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Action Man

611 of 1169 nominations


Action Man

Is this an icon?


Action Man

The square-jawed soldier hero may have started life in America as GI Joe, but when Palitoy of Leicestershire launched him in this country in 1966, he became indisputably one of us. Initially, Action Man was not just one figure, but three – one for each of the armed services. Eventually, he branched out into other such action roles as mountain rescue and deep-sea diving.

It was the military Action Man, though, that retained a place in the affections of small boys. With his various accessories such as Land Rovers, armoured cars, tanks, and of course lots of guns, he could be made the star of whatever war was going on in your head when you were 10 years old. ICONS writer Peter Chrisp used to own an Action Man with his own parachute, and spent many a happy hour launching him on aerial missions from his bedroom window.

Relaunched in 1996, Action Man is now more into extreme sports than soldiering, but his iconic status is unchanged. Although he won’t forgive us for saying so, he has earned his place in history not least for being the first ever doll to be marketed at boys.

Photo: Travis Gray


Your comments

Although Action Man was originally an American concept called GI Joe, when sold under licence in the UK, the name Action Man turned this toy into a British icon. Even Prince Charles was nicknamed Action Man after the toy. This is the 40th anniversary year of the launch of Action Man. I was Chief Designer at Palitoy and was responsible for the design of the toy and its various accessories.

bob brechin



I nominate the English weather.