SHO KOSUGI: WEAPONS MASTER, WEAPONS DESIGNER


MISCELLANEOUS NON-WEAPON PROPS, ITEMS, AND REPLICAS

 

In this final bonus section, we will examine many of the OFFICIAL NON-weapon props, items, and replicas from Sho's ninja films, TV shows, and various other projects, as well as some of the numerous UNOFFICIAL NON-weapon items that were inspired by Sho and his projects.

 

OFFICIAL ITEMS

 

  ORIGINAL PROP COSTUMES

 

  SHO KOSUGI NINJA UNIFORM & ACCESSORIES

 

  OFFICIAL T-SHIRTS AND MOVIE GIVEAWAYS

 

  SHO KOSUGI NINJA NINGYO

 

  SHO KOSUGI STUFFED TOY CHARACTERS

 

  OFFICIAL POSTERS AND GREETING CARDS

 

  ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACKS

 

  OFFICIAL MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

 

 

UNOFFICIAL ITEMS

 

  UNOFFICIAL REPLICA NINJA COSTUMES

 

  UNOFFICIAL T-SHIRTS, PATCHES, AND PENDANTS

 

  UNOFFICIAL ACTION FIGURES AND TOYS

 

  UNOFFICIAL MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

 

  FROM "BRUCEPLOITATION" TO "SHO-EXPLOITATION"

 

 

ORIGINAL PROP COSTUMES

 

These well preserved ORIGINAL MAROON NINJA COSTUME PIECES from ENTER THE NINJA were recently purchased from a very important member of the film's crew by our anonymous friend.

 

 

 

AS SEEN IN...

 

Enter The Ninja (1981)





 

One of the most iconic and memorable pieces of costume is undoubtedly BRADEN'S SILVER MASK from REVENGE OF THE NINJA.  One of these prop masks can be found in the Martial Arts History Museum located in Burbank, California.

 

 

More of these cool masks are apparently also in the possession of the film's director Sam Firstenberg, as seen in these screenshots from the aforementioned RA FILM SCHOOL WITH SAM FIRSTENBERG video.

 

 

 

 

 

AS SEEN IN...

 

Revenge of the Ninja (1983)





 

As previously stated, one lucky fan named Steve owns an ORIGINAL BLACK NINJA HANJURO COSTUME used in NINJA III: THE DOMINATION, which was given to him by a member of the crew many years ago, and which he has proudly displayed on a life-size mannequin.

 

 

AS SEEN IN...

 

Ninja III: The Domination (1984)

 

Interestingly, not only was this distinctive costume worn by David Chung, Lucinda Dickey, and their fight and stunt doubles (Alan Amiel, Steve Lambert, etc..) in NINJA III: THE DOMINATION, but it was also worn by Chuck Norris in early promotional photos for AMERICAN NINJA.

 





 

SHO KOSUGI YIN-YANG CODE PRIZE GIVE AWAY

February 8, 2018

 

As previously touched upon in the ORIGINAL PROP WEAPONS section, an ORIGINAL SHIRO TANAKA LEATHER JACKET AND GLOVES worn by Sho in RAGE OF HONOR was also one of the 3 quiz prizes given away following the release of the first YIN-YANG CODE novel.

 

AS SEEN IN...

 

Rage of Honor (1987)





 

SHO KOSUGI NINJA TABI AND SAMURAI ZŌRI & WARAJI AUCTION/SALE

May 22-23, 2020

 

In May 2020, a number of old used footwear including NINJA TABI, SAMURAI ZŌRI, and WARAJI were sold by LIP INC.  Items (A) through (F) were sold at auction, with the highest bidder(s) getting them, while items (G) through (L) were sold at set prices to the first person that contacted them via Instagram DM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These great pictures of a pair of greenish-grey ninja tabi and grey obi (belt) that were purchased from this auction/sale were generously sent to me by blog contributor and longtime Sho fan Jasko.

 

 

 

These additional great pictures of other items that were purchased were graciously sent to me by another longtime fan and blog contributor who prefers to remain anonymous.

 

 

 





 

SHO KOSUGI WARDROBE SALE

November 16-17, 2020

 

A few months after the footwear auction/sale, a number of old NINJA COSTUMES owned by Sho were sold in a "first-come, first serve" basis conducted once again via Instagram DM.

