Tuesday, April 2, 2024

1991 Super Sonic Fighters Major Bludd

I have looked at this sculpt for Major Bludd before.  In fact, I have reviewed every single use of the body and head that was ever released anywhere in the world with one exception: the original that started it all.  All of the subsequent derivatives of this Super Sonic Fighters Major Bludd were done up in the classic brown from Major Bludd's debut look in 1983.  But, this 1990's Sonic Bludd brought a new color scheme to the character and updated him to a much more useful and interesting look.  It doesn't hurt that he's also in some very classic Cobra base colors that allows him to be a prominent member of an updated Cobra High Command.

An interesting point about this figure relates to its colors.  The blue and yellow are a nice blend of colors that works not only for Bludd, but for figures in general.  As this Major Bludd appeared in the cartoon, too, his look was exported around the world.  In India, Funskool had released a brown Major Bludd for several years that was based on the original Hasbro figure from 1983.  However, around 1993, Funskool repainted the 1983 Major Bludd mold in a blue and yellow color scheme.  It was likely that this was done to match the toy to the colors that appeared in the cartoon.  (The cartoon was airing in India during this time.)  So, you can spend way too much money to get a version of Major Bludd in this color scheme, but on his original mold.  Hasbro was keen to ensure that certain characters matched media releases.  So, Funskool updating an original mold into a new color scheme to match the cartoon was rather unique in the Joe world.

The figure itself does get maligned for the overabundance of grenades that are sculpted onto the figure's body.  There's way too many of them, for sure.  They can hinder the ability of the figure to fit inside certain vehicle cockpits.  Aside from that, though, the rest of the figure is just amazing.  Bludd carries over the dog tags from his original figure.  And, his overall harness and suit combo really do fit with Bludd as a jet pack user.  Which, at its core, is what this figure really is.  This is Bludd's flight suit as he soars among the clouds.  No one uses this figure in that regard.  But, it is the reason that this version of Bludd exists.

Situated among the '90's releases of Cobra Commander, Destro and Firefly, this Bludd fits perfectly.  The color palettes of these later figures all mesh well.  The bulkier sculpts give the early characters more heft and make them more posable with 1990's Joe figures.  You don't often see the 1990's Cobra High Command pics, though.  That iconography is reserved for the early 1980's figures.  And, the missing Baroness also makes the later team look incomplete.  But, Bludd, et al, really work either in the original swivel head versions from the early 80's or the ball headed updates from the early 90's.

Major Bludd's accessories are...well...terrible.  He has the oversized sonic jet pack.  Of the sonic packs, his being a jet pack probably makes the most sense.  So, I can forgive that.  His other gear...not so much.  He includes a yellow rifle that's one of the worst designed weapons in the line.  It seems like it was intended to be part of a vehicle and would attach to a gun port.  Instead, it was repurposed for this figure.  He then includes an odd "sonic disruptor cannon".  It's a two handed weapon (making it rather unique in the Joe line) with a not terrible design.  As a throw in, it's not bad.  But, when Bludd's main weapon is so terrible, the disruptor cannon becomes less acceptable.  The card artwork, though, clearly shows Bludd wielding the pistol that would, ultimately, be included with the Air Devil.  This would have been a better weapon for sure.  And, I would love to know how Bludd came to include his yellow rifle instead of the superior Air Devil design.

I acquired my first version of this figure back in 1999.  I bought a lot of 1990 and 1991 figures.  It was about 50 mint and complete with filecard figures.  I paid well under $100 for the lot since no one liked '90's figures back then.  When the lot arrived, most of the figures were bagged with their correct gear and filecards.  A few, though, weren't.  This Major Bludd was one of them.  Instead, he was holding a 1990 Rock Viper pistol.  While I knew this wasn't meant to be his weapon, that pistol just kind of stuck with this Major Bludd.  And, through the years, I've used that Rock Viper weapon more with various repaints of the Bludd mold than I have with actual Rock Vipers.  Even today, I'm more inclined to pose this Major Bludd figure with that Rock Viper pistol than I am to give it to the actual Rock Viper.

This Bludd has often found use in my collection.  But, it was almost always the later, brown paint jobs.  You can find the blue figure in a few very early pictures on the site.  He was almost always paired with the 1993 Firefly.  I saw the figure as a new character, though.  So, he was rarely used as Bludd.  Those days, though, are gone.  And, now, I see this as a great way to have Major Bludd interact with later Cobra characters and army builders.  The bulkier sculpt is more in line with his contemporary releases.  And, Bludd looks great among the stalwart Cobras from the latter half of the line's history.  

