Tag Archives: Action Man

Catastrophic Capsule Failure Dooms Astronaut “Major Bob Tom” During “Mercury 10” Mission Commemorating Action Man’s 50th Anniversary

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Lost (From) Space— The whereabouts of the UK’s most famous 1:6 scale astronaut, Major Bob Tom, remain unknown. Did he survive his momentous fall? Can YOU help find him? (Photo: Rob Wisdom)

Final Fate and Location of Organizer’s Vintage Action Man Astronaut Remain Unknown

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Robert Wisdom, Action Man fan and collector (Photo: Robert Wisdom)

Bottom Line: A 1:6 scale “space mission,” designed to lovingly commemorate Action Man’s 50th Anniversary, has ended with mixed—some might say, heartbreaking—results. The goal was to lift a vintage Action Man astronaut figure (strapped securely into a vintage AM space capsule) up, up, UP through the stratosphere with the aid of a helium-filled balloon, and return him safely back down to the Earth (see our earliest coverage of this event HERE).

Designated “Mercury 10” by its organizers, the UK mission was masterfully coordinated by Rob Wisdom and funded primarily through donations raised in a surprisingly successful (10-day!) Kickstarter campaign (see that fundraising page HERE). Thankfully (for the thousands of AM fans around the world who were not able to attend), this mission’s breathtaking ascent, its startling final fate, and the frustrating field search for the intrepid (yet sadly, still missing) “Major Bob Tom,” have all now been preserved and presented in an excellent 25-minute video (see below). Enjoy!

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Identifying Marks— To help you find him, note that Major Bob Tom was bedecked in an original silver space suit with a union jack flag and custom “Mercury 10” patches from Patches of Pride—one was even placed on his helmet for maximum visibility. Also-fricken-TASTIC! (Photo: Rob Wisdom)

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A Perfect Fit— As this closeup reveals, the real cloth “Mercury 10” patches provided by Patches of Pride conform perfectly to the folds and sleeve of a vintage AM space suit. If you find an astronaut in a field in Britain, look for THIS patch. It’s only on the uniform of Major Bob Tom! (Photo: Rob Wisdom)

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G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Announces It Will Sell 50th Anniversary Action Man Figures in the U.S.

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Hit the Slopes! Loaded down with skiing gear and weaponry, this 50th Action Man Ski Patrol soldier looks ready to face any foe. This is just one of six AM commemorative figures available NOW for pre-order at the GIjOE Collector’s Club. (Photo: GIJCC)

In an emailed press release received today from the GIjOE Collector’s Club, members were notified that the UK’s much anticipated 50th Anniversary Action Man (12″) figures will indeed be offered for sale on this side of the Atlantic. However, the club advises fans to begin queuing up sooner rather than later and place their pre-orders NOW at the club’s online store found HERE.

It would also behoove buyers to pay special attention to the specific ordering instructions (and ominous warnings) which are posted alongside each product’s description, stating:

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“PLEASE DO NOT ADD ANY IN-STOCK PRODUCT TO THIS ORDER, ONLY PRE-ORDERED ITEMS. IF IN-STOCK PIECES ARE ADDED, YOUR ORDER WILL BE CANCELLED!! The Action Soldier & Action Footballer will ship together in mid December. The Marine Paratrooper, British Infantryman, Frogman & Army Ski Patrol will ship later around the first part of January. If you place an order for all six figures on the same order, your order WILL NOT SHIP UNTIL JANUARY.” —GIjOE Collector’s Club

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You’ll Get!— While no final packaging photos are yet available, the club’s webstore does offer “carded” pics of all the items that come with each figure. (Photo: GIJCC) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: For many collectors, these figures will look very similar to other GIjOE and AM re-releases we’ve seen in the past, but the unique 50th Anniversary occasion coupled with the increasingly rare opportunities to buy NEW “product” should make for quite a run on these exclusive 12″ figures. Packaging pics aren’t available (yet), but each figure is accompanied by photos of its respective uniform pieces, weapons, gear and equipment. Go, Action Man!

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UK Division of eBay Releases “The Battle of the Red Claw;” a New Commercial Starring 1:6 Scale (Vintage 1960s) British Army Action Man Figure

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Retired From Heroism?— What happens to Action Man when you store him away in the attic? According to this screenshot from a clever new eBay UK commercial, such forgotten heroes don aprons, catch up on ironing, listen to sad songs on the radio and…sip coffee. <sigh> (Photo: eBay UK) Click to enlarge.

