“Wild” Bill Underwood, GIjOE and Action Man fan and collector (Photo courtesy: Bill Underwood)
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.”
007s Out-of-the-Box Lineup— All six of the Action Man 007 figures proudly protect the fireplace mantle in Bill’s home from dastardly super-villains. Hot stuff! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
“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)
He Must Ski to Live— In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond struggles to evade a passel of pursuing bad guys by out-skiing them down a treacherous mountain slope. Look at the fit, the color and the coordinated details of this outfit. We’d buy this RIGHT NOW! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
“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.”
The Right Gun for any Odd-Job— Fans of 007 know that Bond prefers certain weapons over others, so it’s important to nail those details. We DIG this headsculpt! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
“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!”
Mind-Blowing Boxes— Many GIjOE and AM collectors would love to pick up these 007 sets just for their unique and outstanding packaging. This superb one from Thunderball combines vintage ’60s artwork from the original movie poster (and soundtrack album) with all-new artwork from the ’90s, and it does it flawlessly. GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
“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
Rubber Suit Awareness— Look out for dreaded “rubber rot” when picking up one of the Thunderball figure sets on eBay. This suit looks fine from the front, but… (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Movie Minutiae— Back panels of the boxes are crammed with movie trivia regarding each of the six sets, souvenir film clips, scene and figure pics, etc. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Box Me Up, Baby! This box gets our blood burnin’ for Bond! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
The skiing Bond figure out of the box and all set up. WOW! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Bond’s a Bad-A**!— And this Goldeneye box deserves a Gold medal for package design. And look— Hasbro added a GIjOE/Action Man scar to his cheek! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Lead will FLY— Tomorrow Never Dies was just one big shoot-out. Notice how in the artwork, Bond’s tuxedo is MUCH more form-fitting than its AM toy-version? We suggest you get out your needle and thread and get to work. Baggy jackets are NOT allowed. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Dressed to Impress (and to KILL)— Regardless of how he’s dressed, 007 is always ready to mete out justice to his enemies. Yes, by 2018 we’ve seen better suits, but this tuxedo is actually pretty nice and can always be “tailored” to improve its fit and appearance. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Nyet! Window Boxes are NOT Better, Comrade— Some of the AM Bond’s packages were relegated to less-collectible, standard window boxes that featured far less artwork and thus had far less shelf appeal. The unique Russian blue uniform on this Action Man has OODLES of customization potential, but this set’s plastic window box is boring and “toss-able.” (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Da!— The Russian-uniformed Bond inside the window-box package. Check out the highly detailed star patch and ID cards. VERY nice. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Bill’s Favorite Bond Figure— is the one from You Only Live Twice where 007 is dressed in his Royal Navy uniform as “Commander Bond.” Out-STANDING! Where else are you going to find a RN dress cap with all that detail? Sadly, Hasbro went with a window-box for this figure, cramming all the cool artwork off to the sides, making the package less exciting overall. But—the cap, uniform and figure, all make this unique set a definite “keeper” for your AM/Bond collection. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Welcome aboard, Commander Bond— This closeup of the AM Bond figure in his Royal Navy dress uniform and cap looks VERY cool. That cap is an EXCELLENT miniature replica of the real thing (note the crown above the anchor). A few minor tailoring adjustments to his uniform and this figure will soon be ready for a full-dress inspection. All hands on deck! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Open Wide, Mr. Bond— Another (big) advantage to full-box packaging is that its front flap opens up to provide MORE opportunities to display supporting graphics and text re: the figure and its contents. And that background behind the figure looks like a miniature diorama. VERY nice. Now THIS is the way to display a figure, NMIB. Be sure to click this pic for a closeup! (Photo: 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
Bottom Line: When all hope seems to be lost, a forlorn Action Man jumps on his vintage motorcycle and rides off on a search to discover exactly WHY he and his mates appear to have been “abandoned.” Thankfully, instead of finding answers of misery, he discovers HOPE—hope that UK Action Man fans are not ready to give up on their indomitable childhood hero. Quite the contrary. This wonderful video contains a superb storyline, professional stop-action animation and surprisingly convincing voice characterizations from UK’s Rob Charles. Out-STANDING. Enjoy!
