Red Shadow

Few foreign G.I. Joe concepts are as popular in the collecting community as The Red Shadows. This isn’t surprising, as they’ve got quite a few things going for them, they’re army builders, they have a unique and well thought out appearance, and similar to the Oktober Guard, they’re an idea that allows an expansion of the G.I. Joe mythos past the traditional G.I. Joe vs. COBRA conflict, which the line likely needed to do.

One of the more popular fan ideas to work in the Red Shadows is to use them as the European contingent of COBRA Command. That doesn’t work for me, as it doesn’t expand the universe any more and I can’t see TWO global fanatical terrorist organizations run by Anglos co-existing at the same time. I see the Red Shadows as the terrorist group du jour of the early-to-mid 1970s, who were likely composed at the higher levels of hardline SS types who fled Europe and never wound up in either the US or Soviet intelligence apparatuses.

The Shadows were defeated prior to COBRA Command becoming a major player in the terrorist scene and they’re failures and defeat provided COBRA Commander insight on what not to do, and also allowed him to scoop up numerous battle hardened warriors when the remnants of the Red Shadows were scattered to the four winds.

Of course that whole concept is all because there isn’t a particularly useful Red Shadows action figure. The Palitoy Red Shadow is a 5 POA action figure with sculpting on par with Empire Strikes Back figures. They’re fun toys, but aren’t the best when paired up with G.I. Joes. The Shad is a repaint (with a new head sculpt) of the Action Force series one figure, the Nazi Stormtrooper. The first Action Force series were 4 inch representations of popular 12″ Action Man designs.

The figure is bright red and a lot of his details are painted on, so his shoulders, web gear, eyes, and his forehead emblem can be heavily worn. The plastic quality reminds me of Star Wars figures, though the hands have much thinner fingers and thumbs than SW. The Red Shadow has a German variant as well, where he didn’t receive the logo on his forehead, as it’s awfully similar to the totenkopf , the Red Shadows team was called the “Terror Gang”, too!

Red Shadows figures, like all Palitoy Action Force molds, can be worked in with G.I. Joe, but aren’t the greatest mesh, the construction styles are too different, even if the sculpting is actually fairly reminiscent of each other in the early years. It would be nice to work the Red Shadows into the traditional G.I. Joe style, there was the Convention attempt, but that much like many other convention figures is an overly expensive, over-used 1990’s mold, repainted into a footnote of the late 2000s. It would be nice to see one of the factory custom makers take a stab at a traditional Red Shadow, maybe using the COBRA or Officer mold in bright red with black highlights and painting the flesh of the head black with little white dots for eyes. I can dream right?

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Responses to Red Shadow

  1. A-Man says:

    In the 90’s I found out about the Red Shadows/Action Force, how Baron Ironblood became Cobra Commander and Black Major wanting revenge against him. It was all a fascinating different take on elements of the GI JOE mythos. As whole it was not compatible with the US story line for a few reasons.

    Then fanboys stuck their hands into and ruin it like they often do. (I sound like a hipster) They have to merge everything they can. Devil’s Due came up with some alternate version led by Joe Colton’s former army buddy or something. Fans talked Hama into including them into the current IDW continuation of ARAH continuity…and they are working with Cobra? I haven’t read those issues. But what’s the point? Cobra already absorbs every GI JOE enemy that comes along. It’s a joke at this point. What does Cobra even believe in?

    • atticagazette says:

      Yeah, the original Action Force story lines are really cool, and in a way I tend to prefer the story lines from that as the basis of a lot of the COBRA Villains, just because Firefly, Baroness, Storm Shadow, Major Bludd and Scrap Iron all have zero ties to anyone else, they’re just regular old terrorists doing it for ideals or money, not revenge. Ironblood as CC is a good idea, it’s just not for me, and to me Destro’s more of a Miami Vice bad guy than anything.

      Do MOTU fans clamour for the secondary villain groups to join up (read: work for) with Skeletor? Iron Grenadiers are usually just used as Destro’s equivalent to CC’s Crimson Guards in most fan produced content.

      • A-Man says:

        I don’t get that deep into MOTU stuff. It seems like they don’t. In the 80’s toy series, Skeletor had an alliance with King Hiss, but modern MOTU lore ignores that and even ignores that Kobra Khan was Skeletor’s spy within the Snake-Men.

  2. I like leaving some stories in their time. As a ’70’s terrorist group comprised of WWII refugees and war criminals, the Red Shadows have some meat to them. The much more violent and ruthless portrayal of them in the AF comics also makes more sense, too.

    I see them similarly as you. To me, Red Jackal is the same as Destro. He cut his teeth in the Red Shadows before branching out into South American and, ultimately, Cobra personas, too. But, Destro remains out for himself and only joins groups to suit his interests.

    Cobra of the early comics was not only more ruthless, but they had battle hardened troops. I could see these being left over Red Shadows who brought experience to Cobra. But, Cobra Commander eventually had them all killed (which is why we stopped seeing those unnamed troop leaders from the early comic) as he feared they’d usurp him.

  3. I really like your idea for the factory custom Red Shadows. I can picture your idea for the head more clearly now, and I think it’s just about ideal. Though the HISS Driver head might not be a bad idea at least as a variant. I could see it working with the all-red, black “visor,” and white eyes.

    And after getting a few of these guys, I do agree that they feel a bit like old Kenner Star Wars figures. But the sculpting is pretty great, and they just look cool. I only have four of them, so I don’t mind mixing them with my Joes. They look pretty good in vehicles or lurking in the background.

  4. mwnekoman says:

    I really like the way you use the Red Shadows! My Joe-verse tends to just be a fluid kind of thing, where one day the Red Shadows work for Cobra and the next they have no relation. Just depends on my mood.

    The custom guys really need to get on a proper Red Shadow. Maybe I should make a photoshop mock-up of what you described and try passing that around. I’d really like it if that got made. I also wouldn’t mind if they just re-made the con figure like with the Night Stalkers, but the Cobra Officer really needs the custom treatment.

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