Heads up! Blood for the Baron has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a remastered version of their Action Force – Palitoy Collectors Guide!
This Kickstarter project is to raise funding for a second edition of the popular Action Force Palitoy Collectors’ Guide from www.bloodforthebaron.com. The 300 pages of content have each been digitally overhauled to provide an improved print quality, as many of the photographs in the first edition came out far too dark. Lots of the pages have been updated with new images and information and the handful of typos have all been corrected!
Another improvement is the laminated cover, providing additional strength to the spine, as some customers found the first edition to be too flimsy for the weight of the book. Production will be moved from China to the UK, which will remove the shipping delays experienced the last time. Printing will be handled by Carly Press.BFTB.UK
The Action Force fansite www.bloodforthebaron.com has been runnning for 17 1/2 years, dedicated to bringing word of these exclusive UK toys to their long-lost cousins in the GI Joe community. Created purely for the love of the brand, Jim Marshall’s explosive guide is the first of its kind, weighing in at 300 pages and covering every aspect of this amazing toy range by Palitoy.
From the original ‘Action Man in miniature’ to the ever-popular Red Shadows and their Action Force counterparts; Z Force, Q Force, Space Force and the SAS. Also included are the German Anti-Terror Team variants and the exclusive UK GI Joe and Cobra releases.
With over 2000 new photographs, the guide also features full information on the plethora of cardbacks, comic books, fanclub packs and promotional merchandise. The Palitoy Collectors’ Guide is a must-have for Action Force and GI Joe fans alike.
Every pledge will also receive a free copy of the 100-page Action Force 30th Anniversary Commemorative Special companion magazine and the fantastic 16-page repro micro-comic.
Additional tier rewards available are the BFTB.UK exclusive 5-poster set, available in A4 (210x297mm), A3 (297x420mm) and A2 (420x593mm) formats.
BLOOD FOR THE BARON!!!
Risks and challenges
The risks of this project are limited by the prior implementation of a publication commemorating the 30th Anniversary of Action Force. The 30th Anniversary special addressed the same subject matter as this Collectors Guide with a similar format, content and publisher. All these factors will contribute to the successful implementation of this follow-up project. Additionally, the expanded content of this Guide has already been largely already developed by the same team due to the depth of the material developed for the BFTB website itself. For this larger volume, special quotes from the publisher and for distribution have already been secured, costed and factored into the price per unit. Market research has also been factored in to accommodate the likely distribution costs to North America, Europe and Australasia. Most importantly, regular progress updates will be posted on the BFTB forum and social media pages.
Action Force was a toyline in Europe which evolved from an entirely local creation into a renamed import of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Because of the shifting nature of the characters in the toyline, corresponding Action Force spin-off material has a very complicated continuity.
The British toy company Palitoy had had success with the larger Action Man (itself a licensed copy of the US G.I. Joe) but by the early 1980s sales were falling. At the same time the Star Wars toyline, which Palitoy was the European distributor for, proved revolutionary in popularising the smaller 3.75 inch size of action figure. In 1982 Palitoy launched Action Force with a series of contemporary and historical military figures, from many different countries. Additionally several vehicles for the figures were released as well.
Expansion and import
The figures proved highly successful and so for the following year the range was heavily expanded. This time round the figures and vehicles were given various groupings within the line, with a unified enemy in the form of the Red Shadows led by Baron Ironblood.
A significant development was the licensing of several figure and vehicle moulds from the US G.I. Joe line, released in different colours as new characters. The Action Force line continued in this vein in 1984.
In 1984 Alfred Pallett, one of the owners of Palitoy, died and the company began to wind down its operations. The company was purchased by Hasbro, who opted to continue the Action Force toyline but now import G.I. Joe figures directly. The storyline for the toyline developed - Action Force was an international counter-terrorist organisation tackling the menace of Cobra.
Although predominantly now an import of the G.I. Joe line, various changes were still made. In keeping with the premise that Action Force was an international organisation many of the file cards were amended so that the characters were given an international background. Furthermore the European releases lagged behind their American counterparts by about a year.
In keeping with this British printings of the comic book series and screenings of the cartoon were amended to change "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" into "Action Force: International Heroes".
