Here’s an interesting set of knockoff figures that any Mattel Secret Wars collector would enjoy. In 1984, Marchon, Inc. produced the “Action Heroes” with Friction Motorized Sparking Rocket Cycles. In the Spring of 2005, I had the good fortune of obtaining these four figures mint on the card and have been thoroughly enjoying them ever since. The following is a brief review of this copycat group of figures.
Seen above are carded examples of all four figures. Not surprisingly, they all came on the same generic card with card art featuring some character that seems to be an amalgamation of Captain America and the Action Heroes “Blue Guy”. As is usual with bootlegs of the era, the card art “just happens” to mention all of the other more popular toy lines that are compatible with the figures. In this case, Marchon lets you know that the Action Heroes play just fine with Secret Wars, Super Powers, G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and Voltron figures. I can only imagine how many kids anxiously awaited the opportunity to rush right home, rip these guys out of the package, and cram them into an X-Wing Fighter.
All figures were of the same mold. The torso and legs may be exactly the same as those seen on most Secret Wars figures (I haven’t yet compared the two side by side). However, the heads are totally new. The arms, too, are of a new sculpt. They’re more “bowed inward” than Secret Wars figures’. The capes are all of the same cut (none are longer and shorter than any of the others) and appear to be about the same length as a Super Powers Robin cape (give or take a few centimeters). The Rocket Cycles are all of the same mold as well. They feature a large silver gun on the front, and silver handles on each side.
The “Real Sparking Action” that the cards advertise refers to the translucent red engines on the back of the Rocket Cycles. When you push the vehicles forward rapidly on a smooth surface, sparks appear in these engine exhaust ports. It’s actually kind of a cool effect and I’ll give them credit for going the extra mile to add the feature.
Also, it’s interesting to note that the Action Heroes aren’t just ripping off Secret Wars. Oh no…they didn’t stop there. Each figure comes with a cloth cape and neck clip that’s identical in construction to the Kenner Super Powers figures of the same era. Additionally, the seatbelts on the Rocket Cycles (which I neglected to photograph close up) are identical in construction to the rubber seatbelts used on many of Mattel’s vintage Masters of the Universe vehicles.
This is a picture of the back of the card (which was identical on all four figures). Honestly, I was hoping that the card’s back would give some indication to the other figures available in the line (if any). But, as I suspected, that this was far too much to expect from a bootleg toy line (where the most you get on the back of a card is usually a bar code and a “Made In China” sticker). If you look closely, you’ll see that the character drawn on the back of the card features markings that don’t match up with any of the four Action Heroes reviewed herein. Does this indicate the presence of a 5th Action Hero…or just poor attention to detail on Marchon’s part? I’d suspect the later is true, but you never know.
The first figure up for review is a character that I affectionately refer to as “The Blue Guy”. I actually have an interesting personal story about him dating back to the mid-1980’s. Back then, I remember a kid bringing this mysterious blue Secret Wars-esque figure to my house with this cool vehicle (the Rocket Cycle). The little jerk wouldn’t let me play with it or even examine it too closely at the time, so I was left with just a glimpse of this intriguing figure. Years later, when I found out about the three European exclusive Secret Wars figures, I figured that this kid had somehow snagged the European Constrictor figure and had brought him over to my house with some cool blue vehicle. For years after, I went on assuming that that’s how the whole thing had gone down.
THEN, I obtained a loose Blue Guy with no cape or Rocket Cycle. Memories came flooding back and I realized that the selfish little bastard who had visited me all those years ago had not brought the Constrictor but, in fact, had brought the Blue Guy. At this point, I still had no definitive proof linking him to the Rocket Cycle, so I was still of the belief that it was just some cool vehicle from another toy line. A few years later, I acquired another Blue Guy (with some playwear) and saw “The White Guy” (discussed below) in a huge figure lot on eBay. After seeing the White Guy, I knew that this story didn’t end with the Blue Guy. Fast forward to me getting these figures and I now had the proof that the Blue Guy’s cool vehicle from all those years ago was, in fact, his very own Rocket Cycle. I still don’t remember that kid’s figure having a cape, though.
Being that I have the most experience with the Blue Guy, I’ve appointed him the natural leader of this band of knockoffs. He’s molded in a royal blue with red and white highlights here and there. His chest emblem features an upside-down white triangle with a red circle in the center. The Blue Guy also featured a red cape and a blue Rocket Cycle.
Next up is “The Red Guy”. The Red Guy is molded in primarily red and white, with some black details here and there. His chest emblem is an upside-down black triangle divided by three white lines. Clearly the least color-coordinated of the group, the Red Guy features a yellow cape and purple Rocket Cycle.
Here is “The White Guy” who, as mentioned above, I first caught a glimpse of in an old eBay figure lot. He’s molded in light blue and white, with a large blue “V” containing red on the inside. He features a blue cape and a red Rocket Cycle.
Finally, we have “The Black Guy”. As he’s wearing black, The Black Guy is clearly the villain
of the bunch. He’s got a black
costume with white throughout, as well as a gold chest symbol and belt.
His chest symbol is a gold shape divided by two black lines.
He also came with a purple cape and black Rocket Cycle.
As a fan of Secret Wars figures, I couldn’t be happier to own these guys. They make great additions to my collection. Another nice thing is that, since the Secret Wars figures that they were knocking off weren’t of the highest quality to begin with, the Action Heroes fit right in with Secret Wars figures in regard to quality and appearance.
However, I’m still not convinced that I have them all. It would seem that a “Green Guy” would have been a natural addition to the line…as well as possible others. If you have any information (or questions) about these guys, feel free to e-mail me.