 

 

 

 





 

SHO KOSUGI NINJA UNIFORM & ACCESSORIES

 

As seen in a previous section, during the 1980s SHO KOSUGI NINJA ENTERPRISES sold a large number of official replica weapons, but that was only a portion of their products.  As these pages from the 1986 catalog show, they also sold an official SHO KOSUGI NINJA UNIFORM, along with some other noteworthy accessories.

 

 

As a fan club member and student of jiu-jitsu, ninjutsu, karate, and kobudo at the time, I ordered this high quality licensed ninja gi, which I'm happy to say remains in pristine condition to this day.  As I already had another ninja gi, I did not wear my precious official SHO KOSUGI NINJA UNIFORM when training, but I did wear it on a few special occasions, such as a home video shoot in the early 1990s that my childhood friends and I did, where me and my ninja buddy practiced some of our old ninjutsu and jiu-jitsu techniques as well as some new aikido ones we were learning.

 

 

 

Not listed in the 1986 catalog but apparently also sold by SHO KOSUGI NINJA ENTERPRISES was a WHITE NINJA UNIFORM, as seen below.  Other than the color, the jacket, hoods, and gauntlets appear to be identical to the SHO KOSUGI NINJA UNIFORM.

 

 

 

Although it's a little bit difficult to see, this WHITE NINJA UNIFORM, which is owned by Shawn, has an official SHO KOSUGI NINJA patch on it.  There were actually 2 different versions of these patches.  One was given to fan club members when they signed up for the fan club, and the other one was sold as an accessory (as seen in the catalog page above).  I still have both of these patches.

 





 

OFFICIAL T-SHIRTS AND MOVIE GIVEAWAYS

 

As is often the case, some OFFICIAL T-SHIRTS were made to promote Sho's films.  This first photo below features Sho in a very cool ENTER THE NINJA T-SHIRT most likely given to him by Cannon circa 1981.  The picture on the right features another official sleeveless T-Shirt featuring imagery from ENTER THE NINJA worn by Mikio Sankey on the set of NINJA III: THE DOMINATION in 1983.

 

 

 

A similar T-Shirt to the one worn by Mikio Sankey was also sold by SHO KOSUGI NINJA ENTERPRISES as seen in the 1986 catalog page below.  Additionally another official "Sho Kosugi Ninja" T-Shirt featuring a drawing of Sho's iconic jump kick poster was given to members of the fan club.

 

 

Other official T-Shirts promoting the release of NINJA ASSASSIN in 2009 and Sho's YIN-YANG CODE novels in 2017 have been worn by Sho.

 

 

T-Shirts aren't the only form of clothing used to promote a film's release of course.  When ALOHA SUMMER was finally released on home video in 1988, the Sho Kosugi Fan Club offered up a number of items they received to promote the release to fans.  Fans were asked to send in drawings depicting scenes from the film, and I was lucky enough to win the 2nd prize which included this cool ALOHA SUMMER PAINTER'S CAP.

 

 

Imperial Entertainment Corp. used OFFICIAL BLACK EAGLE JEAN JACKETS like this one to promote the 1988 release of the film.

 

 

 

And when Sho returned to the big screen in 2009, Warner Bros. had a variety of OFFICIAL NINJA ASSASSIN ITEMS to promote the film's release.

 

 

This hoodie with the Ozunu clan Dragon Emblem on the back is especially cool.  I was lucky enough to find one of these on Ebay a few years ago.

 

 

 

 





 

SHO KOSUGI NINJA NINGYO

 

One of the coolest official items sold by SHO KOSUGI NINJA ENTERPRISES were these amazing handmade SHO KOSUGI NINJA NINGYO.  Reminiscent of the one seen in REVENGE OF THE NINJA, these were absolute works of art and each one was truly one of a kind.

 

 

 

 

These great color photos of the #701 Revenge of the Ninja doll display came from this great flickr page by the fan known only as C R.

 

 

 

 

 

Longtime fan Shawn has yet another great item in his collection, namely this great #702 Kusarigama Ninja Ningyo.

 

 

Amazingly, Shawn also has one not listed in the 1986 catalog that depicts the Black Ninja Hanjuro blowgun scene in NINJA III: THE DOMINATION.  Having now seen this previously unknown Ninja Ningyo, I suspect there must've also been one based on Yamada (Sho).

