Every Thursday this month, I’ll be reviewing a favorite GI Joe figure from my childhood. One of the figures I played with the most. The figures who were a part of nearly every childhood adventure. The ones who got dragged through the dirt, flung off the jungle gym at the local park, left at Grandma’s house over the weekend, brought to school hidden in a backpack, and treated carelessly by a child’s unabashed adoration.
Narrowing it down to only four figures is a daunting task, but I think I’ve figured it out.
I’m starting with 1992 GI Joe Ninja Force Storm Shadow, who is the pinnacle of “childhood favorites.” This is not a popular figure, but it’s a figure that means the world to me. It was a total game changer that affected every single aspect of GI Joe for me. This figure was my first ninja hero in the GI Joe line. A legendary character. A former bad guy now fighting on the side of the angels. A hooded avenger in white, righting wrongs with an alabaster sickle and sword.
I’ll do my best to acknowledge the figure’s shortcomings (and there are many) while also singing its praises and describing what it means to me.
We’ll also discuss its ephemeral nature– nothing lasts forever, not even an iconic ninja warrior.
Here is the mythical Ninja Force Storm Shadow in all of his flawed glory.
How 1992 GI Joe Ninja Force Storm Shadow Changed GI Joe Forever
I loved GI Joe before 1992. Many figures from 1989, 1990, and 1991 stayed important to me throughout childhood. But, as I’ve mentioned before, 1992 really felt like “my year” for GI Joe. It’s not my favorite year for the toy line these days, but it probably made the strongest showing during my childhood.
It was the year of fashioning cardboard boxes into labyrinthian Cobra temples and seeing if the Battle Wagon could safely drive itself down the stairs. It could not.
Among all of the hype around GI Joe’s main line, which brought me Duke, Firefly, and others, we also got plenty of sub teams. Talking Battle Commanders brought Stalker, Cobra Commander, and Overkill into the fold. DEF netted me Shockwave and a Headhunter.
But some bold, neon pink packaging delivered the greatest treasure of all– Ninja Force. Like any good old fashioned, god-fearing, red-scared boy from nuclear powered small town America, I loved ninjas. But GI Joe experienced ninja scarcity in my early years, with only a single 1990 Night Creeper finding its home in my collection prior to Ninja Force.
I don’t remember if I got Nunchuk or Storm Shadow first. I don’t remember if they came before Slice and Dice. I know I wasn’t particularly interested in Dojo or T’jbang. And I know I appreciated all of the Ninja Force figures I received in 1992– but Storm Shadow was the real treasure.
I had no childhood connection to Snake Eyes. I saw him in a couple of my friend’s Marvel comic books and knew him from his two minutes of screen time in GI Joe: The Movie, but he was pretty much a non-entity to me. I thought he looked cool, but I didn’t really understand what his deal was.
So, in effect, Storm Shadow became my Snake Eyes. He was the ninja commando who turned the tide on every mission. He was a master of stealth and the martial arts. A keen military strategist. A squad leader. An unstoppable fighting machine. No BAT or Sludge Viper could stand in his way.
1992 Storm Shadow saw such heavy use that his accessories were lost within months. And, while we are all just swimming in extra GI Joe swords now thanks to lots from Chinese eBay sellers and turn-of-the-century new sculpt releases, swords were scarce back then. At different points, Storm Shadow wielded small cocktail swords, twist-tie whips, and toothpicks wrapped in masking tape.
At one particularly desperate time, he even used a LEGO Castle lance.
As a kid, I loved the character of Storm Shadow (a military-aligned ninja warrior with a mystical bent) and the figure’s look. The white outfit, complete with a hood to shroud his black-masked face, was perfect. The black detailing and gold grenades made him something extra special. He felt like a crusader or a paladin, fighting the evils of Cobra’s killer robots and environmental destruction.
He went along with Flint, Heavy Duty, Tunnel Rat, and Shockwave on every important mission. He argued with Duke and Hawk. He rescued Falcon from Overkill. He infiltrated the strongholds and stormed the fortresses.
And, eventually, he was gone.