So, one of the subtle points of contention about the Super Sonic Fighters relates to their release year.  YoJoe put them as 1991 releases.  And, for that reason, they were considered to be 1991 figures for decades.  Recently, though, 3DJoes.com reclassified the series as a 1992 release.  Personally, I'm not sold on this change.  The Super Sonic Fighters feature only other 1991 released on their cardbacks.  But, I'm not privy to the internal paperwork and other documentation that other well reasoned collectors used to come to their conclusion.  The reality is that the idea of a yearly wave of Joes went out the window with the advent of subsets in the 1990's.  (And, could be argued back as far as the Battle Force 2000 figures being 1987 or 1988 releases.)  So, while the main carded line did have a set year of release, the subsets were phased in as the year progressed.  And, it's entirely possible that a set was a very late release one year and was meant as a main retail alternative for the subsequent release year.  In the end, you'll see this figure labelled as either a 1991 or a 1992 release.  For now, either will do.  As older guides fall out of favor, 1992 may become the de facto standard.  Personally, old habits die hard.  And, I've had this figure and his brethren in my 1991 drawers since 1999.  Rather than move them, I'll just continue to call this a 1991 release: knowing full well that it could change at some point in the future.

This Major Bludd mold debuted in 1991.  The head was then used around 1994 for the Chinese Major Bludd.  In very late 2000, the entire figure was repainted in brown and released as part of the ARAHC line.  This figure was shipped with the Rock Viper and was an international pegwarmer of near epic proportion.  Hasbro then, oddly, shipped the mold off to India.  In 2002, Funskool released Major Bludd based on the ARAHC figure: just in a lighter brown.  This is the end of the mold.  So, really, there's two brown versions and this one blue version.  Both are excellent.  And, since we got the mold in classic Bludd colors, there's not really any reason  for another coloring to exist.

The Sonic Fighters figures had limited release windows.  While there were plenty on the shelves during their release year, they were just released during that short time.  So, today, you don't find these figures with the same frequency as their contemporary standard carded figures.  During the price surge between 2018 and 2021, this Major Bludd climbed as high as $40 for a mint and complete figure.  So, dealers still try to sell them for that price.  But, you can get a mint an complete figure for around $15 in the current market.  If you're willing to sacrifice completeness, you can get the figure for under $8.  So, that makes this figure a worthwhile addition to any collection.

1991 Super Sonic Fighters Major Bludd, 1992, 2023 Black Major Steel Brigade

1991 Super Sonic Fighters Major Bludd


  1. This figure design, mold and colors used really offer a great update to the original Major Bludd from 83. Sonic Fighters Major Bludd is another one of those strong 1990s figures that seems to have been overlooked until the GI Joe boom of a few years ago. Admittedly, I never had this figure as a kid so I don't have any childhood memories tied to it. My first exposure to this figure was the very well done RAHC version released in 2000. A fantastic update with the more subdued brown/black colors that hearken back to the original figure.

    Pretty sure I got my hands on the Sonic Fighters Major Bludd in a lot I won a few years back and once in hand he did not disappoint. The colors all worked together, the yellow popped just enough and the silver grenades just all seem to work. This version is almost as good as the original IMO. I don't have any of the accessories but do not really see a need to acquire them anyway. The Jetpack is cool but that rifle is something I would have disliked even as a kid.

    That Chinese Major Bludd is awesome - looks like Major Bludd's head on General Flagg's body.

  2. 3DJoes.com is wrong. Both regulars Sonic Fighters and Super Sonic Fighters have 1991 figures on the cardbacks. The first Sonic Fighters were an early 1991 release found in stories in late 1990, but fan sites refuse to acknowledge the obvious 1991 card back evidence and label them 1990, and maybe Hasbro does, too. The Super Sonic Fighters do not appear in the 1991 Toy Fair catalog. But those catalogs are not TRUTH BIBLES. You won't find Star Brigade in the 1993 Toy Fair catalog for example.
    The Bridge Layer was released in late 1984 via Sears, but rarely is it considered a 1984 release even when this early exclusive is noted.
    Note that 1992's first basic assortment and Battle Commanders were in stores 2 months before 1992 even began, but are 1992 releases everywhere. Why? Because the cardbacks tell us they are 1992 releases.
    Likewise the first Battle Corps wave and the Ice Snake and Mudbuster were showing up in fall 1992. Yet, they are 1993 releases.
    So why does Sonic Fighters and their Super follow up get in this mess? And why would 3DJoes change Super Sonic Fighter's year without so much as an explanation? I

  3. Nice review! Agree with everything you said -- about the colors, sculpt, grenades, and accessories.

    2 grenades is enough, 3 is pushing it, 4 is too many, but 16...somehow kinda works on this guy!