In yet another sterling example of a corporation mining the worldwide, nostalgic appeal of vintage 12-inch action figures, eBay’s savvy marketing arm recently released an online commercial touting the “local” use of its UK site (HERE) by “enlisting the service” of Britain’s favorite 1:6 scale soldier—Action Man (AM). Fortunately for all AM fans, the new commercial is actually an extended-length mini-adventure. It unspools at a full 1 minute and 42 seconds long, and features fanciful, expertly executed, stop-motion animation that creatively brings to life the story of a British Army AM soldier who’s now facing an uncertain future—stored away in his owner’s attic.

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The Adventure That Never Was— But could be…if only some child or adult would come along and “create it” in his or her imagination. (Really now kids, would that be so hard? Just put down your dang cellphones and PLAY again!) This screenshot reveals a jigsaw puzzle based on a non-existent “Battle of the Red Claw” AM adventure set. Despite being a fantasy product, AM fans will delight in noting that eBay UK went to the trouble (and expense) to (re)create a box that perfectly emulates the original artwork styles utilized on ’70s AM packaging. Out-STANDING job! (Photo: eBay UK) Click to enlarge.

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Coolest Bad Guy That Never Existed Until eBay Made Him Up— The “Red Claw” as depicted in eBay UK’s new commercial is not a lady in red spandex. Rather, he’s an expertly made, custom Action Man figure with a unique, chrome-domed, scar-eyed, headsculpt and a superbly detailed metal claw for a hand. OUCH! Where do we buy one? Collectors will want to know! (Photo: eBay UK) Click to enlarge.

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Not the Same Red Claw— The only other “Red Claw” we’re aware of is the scarlet tights-wearing femme fatale from the animated Batman TV series. (Art: DawidARTe)

If you’ll recall, Pixar’s Toy Story III told us a similar story, whereupon, after years of happy childhood play, toys are routinely sold off, donated, and/or relegated by their clueless owners (adults) to long-term storage in boxes, basements and attics. EBay’s answer to this sad scenario, is (of course) that Britishers should sell their old toys and collectibles on the “local” UK version of the eBay website. That way, items such as the spot’s forgotten AM figure will easily find new and loving homes, and that their 1:6 scale adventures will continue on, well into the future. Plus, eBay gets a percentage, ‘natch!

Bottom Line: EBay’s latest spot directly targets the growing use of non-fee (i.e. FREE) community-centric “local” sites such as Craigslist UK. Sites such as Craigslist UK continue to take an ever-bigger bite out of eBay’s market dominance (and financial bottom line). The well-established use of GIjOE and/or Action Man figures to promote other companies’ products and services remains a sound business practice—and for Hasbro/Palitoy, thanks to their hefty licensing fees—a very lucrative one. Imagine selling thin air for millions of dollars or pounds. Yeah, it’s like that.

It’s undeniable too, that the combined emotional “heft” of the fond memories held by so many Action Man fans and collectors remains very strong. Common-sense dictates then, that tugging at all of those collective heartstrings (through advertisements such as this one) is bound to open up a fair amount of wallets—or so eBay hopes. Regardless, we know you’ll love this commercial. So…Watch. Rewind. And then watch it again. Go, ACTION MAN!

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Celebrating 50 Years———Action Man’s “Day 7” Will Fill Upshire Village Hall With Fans, April 10, 2016

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Go, ACTION MAN!— It’s been 50 years and counting for fans of Palitoy’s most famous 1:6 scale action figure. Will YOU be at “Day 7?” (Poster Design & Production:  Robert Wisdom) Click to enlarge.

Have you ever dreamed that you could afford to live in both the U.S. and the U.K? If so, you could simply drive over to the Upshire Village Hall tomorrow and attend Action Man Day 7, a UK event determined to honor and celebrate the 50th anniversary of everyone’s favorite 1:6 scale action hero. According to the show’s official Facebook page:

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Palitoy’s Bob Brechin is slated to appear at the Action Man Day 7 show in Upshire. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

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This is the BIG one! Action Man’s introduction to the UK was 50 years ago this year. Come to the biggest and best Action Man Show. Bob Brechin (Action Man designer for Pailtoy) is special guest of honour. Stalls selling vintage Action Man, GI Joe, Geyperman, Action Team, Dragon in Dreams etc. Refreshments available. Entry £2.50 and under 16s free. Special Limited Edition Commemorative Poster available on the day £2. For more information or to book a stall: danthecoat@hotmail.co.uk

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Quaint, Charming, and Filled With Vintage Toys— That’s how you might describe the Upshire Village Hall during Action Man Day 7 in the UK, April 10, 2016. Drool… (Photo: Upshire Village Hall)

Bottom Line: Blimey! There’s a lot of fans in America and elsewhere around the world who wish they could attend this event. Sadly, until someone invents a Star Trek transporter device, we’ll have to content ourselves with wishful thinking, from afar. Have a great time, lads. Go, ACTION MAN!

