Major Bludd (25th Anniversary)
Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to Major Bludd. I vaguely remember him from the cartoon and KansasBrother had the Sonic Fighters version, but he really didn’t capture my attention until I started reading the original Marvel run in tradepaper reprints when I was in high school. That was my first real exposure to Major Bludd and I’ve been hooked ever since. Don’t get me wrong, his Sonic Fighters look, despite all the grenades, was pretty solid, but his classic look is a classic for a reason. Including Major Bludd in the 25th Anniversary line was a pretty obvious choice, but for many fans, the choice of parts Hasbro made was bad and bizarre. I’ll admit, time has not been kind to Major Bludd, but I actually kind of dig his new-ish look. I just wish they would have really committed more new tooling to the figure since there are some problems caused by his extensive parts reuse.
Almost all of Major Bludd comes from the first 25th Anniversary Zartan. The only spots that changed are his lower right leg (since Zartan had a knife sheath on his boot that Major Bludd is lacking), his right arm and his head. I’ll admit, it’s not an ideal look for Major Bludd, but I don’t think it’s as bad as everyone has made it out to be. The classic Major Bludd elements are all still there, but they’ve been modernized a bit. The legs looks appropriately muscular and I think that fits very well for someone like Major Bludd. I’ve always kind of seen his as a tough thug with delusions of grandeur and the only reason people don’t correct him is because they know if they do, he’ll beat them down. I really find myself liking the metal Zartan boots on Major Bludd. Once again, it’s something that I think fits Major Bludd’s character. He’s going to wear a lot of protective gear because, at the end of the day, he wants to leave the battlefield alive. He’s fighting for Cobra’s money, not their cause, and he can’t spend all of Cobra Commander’s cash if he’s dead. The torso is a decent design and it works okay for Major Bludd. Major Bludd has the same skull and crossbones belt buckle that Zartan did because of their shared parts, but I don’t really mind it on Major Bludd. I think it makes more sense for Zartan to have it, but at the same time, I can just see a scummy mercenary wearing it because he thinks it makes him look badass. The chest armor is a nice touch, though it’s very clearly not vintage- inspired. Vintage Major Bludd’s chest armor was more like a catcher’s pad than a metal crop top. It may deviate from the vintage look, but I kind of dig it. The metal chest plate is a better aesthetic fit with his armored arm than the padded chest in my opinion. Major Bludd’s left arm is also shared with Zartan and here I don’t think the Zartan details that are left, specifically the chain around his wrist, fit well with Major Bludd. I think the shoulder armor makes sense, but that wrist chain just sticks out like a sore thumb. Major Bludd’s right arm is a brand new piece and while I think the design is great, the lack of articulation honestly kind of pisses me off. Yes, I know, the original Major Bludd figure’s right arm didn’t have an elbow joint, but I don’t see the purpose in referencing what, in my opinion, was a design concession that had to be made because the toy-making technology didn’t allow Hasbro to fully articulate that arm back in the day. What could have been a perfect update of Major Bludd turns into something a bit weaker than it should be because of a vintage reference that shouldn’t have been made. The armored right arm is quite impressive. It’s very well detailed and it clearly looks like something he wears over his clothing to protect himself rather than looking like a high tech prosthetic. Interestingly, the hand also only has three fingers, like he’s wearing heavy duty mittens. It’s an interesting choice, but I think it fits well with the rest of the arm. Finally, we have to talk about Major Bludd’s new head sculpt. This is such a tough call for me. I really want to like Major Bludd’s
head, but there are just some problems with it and I’m not totally sure if they’re caused by the sculpt itself or the paint work on it. When I’m not staring at Major Bludd’s head closely, it looks good, but then when I carefully examine him, his snarl looks more like he’s just been to the dentist and is still dealing with some of the effects of Novocain. I know a lot of Joe fans were upset with this piece, but I personally think the underlying sculpt is solid, but the overly thick paint work just wrecks things. I think Major Bludd’s head also suffers a bit from “what might have been” syndrome. Before Major Bludd was released, Hasbro had said they were going to give him a removable helmet, but then there were problems with that sculpt not looking right and they sacrificed the ability to take off the helmet to make Major Bludd look better. While I would have loved a Major Bludd with a removable helmet, I don’t think this figure is inferior because Hasbro had to change plans. Sometimes in the toy-making business, ideas just don’t work out. However, there were a lot of people that were really upset with the loss of the removable helmet and thought that the somewhat weak head we got couldn’t have been any worse than the head sculpt Hasbro passed on. I may be mistaken here, I vaguely recall seeing the helmetless Major Bludd at the JoeDeclassified booth at Joe Con in 2009 and really, I didn’t see any difference between that figure’s face and this figure’s face, meaning they had the same problems with the face sculpt. Yes, the ability to take off his helmet was nice, but it didn’t work well enough for Hasbro. In fact, as I recall, the version the JoeDeclassified guys had didn’t even have his helmet on because they couldn’t find any way to make it fit. Given the choice, I’d rather have Major Bludd wearing his helmet permanently than getting a Major Bludd with a helmet accessory that doesn’t fit.
