Action Man (1993–2006 toyline)
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|Original work||Original Palitoy toy|
|Comics||Action Man comics|
|Films and television|
X-Missions - the Movie
|Animated series||1995 series|
|Video game(s)||Search for Base X|
|Related franchises||Action Force|
Action Man Is a line of action figures produced by the toy company Hasbro from 1993 to 2006. The line began as a relaunch of the original Palitoy action figure range and eventually grew to become a multimedia franchise consisting of toys, books, video games, two television programs and a comic book published by Panini Comics. The toy line centred around the eponymous 'Action Man', an action hero who continuously fought to foil the evil, world-conquering schemes of his nemesis Dr. X. Toys were also produced of several supporting characters, who were often allies of either Action Man or Dr. X.
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. Branded 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 unknown when these toys will be released.
IDW are currently set to begin publishing a new series of Action Man comic books, simply titled Action Man, in June 2016 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original Palitoy action figure.
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 book, some only briefly. The most notable are listed below.
- Action Man (1993–2006)- The main character and leader of the Action Force.
- Red Wolf (2004–2006)- Action Man's Native American teammate. Two types of action figure were released.
- Flynt (2004–2006) - Australian teammate. Two styles of action figure were released.
Council of Doom
Dr. X is a mad scientist who is the arch-enemy of Action Man within the Action Man canon, 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 years such as MAXX (or 'the man with no name') (1999), Tempest (2001), Asazi (from the 2000 animated series), Anti-Freeze (2003), No-Face (2004) and Professor Gangrene (1997, 2000, 2002, 2003).
Despite being constantly defeated and humiliated by Action Man, the Dr. X never seems to give up. Each time Dr. X returns to do battle, he grows stronger, yet Action Man consistently 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, Action Man: Raid on Island X, Action Man: Jungle Storm (PC, 2000), Operation Extreme (PS/PC,2000) and 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.