FORUM Action Man HQ
ABOUT HISTORY Action Man Vintage range Action Man 40th Anniversary range Action Man 50th Anniversary range BODY TYPES EQUIPMENT+ List of Vehicles List of Equipment Action Man Films FEEDBACK Facebook Action Man Shop
Uniform Gallery Weapons Equipment Vehicles Action Man Boxed Figures Printed Booklets medals Accessories


Soldier 1973

Period: Flock Head

Dates: 1973 until c.1977

Cat No: 34052

Action Man Soldier (1973) Contents:

Jumper (woollen until c.1975)
Boots (short)
Beret (green elasticated material until c.1975)

Muffler (widthways weave)

Belt (no slider)

SLR Rifle (elastic strap)
Plastic ID Tag (light grey, grey or silver)
Star Card L259 or L513

Instruction Leaflet L345

Hand Cup (metal, quickly progressing to plastics)
Equipment Manual 1973, 1974, or 1975

Soldier Description:

The basic Action Man Action Soldier figure from 1966, was replaced by a flock haired Action Soldier figure in 1970, and then a 'Gripping hands' version arrived in 1973. Bill Pugh (Director of Design, Research and Development, Palitoy) had been frustrated by Action Man's hard hands at the 1971 Toy Fair - he had difficultly making Action Man hold onto anything placed in his hands whilst on display. Alec Langton (Process Manager, Palitoy) suggested that 'Kraton' (a new thermoplastic that returned to its original form when stretched) might be used for the hands to get round this issue. Bob Brechin (Chief Designer, Palitoy) sculpted a scale model of his own left clunched hand (with his right hand) for the tool pattern. The result was revolutionary - Action Man could now grip his vast range of accessories tightly, and also hang onto the vehicle he was in charge of. It was announced on the new boxes. An information card/leaflet (of progressing design) gave tips on using the hands, and dressing the figure successfully as the new hands did not slide through sleeves and cuffs as easily as the hard hands, and metal thimbles (later nylon) were included with the figures. The new figure could be accessorised further by equipment card sets. Price when new c. £2.75


Unfortunately the early figures suffer from the hands going orange, hardening and eventually failing. One suspects the original formulation was not ripe for longevity. The early Action Man Soldier jumpers are prone to stretching, becoming mis-shapen or shrinking. The Action Man Soldier muffler had a horizontal weave across its width (not length) and therefore and frayed easily when handled excessively or stretched. Both these flaws were addressed mideway through 1975 with a new nylon jumper and mufflers with lengthways weave. The belt had no adjustment slider. The Action Man SLR Rifle would still have had the elastic strap, but would progress to plastic by the mid 1970's.

40th Range

Action Man Soldier of 1973 - now with gripping hands

Action Man Soldier and Box

Action Man Soldier of 1973 rear view

Action Man Soldier of 1973 - note hardened early hands

Action Man Soldier 1973

Action Man Soldier of 1974/75 with paperwork

Action Man Soldier 1973

Action Man Soldier of 1973 beret

Action Man green beret

Action Man Soldier trousers - one side pocket. Colours and grades of material vary.

Action Man 1974 soldier

Action Man Soldier dog tag from 1973

Action Man dog tag

Action Man Soldier box variations by year:

1973: New box 'Now with Gripping Hands' (1) Note word 'Gaitors' in contents list although not included.
1974: (2) word 'Gaitors' disguised by black amendment on at least one side
1975: (3) 'Gaitors' text removed, (4) Gaitors edited from trousers, (5) pouch edited out, (6) Beret badge removed, (7) Soldier replaces retired 'Commander' illustration. Also 'Head, clothes and Accessories made in Hong Kong added to foot of box.
1976: (8) National Association of Toy Retailers Award sticker (of 1975) applied to boxes
1977: (9) Oversticker announcing new 'Eagle Eyes' feature.
1978 - totally new box

Action Man Soldier Box Variations

Action Man Soldier of c.1973 - Hands that really grip - 1st type

Action Man gripping hands leaflet

Action Man Soldier of c.1974/75 (repro hands)

Action Man Star Card L259 (1973)

Action Man Star Card L259

Action Man Star Card L259 (1973)

Action Man Star Card L259

Action Man Star Card L513 (c1973-77)

Action Man Star Card L513

Action Man Star Card L513 (c1973-77)

Action Man Star Card L513

1973 Early Action Man gripping hands instructions leaflet - yellow (also blue and pink)

1973 Action Man Official Equipment Manual

Action Man Official Equipment Manual 1973

1974 Action Man Official Equipment Manual

Action Man Official Equipment Manual 1974

1975 Action Man Official Equipment Manual

Action Man Official Equipment Manual 1975

Price when new : £2.75

Action Man Official Equipment Manual 1973

Replacement scarf available:

Action Man Dark Green  replacement scarf