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Restoration Guide Part 1: A Hybrid Vintage Action Man

In the first of our restoration guides we’ll focus on cleaning up this sorry looking chap and restoring him to full active duty. This Action Man body is a “hybrid” body type introduced in the 1970s and using the body of a 1960s Action Man and the head and gripping hands of the 1970s “blue pants” Action Man. You can tell it’s a hybrid by the stumpy neck post. Older versions had a longer, tapered, neck post and the “blue pants” action man had a removable neck post.

Action Man restoration project.As you can see the legs are covered in paint and there’s red paint or marker pen all over to simulate blood. The first stage was to carefully chip away as much paint as I could using a scalpel without damaging the underlying body parts. As the paint was fairly thick this was quite easy to do. The next step was a general clean up to remove any dirt and try to shift some of the red pen. I used an old toothbrush and tooth paste (I used Arm and Hammer White and Shine but I think any toothpaste will do although the baking soda in Arm and Hammer may help shift more dirt) and gently scrubbed the whole figure. Rinse and repeat until all the dirt and marks that are going to shift come off. This left a torso that looked like this (click to enlarge):

Action Man body after cleaningAs you can see I’ve shifted most of the dirt and marks and the damage to the torso is clearer to see. There’s a “bullet hole” under the pectoral muscle on the left and several scratches, pin sized holes and scuff marks across the torso and waist. The rest of the body is in reasonably good condition.

Action Man torso damage and scratches

The next step is to fix up the arms. This fellow’s arms were purchased in a job lot on eBay.

Left arm close upI replaced the broken left arm elbow joint with a complete upper left arm. The arms and legs are marked with either L for left or R for right and a number from 1 to 7 depending on the body type the arms are for. These are L7 parts. Using a pair of pliers wrapped in tissue paper to avoid damaging the arm I pulled the broken elbow joint out and pushed the new joint in to place. Once in place I pushed on a new left forearm.

The spare right arm I had needed a bit of cleaning up. I used the same techniques I used for the torso to clean the arm up.

Right arm before cleaning.Right arm after cleaning.

The wrist pegs simply push in to the wrist and click in place. After adding the arms and attaching some gripping hands that were worse for wear our poor solider looked like this:

Action Man hybrid body with arms restoredI believe technically this body type should have a flocked head with painted eyes but I couldn’t get my hands on one so I attached an Eagle Eyes head instead. The head had also been in the wars but was basically sound and only in need of a little re-flocking. A quick scrub with some toothpaste got the marks off his face.

Eagle Eyes head before cleaning

Once dressed the bald spot on his head cannot be seen and Action Man is beginning to look like his old self again.

Dressed for action!

Now to sort out his hands. As the gripping hands were made of rubber they do dry and perish over time and the fingers are usually the first to go and snap off. It is possible to find vintage gripping hands in good condition but I went with some reproduction hands from a 40th Anniversary Action Man (top in the picture below).

New hands, old handsAs you can see the wrist pegs are slightly thicker on the new hands which caused a bit of a problem when trying to fit them to our hybrid figure’s arms.

New wrist peg will not fit!As you can see the new wrist pegs fill not push all the way in to the old wrist socket and I didn’t want to force the peg in and risk cracking the arm. As we had the old wrist pegs however there was an easy solution; put the new hands on the old wrist pegs. The hands were pulled off the new wrists and slid on to the old peg. You could use a little glue to hold them in place but they sit quite well when just pushed on.

New hand, old wrist!Push the newly assembled wrist back on to the arm and Action Man is back in action!

Back In Action!