Sigma 6
Snake Eyes

For those of you with experience in the world of professional project management and quality management, the term Six Sigma is well known. It's a methodology developed predominately in the 80's that involves bringing errors, particularly manufacturing errors, down to ridiculously low numbers. What does that have to do with tonight's review? Well, when I first heard the name of the new G.I. Joe line - Sigma Six - I had to wonder if someone at Hasbro wasn't still mad that they'd been forced to attend a seminar.

Or perhaps they're just fans of the first Roger Waters band, Sigma 6. Considering Waters' propensity for litigation, Hasbro might find themselves in trouble. In any event, the new look and style of G.I. Joe has emerged, and it's Sigma Six!

I had quite a bit of SDCC coverage on this line, and the show hit the airwaves a little more than a week ago. I haven't had the chance to watch yet, but when I came across the line at my local Toys R Us, I couldn't resist picking one up. The first series includes Snake Eyes, Duke, Stormshadow, Heavy Duty and Spirit Iron Knife. These are 'deluxe' versions (referred to as the Commando series), retailing for $15, and there's supposed to be regular versions (referred to as Soldier series) at $10, although I haven't found those yet. There's also the Ninja Hover Cycle, and some folks have managed to snag those already as well. Toys R Us or KB Toys seem to be the places to find these right now, if you're looking locally.

Packaging -  ****
This is some of the best packaging I've seen in years. If I could give it more than four stars, I would. Not only does it look excellent, it has a functional purpose as well! Uh, a functional purpose beyond holding the figure on the peg, that is.

These come in clear 'boxes', with a hard plastic top and bottom. The plastic allows you to see the figure and all the accessories, and the insert has some great specific text on each character - no generic stuff here. There's also a shot of each of the other characters in the line on the back.

These are a good shape to store, and will hold up to lots of wear and tear, always a plus for the MOCers. They aren't collector friendly however, and you'll have to pretty much destroy the package getting the figure out.

But the best part is that the hard shell top and bottom are used as the in-scale carrying case for the multitude of weapons! There's actually a foam insert inside the package that all the weapons rest in, and that foam insert pops right into the carrying case, and ends up looking fantastic and working great. It's rare when a company actually puts in the effort to come up with a unique and interesting packaging design, let alone one that works with the toy so well. Kudos to Hasbro on this one!

Sculpting - ***1/2
The new look of G.I. Joe is radically different.  First, he's in an entirely new scale - about 8".  Second, he's much more 'anime' style than past figures, reflecting the current style of most other Saturday morning cartoons on television.

If you don't like that style, they you'll have issues with this sculpt.  I will say this though - I'm not a huge fan of the general rush to anime by every cartoon character on the planet, but Hasbro has done a nice job combining that style with the general look of the old RAH Joes.

Snake Eyes has some nice basic detail, with an interesting musculature and appearance.  Old time fans will recognize him, but he's unique enough to capture the attention of kid's.

The hands are sculpted to hold all of the weapons and accessories well, and the general design works extremely well with the articulation.  I had no trouble getting him to stand on his own in tons of poses, and this is a truly fun toy.

Paint - ***
Their is not a lot of small detail paint ops, but that's not surprising since it matches the cartoon appearance.

There's a little slop here and there, and the eyes, swords, and smaller colors tend to have the most problems.  It's very much a mass market level of quality though, and there are several nice touches you might not expect, including the small Sigma 6 insignia on his chest, and the blue edges to the swords.

Accessories - ****
If you're looking for a figure that's a throw back to 40 years ago, and what it meant to get accessories with an action figure back in the day, then this figure is for you.

I mentioned earlier that the top and bottom of the package form a foot locker.  There are hinges in the back of the locker, plus there are two clasps included that will allow you to snap the front closed. The included die cut foam fits inside nicely, or you can skip it altogether and pack all the accessories and even the instructions.

Speaking of instructions, there is a set, although they aren't really necessary.  There's also a very cool poster of the first series together, and showing the other vehicles in the line.

Snake Eyes has several accessories designed for sneaking into places he's not supposed to be.  These include a pair of suction cup wall climbers, both of which suck up on the wall great, and hold his weight easily.

There's also the 'whip-star'.  Push a button on the top, and blades pop out of the sides.  There's a strong magnet on one end, and a string that wraps around the base.  The magnet can attach to anything metal, and the string can be hung from the other end with a plastic hook.  The string is a tad short, and you may want to replace it with something a little longer, but the magnet is extremely strong, and the general design has a terrific of play function.

