Major Bludd (1983)
This next figure comes from the deal I scored on the Joe Con floor back in 2009 with loose, complete figures. As a kid, I have fond memories of watching the G.I. Joe cartoon. Heck, I have fond memories of watching it as an adult when I got the complete series for Christmas a few years back. But the one thing that always bothered me a little was that I couldn’t get some of the Cobras that were key players in the cartoon. I really liked Major Bludd in the cartoon but there were no Major Bludds on the shelves until quite a bit later in my collecting life. And even then, my brother had the Sonic Fighters version, so I didn’t pick it up since he was almost always willing to let me use his Joes (especially after he stopped playing with them, being a few years older than me). But I always wanted a Major Bludd that looked like the cartoon version. Don’t get me wrong, the Sonic Fighters Major Bludd is a great figure, but I never understood why a guy would carry so many grenades on him in such an obvious manner. That seemed like a great way to get blown up in my opinion. I also had that issue with my Sonic Fighters Zap carrying bazooka shells on his chest. It wasn’t until 2009 that classic Major Bludd entered my collection, and I have to say, as an artifact of the time, he was definitely worth the wait. However, I’m also pretty sure I would’ve been disappointed with him had I gotten him as a kid.
Despite being 30 years old, the original Major Bludd holds up quite well. While his design is basic, it also accomplishes exactly what it needs to. The head sculpt clearly belongs to an older mercenary who has seen and done just about everything. There’s a lot of character packed into that small face and it really helps make Bludd stand the test of time. I won’t swear to it because it could just be my brain over-analyzing a mold flaw, but to me it even looks like there is a continuation of the scar from the cut that took his eye down to the cheek on that side of the face. Even if that’s just my imagination, the sunken cheeks and prominent cheek bones definitely give Bludd a severe look and it’s clear that he’s not someone you want to mess with. However, being a figure from 1983 leads to the first thing that would have disappointed me as a kid…the lack of a ball-jointed head. Until I started getting into the online Joe world in high school when Joes started coming back to the shelves, I never had any experience with the very old figures. The oldest figure in my collection prior to my recent acquisition of Major Bludd was the 1985 Lady Jaye—so all the figures I ever had were after the upgrade to the balljointed head. I didn’t even know there was a change in head style until the early 2000s and I’m quite sure Bludd’s lack of that ball-joint would have been an unpleasant surprise to a young KansasBrawler.
The rest of the body, while simply detailed compared to later Joes still accomplishes what it needs to. Bludd is a mercenary at heart so it makes sense that the majority of his uniform would be paramilitary. However, being an independent contractor, Bludd also understood the importance of added protection and threw an armored vest on over a standard pair of BDUs. The trophy dogtags are a nice addition and lends Bludd an air of menace. After all, if his trophy tags are to be believed, he’s killed five or six soldiers in the line of his duty. The brown also helps him stand out from the rest of Cobra. Again, it goes to reinforce the idea that he’s an independent contractor rather than an actual member of Cobra. Cobras wore blue almost exclusively at this point and the brown definitely allows him to stand out from the Cobra crowd. Green accents on the left arm and leg do a nice job breaking up the two-toned brown and black uniform, though to be fair, I’m not sure why exactly he’s got a green stripe on his pant leg and a green logo on his sleeve but it still works really well.
Any discussion of Major Bludd can’t avoid mentioning the other thing that likely would have been an unpleasant surprise to me as a kid, his armored right arm. Armoring his right arm makes a good deal of sense since Bludd uses a relatively fanciful rocket pistol as his primary weapon and it’s nicely detailed. However, for reasons lost in the ether (and if anyone knows why, feel free to bring it up), Hasbro decided to sacrifice the elbow joint to create this arm. I understand from a real-world standpoint than an armored arm would be less flexible. However, from a Hasbro standpoint, it’s odd considering how much of the line was built on part reuse. An armored arm with three fingers is a very unique piece and can’t really be used for much other than Major Bludd. I realize that in 1983 the Joe line had moved on to a degree from the 1982 method of part reuse and recoloring to create figures, but the line was still in its very early stages and to create such a strange part that also was a little at odds with the idea of the brand being so poseable was definitely an odd choice.
All in all, it’s hard to beat the classic look of Major Bludd and it’s honestly surprising at how well this mold has held up. While he’s definitely a relic of the early era of the Joe line, he doesn’t really start looking too out of place until you start placing him up against the line’s far later releases. As much as collectors love the original thirteen Joes, in my opinion based solely on images of other people’s collections, by 1986, they were starting to look a bit outdated. While Bludd has his share of issues, the strength of his head sculpt really helped sell him as a strong figure far longer than the original thirteen did.