap of grenades (with decoed shadows!) amd the criss cross straps across his legs. His one gray forearm is a funny replication of his wrist-mounted dart launcher as well.
If I have any complaints, I really wish they'd perhaps gone the extra mile to just deco a tiny little scar through his eye, just to have some kind of indication of his facial disfigurement. It doesn't have to be brutal and disgusting, just something to indicate what he looks like underneath. Besides that, though, the figure is pretty great.
The G.I. Joe commando comes with a trusty Kre-O style Uzi, and a familiar ninja sword backpack that we've seen with a number of figures already (including all three of the other figures in this set). His visor is obviously unique to him and it fits him very well, both physically and aesthetically. He ends up being a great mini figure rendition of the '85 Snake Eyes.
Then of course, is Storm Shadow. With angry eyes and his trademark sash, this figure is pretty much a perfect version of Storm Shadow in this style. You can immediately tell he's angry and evil, and I love the deco wrinkles in his belt and feet wraps. A tiny little dagger and throwing star painted into his waist belt are very nice touches as well.
Like the single pack Ninja Viper, Storm Shadow has a great rubber head wrap that fits over his ninja head seamlessly and locks down without problems. It's an awesome touch to the figure...one they really didn't have to do, but it looks fantastic. He has the same backpack, which thankfully can fit anywhere from 1 - 3 swords, so he's all set with the twin blades that he comes with.
Electing to replicate the Storm Shadow deco, just in various shades of red, this Red Ninja doesn't look precisely like he appeared in various comic incarnations, but he still works very nicely. Obviously pretty much the same as Storm Shadow (only with distinctly less angry eyes) I really love this figure. This particular set comes with two Red Ninjas, both with the same accessories.
Along with the hoods, backpacks, and swords, these guys come with bows and arrows and two claws that they can hold in their hands as well.
I think when you consider which characters come in this set, it's tough not to recommend a purchase. Even if you hate ninjas, it would be difficult to consider your Kre-O collection complete without Snake Eyes or Storm Shadow, and I'm guessing Hasbro knows this. The build set itself doesn't knock my socks off, but the mini figures are very cool, and the set is relatively cheap, and I'd say it's worth the investment.