Action Man Scuba Diver (1993)
Although I was a collector and fan of the Hall of Fame GI Joes in the 90s, I wasn’t blind to the limitations and issues with the figures. The bodies weren’t nearly as well articulated as their predecessors. Rather than ball joints and multi pivot points, the HoF figures incorporated the sort of bend and click knees and elbows that Barbie had possessed–hardly the stuff of a moveable action man.
Speaking of Action Man, the revamped cousin of GI Joe, made his way to the US. Around the time Hasbro was reintroducing the larger scale Joes, the UK was bringing back its own premiere large-scale action figure line. In many was, the UK guys put the Joes to shame. First off, the body was more articulated. Different joints at the elbows, and pivoting wrists allowed for a greater range of movement.
The uniform and gear were even more impressive. The scuba diver stands as an excellent example of the line’s attention to detail and playability. As much as I enjoyed the Hall of Fame Joes, I had a hard time imagining a kid playing with them. Between the stiff bodies and sometimes fiddly uniform bits, the Joes seemed more suited to standing on a shelf. Action Man’s new offerings were meant for play.
The lycra scuba suit is an improvement over the old rubber suits, in that it won’t harden or become a brittle mess in a few years. The uniform also incorporates a separate dive vest, which adds a lot of detail and a bit of bulk to the figure. This isn’t just a simple frogman of old, with a tank and a mask, but a modern full-featured diver. He’s even equipped with a gauge that fits in his hand.
A good diver figure has to have a gun of some sort to fend of the dangers of the deep, and this one upgrades the usual spring-loaded missile styled weapon with a metal shaft harpoon. Pretty amazing, even 20 years later.
The modern Action Man line continues to fascinate me, particularly its evolution into the fantastical battles of an increasingly technologically equipped hero against a group of marvelously wacky villains. The early efforts however, remain as a great group of playable figures in the vein of the Adventure Team.