When Everything Old is New Again
April 18, 2008

It appears that Captain Action will be returning  as an action figure again!  Most of you probably only vaguely  remember him.  But, being the old fart that I am, I have fond memories of the good Captain.  

Ideal came out with the Captain Action doll/action figure and his sidekick, Action Boy in direct competition to Hasbro’s G.I. Joe.  Where GI Joe was a true American Hero, complete with his fuzzy hair Ken hair, Captain Action became a quick-change artist tossing his cool costume,  sword and ray-gun aside and donning the duds of Captain America or Superman or Batman or Spiderman or Flash Gordon or The Phantom or a closet full of other really real super heroes.  Not just some dog face in fatigues. 


Back in the 1960′s I suppose the licensing rights to most comic book and newspaper comic strip characters were minuscule and the publishers were independent and not part of some vast multinational conglomerate that relied on bean-counters and lawyers to suck every possible nickel out of a property.  Ideal had damned near enough characters for the Captain to change into to be a Justice League or Legion of Super-Heroes all by himself.

And while G.I. Joe had a Mercury space capsule and a Jeep with a 105mm recoilless rifle on it Captain Action had The Silver Streak!  This baby was a three wheeler that fired missiles, could operate on the water and even fly!  The Air Force G.I.Joe may have had a flight sutt, but Hasbo never provded him an F-100 or F-104 to actually fly.  Who wants a pilot without a plane?  And anyway, the Captain could change into his Steve Canyon flight suit whenever he wanted – provided you had saved enough allowance money to buy the outfit.

When the Captain, his kid and all their paraphernalia started hitting the market I was already fast approaching 13 and, by the standards of the day expected to give up all my “toys” and immediately transition into sports and the killing of small animals.  Being a nerd, however, made me not only uninterested in either participating in organized sports or killing anything other than Dr. Evil or the half of my “little men” better known as Marx Army soldiers that had been designated as the opposing forces.  I certainly didn’t want to shoot birds, squirrels, rabbits or go fishing.  

Fortunately, I had a little brother that was eight years my junior.  So, in my mind the way to get around my parents disapproval of any continual playing with toys by giving them to him was the answer to my problem.  When his 6th birthday came around I bought him the Tonto costume for the Captain Action I had reluctantly donated to him.  At Christmas, I bought him a Captain Action combination Headquarters and carrying case exclusive from, I think, Montgomery Wards.  Thankfully, he was not interested in the toys at all.  Chris ended up being an electrical engineer and pilot in the Air Force and as a child he was into Hot Wheels, Lincoln Logs and taking things such as toasters and alarm clocks apart.  My collection of Captain Action stuff was safe in his room.  Except for occasionally having to run off some urchin he had in his room for a play date (although we never called them that back then), the figure and all his accessories were safe. 

Even with our bedouin lifestyle because of Dad’s career in the Air Force, the material moved with us and I maintained clandestine access to it through High School.  But all good things must come to an end and so it was in 1971 when my folks relocated to Northern Virginia after my Dad retired to take a job as a civilian at the Pentagon.  I was already living in the area working for the FBI as a file clerk (another story for another time) and going to school part-time.  To lighten their considerable load of household goods, my Dad orchestrated a giant yard sale and Captain Action along with all his associates and affiliated merchandise (including a complete Major Matt Mason line I had also given Chris as presents so I could play with them) went the way of all fondly remembered toys.  My old man sold my comic collection that I had left behind as well.  A truly black time for a geek such as myself.

Time heals most wounds.  That and more disposable income. I replaced the absent Captain Action comics from the back issue bins of comic shops and, when Playing Mantis came out with them I picked up the reissues of the figures.  And now it looks as though a favorite from long ago is going to again renew our friendship with a whole line of new stuff celebrating the good Captain.  I just hope the T-shirts come large enough to fit me.

Glenn Moss
Born in 1952 (you do the math), making me one of the proverbial "old farts" involved in toys, comic books, and other juvenile activities that everyone said I should have outgrown decades ago. Fortunately, my wife of 36 years is an understanding soul. A firm believer in the philosophy of Groucho Marx, George Carlin, Robin Williams and Chris Rock. Am now indoctrinating my grandchildren to carry on so that when I finally fade away there will be another generation of odd neighbors who seemed nice and kept to themselves.
Read other articles by Glenn Moss.





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