Ashiko has an interesting history, because of his distribution. Hasbro has a habit of only releasing the final wave of something (in this case the final wave of Pursuit of Cobra Alpha vehicles) in Asia and Canada. At that point the only thing any U.S. fans can do is buy them from Canada at an inflated price, or buy them off of the internet at an equally inflated price. That is, until Ashiko started showing up recently at Ross stores.
Ross is a department store where big box retailers will send their unsold goods to die (or be bought at a cheaper amount). This is also something G.I. Joe fans are used to, since the Cobra Attack and Defense 7 packs, as well as the G.I. Joe Resolute 7 packs showed up at Ross stores as well. I took a trip to a local Ross and sure enough found Ashiko with Cycle Armor. I had wanted this figure ever since I saw the prototype. It seemed like such a great concept and felt very reminiscent of the Centurions which I loved as a kid. Keep reading to see if that excited stayed after opening him up!
PACKAGING – I didn’t take a packaged shot, because there was a huge Ross sticker on the front, but if you’ve seen any of the other Pursuit of Cobra alpha vehicles then you know what this one looks like. It’s a nice big window box showing off everything inside, and it includes a fold-out background appropriate to the environment the figure is billed under (in this case City Strike). Of course since this is from Canada, everything is in 4 languages (English, French, Spanish, and I think Italian? I could be wrong, and I probably am).
There is a great set shot on the back featuring Ashiko standing next to his motorcycle with a run down city behind him, and then there is the filecard which I did take a photo of. It turns out Ashiko is an Arashikage ninja (because other than Quick Kick, if yuo’re asian then you have to be a ninja to be a G.I. Joe) who is also a professional motor cycle stunt driver. So naturally they gave him the experimental Cycle Armor in his quest to…do…ninja stuff? Anyway, the packaging does its job and looks very cool (though admittedly it’s nothing special), including the background insert which, you can see from some of the photos, I got a lot of use out of. I do wish the background was bigger though.
PACKAGING SCORE – 3.5 / 5
SCULPT – Because i’m dealing with a figure and a vehicle, I’m going to review and score them separately and as a combined whole (I know I know, it sounds confusing but trust me). The sculpt on Ashiko is nothing new. The body seems to be Snake Eyes V34 from the 25th anniversary line modified to include big reticules on his thighs, and the head has been used on various vipers and other Joes recently. The armor seems to be from Wraith, but modified with those huge reticules. The helmet might be new, but I’m not 100% sure on that. And I’m going to come out and say that even though I know Ashiko needs those holes in order to make the Cycle Armor work, they are very ugly. I know that Ashiko is really just an afterthought, but it would be nice if the figure looked great on his own. But he doesn’t.
Inversely, the sculpt on the bike is fantastic. I’m no mechanical engineer, but everything looks to be in the proper place on the bike, and it does look just like a motorcyle, albeit a tad futuristic. There doesn’t seem to be any kibble (what Transformers fans call a bunch of robot parts folded up under the toy when it’s in its alt mode that detracts from the illusion), and the figure fits great and looks great on the bike. It even has two kick stands that help with posing (as every toy motorcycle should). The sculpt doesn’t get in the way of functionality either. The bike rolls perfectly and stays held together tightly. A big plus considering several people might just keep it in bike mode anyway.
SCULPT SCORE –
- FIGURE – 2.5 / 5
- BIKE – 4 / 5
- AVERAGE – 3 / 5
PAINT – Again, I’ll be scoring the bike and figure separately in this category. The figure seems pretty devoid of any paint. The face (what you can see of it under the balaclava) is painted, but the rest of the figure is just cast in the appropriate colors. There is a G.I. Joe symbol on the figure’s chest, but that’s it. Not even the visor on the helmet is painted, it’s just all black. Any kind of paint detail would have been nice. The lack of paint just goes to show just how much of an after thought the figure really was in this set.
The bike, on the other hand, does have some painted details. A large number of the pieces are just cast in the appropriate color, but several panels feature a nice smooth flat paint job, and there are several areas detailed to help bring out the sculpt and help bring attention to certain areas, like the belt feed on either side of the headlight, and small areas around gears and such. There is a sticker sheet included in the set to go on the bike which is always nice. I’ve always loved applying the decals to G.I. Joe vehicles and this is no different. There aren’t a lot of stickers, since it’s just a small bike, but what is there does provide some nice detail.
PAINT SCORE –
- FIGURE – 1 / 5
- BIKE – 3 / 5
- AVERAGE – 2 / 5
ARTICULATION – Ashiko’s articulation is standard for G.I. Joe figure. Ball jointed head, mid-torso swivel, ball jointed shoulders, swivel hinge elbows, cut wrists, ball jointed hips, double knees, and swivel hinge ankles. You can get a much larger range of movement out of him without the armor on as well. Being the same armor that was on Wraith, he too suffered from the same problem.
