1997 was likely the most ambitious* year in post-1985 G.I. Joe history. It’s gone through various phases of both collector praise and contempt, and although some of the criticisms are definitely warranted, such as the fact the figures on occasion do look and feel like they were made out of soap, others tend to be sour grapes over missing molds.
Storm Shadow is definitely a fan produced figure. 1997 had a team of fandom consultants, who helped out with the design aspect of the collection, and a figure using a popular mold with homages to both the Ninja Force and 1988 Storm Shadows is far too self-referential to be anything but the work of a fan.
Much has been made about the fact notorious members of fandom had a hand in the 1997 releases. It’s led to egotism, and a lot of fairly good repaints were turned into terrible scab characters. However, I think the fact there was a fandom component led to Hasbro having to put in more effort to ensure things like the figures were released with their proper accessories.
This Storm Shadow is a member of the G.I. Joe team, that’s one of the divisive aspects of the Joe Community, where some are fine with it and others hate. I personally can only see Storm Shadow as a COBRA Operative, the comic story wound up being way too inter-connected, and I feel it balances the two factions better, for Storm Shadow to be a COBRA.
This figure is fairly nice, and he’s an interesting take on the character, without being too much of a departure. It’s hard to believe this is only the second repaint of the mold by Hasbro, which is odd based on the popularity and the fact Tripwire had had that many repaints by 1988. He includes his classic accessories, and doesn’t tend to have some of the quality control issues that did plague the late 90s releases (Though some of those complaints have been going on for 20 years and I’ve not noticed them).
In the last couple years, various iterations of the ’84 Storm Shadow mold have been released, that’s probably done a lot of damage to the reputation of this figure, since there was a time when the only different look for Storm Shadow was this figure, now there’s various new and more useful variants that a busy looking version who’s supposed to be a G.I. Joe.
This is a figure, I bust out rarely, when I want a different take on Storm Shadow, it’s a nice figure, but hardly the best use of the mold, and harder to fit in with vintage or modern figures than most 1997s.However it’s the 1984 Storm Shadow mold, so it’s a better action figure than most.
*The 1997 line was supposed to include version one molds for: Duke, Roadblock, Firefly, Flash, Grunt, Snake Eyes, Blizzard, Destro, Breaker, Rock ‘N Roll, Cobra Commander, as well as Snake Eyes version 2. That combined with the figures they actually had the molds for, looks to be a line-up that would’ve been short perhaps 5-6 of the all time classic figures from the 1980s.