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It’s So Ugly, It’s GREAT!———John Barton Creates New Dead-Eyed “Zombie” Action Man Sculpture

John Barton's outstanding "Zombie Edition" Action Man sculpture, was (sadly) produced only as a VERY limited-edition—of 1. (Photo: John Barton)

Creepy In-Action Man— John Barton’s outstanding “Zombie-Edition” Action Man sculpture, was (sadly) produced in a VERY limited-edition—(just this ONE). Boooo!!!! (Photo: John Barton)

It’s may seem a tad late for a Halloween-related story, but we felt we HAD to share this particularly “gruesome” art news with you here today, nonetheless. It concerns everyone’s favorite Action Man sculptor, John Barton, of the UK, who had sent in some photos of his latest work back in October (yes, we’ve been busy), hoping that we would share them with the rest of the 1:6 scale collecting world (our belated pleasure, Mr. B!). We were both shocked and delighted by his latest bizarre take on UK’s favorite hero; this time, as a truly one-of-a-kind, “Zombie-Edition” Action Man. After all the laughter and exclamations of praise had subsided in the newsroom, we gathered around the conference table and read Barton’s descriptive letter aloud, revealing the following:

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Artist John Barton (UK) poses with two of his previous creations. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

 

“Further to the Man Of Action sculptures I’d produced earlier in 2015 (for which you very kindly provided coverage), I have produced something even more unique. In the spirit of the ‘witching season,’ I wondered, what would an eagle-eyed, zombie-edition Action Man have looked like? In my eBay listing, I described this piece as mixed-media kitsch, retro-POP; a unique wall-sculpture inspired by the iconic Action Man action figure. Measuring 185mm wide (7¼”)
, 260mm high (10¼”), 
170mm deep (6¾”) it’s almost life-size! 

This piece is a one-off and no others will be made. Hand-cast from resin, with exposed inset skull top, jaw, teeth and cheek bone (where a scar would normally be) with repositionable eyes. The eyes can be adjusted so that they look in any direction. Upturned zombie stare, fixed dead ahead, or cross-eyed – it’s up to you.

The sculpture is hand-painted and includes an internal hanging loop, so it’s ready for display. This is a unique take on what the iconic Action Man Eagle-Eyes head could have looked like if a Zombie-Edition had been produced in the 1970s/80s.” —John Barton, UK

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Take a BITE Outta THIS— The ghoulish green skin color, the missing chunks of flesh, the exposed jaw and teeth, and the discoloration of the hair are all DEAD-ON. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

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Anatomically Correct Action Man— This closeup reveals more details including the detailed teeth, jaw bone and realistic cracking along the skull. Superb! (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: A ghoulishly GREAT masterpiece. Thanks for sharing your latest art project with us, John. It’s good to know that even after he dies, our beloved Action Man will continue to “live on” as one of the Walking Dead! Hey, we know where he can get some free brains… They don’t seem to needing—or using—them over at Hasbro or Palitoy these days. Bwa-ha-HA!!!

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Release Dates For the First (2) 50th Anniversary Action Man Commemorative Figures Confirmed

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Fans of Action Man are celebrating the toy’s 50th Anniversary throughout 2016. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Heads up, Action Man (AM) fans It’s 2016 and your favorite action hero’s 50th Anniversary is finally upon us. As you probably already know, plans are currently underway to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime occasion worldwide. Yes, we remember how Hasbro ignored GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary, but for whatever reason, it has decided to pay homage to Action Man (and his fans) by approving the production of FIVE commemorative 12″ action figures based on vintage Palitoy designs. When asked about definite release dates for the figures, AM’s chief spokesman, Bob Brechin, replied:

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Bob Brechin, former Chief Designer for Action Man at Palitoy (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“One will be released on Father’s Day (June 19th) and the second on Armed Forces Day, (June 25th). The others will follow. One of the figures will be a footballer to celebrate England winning the World Cup in 1966, just in time for the European Championships, I guess. However, these will essentially be for the collectors.”

Bottom Line: Read more about Action Man’s 50th Anniversary plans in an article published recently over in the Leicester Mercury found HERE. Stay tuned for further updates!

