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By Thomas Wheeler

Probably one of the coolest new G.I. Joe characters is KAMAKURA. He was introduced first in the comic book, and then later became a toy, much as the Baroness did back in the 1980's. (Pay attention, class, that was the history lesson part of your review, and there may be a quiz later.)

Kamakura initially didn't endear himself to the Joe Team's top man, General Hawk. He was stunned to see this ninja in the ranks, and remarked, "Who invited the green Power Ranger!?" adding that the team would NOT repeat the mistakes of Ninja Force (which was a nice jab at one of the most ill-conceived special teams from a figure standpoint in the entire lineup).

But Kamakura was no ordinary ninja. He was a disciple of Snake-Eyes himself. That carried enough weight to keep the man on the team, and in a more recent issue, he even saved Hawk's life, recalling the "Power Ranger" remark. Needless to say, all was apologized for and forgiven.

There's a new 12" Kamakura out there, and he's a very cool figure!

There have been a few 12" G.I.Joes that have resembled their original 3-3/4" counterparts closely enough that I have brought them into my collection. Flint. Tunnel Rat. Airborne. And I'm trying, as of this writing, to find Bazooka. Kamakura looked enough like his comic book counterpart, and was cool enough of a character, that I decided to purchase the 12" version.

And I was not disappointed! The figure has an all-cloth uniform, for starters. Some 12" Joes have plastic molded shirts. I don't mind that too much, but all-cloth is better.

He comes with a considerable assortment of weaponry, including a sword, a rappelling hook, throwing stars, and more. He has a huge Arashikage clan tattoo on his right arm.

About the only downside is that I don't recommend taking the ski mask off his head. The head is a little undetailed underneath. But then, since we haven't seen what Kamakura looks like without his mask in the comic book, there's no reason to remove it on the figure anyway.

Kamakura's file card reads as follows:


File Name: Classified Grade: E-5 SN: Classified Primary Military Specialty: Infantry Secondary Military Specialty: Intelligence Birthplace: Classified

Trained by SNAKE-EYES in over twelve forms of hand-to-hand combat, KAMAKURA is as versatile with a katana (sword) or kusari-gama (chain and sickle) as he is with a standard issue M-4 assault rifle. No one is quite sure how the young ninja convinced SNAKE-EYES to take him under his tutelage, but KAMAKURA bears the same ARASHIKAGE ninja clan tattoo as both SNAKE-EYES and STORM SHADOW. Perhaps SNAKE-EYES felt it was his responsibility to pass on the clan's traditions, since its only other living Arashikage master has joined COBRA forces. While he's one of the most skilled fighters on the G.I.JOE Team, KAMAKURA hasn't yet reached the level of his master, and SNAKE-EYES isn't afraid to knock him down in hard randori (sparring) if he forgets. KAMAKURA is, however, a little more personable to have around. He tends to lurk in the background and prefers to tackle his assignments as quickly and quietly as possible.

"We don't know how KAMAKURA talked SNAKE-EYES into teaching him all those moves, but I do know the hardest part of his training wasn't the bruises and bumps, it was his six-month vow of silence."

Overall, this 12" KAMAKURA figure is superbly well made, rising above even many of the other 12" G.I.Joe 3-3/4" related figures presently available. He's also proving to be a popular seller and as of this writing is not all that easy to find.

One easy way to spot him in a display is that the Arashikage tattoo has been stamped on the backing card in he upper left. Spot those red stripes and you know you've got Kamakura, and I definitely recommend him!