Synopsis of Toy
“Do and Dare! He’s Everywhere!”
Action Jackson got a very bad rap, and here’s a little of that bad rap sampling: he was nothing but a G.I. Joe rip-off, his vehicles and accessories weren’t exactly what a toy fan would call high-quality, and his painted-on mod hair style was just not the coif of champions. Well, now it’s rebuttal time. Would the toy world really be any good with just one board game? With just one action figure? We need options, people! We need selection! For the love of everything plastic, we need a little variety on the toy store shelves! In the grand scheme of things, no toy is a bad toy (as long as there aren’t a lot of manufacturer recalls). Case dismissed! Next!
Whoa…sorry about that. It’s just easy to get carried away when defending Action Jackson. After all, he tells us to “think of what you want to be, and call on me” and for even promising something like that, he deserves a little product loyalty. The Mego company got its start as an importer of toys and household novelties. But in the early 1970’s, they began production on an action figure that was meant as a low-cost alternative to the incredibly popular G.I. Joe. This first doll’s name was Fighting Yank, and when the Yank didn’t do so well, Mego opted for a smaller scale figure. Their next protégé was named Action Jackson, or “AJ” for short.
AJ and Dinah-Mite, also from Mego, were heartily advertised on television. AJ had a slew of military garb, sports garb and all-around adventure garb. There were sets like the “Fire Rescue Pack,” the spy set, scuba and mountain climbing gear that were sold separately from the doll. There was a battery-powered Mustang horse to match AJ’s cowboy attire; there were battery-powered and remote control operated Jeeps, snowmobiles, Volkswagen Vans and motorcycles. AJ was available with several different hair colors and styles; beard or no beard; white or black (and Hispanic too, in 1974—a doll named “Amigo”).
Unfortunately, AJ just couldn’t loosen G.I. Joe’s kung-fu grip on the action figure market. The scrappy Mego had bought up licenses for characters like the Green Hornet, Dick Tracy and the Star Trek lovelies though—and they put these new heroes’ heads atop dolls made from AJ’s body mold. At eight inches high, Action Jackson had just three quarters of Joe’s height and well, he had some sales numbers that measured less than that. But AJ was all heart. And darn it, there will always be a nice warm spot for him in the toy archives.