By Bill Underwood
“In 1993, Hasbro re-launched Palitoy’s Action Man (AM) brand (the UK version of GI Joe) with a new body design that featured less articulation than the original figures from the vintage 1960s-70s era. Not surprisingly, many vintage 12” collectors were unimpressed by AM’s new heavily muscled body, oversized head and undersized feet. But kids seemed to like him and (those shortcomings aside) AM “soldiered on” nicely until 2006 – when the line was finally discontinued (again).
One of the more interesting chapters in this resurrected AM story was a limited-edition run of six James Bond AM figures inspired by the blockbuster films, including Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, GoldenEye, The World is Not Enough, and Tomorrow Never Dies. Each figure set features an Action Man suited up as 007 from one of the films—and Hasbro did a pretty decent job recreating the outfits.”
“My favorite is Bond’s Royal Navy (Blue # 1) dress uniform from You Only Live Twice. For the record, Commander Bond also donned this uniform for The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies. Hasbro also recreated some of the gear from these films—like Bond’s spear gun from Thunderball and the GoldenEye apparatus from the Pierce Brosnan film. The most impressive all-around set (for both outfit and gear) is The Spy Who Loved Me, with its near-perfect recreation of 007’s snow ski suit (and gear) from the film’s exciting opening sequence.” (see below)
“The strongest feature of these sets is the packaging – which is simply OUTSTANDING. Each box features beautiful original art work with extras goodies inside, like scene storyboard cards and 35mm film cells taken from the movie. My greatest ‘complaint’ with these sets is the size of Bond’s Walther PPK. It’s just too big. Even for AM’s already meaty mitts. Fortunately, two of the Pierce Brosnan sets feature a different Walther model that fits more comfortably in his hands.”
“I understand that these sets weren’t highly coveted by vintage Action Man (VAM) collectors, and that’s a shame, because they’re really quite cool. Yes, we also know that in recent years, other companies have produced more impressive 1:6 Bond-inspired action figures (i.e. Sideshow and Big Chief); but while those sets are ultra-realistic, they’re also ultra-pricey. I have a warm spot for these AM Bonds by Hasbro. Maybe it’s the hybrid aspect that appeals to me—in that they’re not exclusively Action Man—or Bond. They’re both. Then again, maybe I just can’t resist anything that combines two of my favorite hobbies—collecting AM figures and watching Bond films!”
“If you’re interested in picking up any of these bad boys (and who isn’t?), I would recommend lurking on eBay. Prices there have generally ranged from $35 to $60. One caveat though—if you purchase the Thunderball set (shown above and below) make sure that the rubber skindiving jacket is intact—BEFORE finalizing your purchase. The first set I picked up looked fine from the front, but (sadly) it was deteriorating in the back. Good luck AM and Bond fans—and Happy Hunting!” —Bill Underwood
Bottom Line: What FUN stuff. We’re big fans of Action Man and James Bond, so these figures are right up our collecting alley. Our sincerest thanks go out to Bill Underwood for all of his generous and wonderful help compiling the material for this article. You are the MAN, Bill! —The Editor