Manleh (Red Laser’s Army 2018)

 

Manleh

The Argen 7 (Which might actually be a misnomer, but it’s easy to remember, and bugs Mike T. 😛 ) is a fairly famous group of international G.I. Joe figures. They all go for too much money, have straight arms, and are a pain to find, as well! That’s why the 2018 Red Laser’s Army offerings were very anticipated by me, as I was able to obtain some of those figures, in a far more palatable way.

Of the Argentina series 2 exclusives, Manleh is probably the most visually interesting to me, he’s got a blue/yellow colourscheme, and he uses Stalker’s head mold, but he’s now a white dude with a goatee (surprisingly he’s not evil). For what is a fairly common mold, the new take is quite nice, the change made to the Stalker head is welcome, too, as it adds new options. The colours while somewhat bright, make sense in a way, as the original figure came with a Parachute, so it works as a form of camouflage, or something. It’s 2020, and I’m at the point where I don’t care too much about perceived realism, as I’m far more concerned with if it looks decent in photographs.

One thing about the 2018 Red Laser figures, was that they wound up actually using the 1982-83 waist and legs, as opposed to the Steel Brigade/Airborne legs. I never realized how important they were to the look and feel of the 82 torsos. I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t have purchased the 19 figures or whatever it was, if they had been the Airborne legs again.

Still at the end of the day this actually a well done figure, that is such a new take on the 1982 mold, that even though it’s literally just a repainted Stalker, it goes a lot farther than it realistically should. The light blue and yellow also help to separate the dark blue from being too “COBRA”, while also ensuring the figure matches up with figures later on in the line.

Manleh

The thing that I like most about Manleh, is you’ve got a figure that has little to no official backstory or characterization. I’ve never seen his filecard translated, so it’s nice to have a   blank slate character. He and the rest of his Argentinian contemporaries are all too closely linked to be broken up, and I find with the growing number of 1982-1984 style figures, that the Joe team is getting too big for my liking, I see them as members of a an earlier, non-Joe affiliated anti-terrorist team.

They and a few other soldiers were involved mainly in combat with the then top organization, the Red Shadows. Manleh is the leader of this squad, since the Red Shadows, despite being very dangerous, hadn’t been able to tentacle their way into too many regions, a small commando team was deemed to be all that was necessary to deal with them. They were for the most part fairly successful, but the overall ending of the Red Shadows had less to do with this Commando unit, and more with the instability of Baron Ironblood. This less than stellar ending of the whole thing, wound up being a career killer, for the majority of these Commandos, which is why none of them really wound up in any type of role with any of the newer Counter-Terrorist task forces.

What I like about that little story, is it allows me a way to use a bunch of figures I really enjoy, but without having to shoehorn too many new ideas into my already existing universe, which was daydreamed about, with the idea that a lot of these figures wouldn’t ever be ones I’d own. When factory customs allowed these figures to exist, I figured the easiest thing to do, would be to just go earlier in the timeline.

Manleh3

One theory I’ve had on the Argentinian exclusive figures, is that most of them were aborted Hasbro concepts, that were put to use in a different market that wasn’t going to have too much cross over with Americans. They usually fit in with the general feel of ARAH Joe in a way that you don’t quite get with some of the Brazilian or Indian exclusives. Factoring that in with usually Anglo Filenames, and the fact the card-art is a lot stronger than the card art used on the Commandos Em Acao line’s exclusives, helps me build that straw man argument!

Manleh2

I don’t really pay attention to much in the way of online G.I. Joe yammering anymore, though I’m sure people had strong opinions about these figures, especially because they’re somewhat similar to figures released in a South American Country in the 1980s. Personally I’m glad that Red Laser made these. He ensured there were some differences (swivel Arms, inverted colours, mirrored camo), and more importantly put fans in the position to pick up some figures that are frankly very cool, and help make the earliest years of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero be more and more capable of standing out as a whole separate line, similar in a way that the New Sculpts or Modern Eras are viewed as separate entities.