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UK Artist’s Love of “Product Design From a Less Cynical Time” Results in Creation of Unique Art

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The “EYES” Have It— These stunning (life-sized) sculptures of a pair of VERY famous faces appear to have begun a “stare-off” at the home of UK artist, John Barton. Their amazing likenesses were hand-crafted and are now being sold to collectors around the world. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

Are you talking LOOKING at me?

Robert De Niro may have been talking to himself in the film, Taxi Driver, but you might be saying something similar to a familiar face—with repositionable eyes—mounted up on the wall of your “Man Cave” or “Joe Room” someday soon. Thanks to UK artist, John Barton, a pair of new 1:1 scale head sculptures (or “busts”) based on the heroic visage of Palitoy’s most famous fighting man are now available for purchase. We contacted Barton and he kindly provided the following intel:

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TJR: Absolutely amazing work, John. We LOVE your new toy-inspired busts!

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“I’ve invested a fair amount of time and effort on these so I’m really grateful to receive such positive feedback.” 

In addition to setting on a shelf or table, Barton's busts are designed to hang or mount up on the wall as shown above. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

Just hanging around— In addition to setting on a shelf or table, Barton’s art busts are designed to hang or mount up on the wall as shown above. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Please tell us about your new “Man of Action” (MoA) sculptures. What initially prompted their creation? What were your inspirations?

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“I’ve always had a keen appreciation for good design and illustration, which is perhaps why I was so drawn to Action Man in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The packaging illustrations by David Barnacle are classics (is there a book available featuring his work?).

My inspirations come from multiple sources: a love of pop art, ephemera, product design from a less cynical time (’70s action figures weren’t ‘ripped’ on protein drinks), classic cinema posters (of which I am also a fan) and my own childhood.

This ultra close-up reveals the quality and craftsmanship of Barton's MoA busts. Just look at those eyes! (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

I SEE YOU— This ultra close-up reveals the quality and craftsmanship of one of Barton’s MoA busts. Just look at the paint-job and those amazing eyes. Outstanding! (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Where else do you draw inspiration for your work?

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“Toy and model shops used to be full of outstanding packaging design. Tamiya produced beautiful product illustrations and graphic design, Airfix box paintings were action-packed (now sadly retouched and sanitized) and of course, Action Man’s boxes. They’ve always set the tone for ADVENTURE!”

YES! The eyes are poseable! You can make your MoA look in any direction. AMAZING. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

YES! The eyes are poseable! MoA can look in any direction. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: How did your work and interest in 1:6 scale action figures come together?

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“I’m a graphic designer. I’ve always loved creating things in three dimensions (as well), so the creation of my ‘Man of Action’ sculptures was bound to happen one day. I’m now what I’d call a ‘professional creative.’ I still turn my hand to graphic design and photography, but my real passion is for art.”

Left, Right or Straight Ahead— The choice is YOURS. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.l

Look Left, Right or Straight Ahead— The choice is YOURS. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: What else should potential buyers know about your MoA sculptures?

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“Each is handmade to order and is intended for display, NOT play. Many hours go into the creation of each piece and no two are the same. It was really important to me that the eyes were positionable. It would have been so much easier to create the mould and castings without eye sockets, and have static eyes, but I’m stubborn and I refused to compromise on this.

The eyes are independently positionable from inside the head allowing each MoA to stare intently in any direction you wish. My initial thought was to engineer an inner ‘eagle eye’ mechanism, and for a one-off this would be fine, but it’s just not replicable in numbers at a sensible cost.

As each piece is made-to-order, every customer is kept fully informed of progress with emails and photos. I may even create other versions and special editions in time. I hold out the vain hope that as a handmade, numbered piece, my MoAs will one day become collectibles in their own rights.”

Your Barton Bust will instantly become the focal point of any room. (Photo: John Barton)

Your “Barton Bust” will instantly become the focal point of any room. (Photo: John Barton)

TJR: What kind of response have you been getting from AM collectors so far?

“I only posted the MoA to a couple of forums for the first time yesterday and I’m really humbled with the positive reception received so far from aficionados. Thank you ALL for your enthusiasm and support!”

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks go out to John Barton for his assistance with this article and our best wishes to him in all of his future endeavours. We know quality work when we see it, and these new busts of his are top-notch—all the way.

Who knows how long he’ll be creating them? For that reason alone, we highly recommend you contact Barton SOON if you’re interested in adding one (or more) to your collection. For complete information on cost, shipping and options, visit his website HERE. These handsome lads would make stunning gifts for any fan who believes that he (or she) already owns “one of everything.” Talk about your “limited-editions.” This is it!