G.I. Joe the Action Force
The toyline continued in this vein until late 1989 when the name of the toyline was changed to G.I. Joe the Action Force. A special mini-comic available free in shops and also released as part of the UK Transformers and Action Force #245 explained that Action Force and its US counterpart G.I. Joe had opted to merge so as to better fight the menace of Cobra. The change also made the marketing easier. After a couple of years the suffix "...the Action Force" was dropped from the toyline and tie-ins and the transformation was complete.
Battle Action Force
In July 1983 Action Force appeared as a temporary strip in the British war comic Battle, published by IPC Magazines, and proved incredibly popular. From October 1983 the strip became permanent and the comic was retitled Battle Action Force. The Action Force stories would come to dominate the title and Palitoy would use it heavily as a vehicle for promoting the toys.
IPC would retain the rights to Action Force until the end of 1986, during which time the transition in the toyline from Palitoy to Hasbro would be covered in continuity, with Baron Ironblood betraying the Red Shadows and changing his identity to Cobra Commander and founding the Cobra Organisation. Similarly the Red Shadows character Red Jackal survived the destruction of the group and became Destro. After IPC lost the Action Force rights the comic continued as Battle for another two years.
Action Force weekly
Main article: Action Force (weekly)
From February 1987 the British division of Marvel Comics began publishing Action Force, a 24 page weekly comic that combined relettered reprints of the US G.I. Joe with British originated strips, fact files and humour strips, in the same vein as their existing successful Transformers comic.
Transformers was also used to promote the Action Force comic three times, with a special back-up strip in issues #99-102 (reprinting "Improvisation on a Theme" from G.I. Joe #44) promoting the new title, a mini-comic free in issue #122 (reprinting "Dummy Run!" from Action Force #18) and finally a cross-over in Transformers#125 and Action Force#24 - #27 entitled "Ancient Relics!" Conversely the US G.I. Joe and the Transformers was not reprinted at this time, as the reprints of G.I. Joe were too far behind those of Transformers for the story to make sense.
The originated stories featured Action Force as being based in Europe and led in the field by Flint (here given the name David Faireborn and being from Lincoln in the UK) under the command of Trent. The G.I. Joe reprints were often amended and edited in order to tie in with this. For instance Flint's first appearance in the US was his first meeting with Lady Jaye. For the UK comic it was rewritten and relettered so that now both were visiting the US team. Such changes make it hard to fit the original Action Force stories into the US comic's continuity. Additionally after the weekly title folded the reprints would become more and more G.I. Joe in all but name and eventually even that would change.
Merger with Transformers
Main article: Transformers (Marvel UK)
After fifty issues Action Force came to a close. As was the standard practice in the British comics market at the time the title was nominally merged with Transformers, which now had the cover title Transformers and Action Force from issue #153 onwards. In practice the effect was that the G.I. Joe reprints now took over the back-up strip slot in Transformers on a permanent basis, although the Action Force comedy strip Combat Colin replaced the existing Transformers comedy strip Robo-Capers.
Action Force would take two brief breaks from Transformers, between issues #183 & #190 and again between #213 & #219, on each occasion being replaced by Visionaries. The G.I. Joe the Action Force name change took effect on the strip from issue #248, although the cover did not change until issue #249. From issue #306 G.I. Joe the Action Force was dropped from the title altogether.
Separate Action Force annuals and specials were also released by Marvel UK from 1987 onwards, with the title changing in line with that of the toyline. In addition there was a weekly comic launched in autumn 1989 called The Incredible Hulk Presents which contained further amended reprints of the G.I. Joe strips. It lasted just twelve issues.
Action Force Monthly
Main article: Action Force Monthly
The British originated stories did not disappear either. Marvel UK was in this period experimenting with a series of monthly books in a smaller format, in part to help break into the US market. From May 1988 Action Force Monthly was launched, containing full length stories. The stories were also written so as to be easier to fit into US continuity. The series was also released in the US but under the title of G.I. Joe: European Missions. The series lasted fifteen issues.
- Note: G.I. Joe went by the name 'Action Force' in Europe. They were a similar outfit to G.I. Joe in every sense. The name Action Force: International Heroes referred to the team consisting of soldiers from around the world. In the United Kingdom certain figures had their filecards altered to include international birthplaces in order to appeal more to a UK market, such as Lady Jaye, whose UK filecard was amended to show that she was from Cork, Ireland, and Ripcord, whose filecard stated he was from Manchester, United Kingdom.Falcon who was released in 1987 was from Glastonbury, Somerset, United Kingdom.
