It’s safe to say that the 50th Anniversary Action Man line is dead. The remnants of the budget line are on clearance in the few stores they actually appeared in and Artists & Scientists have made no effort to follow up the budget line with the long-promised Collector’s Range that was promised in August 2018.
So here we are 2 years later and the only “public” look we got at the range was teased at a licensing fair last May on Twitter.
This photo shows the budget range and their “deluxe” editions as well as what looks like an updated RNLI outfit, a new version of the 1960s Action Man Explorer, a Coldstream Guard and a new look pilot. The “eagle eyed” amongst you may also notice a new, articulated body on some of the figures. The articulated body is actually the “Generation 3” body from the World Peacekeepers range and it’s no surprise A&S went down this route as the body on the Basic and Deluxe figures looks to be the “Generation 1” body and some of the accessories in the Deluxe sets were also lifted from the World Peacekeepers range.
So another cost saving measure by A&S. Not a good sign for a premium Collectors Range! The Collectors Range would probably have retailed at around the £50 mark yet World Peacekeepers 12 inch figures cost £14.99 retail with a ton of accessories.
So what Action Man figures were planned?
We’ve been given access to a document sent to retailers in 2018 outlining A&S’ plans for Action Man. Whilst there are some similarities to the figures shown at Distoy there are also some big differences!
Firstly the plan was for a limited edition Coldstream Guards Action Man figure as seen at Distoy. This figure would have been exclusive to Hamley’s and online retailers.
To complement this would be a Coldstream Guards Officer figure in similar window box packaging to the second wave of the 50th Anniversary Range. This figure would not be limited to online and Hamley’s.
The Coldstream Guards Officer was to have a ceremonial sword and waist sash instead of a rifle and it looks like there would not be a hat included.
Next was a planned modern day RAF pilot outfit, also in window box packaging. It looks like this outfit was changed by the time the Distoy show happened in to a red outfit. Possibly a Red Arrows pilot with some sort of g-suit?
So we can see that between August 2018, when the document we have shown was created, and the Distoy trade show in May 2019, the plans had changed considerably.
Why were these Action Man sets never produced?
We can only guess at the reasons at this point. Perhaps Hamley’s didn’t sign on for the Coldtream Guard figure and the whole deal fell apart like a house of cards? Perhaps it was poor sales of the budget range (unsurprising given the quality of the figure). Perhaps Hasbro objected to the use of another toy company’s parts being used in it’s (licensed) products?
Either way it’s a shame to see that some exciting outfits were planned which never saw the light of day. Which sets would you have bought (if any)?