I've profiled this Snake Eyes mold before. Many of the thoughts that I proffered forth in that profile remain true about this mold today. However, much like my earlier profile of the 2002 New Sculpt Snake Eyes when I see a new interpretation of a character that radically changes the existing notion of a mold, I feel compelled to profile that figure as a reward for innovation. (Yeah, like Hasbro or anyone else cares about my "rewards" for their work.) As I was duly impressed by this special version of Snake Eyes, I felt he would be a perfect fit for this milestone profile.
At the 2002 G.I. Joe convention in Norfolk, Hasbro showcased most of their product for 2002. Among these items was a set or original mold figures (Scarlett and Snake Eyes) that would be offered as an exclusive from Toy Fare magazine. While I won't pontificate on the choice of the distribution vehicle and it's notoriously poor track record in handling exclusives, it was the figure choices themselves that really left a sour taste with me. You see, rather than reinterpret this highly over-used molds into something a bit more interesting, the set is almost a straight recolor of the figure's original decos. Frankly, that was something that was about as boring as I could possibly imagine. Seeing the same figure, with a slight paint change, is just a waste. At least the repaints in the Joe vs. Cobra line have been major and almost always produce a striking contrast. These proposed figures, though, did not.
Then, a few weeks ago, something interesting appeared. It was the Toy Fare Snake Eyes, only molded in blue plastic. This immediately got people talking as the blue was reminiscent of Snake Eyes cartoon appearance. Of course, a black Snake Eyes (similar to the prototype shown at the convention) also appeared. Now, the speculation began. Which figure would be released? Slowly, information leaked out that seemed to indicate the blue Snake Eyes was a prototype and all of the Toy Fare figures would be the mundane black. However, in the past week it has become known that the blue Snake Eyes will ship with a DVD set some time next year and will be available to retail outlets. While this has helped many people to acquire this figure right now, I think that many more will enjoy the opportunity to be able to find this figure in its intended release format.
While this little history is interesting in itself, it is really the figure that has captured my attention. The reason being he is so different from the other incarnations of Snake Eyes that are out there. Let's face it, the original Snake Eyes mold has been used to death. Beyond the now 6 times it has been used in the U.S., it has also seen release in exclusive color schemes in Europe, Argentina (2), Brazil and India (at least three major versions). (Plus, they released 5 versions of Snake Eyes in 2002. This figure and the black Toy Fare version already make 2 for 2003!) Scarlett is the same way. As such, I would much rather see these figures retired instead of having them rehashed again and again with only slight paint differences. (Look, now Snake Eyes has green arm pouches instead of gray! Whhooooo!!) This blue Snake Eyes, though, is something that has not been previously seen in any of the incarnations of this mold while still remaining true to the character. The fact that Snake Eyes was produced in something so different was enough to make me actually look for this figure. He showed the type of differences that I usually enjoy in a figure.
As such, I see this figure joining my other '97 original Joe repaints on display. The original paint decos are just too bland for me. Many of the '97 updates make for better display pieces, especially when intermingled with other figures from 1983 and 1984. This Snake Eyes will fit in much better than either of the other '97 versions and will better mesh with the overall appearance without taking away from his intended character. The mold is definitely Snake Eyes while his sharp color, detailed paint mask and quality accessories (including the return of Timber!) also make him a good figure. While I've long used other versions of this mold as nameless, filler characters, I think this figure will finally see use as the real character. It is just different enough that I think it will look nice out on display and add some depth to any posed scenes I may attempt.
When this figure first appeared, some people freaked out that it was going to be a limited production test run. As such, a few samples of this figure sold for well over $100. However, the Asian source for many of these figures kept getting more. As the figure became more plentiful, the price dropped to about $15 and shipping from Asia. Now, though, news has come out that this figure will be shipped as an extra in a Joe DVD set. How much this set will cost is anyone's guess. It could be $11.99 at Costco or $39.99 at Target. Either way, if you can get this figure for around $15 or so, that is a good deal. There are no versions of this Snake Eyes mold that don't sell for around that amount when they are mint and complete. As such I don't think this figure will ever be readily available for a whole lot less than that. I do think, though, that this guy will end up as a lesser produced figure. However, as collectors are now acutely aware of his existence, they will acquire him now, when he's available. That will severely limit his long term value potential. Personally, I like this figure just because he is so different from the traditional American interpretations of this mold. However, I don't ever see him becoming a vital part of my collection. He will simply join other repainted '82 figures in their rare appearances outside of their respective year figure drawers. Other collectors' opinions of this figure and his value to their collection will differ greatly. However, we now have the chance to acquire this figure for a relatively low cost with relative ease. It is a great way for those who have always wanted this mold to get one without resorting to alternative methods. For the rest of us, this figure is a nice departure from traditional Snake Eyes figures and offers us something a little different. On the rare occasions when that occurs, I think everyone wins.
As an addendum, the DVD that includes this figure is now available at Amazon.com for $35.99.
While I've got all of the later release versions of this Snake Eyes mold, I still need his swivel arm version from 1983. If you can help, let me know.