UK Trio crosses Atlantic to Attend Joelanta 2012

Three dedicated Action Man fans from the UK attended the recent Joelanta Show in Atlanta. From the left- Gareth Pippen, father Barry Pippen and friend Alan Dawson.

Three dedicated Action Man fans from the UK attended the recent Joelanta Show in Atlanta. From the left- Gareth Pippen, father Barry Pippen and friend Alan Dawson. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

What’s 4,218 Miles Between Friends?

Apparently, it wasn’t enough to keep three determined Brits from attending Joelanta this year. The “Intrepid Trio” of lifelong Action Man collectors and dealers, Alan Dawson, his friend (or “mate”) Barry Pippen and Barry’s son, Gareth Pippen, flew in “just for a bit of a holiday” as Alan put it, bringing along a large inventory of vintage Action Man figures, gear and vehicles to sell to lucky buyers “over here in the States.” 

Of course, shipping such a large amount of merchandise would have been cost prohibitive, so they decided instead to stuff everything into their own personal checked baggage and then cross their fingers at security and customs. Alan said there were no problems on the way over and that they planned on doing the same thing for the return trip.

This highway patrolman borrows some familiar pieces from GIjOE such as the helmet and boots, but the rest is largely unique to the UK. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As it turned out, their trip was a pretty smart business move, undoubtedly increasing public awareness of Action Man and their overseas toy businesses. That’s all good, as interest in UK’s Action Man toy line is clearly growing among collectors here in the U.S. This is largely due to recent reproductions offered by Cotswold and the fact that most of the line has never been offered stateside before. To American eyes, those Action Man foreign uniforms and equipment sets appear almost “exotic” and are becoming highly prized.

Indeed, entire books have been written about this “exotic” foreign version of GijOE. TV commercials advertising the UK line were produced and released exclusively for the overseas European market, never to be seen by fans in the U.S. Upon discovering all of the cool items in the Action Man line, a U.S. collector begins to realize that there’s a “whole other world” of collecting possibilities out there and suddenly begins scanning regularly for the latest offerings.

Large events like Joelanta 2012 dwarf similar events in the UK, proving irresistible to overseas dealers.
(Photo: Mark Otnes)

During the day, Alan said he works for “a company that buys gold” and in his off hours, it’s all Action Man, all the time! A big fan of the toys since childhood, Alan’s collection grew so large that he began traveling to shows to offer up some of his “extras” as a dealer. “Shows in the UK are much smaller than they are here in the States,” he said. So for that reason, Alan has made three previous trips to the U.S., attending the 1998, 1999 and 2000 GIjOE national conventions. He is also “the original creator and instigator of the first-ever Parachute Drop” at a GIjOE show. According to Alan…

“Back in 1998, we were sitting at the bar there in the hotel lobby, having a few pints (drinks), looking up at the atrium high above us. Throwing some paratroopers off of the top level seemed like a good idea at the time. Fortunately, it was then very late, near about 2AM in the morning, so there was nobody standing about and I thought I’d just give it a go. Well, the rest is history!”

Pippens Toys is a good ol’ fashioned “brick-n-mortar” toy store located in Glasgow, Scotland. Drop in and say “Hi” to Gareth! (Photo: Pippens Toys)

Alan’s good friends, Barry Pippen and his son Gareth, actually run their own separate toy store businesses back in the UK, both under the same name, Pippens Toys. Gareth’s is up in Scotland while his father’s is in England. It was great to meet these fellow fans and dealers from “across the pond.” If you’re ever in the UK, you’ll know who to visit. Just say, “I’d like to meet “The UK Trio!”


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