Action Man

Action Man, German Stormtrooper, Palitoy, Hong Kong 1977-1980

Action Man started life in 1964 in the USA where he was known as GI Joe. He was a revolutionary toy at the time, since dolls for boys had never been popular before. He arrived in the UK two years later and was given the new name Action Man, inspired by the TV series Danger Man which ran from 1960 to 1961 and starred John Drake. Action Man went on to be so popular that he was UK Toy of the Year in 1966 and UK Toy of the Decade in 1980.

He started off as a military style doll, aimed at boys. He came with army, navy and air force accessories, complete with a scar on his right cheek. In the 1970s a range of vehicles and accessories including a tank, helicopter, jeep and motor cycle were developed for him and new versions of the doll were released, such as a sportsman, an adventurer and a Space Ranger.

In 1984 the Palitoy Company stopped making Action Man but in 1993 he reappeared under new management. The Hasbro Company has developed Action Man into a 21st century superhero character, known as ‘the greatest hero of them all’ who fights against arch enemy Dr X.




Shop online...

Patrick Rylands Cool Cat

The V&A online shop stocks a distinctive and refreshingly different range for children, big and little, then and now, including toys, games, books and accessories.


Tel: +44 (0)20 8983 5200 | V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA