Leicester

In Pictures: Action Man convention at Palitoy factory

action man in the buff
Image caption Action Man figures were famed for their "lifelike hair" and enviable physique

Fans of Action Man have gathered at the spiritual home of the popular toy to celebrate his 50th birthday.

The figure, based on the American toy GI Joe, was first hit shelves in 1966 and quickly became a must-have.

Palitoy, based in Coalville, Leicestershire made its own British version with beards, gripping hands and "lifelike hair".

Fans and collectors met on the "sacred ground" of the former factory, now a conference centre, for AMCom16.

The action figure - never called a doll for fear of alienating boys - was hugely popular in the 1960s and 70s but then lost out to Star Wars.

Meanwhile, Palitoy shifted manufacturing of all its products abroad and by the mid 1980s had ceased trading.

Image caption Action Man has enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity among vintage toy collectors

Bob Brechin was the firm's chief designer and modelled Action Man's famous grip on his own hand.

He said: "[Collectors] don't grow up do they?... They are reliving their childhood really. It's great that they do because it keeps it alive."

Image caption It was the attention to detail - and vast array of accessories - which helped Palitoy's Action Man gain popularity

Organiser Alan Dawson said it was a nostalgic event and many people had brought their children to show what their own childhood was like.

Image caption The collectables can now fetch hefty prices - with mint condition examples going for several hundred pounds

"The genius was calling it Action Man because it opened up the door for non military - the football player, the Olympic athlete, the rock climber, the Arctic explorer. Parents who didn't approve of war toys would still let their children play with them.

"It's become part of the DNA of that generation, those generations between 1966 and 1984."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Desert soldier, lifeboat man, skier, Judo champion - is there anything Action Man can't turn his (gripping) hand to?

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