MoD launches own 'Action Man' range of toys to boost profile of Armed Forces


Blackleaf
#1
Britain's Ministry of Defence has launched its own range of Action Man-style toys aimed at capturing the imagination of a new generation of children and increasing the profile of the Armed Forces.

The dolls are dressed in the exact uniforms worn by Britain's soldiers, sailors and airmen, and each boasts extraordinary attention to detail.

Replica tanks, RAF Harrier jets and remote control Royal Navy assault hovercraft will also be launched along with the dolls on 8th May, VE Day.

He's back: MoD launches own 'Action Man' range of toys to boost profile of Armed Forces


By Matthew Hickley
14th January 2009
Daily Mail



It was a staple of every British boy's toy collection for decades - an Action Man soldier with replica gun and, if one were lucky, gripping rubber hands and swivelling 'eagle eyes'.

But with the once much-loved Action Man range long since vanished from the nation's toy shops, the Ministry of Defence is launching its own range of similar toys to fill the void, brought bang up to date and modelled on the Armed Forces of 2009.

Senior commanders who gave their blessing to the project are hoping that the highly-detailed figures will capture the imagination of a new generation of children and help boost the profile of the hard-pressed Armed Forces.


Armed and ready: The new Action Man-style figures issued by the MoD wear replicas of real British uniforms (left-right: Royal Marine; infantry soldier; RAF pilot)

Sold under the 'HM Armed Forces' brand name, the range of 10in figures - along with replica tanks, RAF Harrier jets and remote control Royal Navy assault hovercraft - will be launched on May 8, to coincide with VE Day.

The new figures may not feature the old Action Man's famous 'fuzzy hair', but they boast an extraordinary attention to detail.

The new infantry soldier figure wears exact miniatures of the desert camouflage combat clothing, boots, body armour, SA-80A2 assault rifle and Personal Role Radio sported by British troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The designers have even included the standard-issue goggles on his kevlar ballistic protection helmet.

The Royal Marine figure wears a miniature green Commando beret over an authentically steely gaze, while the RAF jet pilot carries a service pistol issued for survival behind enemy lines, a 'bone dome' flying helmet with oxygen mask and white leather flying gloves.

The range has been designed and marketed by the Character Group toy firm, under a licensing deal which will see a share of the profits returned to the MoD.


The much-loved Action Man range, long since vanished from the nation's toy shops

The hand-carved prototype doll of GI Joe which was made in 1963 by designer Don Levine. The Action Man sold in Britain was a simple copy of the U.S. doll


According to the company the new range 'promises to fill the significant void in the action figure market in recent years caused by the lack of authentic military-inspired toys'.

Officials were quick to stress, however, that the 'HM Armed Forces' range has no connection with the original Action Man.

The Action Man range, made in the UK by Palitoy under licence from Hasbro, appeared in 1966 and was discontinued in 1984. Later incarnations moved away from the original concept of realistic miniatures in favour of fantasy figures, bearing no relation to the real military.

Character Group produces a wide range branded merchandise including Dr Who, High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Scooby Doo and Peppa Pig, but bosses have high hopes for the HM Armed Forces project, describing it as their 'biggest launch planned to date'.

Full details of the range remain secret, and it is unclear whether the figures will include female servicemen or women to appeal to young girls.

The toy venture represents the UK military's latest foray into the commercial world, after the cash-strapped RAF last year launched a range of branded products including bikinis, duvet covers, sunglasses and watches.

MOD insiders insisted the toy project was intended more to raise the Forces' profile than to give a desperately-needed boost to the Forces' coffers at a time of severe financial crisis.

An MOD spokesman said: 'We are rightly proud to be celebrating our Armed Forces through the production of these new action figures.

'These toys showcase our people and equipment and this commercial recognition proves the high level support for our forces among the British public.'

But one serving Army officer told the Mail: 'How realistic will they be?

Perhaps each soldier will come complete with a wife giving him ear-ache because his unit's off to Afghanistan for the third time?

'Actually, the figures do look pretty good. I might buy one for my little boy.'

ACTION MAN HISTORY TIMELINE

1964 - GI Joe action figures introduced in U.S. by toy firm Hasbro, generating huge sales.

1966 - Action Man launched in UK by Palitoy - a simple copy of GI Joe produced under licence.

1968 - Action Man sportsman range launched, including footballer and cricketer.
Talking military commander Action Man issues spoken commands when string in back is pulled.

1970 - Palitoy develops distinct figures for UK market, initially with British / German World War II uniforms. Distinctive fuzzy 'flock hair' introduced, along with beards.

1973 - Gripping rubber hands appear - a major improvement as earlier figures could barely hold weapons. Each figure sold with special thimble to protect delicate rubber fingers during dressing and undressing.

Famous accessories include Scorpion tank, jeep, helicopter, motorbike and sidecar, inflatable boat with electric motor.

1976 - Eagle Eyes make first appearance. Small switch in back of head allows Action Man to glance left and right in faintly sinister style.

1979 - Built-in blue underpants introduced, finally concealing Action Man's puzzlingly gender-free nether regions.

New 'sharpshooter head position' allows more realistic fighting poses.

1980 - New direction, as 'Captain Zargon the Space Pirate' and 'ROM the Robot' introduced. They fail to halt sales slump.

1984 - Action Man is discontinued.

1996 - New range of fantasy-style Action Man appears, with no connection to real military.

2006 - Production of familiar figures ceased. Action Man brand name is currently attached to Hasbro's 'ATOM' range - smaller plastic fantasy figures, with no visible sign of Action Man pedigree.

dailymail.co.uk
 
DurkaDurka
#2
What a waste of money.
 

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