Normally, my feelings towards foreign figures are rather grim. I feel that most foreign issued Joes are overrated, over hyped, and overpriced monstrosities that lack the quality and basis in reality that drove the American, and even the European, line. Had other countries taken the molds and redone them in a fashion that was designed to mimic their own military, I think the foreign figures would hold more appeal to me. As such, I tend to avoid foreign releases. Every now and then, though, you do come across a foreign figure that just must be part of your collection. The one figure who most personifies this is the Chinese release of Major Bludd.
I've already profiled the Major Bludd character with the original figure. However, that guy has now found retirement. This version has become Major Bludd in my collection. He is just the perfect version that fits in excellently with the later figures. The 1983 version is a bit too thin and scrawny to look like the horror Bludd is supposed to be. This version, made from the 1991 version's head, General Flagg's chest, and Lamprey's legs and arms, is bulky enough to stand up next to the later figures without looking out of place. He makes an perfect companion to the 1993 Cobra Commander and either the 1988 or 1992 Destro figures. I don't know why Hasbro didn't release a remake of the good major in a paint scheme and mold that would at least pay homage to his roots. Like the Baroness, though, it was not to be for Bludd. Instead, he was relegated to poor resculpts like the 1994 version. While the figure itself isn't all that bad, the color scheme and accessories doomed it to a lifetime of discount bins. This figure's only shortcoming is his accessories. He comes with a version of Dodger's rifle that doesn't fit him at all. A quick swap with the original Major Bludd's accessories, though, and you have a perfectly outfitted figure.
It really is a shame that this figure was never released in the U.S. It is, without a doubt, the best version of Major Bludd. I really don't know how China, of all places, got a figure of this calibre, but it is unfortunate that American, and other, collectors never got to see this figure as part of a regular release. The nice thing is, this guy is all over the place. He is easy to get and can be found without too much trouble. I've known about this guy for quite some time, but only recently decided to add him to my collection. I have been leery of foreign figures, but consider this guy too cool a figure, for too small a price, to not have in my possession. He is now in a place of prominence, next to the Commander and surrounded by 1998 Vipers. Major Bludd had pretty much disappeared from my heavy use box. I just couldn't see him standing tall with many of the later figures I tend to like. (In fact, the only non-ball headed figures I still use with any regularity are the 1984 Firefly, 1984 Ripcord, and Scrap Iron.) Now that I have this figure, though, that dilemma is solved and Major Bludd will regain his rightful place among the Cobra elite.
Many collectors and dealers will try to fool you into the scarcity of foreign released figures. The fact is: foreign figures were released for mass consumption in their home countries. While the production numbers may not be as high as the American figures, foreign releases are by no means rare. As the internet makes the world smaller and helps break down language barriers that have traditionally existed between some countries that produced many of the most unique Joes, expect many new foreign variations, as well as the highly publicized figures about which we already know, to spring up with alarming regularity. That being said, this version of Bludd is very, very common. Many of the Chinese figures were imported to the U.S. in the mid '90's. You can find both the Major Bludd and Flint figures for about $8-$12 for a MOC figure. Finding them loose, though, is very tough. I got my Bludd by opening a carded sample. Now that I've done that, I can't ever see me going back to any other versions of the Major Bludd figure. I have no regrets and don't think you will either.
Just a quick side note, the next wave of new Joes have been shown in some toy publications. One of the new figures we will see either late this year or early next is a new Major Bludd. He is a repaint of the highly underrated 1991 version, but he is painted like the original. It seems some Hasbro designer has seen this Chinese version and decided that it was a great idea. Be on the lookout for that figure very soon. He will come with the Rock Viper, which is actually a repainted Range Viper. They are both very cool. Hasbro is doing a bang-up job on the new releases. It is certainly an exciting time to be a Joe fan!
This guy rocks! Who is your favorite foreign figure? Let me know.