This young Sussex lad was just 6 when he made an Action Man inflatable model work by using an electric motor salvaged from his Mum's defunct CD player and  fitting a .99p propeller from the Model Aerodrome in Seaside Road, Eastbourne.  Later, our young experimenter found out how much batteries cost to replace each time he took his boat out for a spin.  Fed up with the expense of replacing batteries for this craft, he decided it would be a good idea to fit a parasol top covered with solar panels to collect free energy.  This lad used 12 cells which he persuaded his Mum and friends to help him wire in series, to generate 9 volts.


A teacher at Hawkes Farm School, Hailsham, East Sussex, told his friend about the pollution from old zinc carbon and alkaline batteries.  Hence, he is now contemplating installing rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries to store solar power when he is not using his boat because they last 500 times longer.  This is so he can play when the Sun is not shining.  This young lad wants to be an astronaut.  His friend is building a Windmill, hoping she can make it generate electricity to sell to the National Grid.  


The lad was awarded a Blue Peter badge for all his efforts.  His other pursuits include trampolining, swimming, and he is presently building a full size working Dalek.



Action Man commando inflatable


 By thunder it works



Total cost of the project came to 2.98.  However, our hero had a bit of help when he came by some 7 year old Maplin solar cells surplus to a Sun measuring experiment, long ago completed.  The build was quite simple: 


1) Remove solar cells from casings to save weight. 

2) Cut a bit of plastic (estate agent or similar) board to size.  

3) Make holes in the board to pass wires through. 

4) Hot glue cells onto board. 

5) Wire cells in series and solder connections.

6) bend a coat-hanger to make the panel supports.  

7) Hot glue motor to Action Man toy.  

8) Drill propeller to fit onto motor shaft. 

9) Fit switch and connect to solar panel. 

10) Wait for the Sun to shine and test - yippee.






 Other related projects: 


Dalek, Rickshaw, Blackcurrant Boat1, Blackcurrant Boat 2, Princess Park, Barbie Doll & Aerosol Boats






Action Man is a plastic doll originally produced and sold in the United Kingdom by Palitoy Ltd of Coalville, Leicestershire from 1966 until 1984. The figure was originally based on the United States G.I. Joe figure (for 1966-1969 production). He was tagged on his lower back "Made In England By Palitoy Under Licence From Hasbro 1964", instead of on his right buttock, as was G.I.Joe. In the early years Action Man competed with the entirely British Tommy Gunn by Pedigree Toys which, despite being generally regarded a higher quality and having more accurate accessories, was ultimately unable to compete with the cheaper, licensed product and was discontinued in 1968. Action Man was then developed with a British military theme from 1970-on, as Palitoy wanted to distinguish their product from the U.S. counterpart. Military styled Action Man made a brief resurgance in the early 1990s but since 1996 Hasbro has used the name without any military theme as a modern adventurer complete with arch-enemy. Hasbro has since licenced in 2006 reproductions of a variety of the original boxed Action Man figures, under the 40th Anniversary "Nostalgic Collection" banner, in a packaging format similar to G.I.Joe's "40th Anniversary" collection.



Developmental History




Palitoy (a British subsidiary of General Mills) licensed a copy of GI Joe from Hasbro, released in the UK in 1966. Initially Action Man, his equipment and accessories were all straight copies of GI Joe, but he developed independently from 1970-on. The range of accessories favoured the British themes, although American outfits and equipment were produced. Palitoy's innovations included the flocked hair, gripping hands, and later "Eagle Eyes" which all crossed over to the GI Joe line. The first Action Man figures were Action Soldier, Action Sailor and Action Pilot. All were available in the four original hair colors: Blonde, Auburn, Brown and Black. They were accompanied by outfits depicting the participants of the Second World War.



Action Max GI Soldier


Original Action Man box 1966



Over the subsequent years, Action Man's outfits and equipment tended to follow military themes, and British units and equipment featured. The non-military was also covered with adventurous elements such as mountain rescue, arctic exploration, and deep sea diving. Among the larger accessories produced for Action Man were versions (not to true 1/6th scale) of the Scorpion tank, Ferret armoured car, the 105 mm Light Gun, Airportable Land Rover.



Small Scale


In the early 1980s, a range of 10 cm (4 inch) versions of Action Man was launched as Action Force. By 1985, Palitoy had stopped making original figures and were repackaging G.I. Joe figures as Action Force. In 1990, the name Action Force was dropped and the toys were sold under their original G.I. Joe name.



New Era


Action Man was relaunched in 1996 by Hasbro. This version of the toy tended away from the more militaristic theme in favour of an "extreme sports" theme, and introduced a fantasy terrorist antagonist in the form of Dr. X. The usual themed toys, stationery and other items have also been marketed.


