2018 Manleh (Red Laser Customs)

2018 Manleh (Red Laser Customs)

In 2018, Red Laser Customs, a very similar entity to the Black Major, made a massive set of 19(?) figures. Among a plethora of Spy Troops characters and original creations, there were remakes of the famous “Argen7” figures with swivel-arm sculpts. The downside was that this set was a logistics nightmare, and is the reason why Red Laser Customs is no longer a thing, as I understand it.

International Joes are a weird thing to me, as on one hand, seeing the curious and unique way our favorite toy line emerged all over the world adds a lot of interest to collecting. On the other hand though, most of what makes them interesting is limited to that one novel aspect, and in some ways it’s questionable why you’d even want them. The original Manleh from Argentina is a cool figure, but costing around $1000, you really can’t do much besides look at the thing on a shelf. It’s too precious to handle, and even then, most of the appeal is just in how exotic the figure is. Once that’s taken away, the figure just becomes an oddball recolor.

I realized this earlier with the underwhelming feeling I got from Joecon figures that were often times international homages. “Remaking” things like the Funskool Dreadnoks in ‘04 or even the 25th-era repaints like the TNT homage they made, doesn’t really have the same appeal as owning something old and esoteric from a foreign country. And although RLC’s Manleh is a much better recreation than those figures, my initial reaction to owning this toy was “I own a Manleh!” followed by “What the hell do I do with Manleh?”. Really, I enjoy owning this figure much more than I would the real thing, but the experience seems to highlight to me how overrated foreign figures are at a certain point.

These gripes aside, Manleh really has an incredibly eye-catching color scheme. Blue and yellow are colors that compliment each other really well. The tones make him look unlike much of anything you’d have seen Hasbro make in the 80‘s, though the camouflage ties him back in with classic figures well enough to overcome that. The tone of the colors is darker, which appears to be a faithful recreation of a darker Manleh variant I’ve seen floating around, which is in contrast to a noticeably lighter colored figure. That, or those dark ones are just discolored, and this toy’s colors were based those discolored examples.

The quality is good on this figure. A major problem with the way these figures were sold is that you had to buy them in a large set. This was a terrible mistake, but also one that made the entire package seem a lot worse to me than it really was. Most of the figures have really solid joints and good tolerances that make them easier to pose than other bootlegs I’ve handled, but for a while I didn’t really notice that since I got a handful of figures with duplicate limbs and similar problems. When you buy so many figures at once, that sort of thing is bound to happen, but it still lowers the overall experience. Worst thing I can say about Manleh is that his gun fits really loosely in his hand, but that itself is a lot better than having a grip too tight to hold anything.

For accessories, he just included the M-32 Pulverizer, the same gun from V1 Stalker. The original Manleh included a Snake Eyes Uzi and a parachute, but I’m not too bothered by that, since there’s plenty of Uzis to go around, and parachutes suck. I will say though, while it looks decent with a few classics, the Pulverizer is probably one of my least favorite guns from the swivel-neck era.

Despite the fact that this figure honestly offers more than the Argentina figure it’s based on, it’s current worth is really around $40 more or less. I say that without much to go on, as you don’t find these for sale very often any more. The other RLC Argen7 remakes only go for about that much though, sometimes a little less, so it’s fair to say Manleh’s not worth more than that. Because it’s a bootleg, there’s a much lower price-cap on it since it’s not a “real” GI Joe, and thus has no value to a completionist.

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2018 Manleh (Red Laser Customs) Links:

Attica Gazette

Forgotten Figures: Rarities – Plastirama 2nd Series Figures

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2 Responses to 2018 Manleh (Red Laser Customs)

  1. Mike T. says:

    The big thing about Manleh was that he is in Argentina’s national color of blue with a bit of yellow for the Sol de Mayo. If his character had incorporated his nationalistic reasoning for wearing those colors, he’d be a bit more interesting.

    RLA not offering singles and using so many resellers did make it tough to buy his stuff. And, often the figure bundles that were offered on Ebay featured too many duds to make them worthwhile. I still don’t have a machine gun Cobra Trooper for this reason.

    Still, I miss him and his offerings. The 2019 set didn’t look great. But, it had some winning figures in it and, more figures are always better than less.

    It’s weird, though, how the factory customs market has changed. Early BM figures didn’t really hold their value and were designed for army building and priced accordingly. You could find them for years, often for less than original cost. Now, though, they dry up quickly and go to aftermarket resellers who get 3 to 5 times the original pricing and at least BM figures seem to have their own collector base.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I bought this set and the Red Laser was an absolute jerk to me. Maybe one of the reasons he’s out of business. I do miss Action1982, he told me that him and BM had a major (pun not intended) falling out.

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