Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Action Man Blues and Royals

Action Man is to the United Kingdom what GI Joe was to the United States. The original vintage 12" GI Joe was born in 1964 and saw its run end by 1977. On the other hand, Action Man began service in 1966 and finally met its demise in 1984, that's 7 more years of lasting power than their US cousin. Action Man also had a lot more range in terms of products than GI Joe ever did, with some of the most ornate and elaborate uniforms ever produced from 1970 onwards.

This is but one of them. The Ceremonials (comprising the Blues and Royals, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Life Guards, Grenadier Guards and the 17th/21st Lancers) were one of the finest figures ever produced in their time, with most minute details and a level of workmanship previously unseen in any toy. Remember that at that time, the term "collectible" had not been coined yet and these were being produced as children's toys at very reasonable toy prices. 

I had posted entries on these fine figures before but with the recent release of Hot Toys 1/6 scale military figures of the British Army's Blues and Royals officer and Tank Commander operating out of Afghanistan, it's timely to revisit them again.

Another reason is simply because Action Man was my introduction to 12" articulated figures with authentic 1/6 scale uniform and accessories way back in 1994. My first 12" figure was an Action Man Astronaut and the Action Man SAS was one of the coolest figures I'd ever seen then.

The Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons) (RHG/D) is a cavalry regiment of the British Army and part of the Household Cavalry. The regiment was formed in 1969 from the merger of The Royal Horse Guards, which was known as "The Blues" or "The Oxford Blues" and The Royal Dragoons, which was known as "The Royals". The Blues and Royals currently has two reconnaissance squadrons in Windsor, which are part of the Household Cavalry Regiment, and a mounted squadron in London as part of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. Both HRH Prince William of Wales and HRH Prince Harry of Wales joined the regiment as cornets in 2006. [source: wiki]

When performing ceremonial duties, such as Trooping of the Colour in London and other royal occasions, the Blues and Royals will troop out in their full ceremonial uniform, a practice steep in tradition.

The Albert helmet (it was introduced by Prince Albert) was worn during the reign of Queen Victoria and the uniform dates back to 1842 when the Household Cavalry first started to wear the plumed dress helmet. The Blues and Royals wear a red Plume on the helmet.

The Blues and Royals wore State Tunics (navy blue with red piping on the seams) over their white riding breeches or pantaloons, Flask Cords of red on their Cross Belts, which also has the Cartouche Box. Cross Belts were used to secure the Flask for powder, whilst the Cartouche Box carried the cartridges and lead balls for the carbines and pistols. They wore black knee-length Jackboots (so called because the leather was 'jacked', or stiffened) with spurs.

The Waterloo Eagle, worn as a sleeve badge

The present-day Officer’s State Sword is based on the first pattern used in The Life Guards from 1832. This type was also adopted by the 2nd Life Guards, and The Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) in 1856. It is carried on the ceremonial belt. Note the gripping hands or "Kung Fu grip" introduced in 1973 and another view of the Jackboots and spurs.

The fine details of the uniform extends to the back as well, with three red embroidered facings and gold brass buttons.

The Cartouche Box has not been changed since 1856. They are purely ornamental and bears a gold regimental badge on the flap. This 1/6 version's flap can be opened as well.

The Blues and Royals Ceremonial uniform also has gauntlet gloves, seen tugged into his belt

A fine specimen from Action Man. Note the "flock" hair or realistic hair introduced in 1970 and intricate detail of his ceremonial belt buckle.

Another company that has been able to replicate Palitoy (manufacturer of Action Man) in the production of the traditional uniforms is DiD, with such fine products as The King's Hussars, 24th Regiment of Foot and soldiers of the Napoleonic Era. Let's not forget their superbly produced Samurai.


guillaume said...

superbe wonderfull i'm frenche and this uniform is fabulous i hope take that
thanks a lot for the nice pictures

alex teo said...

hi guillaume, you are most welcome >_<

jeff said...

This is incredible, I recently received this uniform but can not figure out how to assemble the belt system....can you please provide some direction? Thanks!

alex teo said...

Hi Jeff, I'm not sure how else to direct you. Perhaps if you take a closer look at the pictures (click on them for a larger and better view), you can make out how the belts are fastened. There's also an entry on the Action Man Life Guards (link: http://toyhaven.blogspot.com/2009/01/action-man-life-guards.html). Perhaps the pictures there might help as well. CHEERS & thanks for visiting:)