Period: Flock Head / Eagle Eyes
Dates: 1971 until c.1978
Cat No: 34019
Collar and ribbon
Cap with Ribbon
Plastic ID Tag (light grey, grey or silver)
The basic Action Man Action Sailor figure from 1966, was replaced by a flock haired Action Man figure, with a more British flavour in 1971 and renamed simply "Sailor" and wearing a 'Square Rig' uniform for a Royal Navy junior rating. This all new Action Man Sailor was flocked with a full beard (as was the new Adventurer a year earlier). It could be accessorised further by equipment card sets. He ran for approximately seven years, gaining Gripping Hands in 1973, and then Eagle Eyes in 1977.
Flock haired Action Man figures were launched in 1970 along with new style artwork boxes, the Sailor followed the next year. The sailor figure would have been a labour of love for Bill Pugh of Palitoy, having served in the Royal Navy during World War II. The new bearded Action Man Sailor had all-new No.1 Naval Dress. His cap would have one or a range of bands that included: HMS Victory (common), HMS Ark Royal (common), HMS Fearless (common), HMS Dreadnought (not so common) and HMS Renown (uncommon), in gold as well as what appears a champagne gold or silver / grey capital letters. There should be a small ribbon bow on the rim to the wearer's left. A special limited run of 60 (at a guess) HMS Belfast were produced for publicity, one would assume for the gift shop / publicity people upon HMS Belfast herself. These cap legend ribbons are prone to fading and damage and finding a fresh one proves difficult. There is some variety in typeface, letter spacing and boldness over the years.
The 1st issue dark blue collar had a separate light blue denim style material sewn underside and its stripes were achieved by dark blue stitching on white. The second issue used printed tramlines. 3rd issues did not have a second material underneath and were only single thickness, again with printed tram-lines. The 1st issue jacket has a hidden zip - subsequent issues had poppers. The thin black ribbon that ties from either side across the chest is often damaged or missing as it is a little tricky tying and untying it.
The 1st issue trousers have a pronounced bell bottom and a chrome-domed popper. Historically speaking, the bell bottomed trousers were designed so that they could be rolled up easily when scrubbing the decks. Ratings used to have horizontal creases (one pay book width apart) - not vertical like normal trousers. There were up to seven creases (this did not represent the seven seas as sometimes suggested) depending on the length of the sailor's leg. They would concertina fold each leg upwards separately until they meet the crotch of the trousers, then roll the remainder of the trousers right round the bulk to form a packet. This would keep the trousers neat in the lockers between uses.
The white undershirts (or 'White Fronts') can fray along edges and dirty very easily. There are at least three versions of the white undershirt - 1st issue had stitched on edging (1971) , 2nd issue with a separately glued light blue material edging, and 3rd issue a simplified version with edging printed in light blue directly onto the fabric (c.1975). Its worthy of not some of the issues of collar and undershirt did not coincide. The Action Man Sailor figure of 1971 had either flock brown or blond beard and hard hands. It is thought by some that the original beards were 'fuller' around the lips and under the chin, possibly more so than the figure pictured, and by the advent of gripping hands in 1973, the beards were less overgrown. The inclusion of a plastic dog tag with the flock haired figures is thought to have stopped by 1975.
DRESSING: The black ribbon hoop should run underneath both collars at the back, and round the front in a 'v' shape. The two jacket straps should tie across the ribbon in a bow (leaving a hoop of ribbon protruding underneath (see final photo). Missing from the Palitoy uniform is a white lanyard - which historically had a hoop on the end to fire the guns.