30 Mar 2014


In the 1960's Action Man dolls were all the rage and the boys answer to Barbie. Originally these toys were dolls which wore the colors and clothes and of real military units. The attention to detail was very high and as time went on you could get an Action Man doll of just about anything. The dolls were super articulated with real hair and some had the awesome eagle eye feature which made the dolls eyes move from left to right when you moved a lever at the back of his head. In America these dolls were known as GI Joes and in 1993 Hasbro released a line of commemorative GI Joe dolls which were pretty sweet. From there Hasbro decided to re launch Action Man and give him a 90's style make over with a new logo and bright orange packaging. I was around 8 or 9 at the time and I had always heard about Action Man from older relatives but had never seen or touched the thing up until this point.

The only thing I had that was anything close to an Action Man doll at the time was this sorry bootleg toy called Mister Action which I got from Romford market. This guy sucked major balls and was a hollow molded doll with a rubber head whose limbs would pop off without warning.

When I saw the new Action Man toys in the spring 1994 Argos book I had found a new world of awesomeness to collect. These new official dolls looked incredible and had the coolest clothes, guns and accessories and were just plain awesome.

These toys were also the last children's toys to have realistic guns and knives included as accessories. Most of the combat equipment included on this toy line were based on the real deal. As the line went on the ideas got more stupid and the themes and accessories became way over exaggerated, just like any other toy line really.

Action Man is quite a mysterious lad as we don't know much about him or his background. We know he is a soldier and we know he as a keen adventurer and that's about all. I am sure they have given him a cool back story now, but when I was a kid, all we knew about the guy was the fact he had a scar on his cheek and didn't get along to well with a man named Dr X.

Dr X was Action Mans arch nemesis who was one of the coolest toys from the series. He was like a pimped up evil version the Steve Austin (the Six Million Dollar Man not Stone Cold) and was a much cooler toy than Action Man which was what made him a great adversary.

OK now that's out of the way lets take a look at the last time Action Man was even mildly cool!


Seeing as I was just talking about how cool he was I thought I would take a look at the Dr X toys first. Dr X was a badass bald guy who had an eye patch and a really long pony tail. He wore a purple spandex jumpsuit which had a cool logo on the front. He had a belt with an X which had a Ruger pistol in the holster. He also had this awesome silver sleeveless over coat for good measure. His hand was robotic and a transparent green color.

This figure is awesome and one of if not my favorite out of the whole line. His shield also shot out a silver disc with an X out and when it fired out it sounded and looked so cool as it glided through the air.

As the line went on more Dr X variations were released and they were all super cool. This one had a real mohawk haircut and he had light up features on the exposed side of his computer brain and left eye when a button on the torso was pressed.

Another cool Dr X toy was the one which had toxic guts. When you turned the figure up side down green ooze can be seen flowing through his digestive system. Why? Because it looks awesome that's why! To be fair even though Dr X is a great villain he is in somewhat of a bad way health wise. He only has one hand, one eye, a computer inside his head and now he has the most extreme case of IBS I have ever seen. Action Man would be better off leaving him to just die in a corner somewhere.


Now on to the "greatest hero of them all" or so they say. Now there are so many action man dolls and accessories to talk about and choose from. To be fair I am only going to write about the ones I had and thought were pretty cool. 

This one was the very first Action Man doll I ever owned and it was a real cool introduction to the line. This toy had an awesome feature which was revealed when put in natural sun light. The toy would magically don camouflage paint when outside. They toy also came with some real camouflage paint also.


I got this one for Christmas one year and this one was pretty awesome. Came dressed in standard marine gear with a few guns and knives. The rifle this figure came with got used quite a lot in this series of toys.


The Scuba Diver Action Man is one of my favorites of all time as I just loved (and still love) the attention to detail in the equipment. I remember taking this with me when I used to go snorkeling in the sea when I was 9 and it was just like a real life scuba diver. The toy came with a really cool spear gun which worked for like a week but when it did work it was awesome. The magnetic explosives were useful all round as they could be attached to anything made of metal.