Artist John Barton poses with two of latest creations. Absolutely superb work! (Photo: John Barton)

Artist John Barton poses with two of his creations. Absolutely superb work! (Photo: John Barton)

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Vintage AM Equipment Sets Opened at VAME Meet 5

Imagine the THRILL of being the first persons to open sealed 1970s shipping cartons packed full of NMOC (new mint on card) vintage Action Man Frogman suits. Well, that thrill was realized recently by two of Action Man’s “founding fathers,” Bob Brechin (the former chief designer at Palitoy) and famed Action Man packaging illustrator, David Barnacle.

The two hobby giants appeared together at the recent VAME Meet 5 (held in the UK) to carefully open two of these precious “time capsules” from Action Man’s venerated past. Fortunately, Action Man fans around the world can now share in the thrill of those exciting moments by watching the video captured at the event (see clip above).

We’ve also received a wonderful “after action report” from VAME 5 representative, Michael Acton, who penned the following exclusive intel for readers of The Joe Report. Enjoy!

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Michael Acton, UK Action Man fan and collector (Photo: Michael Acton)

Michael Acton, UK Action Man fan and collector (Photo: Michael Acton)

“Just a postscript to this after the event: VAME Meet 5 really was extraordinary this year and was hectic from start to finish. We were quite taken aback by the numbers of collectors that came and supported the event, so thanks to all, including some that had travelled very long (by UK standards!) distances to make it.

Too many highlights to mention here, but it included a display of Dave Barnacle’s original AM art work by the man himself, Bob Brechin joining us for the day and patiently answering all those questions and Vectis auctioneers bringing along items from the recent sale of newly discovered unopened Palitoy Action Man stock hoarded by a former salesman. The BBC film crew were very unobtrusive and commented on the sheer enthusiasm of the collectors they spoke to.

We had a bit of fun at the end of the day when a couple of trade boxes of AM frogman sets from the 1970s, that were found untouched and still sealed, were opened by Bob Brechin and Dave Barnacle. There’s a video HERE (or see it above).

The suits were as fresh and supple as the day they left the factory and not perished at all (even though the glue had dried on one or two of the cards so that the blister covering had detached from the card). It’s going to be a challenge to beat this for Action Man’s 50th in 2016, but we’ll try!” —Michael Acton, UK

Bottom Line: Sounds like a great time was had by all. And yes, Action Man fans here in the U.S., Australia and elsewhere around the globe are all VERY jealous. Thanks for the regular updates, Michael. Our best wishes to everyone in the UK who helped make VAME 5 such a ripping success!

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Bob Brechin, Chief Designer for Palitoy, Goes “On the Record” to Discuss the Creation and Evolution of Palitoy’s “Action Man” in the UK

Happy Birthday, Son! DVD creator, Tony Roberts, added numerous moments of supplemental material by utilizing adult (and child) models, then dressing them in period clothing with retro hairstyles and having them reenact moments all too familiar to fans of GIjOE and Action Man. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Happy Birthday, Son! For his superb DVD, “The Story of Action Man,” director Tony Roberts filmed numerous retro-recreations, including this realistic sequence of a young boy opening a brand-new Deep Sea Diving equipment set on his birthday. To recreate such nostalgic scenes, Roberts utilized adult and child actors and dressed them in period clothing. Then, during editing, he faded the color and added numerous “old film” special effects to complete the illusion. The final moments were indeed, VERY familiar to fans and collectors of both GIjOE and Action Man. Out-STANDING work, Tony! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

The Story of Action Man has been faithfully recounted on a superb 2013 DVD by Australia's Tony Roberts. (Photo: ebay)

The Story of Action Man was faithfully recounted in a superb 2013 DVD by Australian Tony Roberts. (Photo: ebay)

Exclusive Insights From One of the “Founding Fathers” of Palitoy’s Iconic (UK) Action Man

When Bob Brechin (the former Chief Designer for Palitoy) wrote to us recently to discuss his memories of the history and development of Action Man and his involvement with “The Story of Action Man” DVD (a wonderfully informative film produced by Tony Roberts), we grabbed our reporter’s pads and pencils and stood up at attention. We knew whatever Brechin had to say, it would be coming “straight from the top.”

If you aren’t already aware, Brechin is the UK’s equivalent of America’s iconic toy creator and former top Hasbro executive, Don Levine (now deceased) and is without a doubt, one of the 1:6 scale hobby’s most beloved “Founding Fathers.” To millions of collectors around the world, Bob is especially admired for all the work he did EXPANDING the Action Man line. So many new uniforms, equipment sets and vehicles were introduced during his tenure that it literally boggles the mind. When his email “blinged” into our inbox, we couldn’t wait to read what UK’s toy legend had to say!