I’m not exactly sure what happened to my original Ninja Force Storm Shadow. He was well-loved and then he was not there. He could have been lost, broken, or forgotten when a new figure came along. It could have just been that I lost interest in him because he no longer had a weapon to call his own.
He disappeared before my house fire, either by neglect or by a ninja smoke bomb escape.
In 2000, I was thrilled to purchase another version of the figure, sold in a 2-pack with what would become my very first ARAH-style Snake Eyes. That figure’s bare hands and plain color scheme were disappointing, though, and he just could not live up to his ancestor.
I dutifully bought the BJ’s Exclusive Sound Attack 6-pack as well, which included a red version of this Storm Shadow. But that one didn’t live up to my childhood memories, either.
When I started rebuilding my ARAH collection in earnest several years ago, Ninja Force Storm Shadow was on my short list. But finding a complete figure in good condition proved to be a difficult task. Then I got lucky.
My friend Jeremy sent me all six 1992 Ninja Force figures, still sealed on Spanish cards. That was an extremely nice thing for him to do and I am still very grateful.
It was a thrill to open up a brand new Ninja Force Storm Shadow. And that figure Jeremy gave me is a cherished part of my GI Joe collection.
My original Storm Shadow was a gift from my mother and my current Storm Shadow was a gift from a dear friend. And I will cherish this figure long after he falls into time’s cruel embrace.
Nothing is forever.
But while he’s still with us, let’s take a look at 1992 GI Joe Ninja Force Storm Shadow.
1992 GI Joe Ninja Force Storm Shadow Review
Storm Shadow version 3 was released in GI Joe’s Ninja Force sub-line in 1992. This particular figure was a Spanish release, which is identical to the domestic Hasbro release in every single way, save for the language on the figure’s packaging.
These packaging photos are old. They were taken before I got my current amateur lighting setup, but you should still be able to make out the details.
Though they’re a common subject for derision in the online GI Joe community, I absolutely love the hot pink and black card back. The Storm Shadow artwork itself is also beautiful and dynamic, featuring the character in an impossible ninja pose, ready to kick the head right off of a hapless Destro or Flak Viper.
I also appreciate the simple action feature callout. The action feature itself is another story entirely, however.
1992 GI Joe Ninja Force Storm Shadow was an all-new mold for the year. The figure features the character’s legacy all-white appearance, but adds a black mask, black speckled detailing, and gold paint applications for various knives and grenades. Taken both on its own and as an update to the two versions of Storm Shadow that came before it, it’s a brilliant and striking design. It should come as little surprise that it was an instant favorite for me. At the time in 1992, this was the coolest looking GI Joe figure I’d ever seen. Real love at first sight stuff. Somehow, I am still not married. I’m sure these two facts are entirely unrelated.
Ninja Force Storm Shadow also featured two cloth ribbons, attached at the figure’s belt. They make the figure feel even more special. The 1992 Ninja Force line was full of fun little embellishments like that– added details made of non-plastic materials that added even more dynamism to the figures.
This figure does not feature standard GI Joe construction, which is why it’s generally disliked among fans. The figure contains the usual o-ring and t-hook that keep most GI Joe figures together but, since there’s no screw hole in the figure’s back, you cannot access its insides and replace the o-ring. The figure’s head is also on a limited swivel, restricting its range of motion. Two plastic tabs also lock the figure at the waist, limiting its movement there, too.
And, most damningly, the figure’s arms are restricted by a “screaming whirlwind” action feature. Basically, when you move one of the figure’s arms, the other one also moves along with it, resulting in a sort of double-slashing action feature. It’s not the worst gimmick, but I never used it too much even as a kid. You can “reset” each arm into different positions, so it’s not unposeable, but it does impede movement and take extra time. There’s also some amount of risk involved.
Aesthetically, though, 1992 Storm Shadow is a good update to the two figures that came before him. Here he is with the 2005 Comic Pack Storm Shadow, standing in for version 1, and a Funskool version of 1988’s Storm Shadow version 2. He takes design cues from both figures and pulls off the look very well.
You will notice, though, that Storm Shadow version 3 is much taller than his counterparts. I’m not sure if this is because the figure had to house the action feature or because getting the hood to look right required more plastic real estate. Some fans call this figure “giraffe necked,” which he kind of is, but my eyes don’t see it that way. Both as a kid and as an adult, I just see it as the hood looking a bit more natural. Either way, though, he is taller than most ARAH figures.