In yet another superb “sighting” of GIjOE and Action Man in the “mainstream media,” UK’s “MoneySuperMarket” website has just aired a brand-new TV commercial for its business—starring—the many and varied heroes of the vintage Action Man toy line-up. There’s even a ’60s Barbie “Action Girl” thrown in for good measure. According to an article over on the Campaign website:
“The latest ad in MoneySuperMarket.com’s epic campaign stars Action Man. The Hasbro action figure is so overcome by his savings from Moneysupermarket that he rallies the troops to dance in the desert, even stripping down to his blue underpants. The ad is set to ‘90s classic ‘Finally’ by CeCe Peniston. It was created by Mother, the brand’s outgoing agency – and the joyful creativity of the spot makes it even more bittersweet that the two are parting ways.”
Jazz Hands!— Instead of a “Kung-Fu Grip,” this Action Man soldier shows viewers what his computer-animated “jazz hands” can do, while striking a pose on the main contents page of the UK “MoneySuperMarket” website. Out-STANDING! (Photo: MSM) Click to enlarge.
“I’ll put you right through, sir!”—Characters from the TV commercial also appear throughout the MoneySuperMarket website, such as British Barbie (shown above) fielding incoming messages from prospective customers. Blimey, how great is THIS? (Photo: MSM) Click to enlarge.
Bottom Line: This new commercial is without a doubt the most advanced combination of stop-motion and computer animation since GIjOE’s last appearance in a superb (2016) TV commercial for Subaru (see HERE). Who knew Action Man was so good at dance choreography? It’s time to get out some of your figures and “Pump up the JAMS!” Enjoy!
A pair of new TV commercials currently airing ONLY on Brazilian television screens are bound to make GIjOE, Action Man, Geyperman and Falcon collectors elsewhere around the world turn absolutely GREEN with envy. The two spots in question continue Brazilian toymaker Estrela’s current “celebration” of Falcon’s 40th Anniversary, and promote its three new commemorative action figures including: a skydiver, jungle explorer and turbo copter pilot. Both commercials feature top-notch photography, pacing, music and graphics. It’s safe to say most 1:6 fans haven’t seen TV promos this good in a LONG time. They clearly celebrate nostalgia and bring back the high levels of EXCITEMENT and ADVENTURE that GIjOE and Falcon fans of all ages have come to expect.
Bottom Line: The quality of these new TV commercials and the action figures they represent, are EXCELLENT. It’s a shame Hasbro has completely relinquished this sort of endeavor to other companies. <sigh> Yes, the figure’s prices are fairly high (approximately $68+ s/h apiece), but for such rare sets, they’re really not that unreasonable. Fortunately, each of the 3 Falcon figures shown in these new promos are available directly from Estrela HERE and should also be available to fans worldwide from such respected action figure webstores as Cotswold Collectibles (HERE). Expect prices to vary from dealer to dealer due to mark-ups. Depending on WHERE and WHOM you buy from, some of the figures may also have to be back-ordered, but in the world of action figure collecting, patience—is a virtue. Happy Hunting!
Playing with Action Man was never like this (thankfully!)
We recently came across a VERY powerful Action Man (AM) television commercial parody video. It was created by the advocacy group, Veterans for Peace UK,(VFPUK) and first aired (on the internet, natch’) back in 2015. But before you watch it(!), you should be aware that its content is somewhat startling, even bordering on adult-content. Yes, its creators clearly WANT children to see this video, but we think you should exercise due caution (see graphic freeze-frame image above) depending on your little ones’ ages and sensitivities.