There's also a pulley/bar assembly that can be attached to the string, and he can slide down the string, or any other string, quickly and easily.

Where would he be without his weapons, and he has plenty.  There's two long swords with scabbards that attach to his back, one short dagger/sword with a scabbard that belts to his thigh, and an automatic gun.  The gun has a removable clip, and can also attach to his body with the use of a peg on one side.

The large scabbards have pegs that can fit in any of the holes on his body, but the one's on his back probably work best.  You can also thread them through the harness (or not) for a variety of looks.

The belted sheath on the smaller sword works great, and has a nice elastic belt with plastic buckle.  It's the kind of belt and buckle that you normally only see on higher end (and much more expensive) sixth scale figures.

All three blades can also attach to each other at the end of the handles, by using the supplied pegs.  Then you can have either two long swords, or a long sword and short sword, as a single weapon.

But wait - there's more!  The long swords have handles that pop out, allowing you to hold them like baton's.  It's pretty amazing the number of ways you can interconnect and use the various weapons, and I have to say for a mass market product, it's quite impressive.

And yes there's more!  Snake Eyes has the least amount of soft goods or clothing of any of the line, but he has an elastic harness that fits over his chest and waist.  It's removable if you don't like it, however.  The other figures in the line tend to have pants, vests, etc.

Do you think I'm all done?  Not quite!  There are also three face attachments - his traditional trademark visor, a gas mask, and what I believe is a pair of night vision goggles.  All three of these attach to small pegs on the side of his head, and can actually flip up and down.

I don't remember the last time I talked this much about accessories, but there is one more - his dog tag.  It's a little oversized, but is metal and has the Sigma 6 insignia embossed in it.

Articulation - ***1/2
This is a fairly big figure, much larger than Marvel Legends or even most DC Direct.  You expect a fair amount of articulation at that level, and what the figure has is good, but not amazing.

There's a ball jointed neck, but the range of movement is a little restricted.  There's very good ball jointed shoulders and hips, which worked great for me and held a lot of cool poses.  There's pin elbows and knees, but these also rotate in the upper arm, much like the old 12" vintage Joes.  The wrists and ankles are also pin joints, but like the elbows and knees, they turn at the peg that inserts into the leg or arm.  All that means that while there isn't a cut bicep or thigh, you really don't need it, since the lower legs, arms, hands and feet can turn to any position in relation to the bicep or thigh.

Finally, he also has a chest joint with limited movement, and a cut waist.  He really can hold an amazing number of poses, and the joints are much tighter and sturdy than something like Marvel Legends.

I haven't mentioned it any where else, and I suppose this is as good a category as any.  Snake Eyes also has an opening control panel/communication device on the forearm of his left arm, ala Predator.  It is fairly sturdy, and opens and closes easily.

Fun Factor - ****
These are some seriously fun toys, the kind of thing that would have been fun 40 years ago, and are fun today.  Excellent accessories, solid articulation, with a cool theme makes for a great role playing action figure.  These are good enough to actually help the cartoon succeed, rather than just feed off the success of the show.

Value - ***
When I heard these were fifteen bucks, I thought for sure I'd be slamming them in this category.  C'mon, $15 for a joe?  And he's not sixth scale?  But I seriously under estimated how cool these are, and how great the accessories are.

I'm a serious hard ass on value, and I do think these would be better served if Hasbro could get them down around $12.  But comparing them against even other specialty market toys, where the prices might be higher but the quality is often better, showed me that these deserved the extra half star.

Things to watch out for - 
Word is that some folks have gotten smooth scabbards for the large swords, without any pegs.  That means they won't attach well to the back of his body, and you want to be sure to look for that and avoid it.

Overall -  ***1/2
I haven't gotten to watch the cartoon yet, so I can't vouch for the quality of the new approach.  But the figures are far better toys than I expected, and really are a ton of fun.  I'm betting these guys end up on one of my best of 2005 lists this year, and if you're a big fan of G.I. Joe, you really should give them a chance.  These might just be what the line needs to make kids take notice, if they can manage to convince their parents they are worth the green.  If this guy was twelve bucks, he'd be a four star figure without a doubt.

Packaging - ****
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***
Overall -  ***1/2

Where to Buy -
I found these at my local TRU and have heard reports of them at Kaybee Toys, which is your best bet for a bricks and mortar location right now.

Special Note - it's worth mentioning that the Xevoz accesories and goodies are likely to be in scale with these figures, and might make a nice addition.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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