1992 GI Joe Ninja Force Storm Shadow came with three accessories– a white long sword, a white sickle, and a black figure stand. The sword and sickle are pictured below, both on a blue background and a white background so you can pick out the details.
The plastic on the accessories is a little bit soft (as many GI Joe weapons are) and they tend to pick up paint from the figure’s hands and ambient dirt and grime. The handles can also get a little bit chewed up from sliding in and out of the figure’s hands too often. If you actually use the figure, the weapons won’t remain perfect for long.
The sword is simple, but I’ve always really liked it. It looks swift and deadly, and it’s a good fit for the toy. The sickle features much more details, and is a bit of an odd weapon. You could say it’s a scythe-type weapon or a climbing axe of some sort. Both make sense within the context of the character. The sickle was also never reused with another figure, as far as I know.
The “screaming whirlwind” works best when the figure has both weapons equipped. And you can get some pretty fun poses when Storm Shadow is dual wielding, despite the articulation limitations. It’s a good pair of accessories.
This Storm Shadow mold was used many times by Hasbro. In the vintage ARAH line, it was reused for both versions of Street Fighter’s Ken, for T’Ginzu in 1993, and for Shadow Ninjas Storm Shadow (possibly the most fun tongue twister/Fu-Schnickens chorus Hasbro ever gifted unto the world).
You’re seeing my childhood Ken in the photo above. Even when I was 9, I recognized the mold reuse. I also knew that Hasbro was using Slice for its various Mortal Kombat ninjas and that both Guile and Liu Kang used the same body mold. It was a curiosity to me as a kid, but I never really minded it.
In the Repaint Era, Hasbro used the 92 Storm Shadow mold three more times. And collectors got sick of it. If we’re being fair minded, they also used the original Storm Shadow and v2 molds a couple of times, too, but collectors were soured on this one after just three uses. People just couldn’t make peace with the unusual Ninja Force construction, even after its action feature was neutered.
I don’t agree, but the sentiment is understandable.
The actual looks of this figure have resonated with the fan base, though.
In 1997, the full original Storm Shadow mold was released with colors that paid tribute to the 1992 version. This is my favorite version of the v1 Storm Shadow toy.
In 2012, Hasbro released a modern era Storm Shadow for their basic “Dollar General” line that homaged the Ninja Force figure– albeit very lazily. It’s a pretty good figure, but Hasbro didn’t do much beyond some easy black paint applications. Also, I forgot how difficult it is to actually get the Renegades/Ultimate Storm Shadow figure mold to actually stand up. Blech.
In 2020, Hasbro released an “Arctic Mission” Storm Shadow as an Amazon exclusive for its Classified line. This is a very nice looking figure, and it works perfectly as an update to the Ninja Force original. I don’t collect 6” figures, but this is one I was very tempted to buy.
The Ninja Force look was used extensively in comics, the DiC cartoon series, and marketing materials in the early 1990s. For people of a certain age, this is Storm Shadow. So it makes sense that the look makes an appearance from time to time. The outfit’s look is much more popular than the figure that spawned it.
My friend RTG also mentioned that Hasbro should have released a version of Storm Shadow v2 in these colors during the Repaint Era, and I can’t argue with that.
I don’t really need to talk about how I see this figure or how he functions in a GI Joe collection. To me, this is just what Storm Shadow wore after he started working with the GI Joe team full time. Because of the recent Classified release, some people might see it as a Storm Shadow who’s more appropriately dressed for cold weather missions, too.
I love this figure, but it has even more issues than I mentioned previously.
Like many of our plastic treasures, this figure is only temporary. We all lost toys as kids. They were sold at garage sales when we went off to college, lost in backyards, or broken by friends or siblings. We’ve done our best to replace these icons of our childhoods, but not even that lasts forever.
Plastic degrades over time, of course, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. The oil-based polymers Hasbro used for these toys will outlive us all, destined to be discovered in landfills by puzzled archaeologists and historians.
