During the 1980’s, the one and only true doll for boys was Action Man (or G.I. Joe in the US, which was the American version). Somehow calling it a doll doesn’t quite seem right, but I’m not sure what other words you could use to describe it other than “action figure”, but this always conjures up images of Star Wars toys in my mind.
Action Man was a real man. Made of hard sculpted plastic bulging with muscles, most will remember Action Man best for his fuzzy crew cut hair and his gripping hands, which enabled him to hold all kinds of guns, rifles and other armaments. If you were really lucky you would have been given the ultimate version, the Eagle Eye edition, which had a little switch on the back of the head that made the eyes dart back and forth. Amazing how such a simple change made the Eagle Eye version so much more desirable, isn’t it!
The standard Action Man was dressed as a typical army soldier in khaki uniform and giant black boots, but other versions that were available included a diver, a sailor and a tank commander. You could also turn your own Action Man into any of these and more since it was also possible to buy different uniforms and weapons for him separately. Towards the mid 1980’s, when the Action Man I know and love was phased out, there was even a Space Ranger action man dressed like an astronaut, in an attempt to combat Star Wars fever. Unfortunately this didn’t prove enough and the Action Man doll was phased out to be replaced by Action Force, a series of smaller poseable action figures.
Action Man also had a number of vehicles at his disposable, including Jeeps, helicopters and tanks. I was lucky enough to get a tank for Christmas one year, which was brilliant as it seemed massive to me, and my Action Man could sit in the turret and pretend to shoot seven shades out of my sisters Sindy dolls house. It was all pretend though, as the tank didn’t fire shells of any kind, not like todays toys with their little plastic missiles which get lost under the sofa ten minutes after the toy has been unwrapped.
Action Man was reintroduced in the mid 1990’s, although he has suffered from political correctness somewhat. Gone are the realistic guns, rifles and tanks, replaced with more futuristic ray gun style weapons and a number of strange enemy dolls including Dr. X and Professor Gangrene. Never mind, if you want to check out the best Action Man stuff then look no further than the Action Man HQ website, which is packed full of history and pictures of all the toys.