A computer animated [children's television series], Action Man, and a video game are based on these characters. In most U.S. toy stores, various versions of Action Man toys may usually be found.




It finally came true - a solar powered inflatable.





The original Action Man had a completely moulded painted head,with a livid scar on the cheek registered as a trademark, identical to G.I. Joe. Action Man figures of the seventies tend to have a pinker coloration than G.I.Joe.; the feet are of the smaller original G.I.Joe variety. The first innovation was a form of flocking giving the effect of a short "fuzzy" hairstyle in 1970. With the introduction of the soft fuzz-head, all figures came with blue eyes, unlike the painted heads and G.I.Joe Adventurers, that still had brown eyes in some instances. The Sailor (a very Royal Navy looking type) sported a similarly produced beard. This innovation crossed back over the Altantic and was introduced for GI Joe within the year. Unlike G.I. Joe, ActionMan was truly ubiquitous; he had only one face, regardless of (euro-centric) nationality, unlike G.I.Joe, who had two "Foreign Heads"; one "European", one Japanese.


Gripping hands were the next feature to be introduced in 1973; the hard moulded hands of the original were replaced by rubber. A thimble was provided with each boxed figure to protect the fingers when changing its oufit. The early rubber is prone to breakdown as with the G.I. Joe version, while later hands, introduced with the 1979 muscle body survive the years much better, being still fully flexible after over twenty-five years.


An improved head with "Eagle Eyes" followed later in 1976. A mechanism operated by a simple slide at the back of the head moves the gaze of the eyeballs back and forth - an improvement on the fixed stare of the original albeit at the price of a slightly larger head.


From 1979 the end of the original period of Action Man in 1984, the flesh coloured pelvic area of the body was replaced with a blue section giving the effect of blue underpants rather than the sexless mannequin look; at the same time the body took on a more muscular tone. In 1980, a notch was added to the neck to allow the head to be held back in a "sharpshooter" (Palitoy's marketing description, added to the boxed figures) pose.


In 1977, the official catalogue included four new figures. Three of them were variations on the standard Action Man; a cyborg Atomic Man (influenced by The Six Million Dollar Man), a dark-skinned (African ethnic) Commando Tom Stone, a red and silver superhero Bullet Man, and lastly a brutish Neanderthal look-alike The Intruder, which was a less articulated figure. Atomic Man, was the same mold as G.I.Joe's "Mike Powers", except he had flocked hair and a sliver plastic "Heart Plug" with a black button in its center. "Tom Stone" was a repackaged African-American Action Adventurer, Palitoy never produced any of the ethnic figures in the line themselves.


In 1980 two more figures not based on the Action Man doll were added: Captain Zargon (the Space Pirate) and 'ROM' the Robot. At the same time Action Man gained a new set of equipment under the Space Ranger title. These were futuristic outfits rather than previous space suits which had been based on the equipment of the Gemini and Apollo missions.



Action Man bearded eagle eye toy soldier


agleEye, circa1976 (earring NOT standard!)





Dr. X is a mad scientist who is the arch-enemy of Action Man in its line of toys, introduced in the mid-late 90's.


In the toy-version plot, Dr X is bent on ruling the entire world and is prepared to kill anyone who stands in his way. He has recruited many villains into his army over the past years such as Plague Locust (from PC game), MAXX or 'the man with no name' (1999), Tempest (2001), Anti-freeze (2003), No-face (2004) and Professor Gangrene (1997, 2000, 2002, 2003).


During the battles with Action Man, Dr X has constantly been defeated and humilated. However the evil scientist never seems to give up and each time he comes back to do battle with our hero, he grows stronger. However Action Man always wins the battle and defeats him.


Dr X over the years has also seen new styles. In 1996 he had a Bio-Stomache, in 1997 - a firing arm, in 1998 - A chopper bike, in 1999 - A laughter button, in 2000 - A robotic arm, in 2001 - a Bronze arm and Ball & chain, in 2002 - a firing missile arm, in 2003 - A titanium arm and in 2004 a Dinosaur X.


Dr. X was one of the biggest villains in toy history and has been the enemy of Action Man for the past fourteen or so years. However as time went on, Dr X's influence began to decline so in a final showdown with Action Man, Dr. X was thrown from a high window and clung to the ledge for dear life. Action Man stood over his nemesis as Dr. X pleaded for help. The people voted that this ongoing battle for fourteen years had to end and so Action Man just stood there and cooly watched as Dr. X lost his grip on the ledge and fell to his death.















Artwork by Martin House for the John Storm adventure novel series


A heartwarming adventure: Pirate whalers V Conservationists, 

with an environmental message.

For release as an e-book in 2013 with hopes for a film in 2015 TBA

(graphic design: Martin House)



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