But this toy is more momentary than most. I opened this figure fresh from its package and have been its only owner since it escaped plastic Alcatraz. No prison can hold a ninja, after all. But, despite the care and consideration that I’ve shown it, it’s already turning a bit yellow. The legs are loose in several positions.
And, once the o-ring breaks, this toy is done for. There is no replacing it. That little rubber band is already on its way out. When it finally disintegrates, I won’t have many options. I can turn to someone who’s already cracked the figure open, replaced the o-ring, and glued it back together. But that’s also a temporary solution. The next o-ring will break, too, necessitating more professional help to rebuild the figure again.
These plastic things cannot last forever. And I’m not sure they should. My childhood Storm Shadow was gone by 1994. He was replaced in 2018. This figure will be done for by 2023. Ninja Force Storm Shadow is a source of joy for me, but he is not eternal. He is a plastic toy meant for children, and he was never meant to be a source of nostalgic mirth for a man in his 30s.
When Ninja Force Storm Shadow finally gives up the ghost, I will let go. I will say goodbye and I will say thank you. This small ninja action figure has already done so much for me– when he’s ready to depart, I will let him rest. He’s earned it.
We will all give up our toys some day, whether by choice or by death. I’m just glad one of my most treasured toys will go out on its own terms. That means I’ll appreciate it even more while it’s still around.
Closing Thoughts on 1992 GI Joe Ninja Force Storm Shadow
Thanks for reading! As you can see, I’m not giving this figure an actual rating. I think you can determine whether you want it or not based on all the flaws I described in the review. Also, if you hate action features, this one is probably a no-go for you.
What are your thoughts on this mold? Should it have died after 1994? Do you like the look, at least? Let me know in the comments!
16 thoughts on “1992 GI Joe Ninja Force Storm Shadow Review”
Damn, Dustin coming in hard today I see. I haven’t thought about the far future of my plastic warriors but now I’m concerned. I guess that’s why I’m taking so many pictures!
Also, Storm Shadow 1992 rules. I should know, I’m a true 90’s kid. Oh god, me and him are roughly the same age. Who will crumble into dust faster, me or Storm Shadow? Time for a life speed run!!
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Thanks for stopping by, Cody! I think you’re going to outlive Storm Shadow. Easily. My Storm Shadow anyway.
When the o-ring is on the verge of breaking, do not pull it out right away. You can use it to repair the figure by fishing elastic crafting cord through the body. See instructions here:
It may never be as tight as the original o-ring, but it should hold together for a while.
This is exponentially harder (I’ve had no luck with it) without the ends of the old o-ring still inside the figure.
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Thanks for stopping by, Josh! And thanks for the good info. I might give that a shot when the time comes.
This figure was so obscure to me that I still don’t see him and the 1997 figure as connections. I just see a cool 1997 version. The alternate construction is what does me in and had me avoiding these guys for years and years.
Now, though, I find a lot of value in Ninja Force. The designs are strong, the gear is cool and the group has a cohesive look to them. I’m not a carded collector. But, I do have most of the Ninja Force figures MOC. Granted, this is because they were cheap for a long time. But, there’s something about the hot pink cards that really take me back to the 1990’s when these hung around while all the other Joes around them disappeared.
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Thanks for the comment, Mike! At least we both love the 97 version, and that’s what counts.
Do you have them loose, too, or just carded? I was really tempted to leave the set I got carded just because of how great the packaging looks. But me wanting to play with the actual toys won out in the end.
The ’88 Storm Shadow is my all time favorite Joe. However, I suspect if the ’92 had come out in ’88 instead and I could have acquired him through the same circumstances the ’92 would take that place.
Current market value aside, I would take the worst member of Ninja Force over anything from ’82-83. But I like color.
I did disassemble mine a couple years ago and replace the band. For whatever reason I couldn’t get the action mechanism back in correctly or didn’t care so now his arms just move around all floppy. When the band breaks again, I’ll have to get creative. Super glue his legs in place and the other Joes can revere him as a statue.
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Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!
I only have good things to say about the 88 mold. It’s basically a perfect figure. But I never had access to it as a kid. If I did, it might be my favorite version all these years later.