The armor’s shoulders (which is all just one piece) severely limits how high you can lift his arms. Also, the neck piece limits how much you can turn his head. You try to turn it and it lifts the head up and limits the range of movement. Because of these issues, you’re not going to get very dynamic poses out of Ashiko by himself.
You can get some cool poses of him on the bike, but as a standalone figure with his standard armor on, not so much.
Speaking of armor, let’s talk about how the Cycle Armor affects articulation. While a great concept, it too limits the movement of Ashiko. Because of how big the Cycle Armor is, it doesn’t allow for dynamic posing. You might be able to get some if you had some sort of stand, but other than that you’re only getting static poses out of him and not very many either.
Remember how I said his standard armor limits how high up his arms can go? You still very much have that problem with the Cycle Armor on. Not only that, but the arm gauntlets that Ashiko wears are loose. You can see in the photo of him without any armor on at all, I removed the gauntlets. They don’t stay in place. And his hands pop out easily, especially when you don’t want them to.
This not only makes attaching the Cycle Armor pieces that go on his arms frustrating, but just trying to pose his arms in any way frustrating as well. Another problem is his hip joints. They’re not loose, but they are standard G.I. Joe hip joints, but I think what Hasbro failed to take into consideration is weight.
The weight of the Cycle Armor really weighs down on Ashiko, so much so that some poses are downright impossible without some extra support.
I had a lot of trouble with that while photographing him. His entire torso would lean down, and his hips would spread apart just from the weight of the Cycle Armor bearing down.
ARTICULATION SCORE – 2.5 / 5
ACCESSORIES – Something that was a nice surprise with Ashiko is the metric but ton of accessories he comes with. He includes the same katana and scabbard that came with Paris Pursuit Snake Eyes, a knife and sheath, twin Uzis, and three different assault rifles. While this is great, there are some problems. First and foremost, he can’t carry all of the weapons. There aren’t even places on the bike to store them. He would carry two guns, and his katana on his back at any given time. And because of his standard armor, the peg on the katana scabbard doesn’t exactly securely go into the plug in Ashiko’s back. And that knife and sheath combo? Literally nowhere to put it. No peg or strap on it of any kind. Also, it would have been nice to include some kind of paint detail, even if it was just a small amount. Even the katana blade is unpainted. Still, it is nice to get this many weapons, since most figures that come with vehicles have very little.
I suppose I could also include the Cycle Armor as a set of accessories as well, since that technically does count. The Cycle Armor does its job well, though there are some pars during the transformation (not so much of a transformation as a disassembling and reassembling of parts) where it feels like you could break something. I suppose that’s a testament to how well the parts stay together in bike mode though. They do look attractive, and they are sturdy. Because of the sheer number of Accessories Ashiko comes with, it’s hard not to be impressed.
ACCESSORIES SCORE – 4 / 5
FUN – Ashiko is a lot of fun. The concept alone is rife with possibility for fun. The fact that it reminds me of Centurions also helps. Because of the limitations of his movement, especially with the Cycle Armor on, does hurt just how much fun you could have with the figure, but just the process of taking the bike apart and transforming it and attaching it to the Ashiko figure can be very engaging. It’s like working a puzzle and playing with a toy at the same time. I could see adult collectors and kids alike, even those not into G.I. Joe, having a lot of fun with Ashiko. Although I should caution that if you give this to your kid make sure they’re old enough to handle it. with all the small weapons and all the pieces that go into the Cycle Armor, it’s a potential hazard for a small child. I think the biggest reason Ashiko is so fun is because it shows the creativity Hasbro has put behind the Pursuit of Cobra line, and shows what Hasbro in general has been doing with G.I. Joe, and that’s constantly taking it to the next level. I never would have thought that this type of concept would be possible on such a small scale, but Hasbro proved me wrong and I’m glad they did, because Ashiko is a lot of fun.
FUN SCORE – 4 / 5
OVERALL – Ashiko is a ton of fun, but there is a possibility of losing those small parts. His joints aren’t strong enough to properly support the weight of the Cycle Armor, and with the Cycle Armor on it does limit his range of movement. Ashiko doesn’t look that great on his own because of the large plugs all over his body, but he does look nice posed riding the motorcycle. Though it does have its faults, Ashiko with the Cycle Armor is still a great concept. It shows that Hasbro is always improving and pushing the limits of what can be done on such a small scale. It’s that type of thinking that I hope Hasbro continues to employ in the future. Due to the unique nature of this toy, I’ll be giving it two overall scores. One, as a figure with the Cycle Armor, and another as a figure with a motorcycle. I’m doing this, because as just a motorcycle it really is a completely different sent that deserves to be scored on its own merits.
OVERALL SCORE –
- AS CYCLE ARMOR – 3 / 5
- AS MOTORCYCLE – 4 / 5
Where to buy:
- If you can’t find it at a Ross store near you, Amazon has Ashiko for sale right now.