Action Man British Infantryman
The Palitoy Action Man British Infantryman uniform was copy of the British Commando in the GI Joe range.
Hasbro introduced the British Commando as part of the GI Joe 'Soldiers of the World' range in 1966.
Palitoy launched copies of the GI Joe 'Soldiers of the World' range as 'Soldiers of the Century' in the UK in 1967. Like others in the range, they sold the British Infantryman as a complete outfit (uniform and equipment) or as uniform and equipment separately. Unlike the GI Joe version, Palitoy did not sell it complete with the Action Man figure.
The British Infantryman is a corporal. He also has a nice set of medal ribbons on his pocket, as well as the Victoria Cross (VC) that was provided with the equipment.
The British Infantryman was a long-lived uniform in the Action Man range. From its introduction in 1967, it remained in the catalogue until 1979.
In the 1980s Palitoy made a completely different version of the British Infantryman uniform. It was a camouflage-pattern uniform. None of the equipment was interchangeable.
You could buy the whole outfit or the uniform and equipment separately.
The uniform included battle-dress (jacket and trousers), helmet, boots and gaiters (or puttees).
Soldiers of the Century range 1968-72
- 34114 - British Infantryman complete outfit
- 34215 - British Infantryman equipment
- 34225 - British Infantryman uniform
Soldiers of the World range 1973-6
- 34142 - British Infantryman complete outfit 1973-4
- 34169 - British Infantryman complete outfit 1975-6
- 34249 - British Infantryman equipment 1973-6
- 34254 - British Infantryman uniform 1973-6
- 34317 - British Infantryman uniform 1977-9
How was the uniform designed?
The Action Man uniform was a copy of the GI Joe uniform. As with the German Stormtrooper uniform, it was based on a uniform in the collection of the Virginia War Museum in Newport News, Virginia, USA.
The British Infantryman's jacket is similar (but not identical) to the Military Police jacket in the GI Joe range.
Other uniforms in the series were:
- 34111 - German Stormtrooper
- 34112 - Russian Infantryman
- 34113 - French Resistance Fighter
- 34115 - Australian Jungle Fighter
- 34116 - American Green Beret
The American Green Beret uniform was a copy of the GI Joe Green Beret uniform. It was a current (1960s) American uniform, not a World War II one.
The equipment comprised:
- Gas mask and case
- Canteen and cover
- Sten submachine gun
- Victoria Cross medal
How realistic is the British Infantryman uniform?
The uniform is an accurate copy of the British Army battle-dress.
The helmet looks to be an early one. The design is similar to that worn by Tommies in the First World War. By D-Day an improved version was introduced, but older helmets were still used.
The Sten gun is a reasonably accurate reproduction, although it has some additional strengtheners on the stock. This is probably because it was easily broken.
The personal equipment is not complete. In addition to the gas mask, the British Infantryman carried the 1937 Pattern Web equipment which included a back pack and two pouches for ammunition. This may have been down to what was on display at the Virginia War Museum or a simplification of the design for ease of manufacture.
I can see no reason why the pipe going to the gas mask should be orange.
How much is my Action Man British Infantryman uniform worth?
None of the uniform is particularly rare.
- Complete uniform including figure - £50 to £80
- Part uniform with figure - £30
- Uniform, mostly complete - £20
- Jacket - £7
- Trousers - £3 to £5
- Helmet - £5 to £10
- Boots - £10 to £15
- Puttees (repro) - £5
- Gas mask - £10
- Canteen - £5
Points to look out for:
- The boots had laces and are rarer than the standard Action Man boot.
- The puttees or gaiters will be perished by now - buy repro ones or make your own. On early uniforms the gaiters were brown, later ones were black.
- The gas mask has several parts. It is often sold incomplete. You can buy the lenses separately as repro items.
More on Action Man
- Action Man history and introduction
- Action Man outfits and accessories
- German Stormtrooper
- German Staff Officer
- Parachute Regiment
By Steven Braggs, August 2021