Action Man action

When it comes to dolls, Barbie is the undisputed queen of the hot-pink castle. No question. And though over her career she’s taken on a lot of roles and occupations she’s still not a toy that boys gravitate to so much. Barbie may have an extensive wardrobe, having been clothed by everyone from Karen Walker to Diane von Furstenberg but I don’t remember a Barbie playset that ever featured hand grenades…or an M3 submachine gun. No way. When you absolutely, positively have to kill every invading army in your backyard, it’s gotta be Action man. Accept no substitute.

Unless of course it’s G.I. Joe, the American the “movable fighting man” upon which the UK version was based. Action Man was launched in Britain in 1966 and author N. G. Taylor acquired his first Action Man toy “Action Soldier” the same year. His book On land, at sea and in the air: Action Man is a lovingly pieced together homage to the British action toy and flicking through its pages you can really see the “bordering on obsessive” love that this avid collector has for his childhood toy.

The thing that gives this book added appeal is that, not only are there lists and pictures of all of Action Man’s uniforms and accessories, but in each case he is posed as he would be if he were real. Mountaineer Action Man leans against a rocky outcrop with his Primus stove. Wetsuit-clad Navy Frogman Set Action Man wields his knife at the water’s edge. Cricketer Action Man takes his stance at the crease, complete with shin-pads and wickets. He’s at least as animated as any of the blokes you’d see in a Farmers catalogue. My personal (and possibly controversial) favourite would have to be Panzer Captain Action Man, because that black outfit is rather chic.

For those with a love of Action Man (or other action figures) the following might interest –

3 thoughts on “Action Man action

  1. bronnypop 20 April 2009 / 6:55 pm

    Never was a Barbie girl myself, leaving all that doll stuff to my sisters, but I do have a rabid fanboy husband at home who models military stuff, wears camouflage undies (!!) and has been known to make vrooming noises while charging round the room holding a small plastic aeroplane. He LOVED this book: Achtung Schweinehund, by Harry Pearson – and it really does sum up the whole ‘men playing with dolls’ thing frighteningly (but entertainingly) well. Go find it. And don’t tell anyone I told you about the undies.

  2. robyn 21 April 2009 / 4:11 pm

    Could I pose my Barbie as though she was really Action Man? Remember about 15 years ago when the Barbie Liberation Organisation swapped the voice boxes of Barbies and G. I. Joes then replaced them on toy shop shelves? Barbie manfully shouted “Attack”, “Vengeance is mine”, and, my personal favourite, “Eat lead, Cobra” while G. I. Joe piped “Let’s go shopping!” Perhaps I could source an Action Man and pose him as if he was Barbie; dressed in his camo gear leaning over the battlements of the pink castle, at the wheel of the pink convertible, standing at the pink stove.

  3. Mo-mo 22 April 2009 / 3:25 pm

    Well Robyn you might be quite interested in this touching moment between Barbie and GI Joe as found on Flickr.

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