The video contains three separate commercials. Each focuses on a different (and imaginary) Action Man figure play set. The three spots may feature fake products, but the heart-breaking scenarios depicted are all too possible, graphic and (regrettably)—realistic. The first introduces viewers to a psychologically damaged and emotionally traumatized “P.T.S.D. Action Man.” Rather than utilizing AM’s traditional “Eagle Eyes,” this sad fellow possesses instead, a “thousand yard stare,” and comes equipped with booze, drugs, and even a noose—to hang himself with.
The second spot features “Paralysed Action Man” in his wheel chair, wearing a hospital gown and carrying around his 1:6 scale colostomy bag (oh, what fun). The third spot, rather than “playing around” with any other physical or mental conditions, simply jumps straight to death, presenting viewers with a bombed-n-bloody corpse figure appropriately named, “Dead Action Man.” Don’t expect much “action” out of this (in)Action Man, as he is already completely, utterly and 100%—DEAD. The commercial gamely shows that you can zip him up in a body bag and bury him (with full honors, of course) out in your backyard. But after that…<well, sigh>
If you still didn’t get the message—War is Hell—and this Action Man parody drives that point home exceedingly well with its stories of these three tragic heroes. And, as AM television commercial parodies go, this is undeniably an excellent one in terms of its production. Each spot is superbly acted, staged, photographed, edited, narrated, scored and directed. Each perfectly recreates the elusive “vintage video look” of a 1970s original. Our sincerest congratulations to ALL of the master 1:6 scale customizers and diorama builders involved in its production. Simply AMAZING work!
Superb 1:6 custom packaging—surrounds three tragic and depressing 1:6 scale custom Action Man figures. No, you can’t go out to a local toy store and buy these sets. But then again, why would you want to? Despite the quality of their execution, they’re just too sad to own (or ARE they?). (Custom figure sets and photo: Darren Cullen) Click to enlarge.
Bottom Line: The creators of this video clearly hope it will generate strong reactions among viewers, thereby aiding them in their cause. But will it? Military recruitment remains (sadly) a necessary endeavour for all free nations (freedom ISN’T free), but at what AGE should an individual be allowed to enter their country’s military? VFPUK’s website is urging UK citizens to write into their local MPs concerning this matter, and request that they raise the minimum enlistment age from 16 to 18. It will be interesting to see whether or not their Action Man parody video has any effect in making that change happen. Stay tuned, AM fans!
Three Cheers for Palitoy! Former employees of the beloved UK toy company raise a rousing “Hip, hip, hooray!” at the site of their former business, whilst receiving the Leicestershire County Council’s honorific of “green plaque” commemorative status. (Photo: Leicestershire County Council) Click to enlarge.
Our good buddy, Bob Brechin, wrote in to us again today to share another tidbit of good news from that “old country across the pond.” Bob was clearly (and rightly so) bursting with pride, as he told us all about the recent Leicestershire County Council’s (LCC) decision to commemorate the site of the original Palitoy toy factory building, known to millions of fans around the world, as the “birthplace” and former home of —you guessed it—Action Man! According to the LCC website:
“A former factory in Leicestershire which created popular children’s toys such as Action Man, Tiny Tears dolls and Star Wars figures was honoured with a green plaque. On Thursday, 2 November, the plaque was installed at the Coalville Business Park, in Jackson Street, Coalville, where the toy factory once stood. The company manufactured some of the most popular toys in Britain from 1937 to 1985 – before it ceased trading. Palitoy not only helped to stoke children’s imaginations with its classic toys and figures it also helped to put Coalville on the map.”
“Two Bobs” for Action Man! These two talented gentlemen have every reason in the world to be proud of Palitoy’s newly acquired “green plaque” status, and of their own individual accomplishments as well! From left we have Bob Brechin, former chief toy designer, and on the right, Bob Simpson, the company’s former managing director. (Photo: LCC) Click to enlarge.
