May 15, 2009
The Ballad Of Johnny West
There were four big action figures that all the kids wanted back in the 1960s (I know, I’m dating myself).
GI Joe was the original action figure. Originally nearly a foot tall, he’s gone through a lot of changes over the years, but he’s still with us. Captain Action was the first super-hero action figure. The Captain has been revived in comic book form and as a limited edition figure, and I’ve written about his extensively here in PopCult. Even Major Matt Mason is coming back. The bendy-style astronaut figure will make his way to the big screen soon, portrayed by his biggest fan, Tom Hanks.
Then there was Johnny West. King of the cowboy action figures. Johnny hasn’t been so lucky. For years the ownership of his name has been in trademark limbo. His only appearance in the mainstream media was being mistaken for a vibrator in “American Pie 2.” An attempted revival fizzled out earlier in this decade, when a poorly-packaged reproduction was released by a company that was eventually sold to a firm that merged with a rap concert promoter. In the resulting mess, the reissues became less accurate and eventually the line was abandoned and we didn’t know if we’d ever see our cowboy buddy again.