 

 

The most impressive collection of SHO KOSUGI NINJA NINGYO I've ever seen is without a doubt the one shown in the aforementioned March 1987 WIDE SHOW 11PM "Ninja Boom" segment featuring the visit to the SHO KOSUGI FAN CLUB member who had a plethora of ninja weapons on his living room wall.  What wasn't mentioned was that he also had an incredible collection of almost all of the SHO KOSUGI NINJA NINGYO, including a previously unseen "Maroon Ninja" one from ENTER THE NINJA.

 





 

SHO KOSUGI STUFFED TOY CHARACTERS

 

More recently, Sho Kosugi dolls of a different kind were made and sold in Japan.  Consisting of a number of cute colorful plush ninja characters, this toy set, known as the "SHO KOSUGI NINJA SCHOOL" (ショー・コスギの忍者学校), was an official product licensed from SHO KOSUGI PRODUCTIONS that was likely aimed at young kids.

 

 





 

OFFICIAL POSTERS AND GREETING CARDS

 

A number of great OFFICIAL SHO KOSUGI POSTERS were produced during the ninja craze of the 1980s.  With the exception of the B&W "SHURIKEN MOON" and "SHURIKEN" ones, I had all of these great color posters on my bedroom wall growing up, as I suspect many fans did.

 

 

 

Along with those official posters, SHO KOSUGI NINJA ENTERPRISES also sold these cool S.K. NINJA GREETING CARDS featuring a great B&W photo of Sho as Yamada from NINJA III: THE DOMINATION on the front.

 





 

ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACKS

 

Another important but sometimes overlooked ingredient in the making of a successful film is its musical score.  A number of Sho's films and TV have had some truly great music in them, and thankfully some of them have been released in the form of ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LPs and CDs.

 

 

 

 





 

OFFICIAL MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

 

Finally, here are all of the other OFFICIAL ITEMS that were sold by SHO KOSUGI NINJA ENTERPRISES in the 1986 catalog.

 

 

 

 




 

UNOFFICIAL ITEMS

 

 

 

As was the case with weapons, the discussion of the counterfeit UNOFFICIAL products in this next sub-section is not meant to be an endorsement of them (unless noted otherwise).  They are presented both for completion's sake and as a way to show the vast and lasting impact Sho and the 1980s ninja craze fueled by his films and TV shows, had and continues to have on the world of film and other forms of popular culture.

 

UNOFFICIAL REPLICA NINJA COSTUMES

 

This impressive unofficial ENTER THE NINJA REPLICA COSTUME is made by a company in Russia called Bakezori, which sells them on ETSY.

 

 

This equally impressive unofficial REVENGE OF THE NINJA REPLICA COSTUME is also made by Bakezori and is also sold on ETSY.

 

 

This unofficial NINJA III: THE DOMINATION REPLICA COSTUME, also made by Bakezori and sold on ETSY, completes the "Ninja Trilogy" set.

 

 

Longtime fan John, who goes by hail_cobra_commander on Instagram, purchased one of these NINJA III: THE DOMINATION costumes from Bakezori and placed it on a Japanese mannequin to create a life-size Black Ninja Hanjuro ningyo.

 

 

Another fan who goes by patshinobi on Instagram custom-made his own NINJA III replica costume which he also placed on a life-size mannequin.

 





 

Another very popular costume piece that has been reproduced a number of times is Braden's mask.  The unofficial REVENGE OF THE NINJA BRADEN SILVER MASK REPLICA that looks to be the most accurate is this amazing one sold by personaemasks on ETSY.

 

 

 

Another very nice and definitely more affordable Braden mask replica by EerieCrypt is also available on ETSY.

 

 

There are at least two other Braden mask replicas, one previously listed on collectors.com, and one made by special effects artist John Cherevka

 





 

Another very impressive costume piece that has recently been reproduced is the infamous PRAY FOR DEATH AKIRA SAITO NINJA KABUTO. This highly detailed 3D printed replica was commissioned by a fan and expertly made by Infidel Props (Tim Lavelle).

 

 

 





 

UNOFFICIAL T-SHIRTS, PATCHES, AND PENDANTS

 

There are a seemingly endless number of UNOFFICIAL T-SHIRTS that feature Sho's ninja image/likeness.  Here are just a few of the many that have existed, and no doubt will continue to exist in the future.

 

 

 

Of all the knock-off and custom T-Shirts out there the most impressive ones I've seen are definitely the ones by Preserved Dragons, which all feature beautiful custom artwork done by Marten Go.  Anyone, including Sho himself, should be proud to wear this beautiful tribute artwork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random NINJA PATCHES also often feature Sho's ninja image, especially ones that reproduce some of Sho's classic ninja posters like these do.

