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A To Z Of The Toy Business – A is for Action Man

A To Z Of The Toy Business – A is for Action Man

Action Man is to the European toy market (at least historically speaking) what G.I. Joe is to the U.S. market. Launched way back in 1966, at first the appeal or potential of Action Man was questioned because the prevailing attitude of the time was that boys would not want to play with ‘dolls’. The same thought process applied in the U.S. to G.I. Joe, and in both cases was proven quickly to be erroneous. Boys loved Action Man, for all the reasons we would today recognise – the value of imaginative play & development of how to interact with the world around.

Originally Action Man was a military character, to appeal to generations of children whose parents or grandparents had been through World War 2, during a time when the impact of WW2 in popular culture was at its strongest – this was the era of the epic, all-star WW2 movies.

Hasbro relaunched Action Man in the 1990s and saw big success in the European toy market for around a decade with Action Man being one of the major toy brands in the European market during this period. The themes and clothing were changed during this time, to make Action Man more of an adventurer and extreme sportsman and to reflect the zeitgeist of the time, whereby militaristic toys were no longer approved of by parents.

Eventually the second coming of Action Man faded away, and due to Hasbro’s increasing focus on global product development and launches, it became apparently harder and harder to justify local product development for Europe. At one point in time Hasbro had a centre of design excellence with some of the best creative people in the toy industry at their European HQ in London, but as with all things in the toy business, the world moved on, and Action Man faded from a prime position in toy retail to a fond memory…

…that is until UK company Art & Science International brought to market a range of retro Action Man products under license from Hasbro. You can find those products here:

Rumours occasionally swirl around relating to a full reboot of Action Man, but for now it remains a fond memory of many adults who played with the toys as children themselves, and at least retro Action Man products are now available again!

Our team has worked with and for Hasbro, owner of the Action man brand. We have also Consulted for more than 100 other toy companies. To find out more about our toy & game business Consultancy services, just click here:

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