I was pretty delighted when I first saw Blind Master up close, in Hasbro's Toy Fair showroom in February of 2012. I never saw one in person for purchase until January 2014, and I assume that was a fluke. As toy lines go, G.I. Joe is clearly Hasbro's least-loved child as it appears there is little to nothing new on deck for this year. As far as I can tell new figures tend to sell consistently well, but the movie's delay and another example of "wave 1 syndrome" kept new product off the shelves for quite some time. The movie tanking didn't help, but it seems that these things always sell.
Standing at about 4-inches tall, Blind Master is a mishmash of a new head on an existing body with a swapped skirt. The impressario of the Wu-Tang Clan seems like a curious choice for a ninja master, but seeing as he's one of the leading voices in kung fu cinema in the USA, it makes sense. The figure may have more appeal to fans of The Man with the Iron Fists, a spectacular little movie which features a number of spectacular fights and costumes which prove that Hasbro was wise to consult Mr. Robert Fitzgerald Diggs when it came to which accessories would come with his action figure.
Renegades Storm Shadow's body was given a fresh coat of paint and Rise of Cobra Storm Shadow's skirt, and it basically works well. It's not a perfect match to the movie, but if you just want a nifty action figure - and I do - you're in for a treat. The head sculpt is quite good, with "blind" eyes, a scar on his face, plus a fairly bushy bead. The eyebrows are a little off, but really all I wanted was a decent RZA figure and I got one. The parts of the body more or less fit together well, and the bend-and-swivel wrists are a must for any figure with ninja swords and whatnot.
While the figure does have a tab on a sash plus a sheath with no dagger, the accessories are still excellent. You get a blank display stand, a hat that looks like a variation on Master of the Flying Guillotine, a sword, a decapitation blade, a sword in a walking stick, a flute, a mask, and a sword. I'm no martial arts cinema expert but I can say that I'm impressed. The hat with swing-out blades can be worn on his head or held like a weapon - and it may be the most unique weapon in the entire line. That's saying something. The decapitation blade can be held in one hand, with the rope connecting the weapon to the victim and only a minor "yank" causes instant decapitation. I think. It doesn't quite work on the toys. The mask ain't bad, the flute is swell, and the gold sword looks pretty good. I like the fact that the giant sword can be hidden inside a piece of bamboo. As a set of accessories, this figure is just about as interesting as the figure itself.
Figures like Blind Master are tough to get, but have a strong crossover appeal to numerous kinds of fans - it's not like there are a lot of Wu-Tang-adjacent collectibles, or kung fu tribites, or G.I. Joe figures of musicians, and so on and so forth. The fact that this and other figures from later waves of Retaliation show that Hasbro continues to lose sight of not only the collector market, but the fact that fresh figures on the shelves almost always are an easy sell. You likely won't see this one in the wild much - I sure didn't - but if you do I suggest snagging it. Hopefully Hasbro will put a little more emphasis on getting more new product out faster with less of wave 1 glutting the shelves in subsequent assortments, because there are still countless interested fans out there - like myself - who get put off when confronted with months (or more) of few to no new releases. This is the first new figure I've picked up since the blue movie Cobra Commander, and I couldn't even tell you when the last new figure was - perhaps 2011 or early 2012? I love Joes but unlike the hardcore fans, I'm less likely to order online or a case - I'll snag 'em when I see 'em though.
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