The early release Action Force figures were released by Palitoy and were repaints of US released figures. They included:
- Blades: A repaint of the US Tripwire (1983). Released in 1984, Blades was the Action Force SAS Hawk Helicopter Pilot.
- Dolphin: A repaint of the US Zap (1983). Released in 1984, Dolphin was the Action Force Q Force Sealion Commander.
- Gaucho: A repaint of the US Gung-Ho (1983. Released in 1984, Gaucho was the Action Force Z Force Mechanic and was supplied with the Z Force base (G.I. Joe Headquarters repaint).
- Hunter: A repaint of the US Cobra Officer (1983). Released in 1984, Hunter was the Action Force SAS Wolverine driver (G.I. Joe Wolverine repaint).
- Jammer: A repaint of the US Stalker (1983). Released in 1984, Jammer was the Action Force Z Force Communications Engineer and was supplied with the Z Force Base (G.I. Joe Headquarters repaint).
- Moondancer: A repaint of the US Short-Fuze (1983). Released in 1984, Moondancer was the Action Force Space Force Triad Fighter Pilot.
- Quarrel: A repaint of the US Scarlett (1983). Released in 1984, Quarrel was the Action Force Z Force RAM Driver (repaint of the US Release RAM).
- Red Jackal: A repaint of the US Destro (1983). Released in 1984, Red Jackal was the Enemy driver of the Hyena Tank (H.I.S.S. Repaint).
- Red Laser: A repaint of the US Cobra Commander (1983). Released in 1984, Red Laser was the Enemy Operator of the Laser Exterminator (HAL repaint).
- Stalker: A repaint of the US Snake Eyes (1983). Released in 1984, Stalker was the driver of the Action Force SAS Panther (V.A.M.P. Repaint).
- Steeler: A repaint of the US Steeler (1983). Released in 1984, Steeler was the operator of the Action Force Z Force M.O.B.A.T. (G.I. Joe M.O.B.A.T. Repaint).
For other uses, see Action Force (disambiguation).
Action Force is a brand of European action figures released in the 1980s that was based on the Action Man toyline. It was also used to introduce G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toys to European markets. Several publishing companies have produced comic books based on the figures.
First generation (1982)
The Action Force figures were first produced in 1982 by Palitoy Limited, and were released in two waves. They were created in response to the falling sales of the company's larger collection, Action Man, and the comparative success of the smaller Kenner Star Wars action figures, which the company was licensed to sell in Europe.
The figures are a mixture of historical military figures (e.g. Desert Rat, German Storm trooper) and of more contemporary soldiers (e.g. Arctic and Naval Assault). In contrast to the American-centric G.I. Joe figures, the Action Force figures were a mixture of international figures, including British, German, Australian and American soldiers. However, unlike later releases, the first figures were not accompanied by file cards giving backstories, nor were they featured in comic books other than a series of mini-comics that were packaged with some of the vehicles, notably the AF-3 and AF-5.
List of figures
Vehicles, weaponry and armour
- Action Force Base (a cardboard headquarters with zip-line feature)
- AF-3 (a Jeep-style patrol vehicle)
- AF-5 Multi-Mission Vehicle (a wheeled patrol vehicle with extendable wings for flight and a detachable flotation collar for amphibious use)
- AF-7 Deep Sea Diver Platform
- AF-9 Mountain & Arctic (a snowmobile-style vehicle)
Second generation (1983)
Following the success of the first range of figures, a second and larger group of figures was launched in 1983. Action Force sales accounted to about one million over six months in 1983, and the offering was expanded to include a new wave of figures and vehicles that were released in 1984.
Palitoy Limited took a different approach with this second range of figures by grouping the allied action figures and enemies each with accompanying weaponry and vehicles (see below). The figures were given comic book identities and were featured in a new range of stories in the Battle Action Force comic. The toys were also supplied with file cards that provided a brief profile of the characters. For key figures, these profiles were expanded in the Battle Action Force comic with their own multi-issue storylines (e.g. The Black Major).
- An allied infantry and artillery-based unit.
- An allied special operations team.
- An allied ocean-based team.
- An allied space operations team.
Special Weapons Force
The fifth team was to have been characterized as a 'special weapons' unit, initially believed to be called 'F-Force'. Later research revealed a pair of photographs from a toy catalog which showed the figures in different color schemes, along with vehicles featuring an 'SWS' logo instead. The catalog photographs also showed US G.I. Joe vehicles, which were released as part of the SAS Force and Z Force groups. These vehicles included a white and grey Jeep, a white artillery piece and a white missile battery.