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Bob Brechin, former Chief Designer of Palitoy, took time out to write to The Joe Report recently with more of his personal memories and insights into the creation of the iconic Action Man toy line in the UK. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Bob Brechin, former Chief Designer of Palitoy, took time out to write to The Joe Report recently to avail its readers of his personal memories of the evolution of the Action Man toy line. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Here’s what Brechin wrote to The Joe Report:

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“Having just read your feature by Mike talking about  the VAME show on 6th of June and noticing the post he included about the showing of the ‘The Story of Action Man’ (see HERE, ed.) I thought I would follow that up and tell you more about it…

About this time of the year (50 years ago), the management at Palitoy were negotiating with the Hassenfeld Brothers for the license to market in the UK what was controversially called ‘a rugged doll for boys’ by its inventor, Stan Weston. Having seen the success of G.I. Joe in the States, the company saw the potential in the toy and (like the Hassenfeld Brothers), ignored comments such as, ‘boys will not play with a doll.’

Action Man was

Palitoy’s Action Man built on the excellence of early GIjOE products, revising them with a decidedly British twist. Many of the UK-themed figures, sets and vehicles were never offered in the U.S. and are passionately sought after by fans on “both sides of the pond.” (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“So confident was the company (Palitoy), that marketing plans were decided and Toy Fair catalogues were printed before the licence was agreed and signed very late in 1965. The ink had barely dried when the toy was launched at the British Toy Fair the following January. As you are aware, it went on to be an enormous success; collecting The Toy of the Year award in its first year and later being voted The Toy of the Decade in 1980.

Although Action Man was still selling well, in 1984 General Mills decided to cease production because plans were afoot to get out of the toy business. The design and development department was closed down and the following year Palitoy became Kenner Parker and the intentions of the new company was to distribute American developed products only, throughout Europe. The intellectual rights to Action Man were passed over to Hasbro and as we know they resurrected the 12” toy in the late 90’s.”

In this scene from Robert's DVD, Bob Belchin reminisces about the early days of Action Man production at Palitoy. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Remembering When— In this scene from Tony Robert’s DVD, Bob Brechin reminisces about early product concepts and the development of Action Man at Palitoy. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“I joined Palitoy in 1967, a year after the launch, right through until its demise in 1984. Throughout that time, I was the lead designer for Action Man, helping to transform what was essentially G.I. Joe in Palitoy packaging into a British phenomenon. I also led a team that developed the range ‘Action Force’ before we were aware of Hasbro’s intentions to develop the same range of 3 3/4 “ action figures that was to be  a “resurrected” G.I. Joe.

It was later that we introduced some Hasbro product into the Action Force range that saved us from some big tooling investment. Action Force was very popular (after the conceptual repositioning in year 2) and money for new tooling was forthcoming. One of my proudest designs was the ‘Roboskull,’ which  seems to be very popular with the fans in the States.”

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Collect Them All! AM collectors such as Daren Millar (shown here in a screen capture from Tony Robert’s DVD), fill their shelves at home with Action Man. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“After leaving Palitoy, I remained in toy design and development and it was during this period I became aware of the collecting mania that had grown. My first real awareness was when I took my (old) boss Bill Pugh, who conceived the ideas to give Action Man ‘realistic hair’ and ‘gripping hands’ (kung-fu grip to G.I. Joe fans ), to an Action Man collector’s show at the Tank Museum in the south of England.

He was totally amazed with the whole collecting scene as we walked amongst the tanks (many from WWI) and the Action Man displays. Sadly, shortly after our visit he passed away. But I was pleased to be able to show him a glimpse of the love that collectors have for a toy that we were able to play a part in bringing to the nation.”

Details REALLY Do Make the Difference! This super closeup of the Action Man astronaut window box set will make any fan drool with envy and LUST. WOW! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

Details REALLY Do Make the Difference. This closeup of a NMOC vintage Action Man astronaut suit equipment set would make any fan drool with envy. WOWZA! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“Since that immersion into the Action Man collecting community, I have been approached by individuals and groups for my thoughts and to attend meetings as a guest. I was involved in the production of the book ‘Action Man: The Official Dossier’ by Ian Harrison, writing the foreword as a dedication to Bill Pugh.

It was with some interest later, in July 2011, when I received an email from a curator at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnall Green, London, that a collector wanted to talk to me about a film he was making about the history of Action Man. After some thought, I told the curator that this person should contact me. Apparently, he took three days composing his email to get it right because he didn’t want to lose me. (He didn’t.)”