While the figure’s design is a bit of a departure from Major Bludd’s vintage look, his paint scheme is straight out of 1983. It was a great look back then, so why mess with it now? Basically, Major Bludd is wearing a brown jumpsuit with a lot of black armor over it. The pants have a green stripe on the outside of each leg and there is a slightly darker brown used for the pads on his thighs courtesy of Zartan. It’s not a perfect translation of Major Bludd’s look, but it still works. Up on the torso, he’s wearing all black. I’ll admit, I do have a bit of a problem with that. To distance this mold from Zartan, Hasbro’s paint team decided to paint both his chest armor and his exposed shirt the same color. I understand what they were trying to do, but it just makes it feel a bit like a bootleg. At a quick glance, it works, but any longer look shows that Hasbro tried to use paint to cover up the fact that Zartan’s torso really doesn’t match Major Bludd’s traditional look. The brown and black on his arms is effective, though Hasbro decided to use the same “let’s paint over details that don’t fit” mantra with Zartan’s wrist chain. It’s just as ineffective here as it is on his torso. Finally, we come to his head sculpt. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think the sculpt itself is the problem. I think the fact that the skin tone color is applied too thickly creates all the problems everyone has with Major Bludd’s face. All the details on his face are muted and the fact that they didn’t bother painting the inside of his mouth leaves him looking underdetailed and somewhat unfinished.
Rounding out the figure, we have to talk about Major Bludd’s great accessories. His weapons were always unique and I love how much effort Hasbro went into recreating them here. I think there are a couple problems with their overall execution, but it was easy to fix the problem, so I’ll forgive it. Starting off small, Major Bludd’s trophy dog tags are a removablepiece rather than a sculpted element. I appreciate Hasbro trying to do that, but they way they are designed, they ride up kind of high on his neck and it just doesn’t look right. You can tweak them into a slightly better-looking position, but it’s still not ideal. Major Bludd’s primary weapon has always been this kind of crazy-looking rocket pistol and the 25th Anniversary designers stuck with his classic weapon and made it look really cool. The rockets are actually removable, and it looks incredibly good in his hand even though its shape is a bit strange. Since the rocket on his pistol is removable, the rockets on his backpack are also removable…though mine aren’t. The rockets don’t stay terribly securely in his backpack and I didn’t want to lose them so I placed a drop of super glue on each rocket and then slid them into place on his backpack. It looks fine, though I do wish Hasbro had designed the backpack to hold the rockets better so I didn’t have to use super glue to keep from losing them. I already had super glue in my apartment (to fix my randomly broken Shipwreck) so I didn’t have to go out and buy it just for Major Bludd, but I wish they had worked that backpack a little differently so it wasn’t a necessity to glue the rockets into place to keep them from disappearing.
Major Bludd is a decent figure, but unfortunately he does have some flaws that typify the problems of the 25th Anniversary line. The heavy reuse of Zartan parts doesn’t do him any favors, but the loss of articulation in his right arm and the overly heavy paint for his face really hurt him in my opinion. I know Hasbro made another Major Bludd using more “appropriate” parts (namely the 25th Flash torso since it looks more like his vintage torso piece), but even that figure had problems since it lost the armored arm. I think Major Bludd is another perfect candidate for an update. Give him a new head and a new right arm with the proper articulation and that’s all Hasbro needs to invest to make him a good figure. There are plenty of parts in the library that can recreate the rest of Major Bludd’s look. I’m hoping as the 50th Anniversary line continues that figures like Major Bludd, who needs a revisit, will get it. After all, with the release of Concept Case Gung Ho, we’ve basically hit all the high points from that display so maybe Hasbro can now focus on updating some figures that got okay figures during the 25th Anniversary line, but could really use an update since they were kind of dated even when they were initially released.