If you are a toy collector who focuses only on US toy lines, you may have missed out on another great 1/6th figure, Action Man. This line has always been linked with GI Joe since its release in Europe in 1966. The line was licensed by a Palitoy, a European toy company known for redistributing many US toy brands but also for adding innovation. While many of the early sets they sold were mostly the same as the US but with European names, they later released stunning addition sets like “Escape from Colditz Castle and many British SAS sets. It is generally believed that Palitoy created the first figures with flocked heads on a male-targeted figure (Barbie’s long-time boyfriend Ken had flocked hair a few years before.) Palitoy toy is also said to have created the rubbery, gripping hands for their figures which were branded in the US as “Kung Fu Grip.” If you are a vintage Joe collector, check out all the great items Palitoy made under the Action Man brand which outlasted GI Joe not ending until 1984 (which is the last year Action Man was shown on the Palitoy catalog.)
Hasbro reintroduced GI Joe in the 1/6th scale size in 1993, but I believe they tested the water in 1992 with a Duke figure as a special only available at Target. I remember rushing to the store the moment I heard about that.
In 1993, Hasbro relaunched the Action Man brand in Europe using much of the HOF tooling. The European design team created a new head and improved the arm and elbow joints. This body was also used on the 30th Anniversary Commemorative Collection.
In Europe, Action Man had a greater renaissance that GI Joe did. I do not have the exact count, but I would think that with all of the specials and variations, there could be over 1000 variations as the line ran until 2008.
During that time, Action Man had many villains to battle, but the chief villain was Dr. X. Finding all the Dr. X figures is hard since almost everyone is list as “Dr. X” and you have to reference the year to see which is which.
Electronic Dr. X
There are some notable Dr.X figures, but my favorite is Electronic Dr. X. Over the years, the character had been losing body parts flesh by replacing them with a variety of mechanical arms, limbs, brains, and eyes. This version shows his ultimate flesh loss (I’m not quite dead) with only part of one arm and his head still being flesh. The new body is entirely molded in plastic, which is acceptable for robots in my mind, but I wish they had given him fabric pants.
The figure does have a light-up eye, but he can also explode when hit in the right place. The parts are also contained from going everywhere by the molded wires and tubes leading to each piece. This is probably my very favorite Action Man set. The storyline and sci-fi aspects of it are wonderful.
Hasbro Action Man Power Combat with green robot
But what is a supervillain without lots of mindless henchmen – enter the Dr. X robot line. Many variations were made, and I believe they are all noted in this article. The Hasbro Action Man Power Combat which has a green robot was the first I ever saw.
The figures are designed to explode so you can definitely destroy the robot. It was smartly designed with tubes on it so none of the pieces could get lost when blown off. To kill it, you have to snap the robot’s face mask back on, attach a shoulder panel and a shoulder panel. Once assembled, you have to push in a button on their back, which charges the blasting mechanism. In this set, the AM figure has a powerful right punch which can his the robot’s belly panel and then blows all those parts off the Robot and making it look destroyed. When the belly of a Dr. X robot panel is this, the figure blows apart. The face is molded to look like Dr. X, so, in theory, AM thinks it is a Dr. X until he destroys it.
Action Man Dr. X robots (black)
In addition to the Green robot, there were black versions using all the same tooling.
Action Man Dr. X robots (Red)
Later an additional variation was sold in mostly red.
Some of the Dr. Robots came in green.
Action Man Samurai vs. robot Dr. X
There was another set where the robot was mostly silver.
Action Man Toxic Robot
There were even two variations of Toxic Robots molded in a copper color and wielding two sword arms. There was Toxic Robot and Action Man Aqua Camo and Toxic Robot
Action Man Duel Attak
There was a version with only one sword arm that was developed but never shipped. This was a cool set that had a unique fencing theme.
Hasbro Action Man Dr. X robots (blue and red)
In 2008, the last two Dr. X robots were only available in Mexico and not only had new colors but a different mask to blow on.
In my backyard battles, GI Joe has been tasked with destroying these robots many time. If you ever get ahold of any of these gems, make sure to take them out of the package and have a blast with them.
What is your favorite 1/6th scale robot?