Both the action figures and the vehicles borrowed elements from the first generation models and the new casts licensed from the G. I. Joe toyline from Hasbro. There was also an Action Force fan club promoted both on the figures' packaging and in the Battle Action Force comic book. In 1984, additional figures and vehicles were cast, borrowing heavily from the G.I. Joe and Cobra ranges. During this time, the Action Force toyline branched out into video games, audio stories on cassette tapes, stationery, and toiletries.
Third generation (1985)
In 1985, Palitoy ceded control of the European market to Hasbro following the death of Alfred Pallett, one of Palitoy's owners, and the winding up of operations at their Leicester factory. Hasbro purchased the Palitoy factory, copyrights, and moulds and began to package G.I. Joe figures under the Action Force brand. In characterization terms, this move marked the end of the subgrouping of the Action Force team, and a new unified Action Force (or AF) also faced a new enemy in the name of Cobra.
The parallel comic book storylines also maintained continuity with a number of plot lines that blended elements of the second range of figures with the third, featuring the new characters as an international elite anti-terrorist unit of a wider Action Force. The Force was still backed up by the Z Force, SAS, other units fighting Cobra, the Red Shadows and even a re-animated Adolf Hitler and the Nazis (despite being ostensibly set in the present day). Over time, however, the range evolved into an unreconstructed G.I. Joe force and its enemy Cobra.
The G.I. Joe animated series was re-titled and re-dubbed for release in the UK. Any mention of G.I. Joe was replaced with Action Force, however, the G.I. Joe logo remained on vehicles and equipment shown in the cartoon.
Battle Action Force tie-in
Main article: Battle Picture Weekly
In July 1983, the Action Force characters initially guest-featured in a comic strip serial in Battle. The strip proved to be so popular that a further five promotional mini-comics were included free with every IPC publication in the weeks to follow. On 8 October 1983, Action Force joined the pages of Battle full-time and the magazine was retitled Battle Action Force.
The comic took on the role of providing backstories and storylines for the action figures. Following the closure of Palitoy in 1986 and Hasbro acquiring the various intellectual property rights to the Action Force toyline, the Action Force strip was canceled. The Battle Action Force magazine was subsequently merged with Eagle.
Marvel UK's Action Force comic
Following the demise of the Battle Action Force strips, a weekly Action Force comic was launched by Marvel UK on 8 March 1987, consisting of reprints of the US G.I. Joe comic book and new UK-exclusive short strips. The G.I. Joe comics were adjusted to fit into the UK strip's continuity and had all references to G.I. Joe replaced with Action Force, and the UK-exclusive strips maintained a separate continuity from the US G.I. Joe comic. The Action Force comic was canceled in 1988 after fifty issues due to low sales and was replaced with Action Force Monthly, which was itself canceled after fifteen issues. The Action Force Monthly title printed new stories as well as reprinting stories from the weekly title. The magazine was released in the US under the title G.I. Joe – European Missions.
In late 1989, the G.I. Joe story reprints were continued in the UK Transformers comic under the name G.I. Joe the Action Force to conform to the toyline. The reprints changed back to G.I. Joe until they were dropped in 1991. In 1995, Panini Comics obtained the Marvel UK licence and began publishing an Action Man comic the following year without reference to Action Force or G.I. Joe.
Devil's Due revival
In 2005 and 2007, the Action Force characters were partially revived. The Red Shadows organization was featured in the two-part Dawn of the Red Shadows storyline in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (vol. 2) #42 and #43, following a series of mysterious attacks against both G.I. Joe and Cobra. This Red Shadows organization was led by Wilder Vaughn, a British military officer gone rogue, and viewed organized governments as corrupt and in need of removal. After this appearance, where they caused substantial damage, they have not seen again; Vaughn made a cameo in the Black Major uniform in a later storyline, stating Cobra had decimated the organization off-panel.
The Action Force characters Quarrel, Moondancer, Hunter and Blades made cameo appearances in G.I. Joe: America's Elite issue #30 as representatives of NATO.
Distinction from G.I. Joe
The characters created by Battle Action Force were altered in the European market to have mixed nationalities in contrast to the US-centric G.I. Joe characters.