Tony Roberts, director of

Tony Roberts, director of “The Story of Action Man,” poses with some of his personal Action Man collection at home in Perth, Australia. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“Tony Roberts lives in Perth, Australia. He emigrated there from England when he was a young boy. Whilst in England, he was given an Action Man as a present and fell in love with it straight away. Every birthday and Christmas, he had to have something Action Man as a present and little did he know—he was building up his collection!

When his family moved to Australia, Tony’s love for the toy did not wane and his collection grew. When he grew up, he wanted to emulate his hero, so joined the Australian Army. After serving his time, during which he was seriously collecting, he move back to England and joined the British Army.”

With a Face Like THIS— It's easy to understand how millions of young children would be inspired to emulate their real-life heroes. Go, Action Man! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

With a Face Like THIS— It’s easy to understand how millions of young children would be inspired to emulate real-life heroes with really cool action figures. Go, Action Man! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“The London Iranian Embassy Siege, that began on 30th April 1980 and was so dramatically ended by the SAS on 5th May, resulted in Palitoy fast-tracking an Action Man version. It must have also inspired young Tony because later when he was serving with the British Army, he applied for the famous SAS. He was rejected; but Action Man doesn’t give in; so he reapplied and was successful.

After serving with the regiment in the Middle East, Tony took on the role as a security consultant, managing a team that was protecting politicians, industrialists and aid-workers who were part of the operation trying to rebuild Iraq after the conflict. Still collecting Action Man and sending them back home, during this time in Iraq he developed his other love of film-making.”

Now THAT'S a box! The dramatic, bullet-ridden Action Man logo was sure to stir the passions of young Brits, eager for some serious play ACTION! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Now THIS is a box! And that dramatic, bullet-ridden Action Man logo surely stirred the passions and imaginations of many young fans; eager for some serious backyard ACTION! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“Many of his films that were shot from the dashboard of his Humvee received high praise from his colleagues and they would invariably ask for a copy to take with them when their tour of duty ended. When Tony’s own time came, he was unsure of what to do next. Many of his chums were taking up roles on merchant ships protecting them from pirates around the horn of Africa. Tony wanted out; but still unsure of where his life should go.

One day he had a thought. ‘People keep telling me my films are good, they always ask for a copy. That would be an interesting and different career move.’ But he needed a subject. ‘Well, I have this wonderful and almost complete collection of Action Man. The history of the development of the toy would make a great film.’ Bingo!”

Gotten himmel! The photography in Tony Robert's DVD is truly outstanding. By combining closeups with lavious backgrounds, the final effect was quite cinematic. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

Gotten himmel! The photography in Tony Robert’s DVD is truly outstanding. By combining closeups with lavish backgrounds, the final effect is quite cinematic. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“On his return to his home in Perth, he eagerly set to work building dioramas and began shooting. He needed to flesh out the film with face-to-face interviews with some of the people involved in Action Man’s ‘story,’ so yet another return trip was made to England so as to track them (including myself) down.

Tony’s email convinced me with its sincerity and enthusiasm that I should help him with this film. After all, there were plenty of books out there on the subject already, but no definitive story for the screen. So, we spoke on the phone and agreed that he should travel up from his family’s base in the south to Coalville, the old home of Palitoy.”

Don't Forget GIjOE! The original 12-inch action hero also features prominently in the Robert's film. After all, with Hasbro's creation, Action Man may never have existed! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

Don’t Forget GIjOE! America’s original 12-inch “Movable Fighting Man” also features prominently in Tony Robert’s DVD, “The Story of Action Man.” OOHrah! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“In the meantime, I contacted some old ex-colleagues. A room at a local hotel was booked for a couple of days so that Tony could conduct his interviews before he went off to a show to conduct similar interviews with collectors. A few months later, he returned with the first draft of his film.

I arranged with Snibston Discovery Museum (only a stone’s throw from the old Palitoy factory) to show the film there to all those involved, including their friends and family. The attendees were very impressed and thoroughly entertained. From their comments, he returned to Australia and re-edited the film before finally offering it for sale as a DVD from his website.”

Snibston

Set to Close Soon? The Snibston Discovery Museum faces an uncertain future. (Photo: SDM)

“The Snibston Discovery Museum is due for closure at the end of July due to the county council having to make cuts in its budget as a result of the national government’s austerity programme. It is a tragedy that such important places that are guardians of local and national heritage are being closed. 

