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REVIEW:
G.I. JOE SIGMA SIX SNAKE-EYES ATV
By Thomas Wheeler


It's amazing, really, some of the toy products in various popular lines that, for one reason or another, just don't quite see the same wide release as most of the rest of the line in question. Sometimes they don't come out at all. Sometimes they do, but they can be notoriously hard to find.

A little background is required, however. One mild problem with the Sigma Six line was that the figures were too big to do an extensive vehicle line for them. That resulted in the development of the 2.5" Sigma Six line. There was really a limit as to what could be done in the 8" scale and expect the stores to be willing to carry it. There were, however, a handful of vehicles. These included two "Hover Motorcycles", and one "Assault Quad ATV". This particular vehicle was driven by Duke, and was really a very effective-looking All Terrain Vehicle.

What wasn't widely known until recently was that a second ATV was planned. Based, of course, on the molds of the first one, but substantially recolored and equipped with different weaponry for the figure to use, this ATV was designated the Ninja Tracker ATV, and came with Snake-Eyes.

There's nothing especially exaggerated about this vehicle. Expand it to life-size and it looks entirely like any of a number of types of ATVs that one might expect to see off-roading in any number of locales on a given weekend by ATV enthusiasus. The main body of the vehicle is colored in several shades of camouflage green, making for a very effective forest camouflage pattern. The rest of the vehicle is black. The four tires are large and rubbery. The vehicle has a rear spring suspension system that works superbly well, and the front wheels are capable of turning left and right. The two sets of wheels have sturdy metal axles, and the vehicle rolls very nicely, and I suspect that in a play environment would be capable of handling fairly rough terrain -- to its scale, anyway.

There's a menacing front grill on the vehicle, and what looks like an equipment rack in the back. And there's a fair supply of equipment. Along with four "pulse missiles" that launch out of the front of the ATV, there's also a pair of masty-looking swords, a huge crossbow that I think even Scarlett would flinch at, a knife, and a couple of throwing stars. Presumably most of these can be carried on the back of the vehicle.

Along with the spring-loaded missile launchers, there's a second spring-activated feature on the ATV. Press down on the handlebars and a small device slowly raises on the front of the vehicle. This is listed on the back of the package as a "pop-up targeting system". What I find fascinating is that it doesn't just snap right up. It takes its time, as one might expect such a device to on a full-size vehicle. It's a nice added feature.

The ATV has a number of well-placed stickers on it, most of them Sigma 6 logos. This is the sort of thing that, in the days of the 3-3/4" line, I always preferred to do myself, but I have to say that for the most part, they are well and neatly placed on this vehicle.

This Ninja Tracker ATV measures about 11" long, 5-1/2" wide, and a little over 6" high at its highest point. Given the limited number of plausible vehicles possible for an 8" action figure line, an ATV is a good choice, and this is a good ATV. It's well-designed, very well detailed, authentic-looking, and sturdily made. It's surprisingly heavy for its size, so I'm sure it would stand up to quite a bit of active play, and for those inclined to use it mostly for display, it looks cool, too.

Now let's consider the Snake-Eyes figure that comes with it. Certainly I don't think I need to go too deeply into the history of Snake-Eyes. This ninja-turned-commando has been part of the G.I. Joe Team from its onset in 1982. Originally the all-black figure was created as simply a means of saving a little money, since he didn't have any paint applications. The comic book and the overall mystique of the character turned him into a star and a legend in rather short order, and he's been one of the main names in the G.I. Joe universe ever since, and certainly when the 8" Sigma Six concept was started up, it was a given that the ever-silent Snake-Eyes would be a part of it.

There have, not surprisingly, been a number of Snake-Eyes figures in the 8" line. My personal favorite remains the first one that came out -- the black Sigma Suit with dark grey trim, a mask that was reminiscent of Snake-Eyes' most popular incarnation, with the ridged visor. The figure looked exactly like one would expect a Sigma-suited Snake-Eyes to appear.

