May 6, 2009 / 2:40 PM / 10 years ago

"Action Man" reborn with UK Armed Forces backing

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - With their swiveling eyes, gripping rubber hands and lifelike features, “Action Man” toy soldiers were the pride and joy of British boys for decades.

"HM Armed Forces" dolls are seen in this undated handout image. REUTERS/Character Group/Handout

Mass-market production of Palitoy’s celebrated action figure, the British equivalent of G.I. Joe, with moving joints launched in 1966 and stopped in the 1990s.

Now Britain’s Character Group toy firm, working closely with the Ministry of Defense (MoD), has produced its own version of Action Man which it says “promises to fill the significant void in the action figure market.”

The models, to be sold under the “HM Armed Forces” brand name, feature three different 10-inch action figures for each branch of the armed forces: Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.

The firm says each figure is a precise scaled-down version of the real thing, right down to the clothes they wear and equipment they carry.

Each figure appears as realistic as the original Action Man doll, minus the fuzzy cropped hair — a hallmark of the 1970s figures.

The army Infantryman wears the exact desert combat uniform of troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, replete with Kevlar flak jacket and ballistic protection helmet.

Mortar Man in desert combats comes with heavy equipment and ammunition. The army figures are complemented by a tactical battle tank with moving turret, working tracks and a spring-powered gun.

The Navy range includes a diver in a wetsuit including flippers, mask and oxygen tank, while the air force figures include a parachutist with opening “throw and deploy” chute.

A spokesman for the Character Group said the MoD will be paid royalties for use of their logos and for help in the design and development of the dolls.

The figures will go on sale on the anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day this coming Friday.

Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato

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