Action Man: 1993–2006
Action Man was relaunched in 1993 by Hasbro. The initial releases were the US Hall of Fame figures modelled on the 33⁄4" GI Joe line-up. This was followed by a 30th anniversary edition modelled after the original 1966 release, but using the GI Joe "Hall of Fame" body, that lacked the articulation, possibility, and attention to scale and proportion of the original figure and accessories. A variety of body types were subsequently offered, in different price ranges. None of the newer bodies have the range of articulation or attention to scale of the vintage figures. This version of the toy tended away from the more militaristic theme in favour of an "extreme sports" theme, and introduced a fantasy terrorist antagonist in the form of Dr. X. The usual themed toys, stationery and other items have also been marketed.
The Action Man toy line and comic ended in January 2006 to be replaced by the spin-off TV show and toy line; A.T.O.M. (known in the UK as Action Man: A.T.O.M.). In 2009, Hasbro briefly released a new wave of Action Man toys exclusively to Tesco stores however, the toy line has now ended once again.
New York Comic Convention saw Hasbro release a comic book showing off some upcoming toy lines that Hasbro have been well known for in the past including the new "The Action Man". It is currently un-known when these toys will be released.
As with the original Action Man releases of 1966, the first re-releases of Action Man in the 90s were simply re-packaged Joes; Duke, Cobra Commander, Stalker and Snake Eyes; in boxes that resembled the standard GI Joe HOF blue packaging. Shortly thereafter Hasbro International developed packaging unique to the Action Man line; bright orange coloration, and a new Action Man logo. The 1990s 12" Action Man was closer in construction to the poor quality imitations of the original line; very limited articulation, with equipment not to scale (see illustration below). The hands could not really grasp any of the accessories. These figures were essentially G.I. Joe Hall of Fame bodies with a different set of head moulds, some of which had "fuzzy" hair. Later examples improved on the articulation, depending on the price point. The figures were marked "©Hasbro International 1993" across the buttocks. Some came with blue shorts, reminiscent of the late 70s–80s body. The articulation of neck, waist, arms and legs varied as mentioned. Some, like Tiger Strike (see below) have rubber legs, no waist, elbow or wrist pivot, and a head that only looks left/right. Even the more articulated versions cannot compare to the range of motion offered by their early predecessors; for example, the knee/ankle joints only pivot up/down; they do not rotate, and the waist does not allow for rotate and "lean" to the extent possible with earlier figures. The feet on all body variants are like Barbie; not to scale with the body. Unfortunately, these bodies are also grossly overweight in comparison, and as a result of this and the small feet, they are much more difficult to pose freestanding. The more articulated bodies were also of a harder plastic, rather than the softer vinyl/rubber used for basic figure limbs that were similar to Barbie's "Ken". Basic figures were available in a variety of configurations such as Tiger Strike and Sport Extreme, as well as deluxe sets such as Sky Dive, CrimeBuster and Raid and Roller Extreme. The more expensive sets contained the more articulated figures.
Vehicles, accessory packs, carded items; 1993–2006
A number of vehicles were offered for the 12' figure line, with bold graphics and the signature orange background coloration. Included were the Super Bike, Mission Raft, 4×4 Jeep, Silver Speeder, Racing Car and others. A large quantity of carded accessories/uniform sets were also offered at this time. As with the boxed figures, the first releases were repackaged GI Joe HOF sets, with similar design blue graphics, subsequently replaced with the new orange graphics and new Action Man logo.
30th/40th Anniversary and special editions; 1996–2006
In addition to the three 30th anniversary sets, a number of special edition figures were also released, one of which was the 1996 reproduction football player, in a numbered box. As with others from 1996, this was the extremely limited articulation Hasbro Hall of Fame body, with a flocked hair head sculpt. This item would never have been intended as a toy, but merely a collectable. From 1997 to 2000, Action Man was also released in the uniforms and costumes from six James Bond movies. These included Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World Is Not Enough.
In 2006, after the main toy line had ended, a number of Action Man: 40th Anniversary sets were released.
For a full list of characters please see; List of Action Man characters.
Many different heroes and villains have starred in the toy line, TV series and comic, some only briefly. The most notable are listed below.
- Action Man (1993–2006)- The main character and leader of the Action Force.
- Redwolf (2004–2006)- Action Man's Native American team mate. Two types of action figure were released.
- Flint (2004–2006) - Australian team mate. Two styles of action figure were released.
Council of Doom
Dr. X is a mad scientist who is the arch-enemy of Action Man in its line of toys, introduced in the mid-late 1990s.
In the toy-version plot, Dr X is bent on ruling the entire world and is prepared to kill anyone who stands in his way. He has recruited many villains into his army over the past years such as Plague Locust (from PC game), MAXX (or 'the man with no name') (1999), Tempest (2001), Asazi (Mainframe animated series), Anti-Freeze (2003), No-Face (2004) and Professor Gangrene (1997, 2000, 2002, 2003).
During the battles with Action Man, Dr X has constantly been defeated and humiliated. However, the evil scientist never seems to give up and each time he comes back to do battle, he grows stronger. However, Action Man always wins the battle and defeats him.
Dr X over the years has also seen new styles. In 1994 - a rotary, firing shield; In 1995 - a laser eye & exposed brain; In 1996 he had a bio-stomach (toxic gut), in 1997 - a firing hand; in 1998 - a chopper bike, in 1999 - a laughter button, in 2000 - a robotic arm, in 2001 - a bronze arm and ball & chain, in 2002 - a firing missile arm, in 2003 - a titanium arm In 2004/5 a Komodo Dragon and a whole new body.
There have been several Action Man games released over the years including Action Man: Destruction X and Action Man: Operation Extreme (PS/PC,2000), Action Man: Search for Base X (GBC,2001) as well as movie tie-in game Action Man: Robot Atak (GBA,2004).
Panini Comics published an Action Man comic which ran for 138 issues until 18 January 2006. It was then surpassed by Action Man: A.T.O.M. Comic. Both comics were published every three weeks. After the cancellation of the Action Man TV Series in 2002, the comic was the only source of official story line for Action Man apart from the films. The final editor was Ed Caruana who also edited the A.T.O.M. comic. Panini Comics own the Marvel UK licence and Marvel UK had previously been responsible for the creation of an Action Force comic.
- Action Man
- Action Man: 40th Anniversary
- A.T.O.M, a spin-off of Action Man.
- Action Man (TV series)
- Max Steel
- G.I. Joe
- Playscale Miniaturism
- King, K. (2000) Action Man - the real story 1966–1996 (ISBN 978-0-9538870-0-2)
- Le Vexier, E.; Gavigniaux, H. trans.(2004) Action Joe - The Story of the French GI Joe (ISBN 978-2-915239-21-8)
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- Virtual Toy Chest.
- Geyperman - page on the Hasbro-authorized Spanish version.
- UK based collecting club for 12" dolls.
- AMCC - Action man & 1:6th collecting forum, based in the UK.