Toys / Toy Collecting

The Battle for the Red Ninjas


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By Hervé St-Louis
April 7, 2021 - 00:20

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From left to right: Red Ninja, Crimson Ninja, Hand Ninja.
After initially skipping on the G.I. Joe Classified Red Ninja when they were solicited for pre-orders in the summer 2020, I have become enamoured with red ninjas in general, rediscovering their place in popular culture. They are a staple in Marvel Comics where the colour of the Hand ninja clan that faces Daredevil and Iron Fist are clad in red gear. The name Red Ninja is the name given to a clan of ninjas that work for Cobra in the G.I Joe universe. Several red ninjas have been released recently, making collectors wonder which one is the best one for their collection.

Hasbro has released a titular Red Ninja for its G.I. Joe Classified series. It has also released a new version of the Hand clan ninja early in 2021. I reviewed this action figure here. Fwoosh’s Articulated Icons line of martial art action figures has released a newer version of its Crimson Ninja after releasing a basic red ninja as part of its initial line of coloured ninjas in 2017. Finally, Mezco Toyz released its own red ninja in the form of its Gomez – Clan of the Crimson Dragon but this is a deluxe action figure in another class and less affordable for anyone interested in army building an entire clan of ninjas. The question many of us have is which red ninja is the best?

Likeness

Each red ninja is unique in design. The Articulated Icon Crimson ninja has a medieval look where it could fit in the distant past of feudal Japan but also in adventures featured today. Fwoosh’s approach is to provide two different heads and hoods that allow collectors to customize their action figures to their delight. Thus, the crimson ninja has a modernized head with wider flaps and folds and a more barebone head. Similarly, he has a modern harness that would look good with any ninja fighting in the context of an army, espionage, sabotage, or urban setting. But he also has a classical strap upon which he can attach his sheaths.

The Hand Ninja from Marvel Legends is also styled on a classical ninja, but it includes fewer styling options. The hood is permanently attached to his head. He looks like a Japanese peasant next not the Articulated Icons Crimson ninja. However, the look of the Hand Ninja is accurate to some comics set in the present. As the Hand is an old sect, it works.

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The G.I. Joe Classified Red Ninja has a different look. It is the postmodern representation of a ninja that uses high-tech gear and armour. Although the titular red ninja of the set, this figure has the least red on it. Like the others, it mixes reds, crimson, and brown but it also sports substantial amount of black. The red is also more scarlet than red. The Red Ninja has more weapons than the other ninjas but like the others, he can carry all of his weapons and gear on himself.

Articulations

The G.I. Joe Red Ninja has the most articulations and is the most flexible of all the ninjas. The Hand Ninja is the least articulated and is stiff in many placed. He cannot do the split and has no peg hole in his back allowing collectors to use an action figure posable stand to portray him doing a mid-air kick. The Crimson Ninja has many articulations too and is quite posable, but he does not have butterfly shoulders. He does however, have more interchangeable hands than the other ninjas.

Scale

In terms of scale for 1:12/six-inch action figures, well, the Hand Ninja is closer to the seven-inch scale. He towers over many Marvel Legends action figures and will look a bit taller than action figures of Daredevil and Iron Fist. That matters if you are trying to army-build a clan of Hand ninjas for your display.

The Red Ninja from the G.I. Joe Classified line has the same scale as Snake Eyes since he reuses his body. He’ll look great with most Marvel Legends and G.I. Joe Classified. He was designed to fit in perfectly. He is on the shorter size for male G.I. Joe Classified action figures but that is exactly the way a ninja should look. Ninjas are not often very tall.

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That’s why the Articulated Icons Crimson Ninja is really six inches and the shorter of the bunch. When standing next to the Hand Ninja, he looks puny. However, when placed next to the Red Ninja, he looks great. Thus, if you want to mix and match him with your G.I. Joe Classified collection, he’ll look great with them. But he will also look good next to Marvel Legends action figures. I will say that his head looks a bit too small and so do his hands. The Crimson Ninja reuses the same body as other Articulated Icons, so he is the same scale as other ninjas in that toyline.

Of course, if you purchase several of each character, they will all make perfect looking army builders for your clan. However, I have to give it to the Crimson Ninja in terms of one of the best army-builder action figures as you can customize each one so that it has just enough individuality. With the Red Ninja, besides changing the weapons that they hold, there is little to differentiate one copy of the same action figure from another. It is the same situation for the Hand Ninja.

Cost and Availability

Each of these costs about the same amount, unlike the Gomez Crimson Dragon which is close a hundred dollars. They each cost about $20 USD. Well, the Crimson Ninja usually retails for $39.99 USD but he is always on sale at Fwoosh. The real issue might be availability. Scalpers have jacked up the price of the Hand Ninja a few extra dollars as if he were in in demand. He is to some extent but with so many alternatives, the speculation is misplaced.

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The Red Ninja was difficult to find at first, but Hasbro has restocked it several times and he is now easier to purchase close to his original price. I wish that the price of other inflated G.I. Joe Classified action figures would also drop as quickly. As for the Articulated Icons Crimson Ninja, he is probably the least produced of each ninja as Fwoosh is a small mom and pop operation, and not a major corporation whose stock in the stock market like Hasbro. Considering the size of Fwoosh, what they have done with the Crimson Ninja is impressive.

While it is currently available for sale, the issue with the Crimson Ninja is that once Fwoosh is out of stock, he will not reappear as quickly. Like he’s predecessor, he may be replaced by an improved third build made of better plastic and with better articulations. The original batch of Fwoosh ninjas was problematic. The Crimson Ninja is a toy for collector in the know and not for the mass market. It’s too bad because the product is great. I am not getting another Hand Ninja unless it is below the suggested retail price.

Overall Impressions

My favourite ninja was the G.I. Joe Classified Red Ninja, but upon receiving three Articulated Icons Crimson Ninjas, I realized that as clan-builders, these are the best action figures. I like their scale a lot and they have that authentic ninja look. The Red Ninja is growing on me. However, if you are reading this review months or years after all of these ninjas have been released and you want to recreate your own Hand ninja clan, the Red Ninja will be the easiest to find and will allow you to create beautiful action displays. The Hand Ninja unfortunately, is not in the right scale and is stiff. The Articulated Icons Crimson Ninja with its green eyes is a perfect replacement for the Hand ninjas. Hand ninjas have green glowing eyes in the comics, being half dead. In my display, I use my sole Hand Ninja as a sort of ninja boss for the Crimson ninjas.

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I feel that action figure collectors are very lucky to have such quality products and choices. No matter what your style of ninja should look like, there is an action figure for you. If you are not clan-builder, each will be a great unique figure in your collection. I you mix and match them; you’ll get even more enjoyment from them. I wish there were more choices like that when collecting action figures. It seems that the industry is going that route with smaller producers like Fwoosh and third-party makers, in areas such as the Transformers that reprise many characters under alternative labels. Action figure collecting is fun again!


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Last Updated: April 14, 2021 - 17:29

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