We were fast approaching our summer break back in May, and the Didcot & Oxfordshire Toy Fair on the 27th would be our last for a few months. We’re often asked why we don’t stage more fairs between June and August, but experience has shown that people have other things on their minds, and footfall can suffer.

Action Man Makes Major Screen Debut!

In Issue #5 of our Newsletter, back in August 2016, we celebrated Action Man’s 50th birthday, noting that the occasion was marked in the wider media with some scepticism. Did a 12 inch action figure still have a role to play in 21st Century society? Well, two years on, and the answer is most decidedly, Yes! Sales of new figures may have been fairly static for a while now, as competition from more technology-rich toys has increased, but the popularity of Action Man (other figures are available!) as a serious Collectible continues to escalate. So much so, in fact, that Action Man is hitting the screens, big time.

Nobody could have failed to see, and be moved to a laugh-out-loud moment, by the launch of the MoneySupermarket advert featuring dancing Action Men.

With camp characters strangely reminiscent of the 1980s Village People, the “Epic” advert was a huge hit; nominated for several awards and tagged “The Ad of 2018” by the marketing gurus.

It’s ironic that success comes as a swansong for ad agency Mother London, which seemed to have lost its way for the price-comparison client after coming out with the simply dreadful twerking businessmen in hotpants series. MoneySupermarket lost faith, apparently spurred on by more complaints about the adverts than any others in ASA history, and dumped the agency amid rumours of financial difficulties. Now their profile is riding high, and so too that of Action Man, the undisputed star of the stop-motion animation.

News now comes of a big screen debut planned for the all-Action Man. Unrelated to the advert, Paramount has confirmed that it is in talks with Hasbro, and a string of high-profile acting names, to put together a big-budget cinema release. James Bobin (various Muppet films) is slated as director with Simon Farnaby (Paddington 2) writing the script. Hasbro, you may recall, had film success with the Transformer series, and sees Action Man as having a world-wide appeal, despite often losing out State-side to GI Joe, who made his film debut back in 2009.

Which prompts mention of a new-look GI Joe that caused a Facebook stir in March. Two years older than Action Man (who branded with Palitoy in the UK), the swanky American is credited with coining the Action Figure moniker back in the 1980s. He and Action Man used to look quite similar, but not any longer, if this one-off prototype is anything to go by. Could it go into production? Hasbro might be wise to give it some thought.

We always have dealers offering action figures at our fairs, as well as others with Star Wars, Transformers, Barbie and other collectible figures.

“Action Man is very hot stuff at the moment,” says Tim. “He’s definitely on the rise, both in value, and collectability, but you’ve got to admire the film-makers who put the advert together. That would have taken some time to create. After all, he was always a pain to stand up, and I favoured throwing him about on that parachute that never worked!”

Tim suggests that the next phase may see the sport outfits becoming sought-after following their starring roles in the advert, with judo, football, cricket and sub-aqua all getting an airing. “It’s all about the little bits,” he adds with a grin.

“Collectors are after the detail items that finish off a particular model, whether they be hats, webbing or other clothing items, or replacement hands and dog-tags. Oh, and undamaged boxes, without the stars cut out!”

So Action man may be over 50, but there’s still plenty of life left in him yet!

Still Hot after all these years!

The Sixties was a good decade for toys. Post-war austerity was over, and those who complain about austerity today don’t understand the meaning of the word! The Baby Boomer generation wanted something new to play with. Action Man, Lego, Airfix, Corgi, Scalextric and many other key names had their heyday in the Sixties, and along came Hot Wheels. Yes, the iconic brand swept smoothly onto our bedroom floors 50 years ago this month – May 18th 1968, to be exact, with the launch of The Original Sweet 16. Unlike Matchbox, which faithfully reproduced real-life in miniature, Hot Wheels models were pimped to the extreme, with glitzy paintwork, wide-arch tyres, chrome and plenty of attitude. They brought with them brash American values, and surfboards. They were also blindingly quick down a slope, and tracks, loops and parallel racing soon followed. Let’s also not forget the metal coin (or button) badges that came with the early models, and generated a new collecting craze all their own.

To mark the 50th anniversary Mattel launched no less than ten limited edition series. There was the Black & Gold Collection, initially of six specially-liveried models but expected to grow, an Originals Collection, featuring recreations of some of the earlies Hot Wheels models (including the 1968 Cougar, pictured here, with classic Redline wheels, metallic paint & 50th Anniversary logo), a Race Team Collection, and several more. Full details on the Hot Wheels Website.

One model not re-released is the rarest, most desirable of all the Hot Wheels models; the Rear-Loader Beach Bomb. The first prototype, revealed in 1969, was a stoked VW van with twin surf-boards peeping from the rear window, but it was too top heavy and narrow to tackle the growingly popular track racing sets without falling off. It was pulled, and replaced with the Side Loader Beach Bomb with, as you might guess, surfboards tucked into a side panels.

The Side Loaders (pictured above) are relatively common, but if you ever find a RLBB, you’re looking at £100,000 worth of diecast – now, that really is Hot.