Thursday, April 9, 2009

BBC News article on Role of Action Figures

Discovered this interesting article(April 3, 2009) by Howard Johnson entitled, "Harmless toy or recruiting sergeant?"  

For a new reader that is getting into collecting Hasbros' G.I. Joe (classic 12" size action figures), in the United Kingsom, G.I. Joe was known as Action Man

The article actually is broken 50/50 between supporting the military and then turning around and stating that it will somehow cause these fragile minds of mush to go on a killing spree.  Read the two following quotes from that article.  First quote somes from Squadron Leader Stuart Balfour.  "[It's] an ideal opportunity to raise public awareness of the armed forces and what the personnel do day-by-day.  We fell by children playing with these toys, it promotes things like discipline, sense of belonging to a wider organisation and team work."

The the other quote comes from a Louise Rimmer, of the International Action Network on Small Arms. Ms. Rimmer was trying to project the fear of a growing gun crime.  That not everyone was comfortable with the idea of military toys or action figures.  "The problem is they contribute to the idea that guns are normal in our society, and also that they are glamorous and desirable instead of being lethal machines that are designed to kill human beings."

Ms. Rimmer went on, "So if you encourage a child to experience guns in this way, you are storing up problems for later when the child is an adolescent, and may well encounter a real firearm.  In which case the consequences can de devastating."

Let me interjection my own bias into this now.  That is where parents come into the mix.  And I will also add that 'playing' with actual toys is better than just having the kidos sit in front of a X-Box four hours a day - excersing with their thumbs and fingers only.

But Mr. Johnson went into that part as well (i.e. the game consoles).  He interviewed some kids and a 9-year old Samuel told him, 'You can have games like these on the Nintendo Wii.  You'd play with these toys once, then put them aside and forget aobut them.  I've got a really old one that used to be my dad's.  

"It's like these, but they've got loads of clothes and you can change them.  If I had nothing to do I would play with them."

Releases of new toys along with reproductions of original offerings coincides with a growing interest in the original Action Man.  Orignal mint figures fetch big bucks such as a mint condition Judo Action Man, in its box, can sell for up to 5,000 British Pounds Sterling (or $7,331.78 in US Dollars).

Bob Brechin, the chief designer of the original Action Man between 1967 and 1988, says the prices are being driven up by nostalgia.  "The people collecting them used to have Action Men 30 or 40 years ago.  They are tyring to relive their childhood in a way.  They've been collecting them, looking in lofts and in shops, looking for the ones they didn't get when they were a child."  

For several years now, Cotswold Collectibles ( in the United States has been offering Action Man figures for years now.

Howard Johnson concludes his article with a quote from managing director John Diver.  "We're making camouflage netting, night vision goggles and metal detectors to give an adventure for a child outdoors, as well as making the action figures to replicate the boys in the forces."

All one has to do for further research is check out some of my links in the hobby links section of this blog.  I'm going to be doing my own research as to how I can get that out of scale Harrier Jump Jet and add it to my own collection!

UPDATE (April 11, 2009):  I put out a request to my fellow action figure collector friends (especially the Flash Force membership) and they came through with some information that I will post here.  Wonderlandmodels.com has the new, 10" Action Man figures all listed and priced.  At the rate of current conversion, the Harrier selling for 50 Pounds would be about $75.00 on average here in the United States.  Add in shipping, the price will of course go up.  Release date for these smaller Action Man series plus vehicles is May 5, 2009.

Ref. BBC News, April 3, 2009.  Article by Howard Johnson "Harmless toy or recruiting sergeant?" (

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