Some of the 8" Snake-Eyes figures since then have been rather cool, and there's been a couple where I sort of questioned the color choices and backstory. The Snake-Eyes that comes with this ATV may well be my second favorite of all of the 8" Snake-Eyes figures.

For one thing, he's actually a darker black than the first Sigma Six Snake-Eyes. Either that or my collection needs dusting more than I thought. This is Snake-Eyes in a VERY black Sigma Suit. And in what I suspect is an unintentional tribute to the original Snake-Eyes, there's no real painted detail on the figure, except for the "6" logo, and his visor. I suspect this was probably done for the same reason the very first Snake-Eyes was left unpainted. But the end result is an interesting Sigma Six tribute to the original.

What surprised me was that I initially assumed that this was simply a recoloration -- or perhaps a no-coloration -- of the first Snake-Eyes. But it isn't. The figure actually uses some other parts. The head of the original Snake-Eyes had a removable visor. This one doesn't. More obviously, though, is the fact that although this Snake-Eyes uses the same main body as the original Sigma Six Snake-Eyes, he gets his arms and legs from Kamakura. Not that this is a bad choice. Kamakura is also a ninja, and really, the black arm and leg wrappings add a little something cool to Snake-Eyes' overall appearance in this instance. Although it does have the curious side-effect of making the ATV Snake-Eyes a little bit shorter than the original Sigma Six Snake-Eyes.

Snake-Eyes comes with a very cool helmet, which is certainly appropriate. No one should ride a motorcycle or an ATV without a helmet. The design of the helmet is extremely cool, with a partially ridged visor that looks very "Snake-Eyes in design, and yet also flips up to reveal the visor attached to Snake-Eyes mask.

But helmet or no, this is an extremely cool Sigma Six Snake-Eyes, that is very, very reminiscent, at least in basic "all-black" appearance, of the very first version of this legendary character that started the legend in the first place.

There is a file card on the back, that's mostly for the ATV, although it outlines the mission that Snake-Eyes is on with the ATV. It reads as follows:

NINJA TRACKER ATV

Snake-Eyes powers the Ninja Tracker ATV into the wilderness to reach an Arashikage temple built on the highest peak of a remote mountain range. The vehicle is designed for secrecy and silence with an ultra-adaptive suspension system that can ride smoothly over rugged terrain. Ninja B.A.T. troopers led by Firefly are scaling the mountain to attack the temple, and Snake-Eyes plans to reach the top first and defend the sacred site from enemy assault. The off-road Ninja Tracker ATV is armed with hidden rocket launchers, and has a weapons rack and tactical front guard that can hold all the weapons Snake-Eyes needs to take down the Ninja B.A.T. troopers!

Interesting reference there to Firefly leading Ninja B.A.T.s, and indeed the pictures on the back showcasing "currently available figures" do show the Cobra version of Firefly, so really, this Ninja Tracker ATV was obviously intended for a more recent release than its Duke-driven predecessor.

The file card also does a nice job of answering a question in the back of my mind, which was -- What the heck is a ninja doing driving an ATV? We're not exactly talking about a vehicle known for its subtlety. Before I read the card, I was speculating that either the ATV had somehow been specially adapted, which seems to be the case, or that Snake-Eyes was so sure of his masterful abilities as a ninja that he didn't particularly care if anyone heard him coming.

Nice reference to the Arashikage ninja clan, there, too.

This is really a very cool toy. The ATV is well-designed, and the Snake- Eyes figure is easily the second-coolest version of Snake-Eyes in the Sigma Six 8" line of G.I. Joe figures. It's a shame that this set is not easy to come by. However, it DOES exist. It may be too late to find it at your local store by the time this review is presented, but when it comes to scarce toys like this, I try to maintain the following mindset -- if it exists, if it was produced -- which in this case it certainly was -- then it's not impossible to find it. Difficult, maybe. And you might end up paying a bit more than retail for it. You'll have to decide for yourself if it's worth it. Within reason, I'd say it is.

The G.I. JOE SIGMA SIX NINJA TRACKER ATV with SNAKE-EYES is a very cool and impressive item, and it definitely has my highest recommendation!