This one was one of my main Christmas presents in 1994 and I cant remember the exact name for this toy. It was a space man action man which came with a jet pack which had an awesome gun attached and a rail gun which attached to the arm. It also had a sound effect box at the front. I remember really wanting this but at the same time being a bit disappointed when I finally got it. I remember one of my friends little brothers having a really cool astronaut Action Man a few years later which came with a moon buggy which looked awesome. This one was pure gimmick.


The Crimson Warrior Action Man was pure fucking class, a super cool ninja action figure with amazing clothes and accessories. The figure came with a working crossbow as well as lots of cool knives and swords. What was so awesome about this one was the fact that Action Mans body could articulate into so many cool martial arts poses anyway, with this gear on it looked and felt awesome.


So it turns out Action Man likes doing a bit of law enforcement to and this toy is a real gem of the bunch. By this point the franchise had been moving along and evolving quite well. The figures in this series had new improved body molds which went from having rubber arms and legs to having plastic ones with more joints which meant more articulation. This toy came with lots of cool accessories including guns, handcuffs, communication equipment, a baseball hat and a really cool sniffer/attack dog which made sounds.

They also released this pretty cool cop Action Man just before which had some cool accessories including aviator sunglasses, a bullet proof vest and a strange radio glove thing.


This one was one of the cheaper action man dolls which didn't come with much and also had poor articulation. One thing this toy did have was a really cool swimming feature which worked by winding up the arms and  he did actually swim.

This toy was another really cool idea but there was a slight problem, and that being that the figures arms did not articulate. Yes they did move but not in the way a boxers arms would move in order to throw punches or protect himself. The waist did not move either meaning the kicks were limited. They should have just sold the clothing and equipment as an accessory pack instead. The gear does look pretty amazing though.


In the late 90's someone had the brainwave to use Trojan from the UK TV show Gladiators to do the commercials for the upcoming Action Man toys. Not only that but all future action man toys would now be based on his image.

By this time I was at the age where Action Man dolls were being replaced by cigarettes and porn so it didn't really piss me off that Action Man was being given this horrific make over.

Although I had grown out of Action Man at this stage I did still check the Argos catalog (and still do) to see what was going down and I was quite frankly appalled at how bad action man had become since the new Trojan make over. The ideas were running short and after the Dunblane tragedy in which some loser with a handgun killed an entire primary school of children in Scotland, toys with guns were not very popular anymore and haven't really been since. From that point Action Man become less of a trained killer and more of an adventurer type character.



The Action Man 4x4 was my main Christmas present in 1994 and I loved this toy so damn much. It was durable as hell, had a windscreen which popped down, working doors and a monster cannon at the back which rotated and fired plastic rockets. This was the most expensive toy of the range at the time.


The Action Man Mission Raft was another awesome toy which had a real working engine at the back which was cool as fuck. I also took this one on holiday with me as a kid and it was a vital part to my Action Man scuba diving experience.


The street racer was an amazing addition which was released a year or so after the other vehicles were. The Street Racer was everything the 4x4 wasn't! The Street Racer was a much smaller and compact style vehicle and was stylish as hell. The boot opened to reveal rocket launchers as well. Every car needs that right?

That brings us to the end of our look at the Action Man reboot from the mid 1990's. The line went on after the Trojan era with cartoons and video games but I am not sure where Action Man stands today in the current toy market or if he even still exists.

These Action Man toys were absolute class and my only criticism of the brand is the fact that not enough variations of the figures were released. They needed more figures than just Dr X and Action Man. They released a couple more villains at a later point and a black Action Man figure who was a boxer called Krunch but that was it. They could have breathed a lot more life into the product by adding some more characters instead of kids having 10 or so Action Man dolls who all looked the same. I pretended mine were all brothers who had been cloned by Dr X during my play sessions as I thought it was pretty fucked that I had all these dudes that looked the same even down to the scar on their cheek.

Please forgive me if I have missed out your favorite Action Man toy but there are so many to write about and I only chose the ones I actually owned.