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"BLOOD FOR THE BARON!!!"
It's been twenty-five years since that battle-cry first leapt from the pages of Battle Picture Weekly and it still makes me smile. Twenty-five years since my friend Roger Wade and I used to combine our Action Force collections and let battle commence. We used to choose our surviving figures and then lay the rest to waste. In the midst of this miniature carnage Roger's dad used to burst into the room and cry "Blood for the Baron!!! Blood for the Baron!!!" and the run out again. A quarter of a century on, and it feels like yesterday to me. I still feel the thrill when I read the comic adventures, I still get excited wieh I receive a parcel, I still beam with pride when I line my figures up on parade. Sure, I'm a grumpy miserable bugger a lot of the time with plenty of vices and bad habits, but my love for these toys has not aged, they still bring me as much joy as they ever did as a child.
It was 2003 when I found Action Force Online AKA http://www.actionforce.org and the Action Force collecting community. I had stumbled across an earlier incarnation of the Space Force site two years previously, at the sma time that I discovered http://www.ebay.com and the treasures within. I remember my first auction very clearly, it was a Space Force Cosmic Cruiser - the only Action Force vehicle that I hadn't been able to find as a child! I remember plaguing the old lady selling the toy with questions about the aeriels and it was in my hunt for a reference picture that I found Steve Bacon. Steve was the owner and creater of Action Force Online and was more than happy to help me in my Cosmic Cruiser quest. I won the auction and over the following months found all of the missing Action Force figures and Battle Action Force comics from my childhood collection too!
So when, in 2003, I joined the online community, I did so wanting to give something back. As soon as I saw the request for help with the comic archive I leapt at the chance. I think I started at the beginning and did not stop until the work was completed three months later! I recall how heartening the encouragement and support I received from the forum members was at the time. Another aspet to my thinking was a strong desire to help the then-struggling 2000AD comic. The ties between Battle and 2000AD are deep-rooted and so I hoped that if I could bring a generation of American fans over to English comics that 2000AD would be able to continue. Luckily, http://www.rebellion.co.uk rescued 2000AD before I had the chance, but I would have done it! And so I had the makings of my website. All I needed was a name. The answer was obvious:
And then, in February 2006, it all fell apart. The Action Force Online forum was hacked and the entire site was taken offline. To my eternal relief the GI Joe community stepped up. Thanks to the forums at http://www.yojoe.com, http://www.devilsdue.net, http://www.gijoe.nl, http://www.smelcer.net, http://www.adctalk.com, http://www.rocuniverse.com, http://www.joecustoms.com, http://www.joesightings.com and at http://www.joebattlelines.com we were able to keep our bereft community together. Eventually I offered to take the reins from Steve and BFTB inherited the Action Force Online toy archive and forum.
Over it's six-year history BFTB has mutated into a monster. The site has grown from a simple comic archive to include a complete toy archive, a vibrant, friendly forum and an impressive array of custom-made figures and vehicles. We have the International Colouring Project and we have the Touring Muton... What used to be a handful of visitors each month is now two thousand strong, and that number is steadily rising. The site has gone from strength to strength and I can hardly wait to see how it develops over the next six years!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Steve Bacon, Mark Bedingfield, Moose Harris, Imbie, Martin McCanney, Jamar MIller, Clemens Scholl, Chad Smelcer and Dave Tree for helping to make the whole thing possible. I would also like to thank the friends I have made at the forum and to once again show my appreciation to our extended family in the GI Joe communities worldwide. Last of all, I would like to send my best to Roger Wade in Iraq.
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