Professor Gangrene (1997 Action Man)

I can say this without hesitation or embarrassment: I have a thing for the 90’s Action Man. Not in that way—get your minds out of the gutter, people. I’m talking about the toys and the animated series.

Having grown up as a small scale Joe fan, most of my exposure to the 12 inch format came from the Hall of Fame series. I have a couple vague memories of Adventure Team toys from a childhood neighbor, but certainly nothing concrete. The Hall of Fame toys, while nicely made in terms of being RAH mannequins, left a lot to be desired in articulation.

Enter the Hasbro Action Man line. I first learned of its existence through the toy collectiing magazines of the time, and was instantly fascinated with the look of the figures and the packaging. The bodies looked to be more articulate than the then-modern 12 inch Joes. The accessories were different, and quite well detailed. To top it off, the series had its own villain.

Unfortunately, the line appeared to be exclusive to the UK. Bummer. But wait, the initial Action Man was soon ported over to the US, and I happily picked up the Red Ninja, Scuba, and mountain climber Action Man figures. I also grabbed up villain Dr. X, a sublimely ridiculous looking mohawked figure with blinking LEDs in his exposed brain.

Professor Gangrene, Dr. X’s scientist henchman, follows suit in fashion craziness. With a face and hair like this, how could he not have become a mad scientist? This wasn’t the zenith of weirdness for the Professor, as his look became progressively stranger in later series. Unfortunately, I’m missing his water-squirting weapon, which is probably for the best. I wouldn’t want Action Man’s uniforms to get wet and shrink.


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