Vintage Action Man outfits

Action Man, Red Devil outfit, 1969-1972
The Red Devil (c1969) was the first departure from the GI Joe inspired uniforms

Action Man had a huge range of outfits and accessories right from the beginning. If you were into the Second World War, football, mountaineering or under-water adventure, there was an Action Man outfit to match your passion.

At first the outfits mirrored those sold in the American GI Joe range. The first departure was the Red Devils parachute display team uniform from 1969. Palitoy introduced more British military uniforms in the early 1970s. By the end of the 1970s there were Wild West outfits as well as sci-fi inspired kit.

1960s original range

Each of the three original action figures had a range of additional clothing and equipment specific to the figure.

In the original range, the Action Soldier could have a field jacket similar to the US Army's M65 jacket, a Military Police (MP) outfit and a white sky patrol outfit with skis or snow shoes. He could also have backpacks, mess tins, sleeping bags, radios, machine guns, a parachute and a stretcher.

The Action Sailor could have a frogman's outfit, a life jacket and a dinghy. The Action Pilot could also have a dinghy, a different jumpsuit, a radio, a parachute and crash helmet.

You could buy complete sets with uniform and equipment and part sets.

The original range of clothing and accessories was very similar to the GI Joe range in the USA. It was largely based on contemporary US military uniform and equipment.

The deep sea diver and frogman outfits were waterproof. So your Action Man could have underwater adventures in the bath. It must have done wonders for the metal joints though!

World War II uniforms

Soldiers of the Century 1968-72

In 1968 Palitoy launched a series of new outfits based on Second World War Uniforms from Germany, America, Australia, Britain, Russia and France.

The original range was called 'Soldiers of the Century'. It was Palitoy's first departure from the GI Joe-style outfits.

The original line-up was:

Each outfit had appropriate firearms and accessories to go with it. You could buy the uniform and the accessories separately or as one set.

Palitoy changed the collection over the years. Two uniforms, those of the Russian Infantryman and the American Green Beret, were dropped after just one year. The Australian Jungle Fighter was also quickly dropped, but it was brought back in 1972.

Soldiers of the World 1973-6

Palitoy rebranded 'Soldiers of the Century' as 'Soldiers of the World' in 1973. Three uniforms continued from the original series: German Stormtrooper, French Resistance Fighter and British Infantryman. They added the French Foreign Legion and re-introduced the Australian Jungle Fighter.

In 1974 the German Staff Officer joined the line-up.

The range continued until 1977 in this form. The German Stormtropper and the British Infantryman continued as part of the Action Man range until the 1979.

Escape from Colditz 1974-5

Inspired by the BBC TV series Colditz, which broadcast between 1972 and 1974, Palitoy did a short run of Colditz outfits. They had a lot in common with the German Stormtrooper, German Staff Officer and British Army Officer outfits.

Values

Some of the Soldiers of the Century/Soldiers of the World are more collectable than others. German uniforms are worth more. They were also more popular at the time. Although the Russian Infantryman only ran for a year or so, you can pick up a complete set for around £20. A complete German Stormtrooper or German Staff Officer will cost twice that price.

Sets affixed to the original card packaging will be £100+.

Current UK uniforms

Red Devil Parachutist/Sky Diver 1969-79

The Red Devils formed in 1964 as the British Parachute Regiment's display team. Palitoy introduced the Red Devil jumpsuit and white helmet into the Action Man range in 1969. The kit contained a working parachute. You could throw your Action Man out of the bedroom window and watch him parachute safely to the ground.

Palitoy rebranded the kit 'Sky Diver' in 1978. It was dropped in 1979.

Values

The Red Devil suit was quite common at the time and it is not the most collectable today. You should be able to get a complete set for £20.

Famous British Uniforms 1970-84

Action Man Parachute Regiment Uniform 1970s
Action Man Parachute Regiment Uniform 1970s

This series started in 1970. The original line-up was:

The range changed over the years. New uniforms were added in 1971 and 1972. Only the Parachute Regiment uniform remained until the 1980s.

Values

The Parachute Regiment uniform was in the range from 1970 to 1984. It is popular with collectors and complete sets in good condition can sell for up to £80. Unwrapped and affixed to the original card packaging they can fetch between £100 and £200.

In 1973 Palitoy sold some special packs containing the outfit and the figure. These are very collectable today. Values are between £500 and £1000.

Explorers

In 1969 Palitoy introduced some non-military outfits for Action Man. In 1970 there were two new figures, Sportsman and Adventurer.

There was a range of outfits for Jungle Explorers, Polar Explorers and Mountaineers.

Sportsmen 1969-73

Sportsman outfits started in 1969 with the Cricketer and the Footballer.

There was a complete range of football strips for some of the more popular clubs from 1971. Football fans could dress their Action Man figure in their team's kit.

Other military outfits

The Internationals

In 1979 Palitoy introduced a range of outfits called 'The Internationals'. They were a budget range, possibly with a look back to the 'Soldiers of the Century' range.

Other outfits

Wild West

Emergency outfits

New range 1980-4

From around 1980 Palitoy rationalised their range.

The Soldiers

The Officers

The Experts

As well as these figures, Palitoy also continued the Space Ranger series.

More on Action Man

By Steven Braggs, January 2021, updated April 2021

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