Welcome back everybody, I hope you’re ready to go deep deep DEEP into the nerdy waters because this week I’m pulling out one of the all time greatest figures ever made.
After touching on this character a little bit last time when we profiled Stalker, I felt it was only natural to follow that up with a full feature about my favorite Joe, Snake Eyes!
Acquisition Year: 1982
Acquired via: Purchase (Venture)
Years In Possession: 38
With just an Uzi, a satchel of explosives, and an all black outfit, Snake Eyes hit the pegs and became the most unlikely success ever. It is well known that Snake Eyes was never intended to become the complex, tortured badass that he would evolve into over the years. No, Hasbro created Snake Eyes as a complete throwaway character. He was an attempt to fill out the Joe ranks as cheaply as possible, which resulted in the all black paint scheme. Without having to paint tiny bits like belt buckles or backpack straps, they could produce this figure at a fraction of what the other more detailed figures cost.
But thanks to Larry Hama’s excellent characterization of Snake Eyes in the Marvel comic series and the intentionally omitted personal details on the figure’s file card, Hasbro failed at creating a throwaway character and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in creating a character that could rival the likes of Wolverine in popularity.
I have to admit, as intriguing a character as Snake Eyes would become, his original figure was a snooze in my 9 year old opinion. He was certainly one of the last figures I bought. However, the more his character was fleshed out in the comics, the more intrigued I was by his backstory. What the toy lacked in color the comic more than made up for in characterization.
From the killing fields of Vietnam to a Ninja clan in Japan and then on to being a member of the most elite fighting force the world has ever known, Snake Eyes is easily the most interesting character in all of the G.I. Joe pantheon.
This character supplied me with some of the most memorable and vivid scenes I would ever read in a comic book. Seeing the accident that disfigured him and left him unable to speak, the masterpiece that is G.I. Joe #21, watching him send his ally Kwinn’s body off in a funeral kayak in the arctic, and his epic battles with Storm Shadow.
In the comics, whenever Snake Eyes appeared in civilian clothes (which was rare) he would trade his black face mask for a different mask, a human mask made of rubber and a pair of sunglasses to try and pass as normal and hide his horrifically disfigured face. Such a small touch that gave this character so much humanity. He was almost a god in terms of ability and toughness, and yet you felt bad for him because he could never be just a truly normal person.
As for Snake Eyes the figure, this was the first place I had ever seen an Uzi sub machine gun. It looked so weird, so much different than the M-16 or M-60 models that the other characters came with. I didn’t even know how to pronounce the word. Was it Uzzy or Ooozie? Why was there a longer thinner piece coming out the bottom of the gun’s grip? (It’s the oversized magazine, dummy). In fact, I was convinced that the extra plastic on the bottom of the handle was a mistake and broke it off of the original uzi that came with this figure. D’oh!
The glasses molded onto this figure always made me wonder, how did his sunglasses stay on? It wasn’t until much later that I realized they were goggles, you can even see a wonderful little detail on the back of his head that shows the strap of the goggles coming out the mask and going back in. I assume so he can adjust the way they fit?
Unfortunately as you can see, even an elite mystical ninja warrior is not immune from the dreaded broken thumb disease. For years this figure had the faintest of white lines on the base of that thumb, a telltale sign that it was about to come off. I was extra EXTRA mindful of that, but alas, sometime in the 90s it finally popped off.
Snake Eyes has gone through many design changes over the years, receiving several costume changes/upgrades including what I consider the pinnacle of this character’s look in 1986, but this is where it all started. The red headed step child of the original Joe team who turned out to be the real star of the franchise. Funny how things like that work out.
That’s all for this week guys, hope you enjoyed it. Come back next time for more broken toys and mind numbing childhood anecdotes!
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