13 GREAT ACTION JACKSON Outfits and Playsets

TOYHEM! Bold adventure is his game — for 50 years…

Welcome to TOYHEM! For the third straight holiday season, we’re bringing you a series of features and columns celebrating the toys of our youth, which often made for the best memories this time of year. Click here to check out the complete index of stories — and have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays! — Dan

Action Jackson debuted in 1971. He was my first action figure – I renamed him Bob Greenfield and pretended he was my badass older cousin – and this year, I’m really proud to kick off TOYHEM with a 50th anniversary salute.

I’ve long wanted to run a piece like this – and have long been haunted by the fact that I haven’t, given AJ’s important place in Young Dan’s life — but I wanted to wait for the right time. And here we are.

Naturally, I was seriously tempted to do it myself but there’s someone I know who loves Action Jackson more than me: our recently minted regular columnist Jim Beard.

Most of you know Jim from his Batman ’66 books or his Marvel expertise, but he’s also a writer who’s published two novels about a character very much like Action Jackson (and G.I. Joe): DC Jones – Adventure Command International.

The covers look just like retro outfit boxes and have properly pulpy titles: Secret of the Sunken Tomb and Rescue at the Arctic Outpost. So now you have a couple things to add to your holiday list: They’re both available at Amazon (click here).

Anyway, Jim clearly is the right guy for this dangerous assignment (though I couldn’t resist chiming in from the peanut gallery). Here are 13 GREAT ACTION JACKSON OUTFITS AND PLAYSETS:


Action Jackson is 50? Whew, there’s nothing like a beloved childhood toy turning 50 years old to make a guy feel old, y’know?

Mego’s answer to the incredibly popular GI Joe Adventure Team—another favorite of mine—Action Jackson never quite hit the same heights, but he paved Mego’s way to greater glories at the company, such as the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes, Planet of the Apes and Star Trek lines. We didn’t know Jackson for too long, but the echoes of his legacy lived on for years to come.

I didn’t own as much AJ as I did AT, but I’ve peered back through the looking glass and picked out a few favorites to highlight… 13, in fact!

Action Jackson. Let’s start with the basic figure… with “Mod Styled Hair.” Now, I don’t know why the Mego marketing department thought young boys would really give a fig about the dude’s hair, but I think we can all admit that the bearded Jackson (the one I had, natch) looked way more cool than the beardless guy. And a lot more like his competitor, too, now that I think about it… (Dan adds: I preferred the clean-shaven one because I couldn’t grow a beard when I was 4!)

Ski Patrol Outfit. I had this one. Kind of unfortunate to stick Jackson out on the polar ice caps in all-white outfit and an all-black M-16, but did I care as a kid? No, I did not! (Dan adds: I wanted this one – but I got the one with snowshoes instead. Which is how I learned what snowshoes are.)

Frogman Outfit. Not sure what it is, but I’ve always gravitated toward undersea adventures in my toy lines, which is weird ’cause I’ve never known how to swim. Jackson’s gear here is pretty cool, and he gets extra points for a vinyl suit. I’m sure those suckers are still intact today, not like a certain bigger figure’s rubber suits, which have rotted away over the decades. Just sayin’. (Dan adds: I really wanted this one. Alas.)

Formula Racer. GI Joe didn’t have too much in the way of actual automobiles to brag about, but Jackson being a smaller dude was gifted with beaucoup buggies—including this snazzy formula racer. Dig those rear tires!

Strap-On Helicopter. Full disclosure: Joe had a Turbo Copter for individual use, but there’s just something about this blue beauty that strikes me right in a sweet spot. Why couldn’t they have had these for us kids to fly around in? For that matter, why don’t they now?

Surf & Scuba Outfit. Okay, yeah, I’m putting this out there to make fun of. I mean, forget that cheesy little surfboard with the Action Jackson logo—look at that pattern on the suit! For that alone, this should be one of the most sought-after toy sets from the 1970s. (Dan: I had this instead of the Frogman outfit. Damn.)

Golf Outfit. Well, that’s one thing GI Joe never had.

The Lost Continent. OK, enough fun and games; let’s get serious now. Gaze upon this glorious hunk of mylar-covered cardboard and tell me Jackson didn’t have it going on. Look at those dinosaurs! And yes, this playset should look familiar: It was later bought by a playboy millionaire for some kind of secret hideaway. Rumor has it some filthy apes even got their stinking paws on it, too.

Jungle Safari Outfit. I really love this set. It looks like it has everything, right down to the baby alligator—or is that a crocodile? Did it matter to a kid? No, I would think the lack of weapons in the set would have been of much greater concern. It would have to me.

Rescue Copter. Another moment in time when Jackson had it all over Joe. The Adventure Team Commander only had a single-seater helicopter to recover stolen idols and the like. Jackson here had a two-seater… and it was battery powered. Don’t tell me size doesn’t matter, when you can plainly see in the helicopter department that eight inches is better than twelve. (Dan adds: Why, why, oh why didn’t Mego repurpose this for the Batcopter instead of what we got – a clog on wheels with a propeller on top? Why?)

Jungle House. Our man Jackson was also the originator of this famous—or infamous—treehouse pad, one that was adopted by both Planet of the Apes and Jackson’s female counterpart, Dinah-Mite. Here, though, it’s really, really cool. One might imagine our guy kickin’ back in it after a long, hard day on the Lost Continent.

Karate Outfit. Why karate? Because no proper early 1970s pop-culture entity of any stripe could be seen on store shelves or TV screens without some kind of martial arts madness in their mettle. And Action Jackson was no exception to the rule. Love this one. (Dan adds: I had this one and LOVED it. I loved promoting him from yellow belt to black belt. I cut the “boards” in half – jaggedly – so he could actually split them with a chop. Bruce Wayne could even train in it!)

Water Scooter. I end here because of the special significance this one has for me, despite its abject simplicity. Years ago, my wife and I were in some shop somewhere and I came across a small pile of these, all mint in the box, just sitting there forlornly, no other Action Jackson stuff anywhere else to be seen in the place. I was an adult. Jackson was far, far in my past. I had no surviving figure to scoot through the water with. I bought them anyway. End of story.


— The Complete TOYHEM INDEX of Stories and Features. Click here.


Jim Beard has pounded out adventure fiction since he sold a story to DC Comics in 2002. He’s gone on to write official Star Wars and Ghostbusters comics stories and contributed articles and essays to several volumes of comic book history. His prose work includes his own creations, but also licensed properties such as Planet of the Apes, X-Files, Spider-Man, Kolchak the Night Stalker and Captain Action. In addition, Jim provided regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website, for 17 years.

Check out his latest releases, a Green Hornet novella How Sweet the Sting, his first epic fantasy novel The Nine Nations Book One: The Sliding World, and the most recent Batman ’66 books of essays he’s edited: Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season One and Biff! Bam! Ee-Yow! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season Two.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. As someone who spends way too much of most days thinking about Action Jackson, I appreciate this post. I was just posting about AJ the other day and I expect to post more soon. I wish there was even more AJ stuff out there. He’s a fun mini version of the Adventure Team.

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  2. Great list Jim! I missed out on AJ,and didn’t learn about him until years later, but he gave us the Mego body, so I owe him a lot! Plus, his stuff looks really cool!

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    • Yeah, it was cheap (compared to Joe), but imaginative. He ended up more like Big Jim in themes than his 12″ tall “cousin.”

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