Black Major (1983 Action Force)
The Black Major is another member of the Action Force enemy, the Red Shadows. I find these early Action Force figures endlessly fascinating, not only for their visual appeal, but also for the comic storyline that revolved around the Red Shadows and its transition into Cobra. It’s an interesting alternative to the US comic mythos.
In the Action Force story, Baron Ironblood became Cobra Commander. So what happened to the Black Major, his second in command? Did he become Destro? No, he stayed with the same name, reformed the Red Shadows and fought Cobra himself. That’s a neat switcheroo.
The figure is yet another Red Shadows villain done in the older five point articulation style that the line used until it switched to the Hasbro GI Joe molds. So yes, he doesn’t quite “work” alongside our beloved o-ring figures. I don’t care. I think the primarily black uniform look is quite striking, and has the same sort of menace as the other Red Shadows figures. Also, less articulation means a more natural look in terms of the sculpt. That’s the sacrifice of added articulation, even in wonderfully detailed, highly articulated modern lines like GI Joe and Star Wars. Technology has improved drastically in terms of the size of shoulder and hip ball joints, but there will always be a different kind of break in the sculpt versus the simple shoulder and hip cuts. I’m not saying that I’d like GI Joe to go to a less articulated design, but I can appreciate the simplicity of a less articulated action figure.
The Black Major came with a very familiar AK-47 and also a red codebook that could decrypt the symbols seen on Red Shadows vehicles. The Major did see a release in the standard o-ring format as part of the 2010 Collectors Club convention set. The figure was a nice enough interpretation, but nothing beats the original.
For all you could ever want to know about Action Force toys and comics, be sure to check out the amazing and exhaustive resource Blood for the Baron.