Wednesday 29 November 2023

Action Force Space Force Bob Olley Iron Claw Squats.

In 1982 until mid 1980s in the UK, there was range of toy action figures produced by Palitoy which were based loosely on the Action Man toy. At first the range was generic 20th Century historical based, but  little later they produced toys based on five different factions. These were produced until the later 1980s when Palitoy replaced the range with at first a more Americanised range, and then the American GI Joe range.

The factions were 'Z Force', which were a green camo NATO army style, with a passing resemblance to the UK forces of the time which had been involved in the Falklands War only a couple of years earlier and so were in peoples minds; the 'SAS', which were black and grey in colour (this was only a few years after the Iranian Embassy siege), with similar looking sculpted figures to Z Force; 'Q Force', which were sea/aquatic based force (in a tasteful mix of yellow, red and blue!); 'Space Force', which were, well, space based; and finally the Red Shadows' who were the bad guys.

Now all this is very interesting and nostalgic, but what has this to do with the 1980s Iron Claw range of Squats? Well I have been collecting a Rogue Trader era Squat army (based on the 1989 list) composed of solely the Iron Claw range on and off for a number of years, and I had been looking a suitable paint scheme. The original scheme in the Iron Claw adverts was a mix a green, brown, and camo, which was ok, but not inspiring. I have experimented with several camo greens and browns, and even with some tartan. I also tried ice world white, a slightly chaotic red (I have now started a different red Chaos Squat army), grey, and desert khaki. All of these didn't quite work, and ended up in the paint stripping Dettol.

Anyway, I was thinking about the 1980s and remembered my old Action Force figures and thought it might be a good idea to investigate. I discounted the Z Force as another camo green scheme, and it didn't seem right to have an SAS based Squat army. The Red Shadows didn't seem to fit either, and again, returning to a red scheme I had already tried. Q Force looked really interesting, but I couldn't stop giggling at the thought semi aquatic soggy Squats trying to swim with stubby little legs and water logged beards! So Space Force it was.

I like the schemes colours, and it's fun to paint. From the action figures themselves there are several schemes within the whole look depending on the figures roles. Some had blue boots, orange limbs, grey torsos, whilst others had reverse limb torso colours. I opted for the blue boots, orange limbs, grey torsos of the Space Force Security figure (numbers 27 and 28 in the poster below), with some of the Hearth Guard with the pilot scheme (number 26) of orange boots, orange torso, grey limbs, and the Warlord in the Commander scheme (number 25) or grey torso and legs, white arms, and a orange hat and belt). As I started  painting I have mixed up a few of the colours, but kept to the overall grey, orange, blue, and light orange/yellow. For the weapons I have mostly painted them blue, although I have added little different colours to some of the special and heavy weapons, but I have avoided any camo green so as to keep them looking more sci fi looking, and less gritty and 'real life'.

Overall, I wanted to give the Squat army a very bright, retro sci fi look. Some of the sculpts have a slightly camp sci fi look about them, almost a mix of 1930 Flash Gordon and 1950/60s pulp sci fi feel. I had the idea that they are perhaps a culture with roots and styling in what the Imperium considers the Dark Age of Technology, but was hinted at in the Rogue Trader era as a lovely Sci fi future which did eventually go wrong. With that idea I also considered that they might be more open minded to (some) aliens, and so I decided to included some of the Iron Claw Pirate range in the army. I wanted to paint and use these for something and thought that added them here and there would add a little quirk. I am  not too sure perhaps how the Inquisition would view this, but maybe this army is pre Imperial contact, or too far away to be in trouble?

Here are the first few which I have painted and photographed. I have painted a lot more which I will be photographing soon. I have five Brotherhoods of Squats, each consisting of one Warlord, four Hearth Guards, and three combat squads of eight Squats. In addition I have three Squats I an using a Living Ancestor. I have already painted two complete Brotherhoods, and I an halfway through the third.

Enjoy :)

Action Force release post, 1984.
There were a lot more in the range, and I still have an original poster, as well as some Space Force figures, somewhere!
Space Force.
Space Force Squats.
Orange limbs, grey body/helmets, blue boots/gloves/weapons/equipment. 
Rear view.
Second Squad, painted in the same way, but with an added alien.
Ooglorg the Cruel.
I kept to the same colour scheme as the Squats, but as I painted the skin blue (as in the release advert), I opted to paint the gun gold to give that sci fi feel. I have painted Ooglorg the Cruel as a Star Trek Andorian as the sculpt has horns which easily be antennae instead.
I will probably consider the gun a Multi Laser. Many of Bob Olleys sculpting concerning guns requires a little guess work.
More Squats, this time a squad leader with a hand flamer, and Squat with an auto gun. They are an example of how I have painted different gun a different colour, but within the overall colour scheme.
Warlord and Hearth Guard.
He has been painted within the Commander paint scheme.
Vaal the Asharian.
Again another Iron Claw Space Pirate.
Rear view.
Melta Gun and Plasma gun.
I have kept the overall gun colour for these blue, although adding that 40k plasma look for the plasma gun.
Like hand flamers I decided to paint the flamer red just to mix up the colours a little.

Next update will be more Squats (with added Pirates!).


  1. This is a piece of genius from the beginning to the end. The translation of the concept and the interpretation on the minis is enormously epic. What a work!

    1. Thank you, that's very kind of you to say. I wanted to find the right idea and colour scheme for the Iron Claw Squats for years and glad that you think I have found it. I am pleased with the idea and how they look, and they are surprisingly fun to paint.

  2. Great scheme for your Squats Lee, the colours transition well from the old action figures to your Squats, I vaguely remember the action figures, but never had any, was too busy with my Star Wars collection ! LOL

    1. Thank you Dave.
      It's an interesting set of colours to use and I am quite pleased with how they have translated to across.
      I had a mix of these and Star Wars figures when I was a child so could play with so I could switch between playing different things if I wanted. I still have a soft spot for the old Action Force figures and was surprised anyone remembered them as I assumed they had been eclipsed by Star Wars figures at the time, and the GI Joe range later on.