In late 1989, the toyline and accompanying merchandise were renamed G.I. Joe the Action Force. In a mini-comic distributed free in stores and in issue #245 of the UK Transformers comic, it was explained that the European Action Force had merged with its US counterpart G.I. Joe.
In 1991, the name was further changed to just G.I. Joe.
Action Force canon
The Battle Action Force creators retconned several aspects of the series to smooth over the transition to G.I. Joe-influenced characters and vehicles. Due to fan pressure, however, the first wave of Palitoy releases and characters returned to the pages of the comic time and time again (see above).
Action Force in Germany
The second-generation Action Force figures were also released in West Germany during the 1980s, albeit without the benefit of a comic book tie-in. The German toys went under the title of Action Force and fought the "Terror-Bande" (roughly translated as "Terror Gang"). The German release consisted only of the first wave of second-generation figures and characters (some 30 figures and vehicles), however, the characters and vehicles were still grouped in their subunits: anti-terror team (or ATT) corresponding to Z-Force; the special anti-terror team (or SATT) corresponding to SAS Force; the deep-sea anti-terror team (or TSATT) corresponding to Q Force; and the space anti-terror team (or WATT) corresponding to Space Force.
Without comic backstories, the figures were given context by the following statement which was retrospectively attached to the German packaging:
The world of Action Force. The story of Action Force takes place in the year 2011. The world population has for a long time lived in peace and liberty, united under the rule of a democratic world regime. Baron Ironblood, the last criminal, strikes terror with a gang of enslaved adventurers, with intelligent robots and the world's most innovative weapons. His goal: to take over the world. Action Force was set up by the world government and fights this dangerous enemy with various special units: ATT, SATT, TSATT and WATT. Their orders: all terrorists must be captured, no one shall be killed.
Distributors, still concerned by Germany's actions during World War II, modified certain aspects of the Action Force range to appear less violent. According to researchers of the German Palitoy range, most of the guns supplied with the figures were replaced by "less violent" stun-weapons, laser-weapons or knives. Also, the human skull on the Red Shadow (or Terror-Bande) figures was removed from the toyline.
2009 and 2010 G.I. Joe convention revival
Action Force characters have appeared as limited edition toys and comic characters as part of the International G.I. Joe Convention, under the name Special Action Force or SAF (a riff on the SAS; not to be confused with the Philippines' real-life Special Action Force). Instead of being an international group, the Special Action Force is solely a British team and that nation's equivalent to G.I. Joe, though they have several foreign expatriate members.
In August 2009, a limited edition Blades (complete with "SAF Copter") was released in both toy and comic book character form as part of the 2009 G.I. Joe convention. He was portrayed as British rather than retaining the American nationality of the original character and assisted both G.I. Joe and their Argentine counterpart Commandos Heroicos.
In April 2010 the Red Shadows and Black Major returned in o-ring style articulation form as part of the G.I. Joe convention. Dubbed 'Vacation in the Shadows' the set featured new versions of Black Major, the Red Shadow trooper, Flint and Cobra's Interrogator as well as six new 'Red Torch' figures who were part of the Red Shadow forces, armed with flamethrowers. In addition to the box set, other convention releases included Dolphin of Q-Force, a 33⁄4in Natalie Poole figure – based on the 1990s Action Man character and retroactively made an SAF agent – and Z Force's Jammer and Gaucho (who appeared in a three-pack with a new version of Joe medic Lifeline). Unlike Blades, Jammer and Gaucho kept their American and Mexican nationalities. Starduster appeared in the comic tie-in. The convention comic featured Flint vacationing in Europe with Dolphin and Natalie before running afoul of Black Major and Interrogator, who were planning an alliance between Cobra and the Red Shadows. In a twist ending, Natalie is brainwashed into being a Shadows sleeper agent.
Independent toy company Valaverse, founded and owned by former Hasbro designer Bobby Vala, has designed a new branding based on the Action Force toy line, debuting through Kickstarter.
The story is set in an alternate future where the United States is no more and all States are independent Republics. But the Republic of Texas has declared themselves a new empire known as "New Colonia" and invaded other Republics over the course of two years. Afterward, other Super-Republics emerged, fighting for dominance. But elite men and women across the country are determined to fight back and restore freedom; they founded the Action Force.
Palitoy action force
.Action Force. Palitoy Collector's Guide 2nd edition
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