Toy manufacturer Hessenfeld Brothers originally launched this 12‐inch (30 cm) tall figure in 1964 in the USA as GI Joe. Following a company takeover by the General Mills Corporation in 1966 it was renamed and marketed under the British Palitoy brand label competing with Pedigree Toys' British combatant launched at the same time, Tommy Gunn. Action Man lived up to his name with highly flexible joints, soft gripping hands (1973), moving eyes (1976), and a radically enhanced physique (1979). Action Man's commitment to combat and militarism attracted considerable criticism in many quarters, a stereotypical male counterpart to the glamour and consumption lifestyle of Barbie and her more fashion‐conscious boyfriend Ken. Like Barbie, Action Man also boasted many guises, from member of the armed forces to astronaut. However, by the mid‐1980s Action Man was finding it increasingly difficult to compete with sophisticated computer games and Star Wars toys and so he was taken off the market in 1984. A series was launched in 1993.
Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.