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Captain Action was a toy line released by Ideal in 1966. Following the success of the popular G.I. Joe action figures Hasbro, Captain
Action was a fighting man who could also be dressed in different outfits and use various weapons; but instead of being a pure military
hero, he could become more fantastic figures like superheroes. This was accomplished by not only putting different outfits on the
doll, but masks as well.
The first line of Capt. Action figures had him changing into nine different comic-strip heroes: Batman, Superman, Flash Gordon, the
Lone Ranger, Capt. America, Aquaman, the Phantom, Steve Canyon, and Sgt. Fury. Each of the costume changes came in their own separately-
sold window boxes for easy perusal and purchase. They came with the clothing and mask, as well as accessories and/or weapons unique to
the particular character. Batman's, of course, came with his batarang and utility belt, along with other tools like a flashlight and
grappling hook; Superman came with a hunk of kryptonite, his dog Krypto, and also (in a faithfulness to the comics usually unknown with
toy companies) a phantom ray projector.
With the second wave of accessories the next year, Capt. Action got a sidekick in the form of the youthful
Action Boy. Action Boy had
different outfits, too: he could be changed into Superboy, Robin the Boy Wonder, or Aqualad (what - no Bucky for Captain America?). Each
of these teenaged heroes, too, came with their own unique set of accessories. The Captain's new outfits (Sgt. Fury was dropped) included
Spider-Man, Buck Rogers, Tonto (Lone Ranger's pal), and the Green Hornet, whose TV show debuted the previous year. In these new outfit
packs, as well as the re-issued First Wave packs, kids received a 'video-matic' flasher ring, whose image changed from the package
character to Capt. Action and back again.
The Captain also got an arch-enemy: called
Dr. Evil (not to be confused with
Austin Powers's nemesis), he was a blue-skinned alien whose
brain was exposed; he came with a ray gun, bearded human disguise, and a snazzy pre-disco medallion. In addition, Capt. Action got some
more generic accessory packs including such things as a parachute or jet pack, as well as a land-sea vehicle called the Silver Streak.
During its lifetime, the line sported a number of different gift sets, box designs, and accessory combinations. Sears and Montgomery
Ward each issues exclusive headquarters pieces for the hero.
But it wasn't meant to last. The toy line was shut down in 1968 due to falling sales. It had only a brief, two-and-a-half-year life span,
but Captain Action remains one of the most fondly remembered of male action figures.
- DC Comics produced a Captain Action comic book in 1967. You can see a gallery of the covers here.
- The most valuable outfits for modern collectors are Spider-Man and Green Hornet.
- In its concept phase, the character was briefly called Captain Magic.
- Dr. Evil had no villains he could change into.
- Action Boy came with a pet black panther.