Gold Head Steel Brigade (Black Major)

The Steel Brigade concept is kind of interesting, as the original idea behind it makes a lot of sense as a marketing ploy, but it’s something that the fanbase has eschewed and gone with a different idea, that of generic good guy, which was able to make some traction with the actual G.I. Joe line. Either way, the figure itself is popular, popular figures and army builders are a ripe market for the Factory Customs, and when there’s an obscure variant people are willing to spend ridiculous sums of money on, there’s the trifecta! Such is the case with the Black Major version of the Gold Head Steel Brigade.


The Gold Steel Brigade, a rare mail-in from the 90s, has kind of taken on a new life, as the  leader of the Steel Brigade, it makes sense based on the different appearance, how gold seems more in command than silver, and well rarity plays a role too, especially since the original colouring of the Steel Brigade has been a common figure at times. The Black Major did a smart thing with doing a custom version of the figure. He made sure to change the colouring up, while still keeping the overall appearance the same, so his version is far brighter and more vibrant. The bright green torso, is a far more 90s look for the figure, and I like it because it’s a unique colour, on a figure that’s known for it’s very unique appearance to begin with.

Like all Black Major releases of the Steel Brigade, it had a torso variant, so it could be either Steel Brigade version A (With the Airborne Torso) or the more common Duke torso. They also included two rifles, Airborne’s CAR-15, and Recoil’s gun. They’re both good to see, but unfortunately the handles on both are quite wide for the hands. The Airborne rifle looks good if held by the stock and bayonet, though! Crimson Guard rifles tend to fit in the hands, though.

G.I. Joe is funny, as it’s a line that’s almost too faceless, yet all anyone wants to do, is add more faceless generic characters to it! However the Steel Brigade does add a different layer to the line, as generic good guys they can be used in a few more interesting scenarios. The difference between an Iron Grenadier and a COBRA Soldier really isn’t all that much in terms of the role they can play. A Steel Brigade could be used as a Joe in training, the hapless soldiers sent to deal with the Enemy, before determining if it’s actually a job for G.I. Joe, or just generic support for the Joes.


The Steel Brigade’s role to me, is they’re a separate entity from the Joes, they’re strictly army and while they’re competent, they don’t have the panache of the Joe team, that puts them at a distinct disadvantage against asymmetrical warfare, it also makes them a favourite of those pulling the strings, the Jugglers, as it’s easier to trumpet their success and sweep away their failures. If the Joes have a colossal failure, a congressional inquiry is opened, if the Steel Brigade has a colossal failure, nobody cares.

The Steel Brigade Commander, is to me, a character that had the technical ability to be a Joe, but didn’t have the team-first attitude that would’ve allowed him to make the team. He’s arrogant and a glory hound, and that psychological analysis got him thrown on the discard pile for the Joes, but combined with his abilities made him the perfect candidate for the Steel Brigade Commander role. He’s viewed as someone who’ll be able to do the job, and will do it so that he’ll look good in the press. The Jugglers know that his eventual KIA status, will make for great pageantry and ratings, and will also allow them to press for more funding.

I’m sure there were some people that weren’t happy this figure was created, but personally, I don’t think this figure has done anything to really destroy the aftermarket value of the original, however I never had any desire to own an original, so I never check. I assume that a release like this is a good enough pastiche for those who were never going to drop a couple hundred bucks on a Steel Brigade figure.

Gold Brigade


Goldhead Steel Brigade.JPG



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7 Responses to Gold Head Steel Brigade (Black Major)

  1. Mike T. says:

    I think of both this version and the original colored BM homages to be “Brazilian” Steel Brigade figures. They seem like colors that would have been released by Estrela had the figure gone there. For $8 each, I bought a few of these. Sometimes just to screw with people. But, seeing as how these have heavily appreciated in value, too, I’m glad I have them, now.

    • You’re definitely right about these seeming like the Estrela version of the figures. I like them, and feel I probably should’ve bought more of the original flavour, rather than some of the more out there ones.

      I forgot these were some of the last sanely priced Factory Customs

  2. A-Man says:

    “G.I. Joe is funny, as it’s a line that’s almost too faceless, yet all anyone wants to do, is add more faceless generic characters to it!”

    Replace, GI JOE with “Star Wars” and that’s modern Star Wars collecting. All anyone cares about is faceless/armored characters and of course, whatever is “rare”. How far can a line sink before the rats flee the ship, btw? The scalpers, the hoarders, the “buying one for my friend that doesn’t exist”, the “I need 100 to line up on a shelf” army builder with a seemingly unlimited budget?

    I’m pro “bootleg” if something more affordable is going to people who will enjoy it. Toy collecting is really an absurd hobby where folks can pay $$$$ for aging pieces of plastic that might crumble to pieces in their life times. They complain about repro parts but don’t seem to care that things like incomplete vehicle shells will get tossed in the trash because no one wants to pay $30 for a space ship canopy/door/laser cannon/whatever.

    What’s funny is that Is suspect many of the people mad were people that didn’t give 90’s GI JOE the time of day until it became popular to do so. Same folks be like “I really love the DINO HUNTERS set.” (Because it’s now seen as a “rare exclusive”) Yet, if it were a modern release, they probably wouldn’t buy it on clearance. I’m just hyperboling here. Ha.

    • Ha! I never realized Star Wars had gone that way, though I’m sure some of that is a natural reaction to the hamfisted attempt at diversity the new string of movies has done. It didn’t seem like anyone minded the integration of minorities and women in the Prequel era, but that wasn’t done so artificially.

      Bootlegs and reproductions are one of those things that I don’t get why people lose their minds over. They’re embraced in other forms of entertainment like records and classic cars. Plus G.I. Joe is such a niche hobby, that no one who isn’t a G.I. Joe fan is going to be able to tell that your 1986 Hawk pistol is actually a reproduction part from the mid 2010s, and of the Joe fans, 75% are likely not going to care.

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