2001 was the last all ARAH year following the sputtering start of the Stars & Stripes Forever Set in 1997. There were the comic pack figures and the GI Joe Collectors’ Club figures and even some ARAH figures packaged opposite New Sculpt figures.
But the New Sculpt figures, as hated as they are now, were the belle of the ball in 2002. The previous figures from the start of the new century were sort of left to wither on the vine of collector enthusiasm. Except for Big Brawler, a character everyone hated with fiery animosity. There were some decent figures in 2000 and 2001.
It’s taken a long time for me to appreciate them. The head-to-toe repaints (Double Blast, Chameleon, White Out, Thunderwing) were a plague. The not-different-enough-from-the-original-color-sets figures (Cobra Commander, Snake-Eyes) were too.
But several figures were repaints meant to represent the old characters in new uniforms that worked very nicely. Major Bludd is the best.
This Major Bludd is a repaint of the 1991 Sonic Fighters Major Bludd. With its blue uniform, collectors like the 1991 version because it showed Bludd growing some allegiance to Cobra. But he’s a mercenary who only has an allegiance to money. So the 1991 figure recolored in Bludd’s traditional brown fits the character much better. With its silver grenades and black gear, this is a wonderful figure. The head sculpt is an improvement over the 1983 version. If only it had a removable helmet... The body is bulkier, and not puffy chested hunchback big like some of the later ARAH figures.
A decade in limbo makes the mold really appreciated. It’s a good one.
The unpainted dog tags are a missed opportunity to showcase another callback to the first Major Bludd figure, but the painted whites of the eyes add a touch of realism to the face.
Major Bludd’s accessories are up for some debate, as the figure was included with a “Rock Viper” (a Range Viper that Hasbro sloppily misnamed). I’ve pictured the grenade launcher, a dagger, and a strange rifle. The strange rifle looks like it would have originally been an underwater accessory for a Cobra character, but is a repaint of the rifle included with the 1991 Major Bludd. At least now it’s black instead of yellow.
This is a contender for the best ARAH-style Major Bludd done for an American release.