Created by Leisure Concepts and the Ideal Toy Company in response to the popularity of GI Joe, Captain Action was a toy-line not based on a comic, but one which made use of comic-book characters to become a success.His name sounded as if it was plucked from a title about superheroes, but he was simply an action figure with a connection to popular characters from companies like DC and Marvel which helped him find his footing on toy shelves.Captain Action looked similar to Hasbro’s Joe line and the basic figure had a uniform, a couple of weapons and was what any child had come to expect from a 12 inch toy.But giving him that extra edge was a simple concept, which was the ability to transform into other heroes all thanks to a quick costume change.Those clever people who had brought Captain Action into children’s lives had seen how massively popular comics were, and tapped into this by creating a toy which could incorporate characters such as Superman, Spider-man, The Phantom and Flash Gordon into one easily accessible line.The basic figure was ok, and Captain Action looked more than prepared to combat evil, but if a child bought a Buck Rogers or Aquaman costume then they could dress him up and instantly have a different character to play with.With heavy hitting characters from Marvel, DC and King Features stirring up kids imaginations through the printed page, the toy gave them an opportunity to transport their adventures into playtime and all they needed was a new set of threads.Where Action differed over other toys was in the fact he could become a variety of heroes without the need for a new figure each time and this meant a cheaper way to have more toys.
Further additions were added to the line and Captain Action got a sidekick in the form of Action Boy, who with a quick change of clothing became Superboy, Aqualad and Robin, proving that costumed allies were just as popular outside of comics.Dr Evil was also introduced as an enemy, as it’s what every good hero needed, and eventually Captain Action’s adventures did make it into a comic-book.The line had taken the art of disguise synonymous with costumed crime-fighters and turned it into a workable concept which allowed for Spidey and Batman to be part of the same adventure.It may not have originated in a comic, but it took its inspiration from the thing which drew readers to comics in the first place, which was the idea they could become these heroes because anyone could be hidden under a disguise.A line like this was certainly of its time and in today’s market where characters are licensed out, the idea of DC and Marvel characters being together under one roof is very unlikely.In the short time it lasted, Captain Action offered kids an action figure to be excited about and today is still remembered as being something a little bit different from what came before and would come after.
TIME FOR ACTION: *Captain Action was originally going to be called Captain Magic.
*Captain Action’s lifespan was only a couple of years long, and he was discontinued in 1968 when sales declined, but was revived in 1998.This too proved to be a short-lived return, as he was cancelled in 2000.
*DC Comics optioned the character for publication and in their stories about Captain Action his alter-ego was Clive Arno, an archaeologist and curator of a museum.His son Carl was Action Boy and his enemy Dr Evil was his father-in-law.
*Moonstone recently published a Captain Action comic and he is also set to team-up with The Phantom, which they also currently publish.