“Budo’s father was an orthodontist in Oakland.” –File Card of Kyle A. Jesso (aka Budo), 1988
G.I. Joe is one of those properties that I love, but know next to nothing about. It was my absolute favorite line as a kid, but other than the characters’ names and what teams they were on, I couldn’t tell you a thing about them. Duke always got captured. Storm Shadow never lost. A Trubble Bubble could bring the end to the world, and Junkyard would frequently save the day. File Cards and back story had no place in my toy box. So it really came as no surprise that when Budo Samurai Warrior was announced as part of the Retaliation line, I was going to be basing my purchase on just one thing — whether or not it was a cool-looking figure. And, man, is it ever.
Budo comes fully decked out in traditional Samurai armor and the sculpting is impeccable. From his antler crest to the individually sculpted plates on his dou (that’s chest armor — thanks, Internet!), Hasbro has really outdone themselves, especially considering that this is just a 4-inch figure. He has the traditional Mempo faceplate that lines up well with the head sculpt, and you can even see his eyes through the plate’s eye holes.
As beautiful as the sculpt is, it does have a few issue that hurt my overall impression. The plastic armor is quite firm and really restricts articulation — especially the forward movement in the legs. Underneath the armor is the standard ninja body with the always appreciated rocker ankles, but you can’t use them much. The outer layer is easily removed and will give you a bit more playability, but I’ll be displaying him in his full uniform.
The other issue I had is with the paint. It’s not really an “issue,” per se, because this figure met my expectations, but it’s more of what could have been. Sculpts this intricate really deserve paint work to match. There is some nice clean work on the helmet and faceplate, but the rest of the armor is somewhat lacking. You can see a very light-handed drybushing, but it’s not enough to overcome the plastic-y feel. I’m sure a customizer out there could do great things to bring out the details and improve the overall look.
Budo comes with his helmet, two swords (long and short), and a stand. I haven’t seen this Joe base before, and I had trouble fitting the peg into the foot holes. It’s rather basic and no longer carries the G. I. Joe logo or the character’s codename. The swords are the same we’ve seen many times before, but you’ll hear no complaints from me — I think that they’re perfect.
Overall, this is another great addition to the Joe shelf. At the very least he’s an interesting one because it’s not every day we get a fully armored Samurai. Once he teams up with Junkyard, those Trubble Bubbles won’t stand a chance.