 

 

 

Some fans have also reproduced some of the patches, pendants, and other symbols seen in Sho's ninja films and TV shows, with various degrees of success and accuracy.

Case in point are these 2 different REVENGE OF THE NINJA OSAKI FAMILY CRANE PATCH REPLICAS.  The first one by a fan named Jason, who went by TerribleWeapons on ETSY, is quite accurate to the one seen in the film, but the second one inexplicably seems to be a replica of the patch as it appears on the rather inaccurate movie poster artwork, right down to the pi symbol (π), instead of the proper Japanese kanji character (力) which means "strength".

 

 

Following a request from yours truly, Jason also created this fantastic REVENGE OF THE NINJA OSAKI FAMILY CRANE PENDANT REPLICA.  I'm not sure if Jason has or plans to sell more of these on ETSY, but if he does I highly recommend this great product, which was created via a 3D printer and lots of work to get it just right.

 

 

Longtime fan Steve has also hand carved his own cool REVENGE OF THE NINJA OSAKI FAMILY CRANE PENDANT REPLICA.

 

 

Another earlier product created at my request by Jason is this fantastic NINJA III: THE DOMINATION YAMADA TSUBA EYE-PATCH REPLICA.  This is another highly detailed 3D printed creation that I highly recommend.

 

 

Mega NINJA III: THE DOMINATION fanatic Steve also purchased a few of these from Jason and used one to mold a fantastic brass cast replica.

 

 

In the past, Jason also sold a very nice replica of THE MASTER'S BUTTERFLY PENDANT.  All of his 3D printed items look like real jewelry.

 

 

And speaking of jewelry, here are 4 great SHO-INSPIRED PINS AND PENDANTS that feature Sho's name and/or image from his ninja posters.

 

 





 

UNOFFICIAL ACTION FIGURES AND TOYS

 

Considering how popular Sho was with kids during the 1980s ninja craze, it's strange that there was never any official action figures of any of his ninja characters.  Some fans have sought to rectify this oversight by creating some very impressive unoffficial CUSTOM-MADE SHO KOSUGI ACTION FIGURES.

The first one of these I remember seeing years ago is this absolutely fantastic PRAY FOR DEATH AKIRA SAITO CUSTOM FIGURE.  Built off a G.I. Joe Renegades SS figure by Oni-Shinobi in 2012, the attention to detail, particularly on the built-from-scratch helmet, is sensational.

 

 

 

 

 

 






A number of cool retro-looking REVENGE OF THE NINJA CUSTOM ACTION FIGURES have also been created by Carlos Customs.

 

 

 

Carlos Customs has also created an even bigger number of retro-looking NINJA III: THE DOMINATION CUSTOM ACTION FIGURES.

 

 

 

 

 






A very talented craftsman named Leo Paullee created this incredible one-off series of NINJA III: THE DOMINATION CUSTOM ACTION FIGURES.

 

 






Although I haven't found any custom-made action figures of Ozunu (Sho's last ninja character), there are a substantial number of cool fan-made NINJA ASSASSIN RAIZO CUSTOM FIGURES.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






Sho's iconic ninja image appears on the SHO-INSPIRED ARTWORK used on plastic model kits made by a Russian company called Zvezda.

 

 

Although the actual plastic ninja figures that are included in these two sets are relatively generic and don't really look like Sho . . .

 

 

The artwork on the Zvezda Plastic Ninja Model Kit and the Samurai Battles Ninja Attack Historical Wargame boxes are unmistakably Sho.

 

 

 






Custom-made action figures and Russian model kits aren't the only ninja based on Sho, there are also some SHO-INSPIRED NINJA FIGURINES modelled after Sho's iconic jump kick poster pose.  Pretty amazing.

 





 

UNOFFICIAL MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

 

As we've already seen, Sho's image and likeness has appeared on quite a few different unlicensed items, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.  There's literally been a plethora of unofficial SHO-INSPIRED PRODUCTS that have featured his photo or likeness.  What follows is just a small sampling of these to show how varied these products have been in the past and continue to be to this day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

FROM "BRUCEPLOITATION" TO "SHO-EXPLOITATION"

 

I'm sure most of you are well aware of the phenomena that occurred after Bruce Lee's sudden death in 1973.  Known as "BRUCEPLOITATION" it was the practice on the part of filmmakers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea to hire Bruce Lee look-alike actors to star in imitation martial arts films in order to cash in on Lee's enduring popularity.

