Back in 1986, I went to my local comic shop on my weekly visit. Of course, I always bought the new G.I. Joe comic when it came out, but every now and then, I would pick up some other books for some variety. On one particular day when I went into the store I noticed a very large magazine with Zartan on the cover. The banner across the top of the magazine was done in the style of G.I. Joe, but read Action Force. This magazine was an issue of the UK issued Action Force comic book. Of course, I bought it. I wasn't so interested in the reprints of the American comics; it was the new, UK exclusive and centric stories that really piqued my curiosity. Their take on the Joe team was very different from what was portrayed in the American comic and cartoon. (I remember one story where Lady Jaye was holding a bomb and Crankcase was setting up a blast shield so only she would be killed. The story was so different from anything we got in America that I was hooked.) What I did not know, though, was that Action Force had originally been a Star Wars articulated line of military figures that were released in Europe. From those figures, they branched out to include repainted American Joes in certain vehicles. After that, they released American Joe figures on the generic Action Force card. Finally, Joe figures were released on cards very similar to those from the States. Of this process, it is the repainted figures that came with vehicles that concerns me today. I have chosen the pilot of the Action Force Fang repaint, Blades, to be profiled.
When you first saw that I was profiling a figure named Blades, I'm sure at least someone out there thought it was a late issue Ninja Force member. That couldn't be further from the truth. Blades is a straight repaint of the American Tripwire figure. Rather than be a mine detector, though, this figure is an SAS pilot (though the figure did come with recolored Tripwire accessories). He came with a black and yellow Cobra F.A.N.G. repaint. (I should also note, though, that Blades was available as a convention exclusive at one of the annual G.I. Joe conventions that was held here in the states. Because of that, there are bagged samples available that come with later issue weapons.) As you can see from the photo below, he has a yellow SAS logo on his chest. This logo is EXTREMELY fragile. I'm not talking normal logo fragile, this thing will scratch just as easily as the Viper Pilot's logo will. As you can see, even an otherwise pristine figure like mine will often exhibit some slight paint wear on the logo. At any rate, though, the logo is an incredible feature and just a small part of what makes this figure so cool.
I was never really big on the Action Force repaints. Red Laser, a repaint of the classic Cobra Commander, Hunter, a repainted Cobra Officer, Quarrel, a repainted Scarlett, and Blades are the few that held any real interest for me. I liked them because the color schemes were radically different from the American releases of the molds, but were still nice enough that they would fit into my normal figure usage. Unfortunately, I didn't actively pursue these guys for a long time. Even after I decided that foreign Joes were going to be the next area of my collection, I went after the European Tiger Force exclusives before I really looked for these early guys. The older early '80's molds just didn't excite me and I saw more uses for the oddly colored later releases than I did for these early guys. A couple of months ago, though, and opportunity to acquire a Blades figure arose. I knew that he was a neat figure, but only after I got him did I realize how superior a repaint this version of the Tripwire mold really was.
I've always used the Tripwire mold as a common, generic trooper figure. The original drove my APC for many years. Since then, he and the Listen and Fun variation have become the computer operators in my headquarters. They just look the part. I have yet to acquire the '01 Tripwire, but I see him occupying much the same role. The poor Tiger Force Tripwire sees very little time in my collection. This figure's black and grey uniform, though, really looks nice. It has the subtlety of color that makes it aesthetically pleasing while still maintaining its functionality. This guy is a perfect addition to any night ops force. While the bright yellow logo is there, it is not too much to take away from the figure's playability. That is what I most like about Blades. He is fun to play with and use. The color scheme nicely fits with other figures, as can be seen below, and allows this guy to be used by even the most discriminating collector.
There is one big reason why I wanted to profile this figure. With the addition of a European exclusive figure, this group of 20 profiles now features unique Joes from four different continents. Asia, South America, North America and now, Europe are all represented in what has been my most international group of profiles yet. I enjoy foreign Joes. Many collectors out there share my sentiments. Many others, though, do not. Either way, it really doesn't matter. Everyone has a different end to their Joe collection. What matters most is if you enjoy it. Having figures like Blades that I can turn into whomever I want is what makes Joe fun for me. I think that's the most important part of collecting. Everyone has different ideas about Joe and has a different aspect of it that they latch onto. While it may be frustrating at times, it is important to remember that in the end, we are all fans of the same toy line.
Now for the really bad news. Blades are very tough to find; especially so if you want a mint SAS logo. Those that can be found usually fetch $40.00+ for a mint specimen. Those that are still MOC can go upwards of $70.00 in a hurry. For that reason, most people aren't too keen on adding this guy to their collection. Sure, he is visually awesome. But who wants to spend that kind of money on a figure that only sits there and is never used or appreciated? Still, if you the opportunity to add this guy to your collection, I think you should take advantage of it. The European Action Force repaints are almost all well done and fit in nicely with American figures. I know that I enjoy having this guy, even if his only use is sitting in my headquarters. His look is enough for me to appreciate him. I think that given the chance, you will as well.
Blades is really cool. In fact, all of the Action Force repaints are. If you have a Red Laser, Quarrel, Red Jackal, Jammer, Gaucho, Hunter, Dolphin, Moondancer, Tiger Force Hit and Run, Tiger Force Sneek Peek, Tiger Force Tunnel Rat, Tiger Force Blizzard, Black and Red Spirit, or Stalker (repainted Snake Eyes) with which you wish to part, let me know.