Period: Painted Head / Flock Head
Dates: 1968 until 1972
Cat No: 34009
Pistol Belt (with slider)
Metal Dog Tag, then Plastic (connected to cord)
Divisional Flashes Sticker Sheet
Metal Rank Insignia x 2
"He talks! Gives eight different commands, loud and clear." The basic Action Man Action Soldier figure from 1966, was joined by a talking version - the (talking) Commander in 1968. The first of the 'talkers', he spoke phrases by pulling out a cord attached to his dog tag from his (new) chest section to coloured markers on cord. Upon letting the cord go it would speak one phrase whilst returning automatically. He came in his own uniform - that of an officer, with additional sticker sheet for divisional markings, and two metal pin badges for the shoulder. Hair colours were either blonde, red, brown or black. This talking Commander adopted blonde or brown flock hair in 1970 but retained the same outfit and body with hard hands. In 1973 his name became "Talking Commander" - this newly kitted out Action Man 'Gripping Hands' Talking Commander came with a jersey and peaked cap and muffler. This basically paved the way for the non-talking Field Commander to take over with his separate 'talking' Field Radio. In 1979 he became a talker once again - gaining the Eagle Eye head / dynamic physique. He owes his DNA to the original 1967 Talking GI Joe Action Soldier - the first of the talkers. You can see and hear the GI Joe figure here. The GI Joe Sailor and Airman had their own unique phrases.
Action Man Commander original phrases were (in random order):
"This is your Commander speaking"
"Enemy aircraft - action stations"
"Volunteer needed for a special mission"
"Enemy in sight: Range 1000"
"Patrol fall in!"
"Hold your fire until I give the order"
"Mortar attack - dig in"
"Commander to base: Request support fire"
There are three variations of talking figure for the period 1968-1972 - hard head with hard hands, soft head with hard hands, and flock head and hard hands. Sometime in the intermediate soft head period before 1970, the dog tag changed from metal to the new plastic pear-drop shape associated with the early flock head period. At least some of these figures had painted rivets even as late as the soft head version preceeding the flock. The Action Man Commander (or Action Man 'Talking Commander' as he is more commonly referred to as) had a unique jacket. Also supplied were a paper sticker sheet of divisional insignia and ribbons, and two metal flashes that pushed into the cloth of the tunic. Palitoy has their placement upon the shoulder tops, although the collar some suggest is a valid option too. He was forbidden from water immersion and only careful parachuting - to protect the internal speech mechanism from harm. In fact Palitoy offered a postal repair service for the 'precision instrument' mechanism for price of 6/- and 2/- postage.
The original packaging was typically the original (corrected) Action Soldier box of 1968 (Action Sailor boxes have also are known to have been used), with a temporary sleeve applied over it with the Commander artwork. This had printed top and bottom labels acting as a closure (or dull red gummed paper) strip stopping the Action Soldier box from inadvertantly slipping down and out of the sleeve when handled. The red top paper label states 'THIS PACK CONTAINS' and a list as per the later box top would come to have, and the bottom label has 'Toy Division' and the rest of the Owen Street, Coalville address. The tabs on these labels were stuck to the sides of the paper sleeve (they have Action Man Logos and patent details printed on them perhaps to disguise their rather rudemantary task). Few of these survive as they needed removing to get to the box. The subsequent box was produced with the new artwork - it would stand to reason that this would have been a matter of only months, making the paper sleeve version a particular rarity.
The 1st issue Action Man Commander was a painted head figure, and towards the end of the painted era, changed to a hollow, 'squashy' soft head preceeding the flocked head c.1970/71. A later version with 'with realistic hair' was released for 1970. His beret mold would also be used to produce headwear for the American Green Beret (in green plastic with red background to a unique Green Beret badge) and the Action Soldier of 1970 (in dark blue plastic with champagne gold background to same artwork). Repro replacements for these badges can be found here. It must be mentioned that the original red metallic shield badge in the beret has an extremely unstable surface and can be damaged by almost any conventional light cleaning methods - even so much as a cotton bud with warm water can take the surface off - revealing silver metal beneath. Be warned - it is best to leave well alone! This Commander badge was accidentally produced 'upside down' in a batch (at least once) - just like the new Soldier of 1970 in the flock period.
He originally came with tall black boots as per the Action Pilot type (there is debate whether some came with brown in times of shortage) but progressed to short black c.1972. In 1973 for a year, the new gripping hands Action Man Talking Commander featured an all-new uniform changed to that similar to, and also paving the way for the Action Man Field Commander that replaced him until the eagle eyed period. Visually this added a new jumper, muffler and a British officer's cap to the set up. A Dynamic physique Action Man Eagle Eyes Talking Commander once more re-joined the ranks in 1979 with camo trousers.