The Power of (Restored) Packaging: Big Jim’s Zorak

The Big Jim series from Mattel is endlessly interesting to me. What started out in in the 70s as a toyline in a pure adventure/sports vein morphed into a spy series full of crazy characters (with some package art provided by Jack Kirby!) and continued well into the 80s with heavy sci-fi elements. If you dig into its history, you’ll find all sorts of amazing toys. I’m particularly fond of the painted packages.

Zorak, one of the villains of the PACK series, featured changing faces. Joe fans know all about hooded guys who change their countenance, and Masters of the Universe collectors will recognize the rotating face gimmick.

I imagine if Mattel ever decided to bring back Big Jim and his PACK, they’d probably need to be creative with the name, since it’s also the name of a famous Hanna Barbera character. 



  • Great stuff. The art is very He-Man. I think there’d be a good, in depth article to see how Big Jim influenced He Man and if the lines shared any key employees.

    I know Hama’s stated that Zartan was just a play on Tarzan. But, you have to wonder if there wasn’t some subliminal influence on the name from this character, too.

  • Good call on the Hanna-Barbera character.

  • Maybe if Mattel goes out of business one day, the Hasbro folks could then buy from them their entire catalog of toys, and bring back Big Jim, and all of the other characters. Then we can have a smaller G.I. Joe scale figure of this guy to pose next to Zartan. I always thought that the Big Jim figures were twelve inch figures. Also, there are some of these Big Jim characters whose figures resemble the characters, and figures, from Masters Of The Universe. Like Skeletor, and Trap Jaw.

  • Hasbro owns Mattel and almost all other toy brands.

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