Overall, these figures did do one of the things that I’m always glad to see from Factory Customs, and that’s taking a long standing need for the Joe line, and making it a reality. G.I. Joe has long been a line littered with missed opportunities, poor decision making and Monday Morning Quarterbacking on what could’ve been done. I feel that there would’ve been a lot of that, considering some of the molds that had been available, if these figures didn’t get made. I think in the end there were still some missed opportunities, but a chunk of what needed to be made, has happened, so we’re better off now than where we were in 2006.

Manleh

 

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7 Responses to Manleh (Red Laser’s Army 2018)

  1. Mike T. says:

    In honor of argen seven, I’m now only going to refer to the “Original 14” that includes Major Bludd because, I like Major Bludd and I want him elevated to better status because I happen to have bought a bunch of cheap versions of him. (I blame Aire for the name. But, Gemini Matrix and acmirro popularized it among the forums of the day.)

    I thought Manleh was cool after an Argentine collector pointed out that he’s in the colors of the Argentine flag. I thought that was kind of neat. The Red Laser figure is a little darker, though. I translated his filecard many years ago. But, the only image of it I have now is watermarked and I lost the translation. Might go back and do that again, though..,.

    Manleh is my second favorite of the series after Shimik. Like you, I looked at Manleh being an anti-Red Shadows protagonist who operated heavily in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s. He was heavily loyal to Quarrel, too. I see these early international figures as other teams as the US and the USSR wouldn’t have been the only militaries to have elite units during those days. It will be a shame if we never get an updated Glenda, too.

    If you dig into the history of Argentina during the late ’70’s and early ’80’s, though, it’s far more likely that Manleh would have supported the Red Shadows than been against them….

    • Hahaha! I haven’t thought of a lot of those names in probably 15 years!

      I never noticed that about Manleh and how his colours mimic the Argentine flag, that’s a pretty cool little detail!

      Shimik is indeed the real winner of the second series figures. I’ve always looked at Glenda and Quarrel as being the same person, as I found the Quarrel character a lot better than the “master female helicopter pilot” character Glenda had. This gets the rough and tumble commandos all together. I also totally see them as being a different team than US and Soviets.

      I’ve always been some what amused by the fact that in Argentina which had just gotten out of a US Backed Junta, they were selling actual G.I. Joes there with no attempts to change them for the market!

  2. A-Man says:

    The blue with yellow webgear, very comic book Cobra to me. If Black Major had done these, he’d have a Cobra logo version, a Red Shadows version, a USSR logo version, a Cobra Tiger Force version that makes no sense, etc. (I’m not bashing him.)

    Why leave the Grenade blue? Only Red Laser knows. Poor fellow would be a millionaire now were it not for Chinese factories or something.

    (Deleted paragraph about “bootlegs” vs “real ass 30+ year old pieces of rotting plastic”)

    • The grenade is mainly because the original was left blue, as well. I dunno, on one hand the attempt at accuracy was appreciated by me, but enough other things had been changed that painting some of the details wouldn’t have been sacrilege, either in my opinion.

      Good catch on the similarities to comic book COBRAs.

  3. paint-wipes says:

    It’s a shame Redlaser fell off, that chinese factory shit is real. Several friends that worked for model railroad companies at the time had a lot of headaches related to factory issues. A smaller one that was ambitious with it’s product outright folded. I was REALLY impressed by his EEL themed vipers and the set of releases that included this manleh were cool looking. I always thought his figures were more tactfully done and higher quality than black majors. I don’t have much intrest in a candy cane alley viper or an addicted 2 the rhythm looking ass 85 snake eyes. werent the two customizer jesus freak twins designing figures for him?

    I owned a couple of these back in the day, to be quite honest they were fragile straight arms that couldn’t be used for anything other than saying you had an expensive children’s toy. They stuck around my collection for less than a year. Had they been swivel arm releases they would have been up there with the flying scorpion as far as quality foreign releases go.

    • You called the Chinese Factory shit, pretty early on, too. Getting ganked by that trade war was unfortunate, as while RLA didn’t do perfect things, there was always a few things of interest.

      I totally remember you owning Topson way back when! Your random owning of that figure is up there with some dude buying your 03 MCC without bothering to ask if it was 2003 or 1987.

      • paint-wipes says:

        several months ago i was in a antique mall in st paul and one of the vendors had an MCC, i couldn’t tell if it was an 87’ or 03’. full circle!

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