Including UAMHQ Forum
Action Man HQ was originally created by me, Rob Wisdom in 2002 to fill a void on the web at the time for vintage Action Man content. At the time the hobby was steadily growing but a definitive website was missing. I was already designing websites, and saw the potential for the sharing of information. I approached one notable and knowledgeable individual early on in my newly rediscovered hobby to possibly co-create a website, for the masses, but it became apparent that the time and effort to build such a website would have to be down to me in my spare time despite my limited knowledge at the time. Since those early days I have had the pleasure to meet with many knowledgeable people, attended (and supported) numerous shows, events, and resided on multiple forums - all in part contributing to the information in my head, and now on this website - I thank them all. Special thanks go to Bob Brechin, for always lending a hand as it were, and the members of the UAMHQ, VAME and AMMO forums - your knowledge collectively is unrivaled.
From 2002 the UAMHQ website slowly grew in line with my own collection. Members insisted that Action Man HQ should also have a Forum and I created the Unofficial Action Man HQ Forum in 2003.
Since then the website hadn't undergone vast changes until last year, when a concerted, and somewhat time-consuming effort was made to re-shoot and include much better images from the forum, and include a much deeper level of information to assist the collector. More video based content is planned for the future.
A constent high ranking of the AMHQ on Google and other search engines has always offered me opportunities to help grow the hobby and increase my personal collection. As early as 2002 the BBC had 'search-engined' their way to the 'HQ' and I found myself an adviser and in charge of Action Man props - assisting Roland Rivron to recount his memories in a makeshift studio in Leicester Square's Red Cube to help with a programme called 'I Love Toys'. In the Summer of 2016 I was interviewed on "The Best Christmas Ads Ever" resulting in a few minutes of prime air-time at Christmas (and possibly re-runs for years to come). In December 2016 I assisted the BBC One Show with some props for Jamie Oliver to interact with and helped dress the One Show's Set. I also featured in a short film they ran about Action Man's journey from most popular toy to obscurity and back. I have been on the Radio a few times helping with numerous shows.
On 21st November 2014 the Facebook Page was launched @UAMHQ. It currently has 1,208 likes.
Early in 2016 I met with Art& Science (A&S) at the London Toy Fair. They were on the brink of relaunching the Action Man brand to the UK. Subsequently I have assisted with building the new Official Action Man Website, providing the photography for all the new product, and assisting with ideas and drawings for some of the new product. A&S have kindly requested that the UAMHQ website become an official home for the history of the original 1966-1984 period. I sit within the newly formed Action Man Collectors Club along with Peter Rooke, Bob Brechin (President) and Alan Dawson. Art & Science have to be applauded for managing to gain the licence from Hasbro in the US and starting the magic once more. Lets hope there is a new appreciative audience in an age of retro and nostalgia.
In June 2016 I crowd-funded a mission to launch Action Man into near space for his 50th birthday year. I named it Mission Mercury 10 and Chris Hillcox prepared a flight for a 1966 Action Man named Major Bob Tom - getting him 11.5 miles into near space over Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. Art & Science Mission Mercury 10 captured the imagination and got Action Man back in the national press and on TV. Later this year Mission 55 Fathoms looks set to get Action Man deeper than ever before under the surface of the water - watch this space!.
So, with the re-launch of Action Man in November 2016, the new AMCon convention in Coalville every year, more crazy missions to attempt, I'd say the future seems as bright as its been in a long time for our eternal hero.
England were football World Champions when the first Action Man was released in 1966, and I was one. I am pretty sure my first Action Man would have been the 1968 Commander (the talking one!) I got one for Christmas. I was instantly captivated and little did I know we would cross paths later in my life. I recall playing a lot with a British Infantryman - a flock hair figure of the 1970s, and those Parachute Regiment puttees that unravelled despite my best efforts! I have a few special memories playing with home made tents in the garden - and leaving Action Man in them overnight. Playing with them down the brook between Danes Road and Jackson's Lane in Billericay. We'd make dams out of twigs and float Action Man in the still water and bomb him. I remember towing the Action Man Armoured Car behind my Raleigh Tomahawk with mum's wool, and peddling so fast 'round the block' that he'd drift and flip over on the bends. Throwing the Red Devil from the upstairs window for the briefest of flights that lasted minutes in the imagination. And who could forget making paper bacon and plasticine eggs for Action Man's mess tin? I recall visiting the town's toy shop (Essex Playthings) in Billericay High Street ready to search out the Tottenham Hotspur kit, only to find then, as now, it was a rare beast. I went home with an Everton Kit of all things! I can only imagine the blue and white kit was some kind of recompense for not getting my favourite team's kit. I think my last outfit I can remember having was the German Staff Officer of 1974. So six or seven years of intense fun. He was always a tough playmate, and a dependable friend, in that he was always ready to do whatever I wanted no matter how daft. All my memories of him are are happy, creative, and fun - he in part surely developed those key parts of my personality - that's the unbreakable bond many of my age group have, and its not likely to go anytime soon for any of us. He still brings out the creative side, all be it in one sixth scale.
Everyone that discovers that I have a bit of an Action Man hobby recounts amazing tales. The SAS soldier whose unit took an Action Man on their tour of duites as a lucky mascot. The soldier that was on the border just before the Gulf War kicked off, driving the grown up version of the Spartan Personnel Carrier that he coveted as a boy (despite his childhood friends' cruel observation that it had no real turret). My builder said he and his brothers were challenged by their big air-rifle-toting brother to camo-up their Action Men as best they could and hide them in their local woods. If he saw them he shot them. If not they got a point. They all ended up riddled with pellets. And Stefan - had the diver as a boy and in the bath made a pact that he would someday become one. He did. Everyone who had an Action Man has powerful memories it seems. Stuart Marks, the boy next door was a a couple of years older than me and we would have running battles with our troops on those long sunny summer days of the 1970s. His Dad would visit him from time to time and always bring him Action Men uniforms for his 1968 Action Sailor figure. I remember he had (at least) the Argyll & Sutherland Highlander, Life Guard, British Infantryman, Parachute Regiment, Deep Sea Diver. His bounty dwarfed my own of course. Another boy, Andrew Gill who lived down Parkside got to the age when toys were becoming less important and adulthood rudely interrupts. His mother Doreen gifted my best mate Jonny Hart a huge cardboard box of Action Men, including the coveted German Stormtrooper to play with. I don't think Jonny was as intoxicated as I with Action Man, so I always felt a bit miffed that I was not 'next of kin' for the Action Men! At least they gained a new 'commander' before the inevitable. They too were to go into that one-way transporation box that only a covert mother could instigate.
My Action Man days were over until my twenties. Gordon Hopkins, a dear father-in-law and Matchbox Models of Yesteryear collector, invited me to join him at the next toy fair in Laindon, Essex. I gladly went not knowing what to expect and looking out for the Matchbox toys. My eyes were drawn to an Action Man Tank Commander sitting in a box for the princely sum of £7. I felt an instant affinity with his plight (and my past) and bought him. Months went by until the next toy fair, and I naturally went, saw another, and it too found its way home with me. And so it began from scratch. My only regret is that I do not have my original figures from childhood.
My advice if you have any in your loft is go fetch them down. If you have any sentimental attachment they will instantly bring back happy flashbacks and memories. Dust them off and join a forum, and go about restoring them to their previous best, get the accessories you never got, or maybe hand them down to the next generation. If you're not the sentimental type, then contact me, and I'll add them to my collection, and this website for all to enjoy!