Period: Flock Head
Dates: 1973 until c.1974
Cat No: 34826
Following the launch of the Action Footballer in 1968, Palitoy decided to expand the footballer range and recreate the 'Famous Football Clubs' major teams from Division 1 of the Football League. In 1971 they introduced Manchester Utd, Leeds Utd, Everton, Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham Utd. In 1972 they added Glasgow Rangers, Newcastle Utd, Arsenal and Celtic. Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur had to wait until 1973 and represent the last (and possibly rarest) two football kits produced. The Aston Villa Action Man kit came with shirt, shorts, socks, boots, tracksuit top, ball metal pin badge and information leaflet. A greater range of kit colours were available on separate cards. With these, one could make up their own favourite teams. A colour Football Book was also sold with key club information, tips and suggested kit combinations (see bottom). The box side panel artwork was illustrated by Derek Bown. Derek (or 'Bun' as he was affectionately known) was a Leicester City fan and loosely used inspiration from (local to the Palitoy factory) Leicester Mercury Newspaper photographs of Leicester players for the poses. He substituted the appropriate team kits for the First Division and created the iconic illustrations. The Clubs did not give official OK to use their badges, so Palitoy created their own versions.
ACTION MAN ASTON VILLA: Claret shirt with sky blue sleeves (no badge), sky blue shorts, sky blue socks, boots, claret tracksuit top (ASTON VILLA on reverse), ball, metal pin lapel badge, Club History Leaflet, Shirt Numbers Sticker Sheet, Equipment Manual.
The Action Man Aston Villa kit is a particularly rare kit along with Tottenham Hotspur and possibly Newcastle Utd. In fact Aston Villa were a 2nd division club and should be considered lucky to make the cut into production ahead of more deserving clubs such as Manchester City, Derby and Wolves who constantly finished high in Division one. The top that looks similar to the West Ham United top, has much lighter blue sleeves than the WHUFC one (see image below). What is strange is that the actual Aston Villa Kit of the time (1973) featured white shorts. In 1969-70 the season the players did wear light blue shorts and socks (as donned by Action Man) they featured all burgundy shirts and sleeves. Each figure came with zippered tracksuit top, club metal pin badge, ball (printed with HONG KONG) and information leaflet particular to the club featured. Most of the footballers are difficult to source and complete. The shirts are often overstretched around the waistline, and can shrink vertically, revealing stomach on worst cases. The necks are large enough to get Action Man's head trough and so have a chrome headed press stud at the back to close the gaping hole. Shorts can have very loose elastic. The zips in the tracksuit tops do not separate at the base, and so the best way of dressing Action Man is to put the tracksuit on over his feet and up as you would a boiler suit. As the tracksuits were hand finished, the circumference of the shoulder's bulk can be too tight to slide the waist of the tracksuit over on some examples. The figures are best displayed with tucked in shirts, in keeping with the trend of the time. Generally speaking it is preferable to have the figure wearing his plastic dog tag, generally issued at the time the football kits were available. The (undersized) white ball that came in each set should have HONG KONG in relief on them. Boots were the same - as in there were no left and right feet. The Lapel badge is rare on most outfits. The metal back should not have a brushed metal appearance. It should also have HONG KONG inscribed on the back (very feint).