It’s obvious to fans living here in the U.S. (and elsewhere around the globe), that local UK community support (and thanks) for the men and women who helped bring Action Man and other great toys “to life” remains very strong. And while those lucky few in attendance at Palitoy’s recent green plaque ceremony may now largely be members of the “silver-haired set,” it’s good to know that their children and grandchildren will be able to look up at that plaque and remember all the wonderful toys created there (by their loved ones) for many generations to come.
Pam Posnett, Leicestershire County Council (Photo: LCC)
“It is fantastic to see that 80 years on, there is still HUGE support from the people of Leicestershire.” —Pam Posnett, LCC Cabinet Member for Green Plaques
It should be no surprise then too, that Bob Brechin, ever the promotor of all things Palitoy and Action Man, was the man originally behind all of the efforts required for gaining the beloved Palitoy company its esteemed honor of “green plaque” status. According to Brechin:
“It is 80 years since Palitoy toys were first made in Coalville and I thought the famous toy company should be celebrated with a green plaque at this special time.” —Bob Brechin
Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and congratulations go out to Bob Brechin for his heads-up intel on this story, and to the wonderfully generous Leicestershire County Council for their excellent photos, and to all of the other past employees of Palitoy. You’ve all done so much—to bring so much joy—to so many people. Go, Action Man! And… Hip, hip, HOORAY for Palitoy!
Geronimo! This new 2017 stamp from the UK Royal Mail commemorates vintage toys, specifically the 1960s Action Man “Red Devil” paratrooper figure. (Image: UK Royal Mail)
HOT OFF THE WIRES: According to an article posted today over on the Sun.co.uk:
“The series of ten toys – all made in the UK – will be released on August 22. They are available to buy from 7,000 post offices across the UK and on the Royal Mail website.
Royal Mail spokesman Philip Parker said ahead of the launch:
“British toymakers enjoyed a reputation for quality and innovation. These nostalgic stamps celebrate 10 wonderful toys that have endured through the decades.”
Characters in the set feature the nation’s favourite toys from the past 100 years. These include Sindy dolls, which were launched in Britain in 1963, and Action Man, which first appeared on the market in 1966. The iconic Red Devil Action Man figure will feature in the stamps.
Which of these vintage toys do YOU remember? (Photo: UK Royal Mail)
The Royal Mail website is offering a selection of products ranging from £4.50 to £29.99. Sets available include postcards, just the stamp set and and a framed version. Some enthusiasts can pick up a Classic Toys Edenbridge First Day Cover for £8.22 , which is personalised with the recipient’s name and address and cancelled with a Toys Hill, Edenbridge postmark. There’s also an Edinburgh First Day Cover – but both are only available until August 22.”
Holy, Ephemera! Sometimes, the brochures and “press packs” that accompany the release of new postage stamps can be more exciting to own than the stamps themselves. (Photo: UK Royal Mail)
Return to Sender? NO WAY! These “First Day of Issue” envelopes feature all 10 vintage toy stamps and will ROCK your ephemera and philatelic collections’ world. Crikey! (Photo: UK Royal Mail)
Action Man’s Been Framed! Perhaps the most displayable and desirable collectible of this set would be the 10 FRAMED stamps. Yes, they’ll mail them to you already professionally matted and framed. All you have to do is hang them up—and ENJOY! (Photo: UK Royal Mail)
Bottom Line: These are tiny but VERY desirable collectibles for all fans of GIjOE and Action Man. Fans in the U.S. and elsewhere may have to order their stamps online, but that’s a no-brainer in this day and age. Simply go HERE now, mate. Go, ACTION MAN!
Bottom Line: How did this great event sneak up on us again this year? Oh well, fans in the U.S. will either have to catch the next Concorde SST flight (that ain’t happening again anytime soon) or simply wait until next year. Regardless, our best wishes go out to all of our AM friends and fans living in the UK. Have a great time, mates! And… GO, ACTION MAN!!!
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
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!
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)
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)
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:
“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
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!