Action Man was relaunched in 1993 by Hasbro. The initial releases were the US Hall of Fame figures modelled on the 3 3/4" GI Joe line-up. This was followed by a 30th anniversary edition modelled after the original 1966 release, but using the GI Joe "Hall of Fame" body, that lacked the articulation, posability, and attention to scale and proportion of the original figure and accessories. A variety of body types were subsequently offered, in different price ranges. None of the newer bodies have the range of articulation or attention to scale of the vintage figures. This version of the toy tended away from the more militaristic theme in favour of an "extreme sports" theme, and introduced a fantasy terrorist antagonist in the form of Dr. X. The usual themed toys, stationery and other items have also been marketed.
As with the original Action Man releases of 1966, the first re-releases of Action Man in the 90s were simply re-packaged Joes; Duke, Cobra Commander, Stalker and Snake Eyes; in boxes that resembled the standard GI Joe HOF blue packaging. Shortly thereafter Hasbro International developed packaging unique to the Action Man line; bright orange coloration, and a new Action Man logo.
The 1990s 12" Action Man was closer in construction to the poor quality imitations of the original line; very limited articulation, with equipment not to scale (see illustration below). The hands could not really grasp any of the accessories. These figures were essentially G.I. Joe Hall of Fame bodies with a different set of head moulds, some of which had "fuzzy" hair. Later examples improved on the articulation, depending on the price point. The figures were marked "©Hasbro International 1993" across the buttocks. Some came with blue shorts, reminiscent of the late 70s–80s body. The articulation of neck, waist, arms and legs varied as mentioned. Some, like Tiger Strike (see below) have rubber legs, no waist, elbow or wrist pivot, and a head that only looks left/right. Even the more articulated versions cannot compare to the range of motion offered by their early predecessors; for example, the knee/ankle joints only pivot up/down; they do not rotate, and the waist does not allow for rotate and "lean" to the extent possible with earlier figures. The feet on all body variants are like Barbie; not to scale with the body. Unfortunately, these bodies are also grossly overweight in comparison, and as a result of this and the small feet, they are much more difficult to pose freestanding. The more articulated bodies were also of a harder plastic, rather than the softer vinyl/rubber used for basic figure limbs that were similar to Barbie's "Ken". Basic figures were available in a variety of configurations such as Tiger Strike and Sport Extreme, as well as deluxe sets such as Sky Dive, CrimeBuster and Raid and Roller Extreme. The more expensive sets contained the more articulated figures.
Vehicles, accessory packs, carded items; 1993– Edit
A number of vehicles were offered for the 12' figure line, with bold graphics and the signature orange background coloration. Included were the Super Bike, Mission Raft, 4x4 Jeep, Silver Speeder, Racing Car and others. A large quantity of carded accessories/uniform sets were also offered at this time. As with the boxed figures, the very first releases were repackaged GI Joe HOF sets, with similar design blue graphics, subsequently replaced with the new orange graphics and new Action Man logo.
30th Anniversary and special editions; 1996–Edit
In addition to the three 30th anniversary sets, a number of special edition figures were also released, one of which was the 1996 reproduction soccer player, in a numbered box as illustrated below. As with others from 1996, this was the extremely limited articulation Hasbro Hall of Fame body, with a flocked hair head sculpt. This item would never have been intended as a toy, but merely a collectable.
Dr. X is a mad scientist who is the arch-enemy of Action Man in its line of toys, introduced in the mid-late 1990s.
In the toy-version plot, Dr X is bent on ruling the entire world and is prepared to kill anyone who stands in his way. He has recruited many villains into his army over the past years such as Plague Locust (from PC game), MAXX (or 'the man with no name') (1999), Tempest (2001), Asazi (Mainframe animated series), Anti-Freeze (2003), No-Face (2004) and Professor Gangrene (1997, 2000, 2002, 2003).
During the battles with Action Man, Dr X has constantly been defeated and humiliated. However, the evil scientist never seems to give up and each time he comes back to do battle, he grows stronger. However, Action Man always wins the battle and defeats him.
Dr X over the years has also seen new styles. In 1994 - a rotary, firing shield; In 1995 - a laser eye & exposed brain; In 1996 he had a bio-stomache (toxic gut), in 1997 - a firing hand; in 1998 - a chopper bike, in 1999 - a laughter button, in 2000 - a robotic arm, in 2001 - a bronze arm and ball & chain, in 2002 - a firing missile arm, in 2003 - a titanium arm In 2004/5 a Komodo Dragon and a whole new body.
- King, K. (2000) Action Man - the real story 1966-1996 (ISBN 0-9538870-0-6)
- Le Vexier, E.; Gavigniaux, H. trans.(2004) Action Joe - The Story of the French GI Joe (ISBN 2-915239-21-5)
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- Virtual Toy Chest.
- Geyperman - page on the Hasbro-authorized Spanish version.
- UK based collecting club for 12" dolls.
- AMCC - Action man & 1:6th collecting forum, based in the UK.