Dates: June 26th 2016
Space suit (numbered 1-5)
Blue Supply Pipe
Box (numbered 1-5)
Mercury 10 Gold Dog Tag
In June 2016, to celebrate Action Man's 50th birthday year, a 1966 vintage Action Man in an adapted 1967 vintage spacesuit, helmet and boots traveled 11.4 miles into near space inside a customised 1967 Action Man space capsule. The 'Unofficial' Mission was Kickstarter funded by Rob Wisdom, and the special met-balloon flight was co-ordinated by Chris Hillcox. Art & Science became mission backers during the funding process. Bob Brechin (Palitoy Chief Designer 1967-84) launched the mission at 3:53pm on June 26th 2016 from the training pitch at Coalville Town FC. The capsule broke apart at 18,384m above sea level and the tracker, Go-Pro camera and Major Tom all fell to earth separately. The mission lasted one hour and twenty minutes. Major Tom remains missing along with parts of the capsule and gold dog tags somewhere between Creaton and Cottesbrooke in Northamptionshire. The mission was a success - it remains the highest recorded altitude for an Action Man figure or vehicle.
For the Mission a blond painted hair Action Man, christened 'Major Bob Tom' was used, wearing an original Action Man Astronaut suit, with reapplied mission patch and Union Flag. The name was a fusion of David Bowie's Space Oddity hero, and Bob Brechin (and Rob Wisdom's) Christian names. A vintage publicity capsule and flight capsule were both painted satin black with unique decals applied. There is a £200 reward for Major Tom's safe return.
To reward 'Gold' backers, 5 specially commissioned contemporary space suits were made - in the style of current NASA spacesuits. These were numbered 1 to 5, and each of the backers had their surname applied to the name tag on the suit. The 5 Action Men chosen represented 5 decades of the original Action Man - 1966 painted head, 1970 flock head, 1981 eagle eye, 2006 40th, and 2016 50th figures. In fact the 50th figure was the first circulated in the UK. The Astronauts came in a one-off box (approved by Hasbro) in the vintage style associated with Palitoy, with a matching number - 1 to 5. A prototype suit and box also exist.
250 gold (brass) Mercury Mission 10 dog tags were commissioned and manufactured in the UK and were given to bronze and above backers. 101 were sent to near space, and 100 of these are still missing. Major Tom's solitary near space tag has been recovered.
100 woven mission patches were produced and given to backers at silver level and above.
5 black baseball hats bearing the Mission Mercury 10 patch were produced for the launch day and were worn by Rob Wisdom and Chris Hillcox (mission co-ordinators), Bob Brechin (Guest of honour), Richard Weston (additional drone footage), and Peter Rooke (Art & Science Int).
The mission captured the imagination and gained widespread coverage on the BBC, radio, TV and many leading Newspapers.
See the documentary film of the mission CLICK
The remaining Mercury 10 gold dog tags and mission patches are available to buy from AMHQ SHOP
The next mission will be to submerge Action Man deeper than ever before in Mission 55 Fathoms. More details to follow on 55 Fathoms Facebook Page