Period: Flock Head
Cat No: 34152
Originally launched in 1974, the Action Man Escape from Colditz Set was part of a range built upon the success of a BBC TV series about Colditz Castle during World War II. The Escape from Colditz box set included the uniforms of the Escape Officer and a German Sentry - basically a paired down German Stormtrooper, along with detailed Colditz accessories, including a self- assembly German cardboard sentry box with barrier, and forged escape papers. It was an exceptional piece to own as a child and fired the imagination. The set did not contain any figures. There are some early boxes with the (also separately available) German Camp Kommandant listed and included in favour of the more common German Sentry. A sticker was later applied over this wording, progressing to the more common printed box seen below. Miniature forged currency is thought to have been included only in early boxes. The 16 page illustrated booklet was written by Major P. R. Reid for Palitoy, himself a famous escapee, and author of books describing his time at Oflag IV-C (Colditz Castle) and also being the inspiration for the film 'The Colditz Story'. Major Reid also devised a very popular board game by Gibson Games and licensed to Parker Brothers at the time named 'Escape from Colditz' with similar colourisation to the box art and two items were shared with this game. It was to later have the increasingly contentious Swastika removed from the lid and cards.
ESCAPE FROM COLDITZ SET:
Escape Officer: Wool hat, cap, greatcoat, scarf, trousers, boots, Identity tag, compass, torch, mug, rope, self assembly card suitcase, Attache case (with wooden stock, Luger pistol, barrel, transmitter and mic and instructions inside), red first aid box, map tube.
German Sentry Uniform: Helmet, tunic, trousers, jackboots, belt with ammo pouches, luger, holster, Schmeisser machine gun.
Accessories and paperwork: Prisoners' Red Cross parcel box, cardboard sentry box and barrier and instructions, card directional signs, card suitcase and assembly instructions, escape map (of wider locality), forged documents card sheet, forged currency (thought early versions only), Colditz information booklet, star card, Equipment Manual.
The Action Man 'Escape from Colditz' Escape Officer was equipped with a green attaché case was ingenious. Inside the components would clip together to form a makeshift rifle - made from a stolen Luger and scavenged parts whilst incarcerated one assumes. The Action Man Escape Officer had a choice of head-wear - either the Army Officer's cap or a green woolen beanie hat. His scarf was the cross-woven muffler from the Talking Commander / Field Commander of the time that frays readily. The 'current' Action Man in 1974 had flock hair and gripping hands (introduced in 1973). The uniform is shown on an earlier painted head Action Man figure dated between 1966-1969 for display. The German Sentry uniform supplied was similar to the Soldiers of the World German Stormtrooper. One particular variant of his clothes are said to be lighter in weight and shinier than the Stormtrooper. It is generally thought the sentry uniform was supplied without the Stormtrooper style backpack, iron cross, and stick grenades - perhaps more in keeping with a non-combatant guard. Worth noting is that the Parker board game also had the same cardboard Red Cross box (very slightly lighter and not as warm in colour as the Action Man version), and the Colditz booklet by Major Reid (marked L349 as opposed to Action Man version marked L352 with map on back).