What some of you may not know is that not only was Sho in one of these "Brucesploitation" films (although to be fair it only became one after the original South Korean film he appeared in called "Visitor of America" was altered, dubbed in English, and renamed "Bruce Lee Fight Back From The Grave"), but a similar thing also happened to Sho during the ninja craze, which can only be called "SHO-EXPLOITATION".

 

 

As is well documented a worldwide "ninja boom" erupted in the early 1980s following the success and huge popularity of ENTER THE NINJA and REVENGE OF THE NINJA.  Seeing this phenomena, a number of disreputable Hong Kong "filmmakers" (and I use that term very loosely) took it upon themselves to create some absolutely atrocious "ninja movies" (and I use that term even more loosely).  But that wasn't even the worst part.  The worst part was that the poster and/or VHS artwork used for many of these "movies" featured Sho's likeness front and center, leading many fans (myself included) to rent this garbage because we assumed our ninja idol was in them.

 

As you can see from the covers below, they weren't shy about blatantly using Sho's image to sell their crappy "movies".  The first film presented, "Ninja, The Violent Sorcerer", was actually mentioned by name in one of the Sho Kosugi Fan Club newsletters, wanting to make it clear that it was not a sequel to PRAY FOR DEATH.  Apparently some fans had rented it thinking it was a sequel.  Man, I wonder where they got that idea?!

 

 

Whereas BRUCEPLOITATION films featured Bruce Lee imitators with names like "Bruce Le", "Bruce Li", and "Dragon Lee", there was never a "Shoe Kosugi" or a "Sham Kosugi", but on one French cover there was a "John Kosugi" listed above a photo of Sho as a maroon ninja from "Enter the Ninja".  The original title for this film made in the Philippines was not "Ninja Mission" but rather "Ninja's Force", and it co-starred Ken Watanabe, who ironically enough played Sho's sensei in the "9 Deaths of the Ninja" flashback scenes.

 

 

In a very odd BRUCESPLOITATION meets SHO-EXPLOITATION twist, one video company also inexplicably used a photo of Bruce Lee above Sho's name on the cover of what appears to be a VHS release of the first episode of THE MASTER.  And if that wasn't strange enough another company used a drawing of Sho inexplicably holding a katana like a baseball bat on the VHS cover of a Japanese produced ninja film called "Shogun's Ninja" starring Hiroyuki Sanada, Shinichi Chiba, and Etsuko Shihomi, three famous Japanese actors and martial artists in their own right!  But the most insane VHS cover has to be the 3rd one below, which ripped off the poster artwork for both "Red Sonja" and "Revenge of the Ninja"...!
I guess we were supposed to think it was Arnold Schwarzenegger vs Sho?!?!

 

 

As you can see from the rest of these covers, there was pretty much no country that didn't get these totally misleading VHS covers.  Fans all over the world were undoubtedly duped into thinking that Sho was in these "movies", which is no doubt why they did it, and why this can only be called SHO-EXPLOITATION.

 

 

 

 

Although most of the Sho rip-off covers were for Hong Kong "movies", a couple of American films also dabbled in SHO-EXPLOITATION.  The first one was a tongue-in-cheek ninja film called UNMASKING THE IDOL, which, unlike the totally misleading Hong Kong "movie" covers, actually did feature a character dressed up in the rip-off Okasa (Sho) chainmail ninja costume.  The film's hero, a James Bond-like character named Duncan Jax (which was apparently another title for the film) was also a ninja master and that was his ninja gi.  The final misleading poster featuring Sho was of course the advance poster for the 2009 film NINJA, which totally ripped off an iconic promotional shot of Sho in REVENGE OF THE NINJA.

 





 

If you think SHO-EXPLOITATION was limited to movie posters and VHS covers, think again because Sho's iconic ninja image was also used on quite a few video game covers as well.  Oddly though, I don't feel the same unabating anger towards these video game covers that I do for those VHS covers, probably because unlike those awful "movies" that so many of us were duped into renting, I knew Sho wasn't in those video games (except of course for TENCHU: STEALTH ASSASSINS).

 

 

 

In conclusion, even though it's hard for me to detach myself from the exploitation element of so many of the unofficial items featuring Sho's likeness, the fact that so many products have featured and continue to feature Sho's ninja image is definitely a fitting testament to his iconic status as the ultimate and ideal representation of what a ninja character is supposed to look like.