Articulated Icons is a line of martial arts action figures begun by Fwoosh, a toy and collectible news and review website that started just a few months before ComicBookBin. Fwoosh are great guys. Fwoosh’s founder Paul Wolf launched the company’s first original action figure line as Articulated Icons as a Kickstarter campaign in 2015. The hero of the line was Shōken, a young martial artist dedicated to stopping the various ninja clans that were waging war against one another and disrupting the lives of villagers. Here, Shoken decided that the best way to fight the ninjas was to infiltrate them and destroy them from within.
Shoken is based on the initial Deluxe White Ninja action figure from Fwoosh and the Shōken Heroic Martial Artist action figure. Both action figures are now sold out and are discontinued from Fwoosh. Thus the new Shoken Ninja action figure was a smart way for Fwoosh to reintroduced two very popular action figures as one. While this Shoken does not have a removable gi, he does sport the classic white ninja look that appeals to so many collectors.
Speaking of collector appeal, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I did not mention that one of the reasons Shoken and the earlier Deluxe White Ninja are so popular is because they can be used as based action figure for G.I. Joe’s Storm Shadow. Storm Shadow is Cobra’s assassin, ninja and Cobra Commander’s bodyguard. He has a long history in comics, much wider than in the cartoon where he is tied with Snake Eyes, his G.I. Joe opponent. Shoken looks like the classic depiction of Storm Shadow but with some changes.
To turn your Shoken into a G.I. Joe Classified matching action figure, all you have to do is to buy the extra arms and hands wrap pack that feature bare arms, wrist wraps and bands. Articulated Icons action figures have arms that one can easily pop out and replace with the bare arms. Once the hands are removed, you can insert the pair of wrist wraps of the bands on the forearms. The sword sheathes, the band across his chest and even the black belt are reminiscent of the original 1984 Storm Shadow action figure. Once this is done, applying a Cobra logo on the chest is the last step to have a compatible Storm Shadow.
The sculpt is almost the same as the different coloured ninjas from Articulated Icons such as the Crimson Ninja. The different parts are the ankle wraps and bands. The modern ninja head (zukin) is too small. This makes Shoken look out of scale with other 1:12/6 inches action figures. The balaclava (veiled) head is a better fit size wise. The bald head to which one can attach a devil’s mask and a hair piece is absolutely too tiny and out of proportion with the body. The hair piece makes the bald head look wider but then, it is much larger than the head.
My initial impression of the hood was mistaken as I had not understood how the hood was added to the character’s head. The hood is added and by adjusting the peg hole of the head with the smaller opening of the hood. Once adjusted, the hood and the head are pegged on the neck’s base. They look good this way. The corrected image is below.
The bare arms that I added to Shoken look very good and help give him that classic Storm Shadow loo. While muscular, the arms are in proportion with the action figure and would not look good at all with any other toy that is not from Articulated icons. The peg system used by the Articulated Icons spare arms is not compatible with other action figure lines. If you also try to use the various hands that came with the extra arms or Shoken, their pegging system makes them incompatible with other toys as the pegs are in the wrists, not the hands.
Shoken’s paint is applied as handwashes on the base plastic making the white matte seem dirty. His hair has a varied shade of brown, again using the wash effect. The swords are painted silver, and their base has a gold hue. This kind of detail is very good.
Like all Articulated Icons, Shoken is small. He is exactly six-inches and thus will look much smaller next to your Marvel Legends and G.I. Joe Classified action figures. Of course, he looks great with other coloured ninjas such as the Crimson Ninjas who share part of his mould. If you are turning Shoken as a Storm Shadow action figure, he will be smaller than Snake Eyes but still fit. His head as I mentioned above is too small for the body. He is just a bit taller than Scarlett.
Shoken’s ankles are weak so overtime expect standing him put to be a problem. You’ll need to fiddle with him to find a stable way to stand him up. He can take on many poses though. The figure has a tendency to lean forward and with weak ankles, this is worsens.
Shoke’s head is on a ball-joint. His head does not have a full range though. He does not have butterfly armpits although his arms can turn and go up or down. He has bicep curls, double elbow articulations. The wrists can bend up or down and several pairs of hands in different shapes are available. When coupled with the extra arm kit, there are seven pairs of hands which grip, form fists, chop, splay, claw, or remain relax.
