Period: Painted Head / Flock Head
Dates: 1968 until 1972
Cat No: 34009
Trousers (with two back pockets)
Belt (with or without sider)
Pistol Belt (with or without slider)
Holster with red leg tie
Colt .45 Pistol
Metal Dog Tag, then Plastic (connected to cord)
Divisional Flashes Sticker Sheet
Metal Rank Insignia x 2
"He talks! Gives eight different commands, loud and clear." The basic Action Man Action Soldier figure from 1966, was joined by a talking version - the (talking) Commander in 1968. The first of the 'talkers', he spoke phrases by pulling out a cord attached to his dog tag from his (new) chest section to red / blue / red / blue coloured markers on cord. Upon letting the cord go it would speak one phrase whilst returning automatically. He came in his own uniform - that of an officer, with additional sticker sheet for divisional markings, and two metal pin badges which the instructions indicate were to be crimped upon each shoulder. Hair colours were either blonde, red, brown or black. The talking Commander adopted blonde or brown flock hair in 1970 but retained the same outfit and body with hard hands. In 1973 his name became "Talking Commander" - this newly kitted out Action Man 'Gripping Hands' Talking Commander came with a jersey and peaked cap and muffler. This basically paved the way for the non-talking Field Commander to take over with his separate 'talking' Field Radio. In 1979 he became a talker once again - gaining the Eagle Eye head / dynamic physique. He owes his DNA to the original 1967 Talking GI Joe Action Soldier - the first of the talkers. You can see and hear the GI Joe figure here. The GI Joe Sailor and Airman had their own unique phrases.
Action Man Commander original phrases were (in random order):
"This is your Commander speaking"
"Enemy aircraft - action stations"
"Volunteer needed for a special mission"
"Enemy in sight: Range 1000"
"Patrol fall in!"
"Hold your fire until I give the order"
"Mortar attack - dig in"
"Commander to base: Request support fire"
The 1st issue Action Man Commander was a painted head figure typically with painted rivets, and towards the end of the painted era, changed to a hollow, 'squashy' soft head preceeding the flocked head c.1970/71. A later version with 'with realistic hair' was released for 1970.
Patents for the Commander talking mechanism were filed in 1967 (44150/67 44251/67). There are three variations of talking figure for the period 1968-1972 - hard head with hard hands, softer head with hard hands, and flock head and hard hands. The early torsos have PATENT PENDING on the back of them before the more common Hasbro copyright information replaced it. Sometime in the intermediate soft head period before 1970, the dog tag changed from metal to the new plastic pear-drop shape associated with the early flock head period. At least some of these later hard head figures had still had painted rivets.
He was forbidden from water immersion altogether and only careful parachuting above soft ground - to protect the internal speech mechanism from harm. In fact Palitoy offered a postal repair service for the 'precision instrument' mechanism for price of 6/- and 2/- postage.
In 1973 for a year, the new gripping hands Action Man Talking Commander featured an all-new uniform changed to that similar to, and also paving the way for, the Action Man Field Commander. It replaced him until the eagle eyed period. Visually this added a new jumper, muffler and a British officer's cap to the set up. A Dynamic physique Action Man Eagle Eyes Talking Commander once more re-joined the ranks in 1979 with camo trousers.
The Action Man Commander (or Action Man 'Talking Commander' as he is more commonly referred to as) had the same jacket as the Action Soldier. His trousers also have two square back pockets as per the Action Soldier - early versions had two press studs. Also supplied were a paper sticker sheet of divisional insignia and ribbons, and two metal flashes that pushed into the cloth of the tunic. Palitoy has their placement upon the shoulder tops, although some suggest the collar is a valid option too.
The Talking Commander originally came with tall black boots as per the Action Pilot type (*there is debate whether some came with brown or short black in times of shortage) but progressed to the standard short black type c.1972.
The pistol belt turns up with or without the adjustment slider. Logic might dictate that early figures have an adjustment slider, and later ones not, in line with production preferences of the time.
The Commander's beret mold would also be used to produce headwear for the American Green Beret (in green plastic with red background to a unique Green Beret badge) and the Action Soldier of 1970 (in dark blue plastic with champagne gold background to same artwork). Repro replacements for these badges can be found here. It must be mentioned that the original red metallic shield badge in the beret has an extremely unstable surface and can be damaged by almost any conventional light cleaning method - even so much as a cotton bud with warm water can take the surface off - revealing silver metal beneath. Be warned - it is best to leave well alone! This later Commander badge was accidentally produced 'upside down' in a batch (at least once) - as was the new Soldier of 1970 in the flock period.
The original packaging was typically the original (corrected) Action Soldier box of 1968 (Action Sailor boxes have also are known to have been used), with a temporary artwork sleeve applied over it to form a Commander box.
This had printed top and bottom labels acting as a closure (dull red gummed paper) strip stopping the Action Soldier box from inadvertantly slipping down and out of the sleeve when handled. The red top paper label stated 'THIS PACK CONTAINS' and a list as per the later box top would come to have, and the bottom label had 'Toy Division' and the rest of the Owen Street, Coalville address. The tabs on these labels were stuck to the sides of the paper sleeve (they have Action Man Logos and patent details printed on them - perhaps to disguise their rather rudemantary task). Few if any of these survive as they needed removing to get to the box.
A fist issue box produced with the basically the same artwork - it would stand to reason that this would have been a matter of only months, making the paper sleeve version a particular rarity.
In 1970 a second issue box was printed adding a 'With Realistic Hair' flash in the bottom right hand corner of the front / back.
British Patent No. 1007215