Snake Eyes, hands down, was everyone's favourite G.I. Joe growing up. Larry Hama, who wrote the original G.I. Joe comic books and wrote the backstories for pretty much every character, always attributed this to the fact that, because he's completely masked and has a mysterious past, pretty much anybody could project their own self onto him. That being said, though, Snake Eyes did have a rich history in the comics.
Snake Eyes was the all American boy, who grew up to serve his country by joining the Army. While on patrol in Vietnam, his helicopter was shot down, and rather than run to safety, he stayed behind to rescue his team-mate Scarlett. Though Scarlett was safe, the cost was high to Snake Eyes, as the helicopter crash would up horribly burning his face, and damaging his vocal cords, rendering him mute. This is why he is always masked, and why he never speaks.
The tragedy continued, though. Upon returning to the States, he was informed that his parents and beloved twin sister were killed by a drunk driver. With no family, and very despondent, Snake Eyes' best friend Tommy Arashikage invited Snake Eyes to come home with him in Japan, and offered him a place in the Arashikage family business. Of course, the family business turned out to be a ninja clan. Snake Eyes quickly took to the ninja training and excelled in all his studies, but the ninja master's perceived favourtism of Snake Eyes quickly made Tommy jealous. In an act of jealousy, Tommy killed their ninja master and escaped into the wilderness. Despondent over the loss of his new family, Snake Eyes returned to the States, and lived in seclusion Sierra mountains, until General Hawk recruited him for a new military unit that was being put together...G.I. Joe. And as for Tommy, he fell into a life of crime, became a mercenary, and was eventually hired by Cobra, where he took the name Storm Shadow.
(But not really. As was eventually revealed, the drunk driver that killed Snake Eyes' parents and sister was Cobra Commander's brother, so in typically twisted comic book villain logic, Cobra Commander blamed Snake Eyes for his brother's death. Cobra Commander hired Zartan to kill Snake Eyes, but Zartan missed and killed the ninja master instead, framing Storm Shadow in the process. Storm Shadow infiltrated Cobra to try and find the master's true killer. Once all this came to light, Storm Shadow defected and fought along side his friend Snake Eyes once gain. But I digress.)
As awesome as he was, I never had Snake Eyes when I was a kid. My brother and I found him in Zellers one night, and we pooled our money to get him, but since my brother was the bigger G.I. Joe fan, Snake Eyes was always mixed in with his G.I. Joes, and I rarely got to play with him. So, when I started collecting action figures, and G.I. Joe started making a big resurgence about 10 years ago, getting Snake Eyes was high on my list.
And, of course, I went a little bit overboard.
My first purchase of Snake Eyes was as part of the G.I. Joe vs Cobra line from about 10 years ago or so, when the 3.75" G.I. Joes began their big comeback. I loved this in the beginning, because they had the clever idea of putting out the figures in 2-packs, so you'd always get the Joe and their Cobra arch-enemy. Snake Eyes was, of course, packaged with Storm Shadow.
I loved reading ToyFare magazine back in the day, and they offered quite the wide array of exclusive action figures during their lifetime. (Look for a future entry detailing all the ToyFare exclusives I bought.) For G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero's 20th anniversary in 2002, they offered up this special 2-pack of Snake Eyes and Scarlett. These are re-productions of the original Snake Eyes and Scarlett figures released in 1982, with one notable exception. See, when G.I. Joe first hit toy store shelves back in 1982, Hasbro started running out of money. As such, they couldn't afford to paint one of the figures in the toy line. The one they chose not to paint: Snake Eyes, because he was dressed all in black anyway, so just release him in the black plastic. For this 2-pack, they finally gave Snake Eyes a proper paint job, which essentially boiled down to painting his belts brown.
The G.I. Joe: Ninja Battles set. One of the few sets in my collection that I am very, very, very tempted to open up and proudly display. Contained in this set is Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Tiger Claw (Snake Eyes apprentice, created just for this set), Shadow Strike (Storm Shadow's apprentice, created just for this set), and a Black Dragon Ninja (cannon fodder). You also get the fancy display base to pose them all on (complete with a torii), an exclusive DVD, and an exclusive comic book. This is just so beautiful to look at. And I love how I got this. I actually got this at CFB Cold Lake. I did my practicum at K-Rock, Cold Lake's radio station, and this was my present to myself for successfully completing my practicum.
Another one I was really lucky to get my hands on. Much like with the Star Wars figures, I'm a sucker for these retro packages. And for the 25th anniversary of the toyline in 2007, Hasbro released a series that duplicated the packaging of the original toys from the early 1980s. So not only is it the packaging I remember from when I coveted Snake Eyes from my youth, this is also the most popular Snake Eyes from my youth. Snake Eyes has had many costumes over the years -- as I'm sure this blog entry is showing -- but this is his best-known, with his very distinct visor covering his eyes. And also, he comes with his pet wolf Timber. This is the one I wanted when I was kid. It's not the one my brother and I shared though...that one came, like, two costumes after this one.
I think I've blogged about these before...Hasbro's comic packs. They started doing it with G.I. Joe, and it was so popular, they started doing it for Star Wars action figures, too. What it is, is you get a reprint of a very famous G.I. Joe comic book. And the two action figures in the pack are designed and painted to look exactly as they do in that comic. So, of course, when I saw the Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow comic pack, I had to snap it up. The comic book that's enclosed is the legendary G.I. Joe #21...most commonly referred to as "the silent issue." There's no dialogue in the comic. Just wordless action. Sounds like a perfect way to do a story on the silent Snake Eyes.
And of course, the logical extension of the comic packs is the DVD packs. You get a DVD containing some episodes of the original cartoon, and a set of 4-figures, all done up to look exactly as they do in the cartoon. You'll have to forgive me...I don't know why Blogger's gone screwy and decided to upload the picture sideways. The episodes on this DVD are the entire 5 parts of The MASS Device, the mini-series that launched the G.I. Joe cartoon. In this 4-pack, we've got Radioactive Snake Eyes, a Cobra Trooper, the Baroness in her SCUBA gear, and Stalker with his jetpack.
So, in case you've never seen The MASS Device, you're probably wondering why Snake Eyes is radioactive. And why he's radioactive is why this figure has glowing orange feet, arms, and face. So, in The MASS Device, Cobra is holding the world hostage with...the MASS device, a teleportation machine. To combat this, G.I. Joe rescues the scientist who developed it and builds their own MASS device. But, the device is powered by three ultra-rare elements from all over the globe. With their new MASS device, and with Cobra's MASS device out of fuel, G.I. Joe and Cobra are battling each other across the globe to gather the three ultra-rare elements.
One of those ultra-rare elements is a radioactive crystal from a mine in the Arctic. G.I. Joe is in the middle of gathering the crystals, when Cobra attacks, and Snake Eyes is sealed in the mine and thought to be dead. However, Snake Eyes does eventually find a way out of the mine, and with the crystals in hand, begins his trek across the Arctic. However, his experience has left him with some minor radiation sickness, and they symbolize this in the cartoon by giving him a glowing red aura...hence the orange highlights on this figure. Snake Eyes is found by Timber, who gets the attention of a blind Inuit hermit, who rescues Snake Eyes and nurses him back to health. And a nice little added touch: one of his accessories is the canister containing the radioactive crystals.
And that's it! That's all the Snake Eyes I have in my collection. I think I'm good enough now with Snake Eyes to appease my inner child.