There has been much discussion about RZA's portrayal of the Blind Master in the G.I. Joe: Retaliation film, and very little of the discussion has been positive. Most folks out there condemn the portrayal and find a lot of negative things to say about it. What some folks are not translating with the role, though, is the homage RZA was paying to a lot of the old school 70's kung fu movies which often had a familiar stilted dialogue sound to them. Repeated viewings of the film have shown that he pays homage to a lot of these older films, a fact only reinforced by some of the weapons included with this particular figure.
Like many other Retaliation offerings, the Blind Master figure uses a lot of existing tooling, with 30th Anniversary Storm Shadow torso, arms, and legs with the Rise of Cobra Storm Shadow's jacket over the top to simulate the robe he wore in the film. The unfortunate result of using the jacket from that Storm Shadow is that Blind Master is nearly immobile from the waist down. I suppose that's not a huge deal, especially since all he does in the film is stand around and speak wisdom. Still, it seems like kind of a waist to have a ninja figure with excellent leg articulation that cannot even be used.image ru
The majority of the Blind Master figure is painted in a gray/black hue to match the colors from the film and the result is good. The right amount of white trim adds some color to the figure, but he remains relatively monochromatic, which results in the Arashikage symbol on his back standing out quite nicely.
Obviously the real shining point of this figure is the head sculpt. RZA's likeness is captured in almost scary detail, with great texture on his beard and hair, and a really nicely detailed scar running down his face. Even his eyes are painted in the correct light gray hue to represent the character's blindness on screen. In short, the head is absolutely phenomenal.image url upload
It's pretty impressive what a small part like a new head will do for a figure, and even with this small addition, the figure immediately becomes more than just a collection of re-used parts and essentially becomes the Blind Master character from the film. The head sculpt is so chock full of personality, it immediately works.
ACCESSORIESscreen capture program
According to some of the designers involved in the G.I. Joe: Retaliation toy line, RZA himself had some specific requests for the accessories for his figure, including the infamous "flying guillotine" and a hat with flip-out blades (though the packaging is careful to list it as a "shield"). He also comes with a nine ring broadsword, a mask, and an excellent walking stick that comes apart to reveal a blade hidden underneath. A nice bamboo blow gun is present as well. The weapon selection is eclectic and interesting and adds some awesome old school martial arts spirit to the figure. So much so that you can only assume RZA indeed did have some input with some of this gear with his love of classic kung fu movies a well known aspect of him as a person.
Each of these weapons is expertly crafted and very nicely designed, resulting in extremely unique and cool martial arts weaponry. Another aspect of a pretty nice addition to the Retaliation ninja corps.screenshot on pc
Blind Master is a fantastic figure conceptually that falls a bit short in execution if only for the Rise of Cobra Storm Shadow jacket that drastically limits poseability. Perhaps it speaks to the excellence of this figure that I wish I could pose him and display him in combat mode and better indoctrinate him into my mainstream G.I. Joe universe. Even though all he does in the film is stand there and look blind, I'd love for him to be capable of more in toy form. From the waist up, the awesome accessories, and especially that character-infusing head sculpt this is a terrific addition to the Arashikage Clan.
GRADE: 3 1/2 STARS