Action Man

Action Man eagle eyes boxI was given my first Action Man for my tenth birthday. Technically this was not Seventies, as it was 1980, but given that I spent more than half of my life asking for one, I think it counts. He was an eagle eyes model with blue plastic y-front pants that were part of his body that you couldn’t take off. Action Man face with scar

He had blonde scrubby hair in a crew cut, blue eyes, shiny tanned skin, pouting lips and a scar on his cheek.

Action Man muscles and blue pantsHe was very muscled and spent most of his time naked, or at least with his top off.

I think he had a scar on his smooth manly chest as well. Apart from the plastic pants he was anatomically correct with all the muscle definition I could hope for.

In retrospect, I think he was probably the reason I tend to fall for gay men. My sisters used to steal him sometimes to be the boyfriend of their Cindy dolls but he wasn’t interested in that, only in playing in the mud with me.

Eagle Eyes mechanism instructionsThe eagle eyes mechanism was at the back of his head, just above his neck. It was a little black lever which you pushed to and fro to make his eyes look left and right. If you pushed the lever left, the eyes looked right etc.

Action Man boots

I loved my Action Man to absolute bits. He came with a camp bed, a rifle, plastic boots and combat clothes (I so wanted a pair of boots like that, and I got some when I was older, oh yes!). I remember playing with him in the living room on my birthday morning. It’s the first time I remember being entirely happy with a present that I was given. I played and played and played with him like nothing I’d played with before.

I’m not sure why my parents didn’t buy me the Action Man earlier. I’ve concluded that it could only be the embarrassment factor. They just didn’t want people knowing that I was a boy at heart, as it would mean that they had somehow failed as parents. I wish I could have told them that in not giving me the thing I had asked for and wanted, they were failing me every single birthday and Christmas.

I’m not embarrassed about wanting an Action Man, or about playing with one. I’m proud that I finally beat my parents into submission on this point and that I had an Action Man in time to play with him before I grew up. Even though I wasn’t allowed to talk about him or have any photos with him. Photos from that year stand out in my memory, not because of what is in the photo but because of what is missing, shoved to one side just out of the camera angle: my personality.

Me in the tank 2007I still play with Action Men, as my son has got a fair few, plus various vehicles. He has helped me to relearn how to play with them. This involves setting up scenarios of battles, making them crash into each other and making the explosive noises when they do. I also get given boys’ toys for Christmas now, as well as girly and unisex things, which is a bonus. Christmas 2006 I got a real tank. Actually, it was a day of driving tanks, which is better because I didn’t have to think about where I was going to park it overnight. And I even got to dress up like Action Man.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room


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