Got, Not Got: What to buy the Man U fan who imagines he’s got everything...
Between the years of 1966 and 1979, the Leicestershire toy manufacturer Palitoy sold no less than 8 million jointed action figures – no, they weren’t dolls, and they didn’t bear any resemblance to doll, okay? – and over 15 million uniforms and accessories.
At Xmas 1978 alone, punters paid out over £11 million on Action Man gear, so us kids’ favourite soldier of fortune could pull on his spacesuit, his Navy frogman gear, his French Resistance beret... and his Nazi Stormtrooper uniform.
Last and least were the Action Man footballer sets, which offered a range of top team’s colours so that our shifty 12-inch opportunist could play for our favourite team. Unfortunately, Action Man was far better at being blown up in just-pretend explosions in the shrubbery than kicking around on his orthopaedic-looking stand. There were just no games you could play with Action Man footballer, whether you had 1 or 22 of them.
The sets hardly sold at all – which incidentally makes them worth a small fortune today on the eBay/collectables/nostalgia market, with whole kits regularly fetching £700-£900 at auction!
But back in the day, the fact that Action Man footballer was a bit third-division skillwise wasn’t enough to stop other companies trying to cash in on his popularity.
This Mintex Manchester United Action Bloke is of Japanese origin according to the stamp on his plastic bottom, and frankly he looks like a bit of a nutcase. Cheap, too. He hasn’t even got realistic hair, as introduced by Palitoy in 1970. He hasn’t got gripping hands, brought in for Xmas 1973. He hasn’t got 1976-style Eagle eyes, and he can’t talk like Action Man could in 1978.
Palitoy went under in 1984, taking Pippa, Care Bears, Airfix and Star Wars figures with it. Lay the blame at the door of this Mintex Man U fake rip-off.
However, for insurance purposes, this unpleasant, destructive little psycho is still pretty much priceless. The perfect gift for the Man U fan who previously imagined he had everything...
There’s 1,000 more images of football stuff from back in the day in 'Got, Not Got – The A-Z of Lost Football Culture, Treasures & Pleasures' by Derek Hammond & Gary Silke.
• “A fantastic book, there’s just so much in it. You really should get it.” – Steve Anglesey, Mirror Football podcast.
• “The book’s great fun. It’s an essential if you grew up watching football in the 60s, 70s or 80s.” – Paul Hawksbee, talkSport.
• “There’s something for every fan of every club.” – Andy Jacobs, talkSport.
• “The best book about football written in the last 20 years.” – Bill Borrows, Esquire