Sailor 1971

Period: Flock Head / Eagle Eyes

Dates: 1971 until c.1978

Cat No: 34019

Action Man Sailor and box

Action Man Sailor (1971) Contents:



Collar and ribbon
Boots (short)
Cap with Ribbon
Plastic ID Tag (light grey, grey or silver)
Star Card
Equipment Manual

Sailor Description:

The basic Action Man Action Sailor figure from 1966, was replaced by a flock haired Action Man figure, with a more British flavour in 1971 and renamed simply "Sailor" and wearing a 'Square Rig' uniform for a Royal Navy junior rating. This all new Action Man Sailor was flocked with a full beard (as was the new Adventurer a year earlier). It could be accessorised further by equipment card sets. He ran for approximately seven years, gaining Gripping Hands in 1973, and then Eagle Eyes in 1977.


Flock haired Action Man figures were launched in 1970 along with new style artwork boxes, the Sailor followed the next year. The sailor figure would have been a labour of love for Bill Pugh of Palitoy, having served in the Royal Navy during World War II. The new bearded Action Man Sailor had all-new No.1 Naval Dress. His cap would have one or a range of bands that included: HMS Victory (common), HMS Ark Royal (common), HMS Fearless (common), HMS Dreadnought (not so common) and HMS Renown (uncommon), in gold as well as what appears a champagne gold or silver / grey capital letters. There should be a small ribbon bow on the rim to the wearer's left. A special limited run of 60 (at a guess) HMS Belfast were produced for publicity, one would assume for the gift shop / publicity people upon HMS Belfast herself. These cap legend ribbons are prone to fading and damage and finding a fresh one proves difficult. There is some variety in typeface, letter spacing and boldness over the years.

The 1st issue dark blue collar had a separate light blue denim style material sewn underside and its stripes were achieved by dark blue stitching on white. The second issue used printed tramlines. 3rd issues did not have a second material underneath and were only single thickness, again with printed tram-lines. The 1st issue jacket has a hidden zip - subsequent issues had poppers. The thin black ribbon that ties from either side across the chest is often damaged or missing as it is a little tricky tying and untying it.

The 1st issue trousers have a pronounced bell bottom and a chrome-domed popper. Historically speaking, the bell bottomed trousers were designed so that they could be rolled up easily when scrubbing the decks. Ratings used to have horizontal creases (one pay book width apart) - not vertical like normal trousers. There were up to seven creases (this did not represent the seven seas as sometimes suggested) depending on the length of the sailor's leg. They would concertina fold each leg upwards separately until they meet the crotch of the trousers, then roll the remainder of the trousers right round the bulk to form a packet. This would keep the trousers neat in the lockers between uses.

The white undershirts (or 'White Fronts') can fray along edges and dirty very easily. There are at least three versions of the white undershirt - 1st issue had stitched on edging (1971) , 2nd issue with a separately glued light blue material edging, and 3rd issue a simplified version with edging printed in light blue directly onto the fabric (c.1975). Its worthy of not some of the issues of collar and undershirt did not coincide. The Action Man Sailor figure of 1971 had either flock brown or blond beard and hard hands. It is thought by some that the original beards were 'fuller' around the lips and under the chin, possibly more so than the figure pictured, and by the advent of gripping hands in 1973, the beards were less overgrown. The inclusion of a plastic dog tag with the flock haired figures is thought to have stopped by 1975.

DRESSING: The black ribbon hoop should run underneath both collars at the back, and round the front in a 'v' shape. The two jacket straps should tie across the ribbon in a bow (leaving a hoop of ribbon protruding underneath (see final photo). Missing from the Palitoy uniform is a white lanyard - which historically had a hoop on the end to fire the guns.

40th Range

Action Man Action Sailor of 1971

Action Man Sailor

Action Man Sailor rear of collar 1971

Action Man Royal Navy Sailor

Action Man Sailor shirt 1st issue 1971 - note stitched-on material edging to undershirt and stitched collar stripes (image courtesy Daniel Smart)

Action Man Sailor shirt 2nd issue -
note stuck-on material edging and printed stripes on collar

Action Man Sailor shirt 3rd issue (c.1975) - note printed-on material edging to undershirt and printed collar stripes on single thickness material (Image courtesy Pat Peacey)

Action Man HMS Ark Royal

The correct way to tie the ribbons. White lanyard (not supplied) has been added for authenticity.

Action Man Sailors

Action Man HMS Fearless Cap. Dog tags included until c.1975.

Action Man HMS Fearless

Action Man Sailor Cap and ribbon

Action Man HMS Victory

Action Man HMS Dreadnought (image by Benny)

Action Man HMS Dreadnought

Action Man HMS Ark Royal - 1st issue c.1971 (Image courtesy Scott Thomas)

Action Man HMS Ark Royal

Action Man HMS Fearless - with blond bearded figure (Image courtesy Cerebus)

Action Man HMS Fearless

Action Man Sailor box variations (2nd type) by year:

1973: New box 'Now with Gripping Hands'

This box was re-illustrated at some point (likely 1975) and it is not known why. At the same time Hong Kong text panel added at the foot of the box (same time as box of 1975 Soldier?). The detail changes are less significant than the soldier illustration underwent on his box.

c.1975 (1) Muzzle flash strengthened, gun tips no black tips.
(2) Hand rail made narrower
(3) Hatch details added.
(4) Hong Kong text added to bottom section

The sailor's face improved too along with detail - nothing major.

1976: National Association of Toy Retailers Award sticker (of 1975) applied to boxes

1977: (9) Oversticker announcing new 'Eagle Eyes' feature as makeshift measure.

1978 - New box design

Action Man Sailor Box variations 1970s

How to tie the Action Man Sailor ribbons.

Action Man Sailor Ribbons

Action Man Sailor Boxed Figures


c.1971 Action Man Sailor
(image courtesy of Vectis Auctions)

c.1977-8 Action Man Sailor 34073
(image courtesy of Vectis Auctions)

c.1976 Action Man Sailor 34054
(image courtesy of Vectis Auctions)

1971 Action Man Official Equipment Manual

Action Man Official Equipment Manual 1971

Action Man Sailor in Equipment Manuals


1971 Equipment Manual inclusion

1975 Equipment Manual inclusion

1973 Equipment Manual inclusion

1977 Equipment Manual inclusion