Period: Flock Head
Dates: 1971 until c.1973
Cat No: 34811
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 Manchester United 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 MANCHESTER UNITED: Red shirt without badge, white shorts, red socks, boots, red tracksuit top with paper Manchester Utd badge (MANCHESTER UNITED on reverse), ball, metal pin lapel badge, Shirt Number Sticker Sheet, Club Information Leaflet, Equipment Manual.
The Action Man Man Utd kit 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 season 1971-72 Manchester United adopted the familiar black socks, but the kit would have been planned the year before this change making it out of date instantly. 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).