Coalville, as its name suggests, was a coal mining town that grew from humble beginnings and now has a population well over 30,000. The Snibston museum celebrates this industrial heritage, but also is home for other interesting collections; one of which is the TOYS that were once made at Palitoy!”

bobbrechin

Bob Brechin remains hopeful that things will work out for the Snibston Discovery Museum, but made alternative arrangements at a local theatre for showing Tony Robert’s film. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“My plan WAS to celebrate Action Man’s 50th anniversary at Snibston, so as to promote the toy AND the museum together. But with its closure imminent, an alternative venue was needed. Since the Century Theatre is also part of the Snibston establishment, I have arranged for the Story of Action Man to be screened there, instead. 

The showing will help kick off Action Man’s 50th Anniversary, and enable the people of Coalville to see it—especially those that worked at Palitoy and their family and friends. Collectors and fans are particularly welcome. This is a one-off, non-profit event with a £3 ticket price to cover the use of the theatre.”

Century-Theatre-Front

Action Man on the BIG Screen— What better way to see a film about the creation and evolution of your favorite action figure than on a giant movie screen? Go, Action Man! (Photo: Century Theatre)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and best wishes go out to Bob Brechin for his generous contributions to this article, and to Tony Roberts and all of the other Action Man fans living in the UK, Australia, and elsewhere around the world, as they prepare to celebrate their 1:6 scale hero’s fantastic 50th Anniversary. If you can make the trip to Snibston on July 4th, be sure to attend the film’s showing at the Century Theatre. For complete showtime information, go HERE.

FLASH! THIS JUST IN (6-12-15):

malecomment

“Hi Mark, I just read the feature you included on The Joe Report. The only thing I must take issue with is putting me up on the same pedestal as Don Levine. I don’t think I deserve that. If Don was in the gold medal position he was up there with Bill Pugh. I would have been lower down (silver medal?).

If you want to make your feelings known about the closure of Snibston, the HOME of Palitoy and Action Man toys, please write to Nicholas Rushton, Leader of the Council, Leicestershire County Council, County Hall, Leicester, LE3 8RA.

Keep issuing great stories about G.I. Joe (and Action Man). I will keep you posted on any 50th news!”Regards, Bob Brechin

FLASH! THIS JUST IN (6-13-15):

malecomment

“Hello again Mark, I have reread the article in The Joe Report and you say that the Century Theatre was the alternative for celebrating the 50th anniversary of Action Man. I also reread my email to you and could see how you misunderstood me. Century Theatre is not an alternative for the celebrations.

It was always the intention to show the film in the theatre but follow that up with a 50th anniversary show in the museum next year. The theatre had a reprieve but the closure of the museum is still imminent so hence a need for an alternative for next year.” —Bob Brechin

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Action Man Journeys Into Space in New UK Video

Robert Wisdom, Action Man fan and collector (Photo: Robert Wisdom)

Robert Wisdom, Action Man fan and collector (Photo: Robert Wisdom)

Some GIjOE/Action Man fans are talented—and then there’s the world’s-leading Action Man graphics guru, Robert Wisdom. As you may recall from our previous article profiling Wisdom (HERE), his work is top-drawer all the way and professionally produced. Recently, Wisdom completed a new video short (see above), that reimagines the early days of America’s space race and NASA’s Mercury space capsule missions in particular. The hero of his short is, of course, a vintage ’60s Action Man astronaut, ably supported by a superb ground crew from the same era. Before being released, Robert had written in to describe his new project to us, saying:

malecomment

“I’m going to film him (Action Man) suiting up, getting into launch position, and shooting into space. Then, there’ll be a space-walk and Earth floating in the background. The sound will be actual dialogue from one of the missions and some cool layered music. I’m having to polish his visor somewhat first because of the HD and close-ups. That’s the biggest hurdle so far; would you believe? I’m filming primarily with green screen, and I have some glow-sticks to put in the capsule’s footwell for added authenticity. It won’t be long, but it should be good, taking 2-3 weeks to produce.”
In this superb retro-comic ad "teaser" for his new video, Robert Wisdom recreates the look of an old comic book ad of the 1960s. Excellent work, Robert! (Graphic: Robert Wisdom) Click to enlarge (and print!)

Action Man’s “Mission Mercury”— In this superb “teaser ad” for his new video, Robert Wisdom recreates the look of old comic book ad from the 1960s. (Graphic: Robert Wisdom) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Wisdom’s new video IS excellent in every way and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. Without a doubt, it’s the most visually perfect the GIjOE/Action Man astronaut figure has ever been depicted on-screen. Our sincerest thanks go out to Robert for sharing his new fan video and the supporting “teaser ad” (shown above) with readers of The Joe Report. Go, Action Man! Go, Robert!

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