There are two abdomen articulations. The first is an ab crunch that exposes a gaping hole if Shoken’s back is arched too much. At the same time, this ab crunch also rotates on itself. I find this extra rotation weird as the waist can also rotate. I would have preferred for the second abdomen articulation to allow the figure to rock side to side. While the hip joints will allow you to perform a full split, which is a good thing for a ninja, the character, there are wide gap where the thigh and the waist connect which are not aesthetically pleasing.
The knees have double articulations while the upper thighs have curls. The calves/shin area also have curls. The ankles are the most problematic part of the action figure. While the feet are wide enough to support the weight of the toy, the up and down articulations at the ankles are weak, increasing stability issues with the figure. The ankles can also rock side to side.
All Articulated Icons ninjas are made of soft PVC that does not feel as sturdy as the make used by other toy manufacturers. I hate writing this but the action figure which costs a lot feels cheap. The hands are very cheap looking and I always worry about them breaking or bending too much when inserting them in the wrists. A better grade of PVC, if that is possible should have been used. This is disappointing.
Other parts such as the demon’s mask, the hair piece, the hood, the belt and the harness are of soft rubber-like plastic. The swords and their sheathes are of good grade plastic and do not feel as cheap.
Now Shoken comes with several props. I am not as enthusiastic about props as others are. With some toys, there are just too many. It’s a known fact that giving too many options and choices can often backfire. The many hands are fun but only useful if you are filming a stop motion animated scene with your Shoken ninja! The demon’s mask, the scarf and the extra harness are not as necessary and are thrown in because they were available from other figures. The demon mask only fits snuggly on the bald head. It is too tight for the two ninja heads.
I would have preferred the original Deluxe Ninja’s bow and arrow-filled quiver to complete the Storm Shadow look instead of parts that will remain in the resealable plastic bag that comes with the toy. The two swords, a katana and a wakizashi are good props to have though. The sheath holder where you can store the sheathes and the swords differs from the Crimson Ninjas’ design. It feels cheap and easy to break.
The extra arm pack came with the pair of bare arms as well as a pair of wrist bands and a pair of grey wraps for the forearms. To complete the Storm Shadow look, the grey wraps are essential. However, don’t think that you can easily use the remaining black bands on an action figure such as the Marvel Legends Shang Chi to give him a G.I. Joe Quick Kick look. The are too narrow for his wrists. The black bands will not even fit easily on the standard Articulated icons ninja arms such as Shoken or the Crimson Ninjas.
The harness could fit other action figures from Hasbro but only narrowly. Hence, we get a lot of extra props but they are not compatible with other toylines. As written above, we can’t use the extra hands as the pegging system is the opposite of Hasbro’s. The hood looks ridiculous although there is another one, the “down” hood which rests on the character’s back. This one looks good and can be reused for another action figure.
Shoken comes in a standard white box with some background information and not metal pins holding the toy. Fwoosh as rightly chosen to dump the props in a resealable plastic bag. This is the best way to store all of these props and probably was much cheaper than shaping the plastic mould that holds the figure in the box for the props. There are images of recent Articulated Icons toys in the back as well as a short bio of Shoken. The extra arms pack is packaged in a similar box.
Shoken as a Ninja is a new released on March 20, 2021. Thus, while Fwoosh has many sales on its action figures and props, Shoken is still $40 USD with shipping. If you are outside of the United States, like me (Canada), the shipping will cost very much. Shoken costs twice as much as a standard Marvel Legends or a G.I. Joe Classified. Very few stores outside of Fwoosh have him for sale. The arms pack is $20 USD. That is the price of a full action figure. This can become prohibitive. That’s why I bought the arms pack, Shoken, and three Crimson ninjas in one transaction to optimize the shipping costs over several items. There are no Canadian distributors yet.
Articulated Icons makes short runs of its action figures and does not tend to rerelease older items once they sold out. Shoken as a Ninja was a way for Fwoosh to rerelease its popular white ninja again. It was released less than a month ago, as of this writing and there seems to be many left at Fwoosh. A few other online stores also have this in stock for now. Many of the collectors who purchased this action figures did so to add a Storm Shadow to their G.I. Joe Classified collections. I will say that this is a good replacement for the classic Storm Shadow and even Billy Kessler, Cobra Commander’s son.
Fwoosh is a smaller retailer with less experience than larger entities. The product is good even though I find it overpriced and the plastic used sucks. But what matters to me is that they are taking risks and creating an original toyline that people can relate to. If you want this action figure, do not wait too long as small producers like Fwoosh may not be able to reoffer it easily.