I am also partial to visual interest via color choices, haha. But I do really like at least 5 of the 83 figures, and the rest are totally fine. It’s just not my era, so it’s a tiny bit of a harder sell. Still, even the least interesting GI Joe toy is better than most other action figures.
On the next go around, you may be able to tighten up the arm pegs and sockets a substantial amount with some clear nail polish.
I was never really bothered by Stormy’s action feature as a kid. Certainty, I never used the slashing feature. I ignored it entirely. Instead, my Stormy’s shoulder joint would make a cracking and popping sounds as I constantly reset the joint to make more natural arm movements.
I think Hasbro’s designers were preparing us for life would be like as middle-aged men. After a lifetime of sports and other repetitive motions, I *also* have cracking and popping sounds in my shoulder. 🙂 It’s called “crepitus” and it’s the harbinger of inflammatory joint disease that will ravage me in my elder years. LOLOL
Generally speaking, my friends and I were 100% invested in the 1992 version of Ninja Force (not so much 1993 line though). Nunchuck was my personal favorite, followed closely by Stormy. In our playtime, we would pretend that, when Stormy defected to GI Joe, Cobra Commander needed to hire a new bodyguard. But Stormy was such a good bodyguard, that Cobra Commander couldn’t find *just one person* qualified to fill the role, so he hired two people: Slice and Dice. We found it easy to incorporate Ninja Force into the larger GI Joe world:
– Nunchuck blended in nicely with Falcon, Outback, and Hit-n-Run, etc. He was cooler, field-operative version of Quick-Kick. (Really, Hasbro: Without shoes, wtf was Quick-Kick supposed to do anyway? Pray that Santa would bring him black AF1s for xmas?)
– Stormy blended in well with 89 Snake Eyes, and became our covert silent assault squad (along with either/both Low-Light figures).
– The blue guys (Dojo and T’jbang) spent all day back at base lounging in the tanning bed or getting their asses kicked by Jinx in the gym. If they ever ventured off base, they were killed immediately to add that bit of “realism” every eleven year old boy is looking for in his war-themed toy line. (Cobras wear blue and die in huge numbers. GI Joes wear blue and also die. We were consistent. Except for Shockwave; he got a hall pass.)
Yes, it’s a shame these figures can’t be repaired easily. The welded bodies are a problem. But – HOT TAKE WARNING – I think the lack of a backpack hole is probably the worst thing about these guys. ’86 Zandar and Zarana were also welded, but still had backpack holes! How awesome would it have been if you could have attached a 89 Snake-Eyes backpack to 92 Stormy? Or an 85 Stormy’s backpack to this guy? His play value would have skyrocketed.
When Hasbro reissued the Talking Battle Commanders CC in 93 (in all black) they gave him a remolded backside, so he could live a normal existence as a normal GI Joe figure. Hasbro could have and should have done that here with all the 92 Stormy remolds/repaints in the early 2000s. Just give the dude a backpack hole, bruh! Peer pressure is real. C’mon… just try a backpack hole. You’ll like it. All the cool Stormies are doing it.
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lol, Sam! Thanks for stopping by. My own joints have also seen better days and I have a constant Ninja Force action feature ‘click’ in at least a couple of them.
I didn’t get super into the 93 Ninja Force series as a kid, either. I only had Scarlett and Zartan. Though they’re not a strong as the 92 lineup, I like almost all of them these days. Especially Bushido and Night Creeper. Slice was also my Cobra Commander’s body guard when I was a kid!
Nunchuk was a figure I really loved, too. He just couldn’t quite measure up to Storm Shadow.
Poor Dojo and T’jbang! I struggle to think of what I would have done with them as a kid, as I didn’t love the looks of them then and they just didn’t have that “ninja vibe” I was looking for back then.
And yeah I think a backpack hole would have helped a lot. As you see with the Talking Battle Commanders. Hell, you can’t open Armor Tech figures, but they can still wear backpacks!
*sniff* why you gotta make me cry at the end there, man? On the other hand, it is a very nice peice about letting go, which is very important for all collectors of things.
