Baron Ironblood (1983)
While not technically part of the GI Joe line, Palitoy’s Action Force could be considered a close cousin. The original 1960’s Joe line had a counterpart in Europe known as Action Man. Based on the American GI Joe molds, it branched out to include British soldiers as well as venturing into less military territory, much like Hasbro’s 70’s Adventure Team.
The Action Force line continued this trend in the early 80’s. While Hasbro’s initial series of smaller GI Joes were highly articulated, the Palitoy Action Force shared a simpler articulation similar to the 80’s Star Wars line. The first series was solely made up of military and adventure figures, and the second introduced more sci-fi elements.There was also a comic, titled Battle Action Force. Part of this comic was the introduction of an enemy force to counter the good guys. Thus was born the Red Shadows, an evil organization led by Baron Ironblood.
The figure is, like many of the line, is made up of parts reused among other figures. A unique armored helmet adorns his head. Naturally he wouldn’t be an evil genius without a goatee. The paint scheme is stark yet effective and the overall look definitely conveys the evil leader vibe put forth on his file card: Information very uncertain. First heard of as mastermind behind several South American Revolutions. Twisted criminal brain dreams of world dominance. Noted for hypnotic control over men, his madness leads to wild fury in defeat, often taken out on his own troops.”Genius of Evil. Ironblood’s sworn intent is to destroy all organised government in Europe.”
The Action Force line later incorporated the American GI Joe molds, including Cobras. Later in its storyline (independent from the US GI Joe continuity), the UK comics had the Baron betray his own organization to the UN. He went into hiding, created a new evil organization and re-emerged as the Cobra Commander. To read all about Action Force comics and toys, check out the excellent Blood for the Baron.