The Red Ninja, ever since it’s first appearance in G.I. Joe #21, has been on fandom’s radar as a potential figure for the G.I. Joe line. The late 90s and early 2000s were littered with yellowed Storm Shadows painted red as “Red Ninja”. So when the 1984 Storm Shadow mold was recreated, Hasbro threw the collectors a bone, and in the Toys R Us 6 pack, provided two Red Ninja Vipers.
For the most part, when Hasbro released ARAH molds in the 2000s, the plastic quality was high, and most issues came about as the line was dying down, and no one at Hasbro understood how to properly sculpt a neck post, killing a bunch of Comic Pack figures in the process. The Red Ninja Viper was an anomaly, in that he’s brittle, cracks easily and feels kind of hollow. I don’t know why, but he feels as fragile as any figure who happens to have GPS.
The Red Ninja (I’m going to drop the “Viper”, much to the dismay of A-Man!) is a solidly designed figure, since it’s just Storm Shadow version 1, but what separated this figure from other Red Ninjas, be it Satan, The Black Major’s or a 1996 experimentation with gloss paint, is that he’s grimy, has long sleeves, rather than having flesh hands and forearms, and the highlights are not done the typical way you’d expect to see them. There’s two different colours of paint wipes (Black on the red parts, green on the black parts) and a very nice brown leather colouring on the straps. Quality aside, it’s actually a very nice looking figure.
The paint wipes, which hadn’t been seen in 3 or 4 years were an odd choice on this figure, as they didn’t really add much to the figures, were an out of date idea, and the rumour was originally they weren’t supposed to have them, and that one of the “powers that be” demanded them. Either way, this is a figure that was decried for them at the time, but now that there’s a much closer to the original idea, by the Black Major out there, this figure’s reputation should be soothed a bit, except I don’t think ANYBODY cares about this figure.
The TRU 6 pack definitely had some faults, especially the terrible selection of weapons, but nowadays the 1984 Storm Shadow accessory compliment is quite easily obtainable, so that can solve that issue. The fact it had two of this figure was a good thing, as it allowed fans to obtain multiples very easily, something Hasbro was loathe to do, pre-2004.
Red Ninjas are a famous aspect in G.I. Joe, even if the whole ninja concept wound up being driven into the ground, they were a factor in one of the more famous comic issues, and they’ve got a Storm Shadow association. To me, they’re nothing more than Storm Shadow’s personal henchmen, and are really the only ninjas in my G.I. Joe universe other than Storm Shadow and Ninja Ku.