Anyway: I never had this one, but my friend did. It was my only access to Storm Shadow in childhood, so I only knew him as a good guy. I knew he was bad at some point, since I had at least seen the first version with a Cobra symbol on it, but for me, Storm Shadow didn’t spend much time on the bad side. My friend also had ’91 Snake Eyes, so they were The Duo, for us. Those two did all the espionage, which of course failed, because if they got in and out like professionals, then there wouldn’t be a BIG BADASS BATTLE! They were always slicing up our on V2 B.A.T., my B.A.A.T., and whoever else was dumb enough to get in the way of a ninja (usually Sludge Viper).
Sadly, your final words ring true: when he’s done, he’s done. His o-ring snapped because we twisted him alot (he couldn’t stay turned, so we had to prop him up on those weird square chunks in his waist). There was nothing we could do back then, so we buried him in the front garden along with a broken Ozone. The people that bought my friend’s house haven’t done a lot of landscaping, so there’s a chance those bodies still lie there today, haunting the house with little tiny footsteps.
As for my views now: I can appreciate other things, now that I can compare them. Personally, I think V2 is the superior toy in terms of design and playability, but V3 is superior in terms of sculpt. Like you mentioned: the clear mix of V1 and V2 make an awesome little story of his carry over to the Joe side. From classic ninja to wilderness ninja, finding himself and his place in the world, to Ninja Hero with shining gold accents. As you also mentioned, the Dollar General version was a cool homage, but ultimately unremarkable, because of the lack of gold. It MAKES the figure what he is! I’m so glad they brought it back for the Classified version (and that they left Cobra symbols off of him).
Overall, I agree on all counts! He may not have been mine and my friend’s Ultimate Ninja Hero, but he was one of two, and that Snakes and Stormy team will always be special to me – way more than the classic rivalry everyone wants to focus on.
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Thanks so much for the comment, Eric! I’m glad we both had BATs and Sludge Vipers as our main childhood goons. Between your friends and my friends, Storm Shadow killed many, many BATs.
Ozone and Storm Shadow would both be good ghosts to have, tbh. They are both very friendly and positive unless you’re doing a pollution. Or unless you’re a Cobra Ninja.
I do agree that v2 is the more fun figure to play with. I wish I’d owned him as a kid. But yeah, you hit the nail on the head– the look of v3 is just so good because it’s a perfect evolution of the character.
I had somehow never realized that this Stormy is taller than the others! This wasn’t my first Storm Shadow–the 88 was–but it was a favorite. I loved that whole 92 NF lineup. For some reason I always though to them as 1991s, perhaps because they came out in late 1991 and had that stamped on their bodies. Only when I started relying on YoJoe in the late 90s did I accept that these were “really” 1992 figures.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun with the 92 SS. He woudl team up with 91 Snake Eyes (for a long time bugged me that the 91 SE, or the 93 Night Creeper Leader, weren’t “officially” in NF). The action feature never bothered me much, because it restricted him much less than Dice’s and T’J’Bang’s–and much less than Snake Eyes and Scarlett!
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Thanks for the comment, GL!
I never realized the 92 Storm Shadow was taller until I took these photos. Which is odd, since I’ve owned one version or another for almost my entire life. Also, it’s really hard to say what the actual dates are, but I just go by YoJoe and 3DJoes to preserve my own sanity.
I think this figure and 91 Snake Eyes make a perfect pair. The second GI Joe NES game thought so, too. And yeah I was always weirded out that Night Creeper Leader wasn’t in Ninja Force, but these days I’m grateful for it because that means you can actually open up and repair the figure.
This design has a great look, though I don’t have many sentiments to it other than that. And, with fragile gold paint, white plastic, and a sealed back/o-ring, I’m glad that I’m not more partial to him!
Once his o-ring is about done,I definitely think you should give the repair Josh Zyber mentioned a shot. While these things degrade and wear out over time, I’ve personally grown to enjoy repairing and restoring old figures. It’s very satisfying to see old and degrading figures get life breathed back into them.
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Thanks for stopping by, Nekoman! I hope you’ve been doing well.
And big lol, you just very concisely listed all of NF Storm Shadow’s medical conditions. Poor guy.
I also really love repairing old figures. I do it every chance I get. It’s almost a Zen-like activity. I’m not sure if I can pull off that method Josh linked, but I am going to give it a go when the time comes. It might be beyond my skill level, though.