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Action Force – Zartan

In the US G.I. Joe came before Transformers. In Europe it was the other way around. Transformers were introduced here in 1985 and G.I. Joe didn’t get an official introduction until 1987. But that doesn’t mean that G.I. Joe action figures and vehicles weren’t available here! An English company called Palitoy had already been selling 3.3/4 inch action figures in Europe since the early 1980′s under the name of Action Force.

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Action Force action figures – Palitoy

“Palitoy”

At some point Palitoy started licensing Hasbro’s G.I. Joe line and releasing it in Europe under their Action Force moniker. Here’s an example of that: Zartan and his Swamp Skier! I found this item online about a week ago and whipped out my credit card as fast as I could to make it mine. Just check it out:

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Action Force Zartan – Palitoy (1985/86)

“G.I. Joe invades Europe”

I’m not 100% sure of the year above item was released, because there is no date information on the packaging, but judging by the release of the original in the US (1984) I’d guess Palitoy released the Action Force version of Zartan in Europe in 1985 or maybe 1986.

By 1987 Hasbro had acquired Palitoy and decided Europe was ready for a proper G.I. Joe invasion and introduced the line here as an international fighting force.

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European launch of G.I. Joe – from pack-in catalog (1987)

“Collection”

The reason why I was so interested in this Action Force version of Zartan is because I scored the 1987 Dutch version of Zartan not too long ago. Here are both versions shown together. The new and the old! Check out the original article on Zartan that I wrote here!

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Zartan – European Action Force and G.I. Joe versions

“Gallery”

 

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Puzzlin’ Times

“Bergbeklimmer”

Some cheap stuff that I bought recently online here. First of all I bought a MOSC (mint-on-sealed-card) Dutch Cobra Action Pack from Hasbro’s vintage 3.3/4-inch G.I. Joe line. This is the Mountain Climber action pack, or “Bergbeklimmer” as it is known by its Dutch translation. The Mountain Climber action pack is a motorized accessory that was released in the US in 1987. The Dutch version was released in 1988, as will have been the case with all the other European versions of this toy. It was probably part of the last wave of G.I. Joe toys that were released in Dutch-only packaging. From 1989 Hasbro switched to dual language Dutch-French packaging for both the Dutch and Belgian market in order to cut costs.

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On the back of the card it is interesting to note that although the copyright year is 1988, the company name is still listed as Hasbro Bradley, Inc. As readers of my funky new series of articles on MB Transformers will know, Hasbro Bradley, Inc was only used between September 1984 and June 1985, after which they switched to just Hasbro, Inc. Now, of course it can take some time for this name change to trickle through to all their products, but 3 years???

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The U.S. version of this toy carries a (correct) 1987 copyright notice of Hasbro, Inc., so it’s kind of strange why this Dutch version of the toy that was released a year later still manages to carry an outdated company name on the copyright notice. Also interesting to note is that MB is mentioned on the card back as MB International B.V. in Utrecht, Holland. This was one of Hasbro’s many European MB subsidiaries after their takeover of the Milton Bradley Company in 1984. Hasbro continued to use MB for the distribution of their products like Transformers and G.I. Joe in the Netherlands up until the 1990′s.

 

“MB Puzzles”

I also got these G.I. Joe and Transformers puzzles. Since MB was well known for its puzzles and board games it was only logical for Hasbro to have MB create and sell puzzles based on two of their hottest properties. The Dutch MB factory was located in Ter Apel, Groningen and primarily created puzzles and some board games. It closed down in mid 1994.

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“One More Thing”

For those who are waiting for the second part of my MB Transformers article series, stay tuned! The next installment should be online within 24 hours!

 

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New Stuff: G.I. Joe, Action Force, Transformers & Playmobil

Been a busy week. I managed to score some nice goodies that have been added to my collection. First off, I managed to add another Transformer to my ever growing MB collection: Snarl! Snarl himself is in pretty awesome shape, with only a loose joint here and there. The packaging also came with its original, multi-language instruction booklet and all of Snarl’s accessories are present. For the connaiseurs; the copyright stamping on the bot itself is Takara-only with year, i.e. no Takara-Hasbro stamping, which seems to be in line with most of the MB releases and leads me to believe this bot is an original MB. The box itself is pretty worn and has seen better days, but I don’t mind, because it’s another addition to my MB collection, so I’m pretty stoked about getting it in the mail this week, regardless!

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But that’s not all the Transformers I got! I also got the European versions of Ramjet, Bumblebee and Blurr! Bumblebee’s packaging has been opened, but in such a way that it still looks very nice. The bot itself is missing its rub sign and is in pretty dire shape. I plan on replacing the bot in the near future with a better looking specimen. Still, it’s nice to be able to finally add the most popular mini-vehicle of all to my collection. Ramjet has some loose joints, but is otherwise in pretty good shape and Blurr is even MISB (mint-in-sealed-box). Unfortunately (one of) the previous owner(s) has touched up the box with marker to mask some very minor wear. A real shame, because the wear is very light and these unnecessary restoration attempts automatically disqualify this MISB Blurr from ever getting an AFA rating. Nevertheless, from a collector’s perspective I’m still extremely happy with this European MISB Blurr finding its way into my collection!

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And still another Transformer: I also got the European Metroplex! As a kid I really, really wanted Metroplex every since I first saw him in my local toy store in 1986. I thought it was the coolest and most bad ass Transformer ever made (and still do). Unfortunately he was just way too expensive for me to afford back in 1986 as a kid. Thankfully, 25 years later my financial situation is a lot more positive and I finally managed to add him to my collection!

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On to the Joe’s! I’ve lamented numerous times about the scarceness of vintage carded Dutch G.I. Joe’s form the toy’s initial European release in 1987 and onward. The only Dutch carded item I had up until now was the 1988 Dutch Battle Gear Accessory Pack #1 and that’s not really an action figure. Well, I finally managed to add my first Dutch actual action figure! It’s the second edition of Gung-Ho in marine dress blue uniform. In the Netherlands, this was the first release of Gung-Ho though, and for some reason he’s not called Gung-Ho, but Chung-Ho! Chung-Ho is part of the third series of G.I. Joe action figures that were released in late 1988. He’s also part of the last series of G.I. Joe toys that were released in Dutch-only packaging. The next series of G.I. Joe action figures featured French/Dutch language backing cards, which were also slightly over sized. I’m so glad to be able to finally add a MOSC (mint-on-sealed-card) Dutch G.I. Joe action figure from the original 1987/1988 series. Many more to go! As part of the same deal, I also managed to score the Dutch Battle Gear Accessory Pack #2! Good times!

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Also arriving in the mail this week are three MOSC Action Force action figures. As most European G.I. Joe collectors will know, Action Force is the name of the toy line that was the predecessor to the G.I. Joe line. Before Hasbro introduced G.I. Joe in Europe in 1987, a lot of G.I. Joe action figures were available in Europe under the Action Figure moniker. This particular lot of Action Force figures does not feature any G.I. Joe molds (they have less articulation points), but they were so cheap I could not pass them up. The cards are Dutch and French so I assume they were originally sold in the Benelux countries and maybe also in France.

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And lastly, I also bought this very nice Playmobil Esso Station from 1981!! I’ve been buying some vintage Playmobil stuff in the past couple of weeks of which I hope to add some photographs soon. I’m totally nuts about vintage Playmobil trains and most of their late 70′s and early 80′s line up. I just love the early 80′s design of the packaging and the toy itself. As you can see the box is in exquisite state for its age. More Playmobil soon!

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