PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

The Long And Winding Return Of Captain Action

The PopCulteer
February 21, 2020

This week we are bringing you a detailed review and deep dive into the newest incarnation of one of my favorite action figures, Captain Action. That him to the right.

I’ve written of the good Captain many times here in PopCult, going back to our first month of covering pop culture way back in 2005. Over the years we have seen revivals of the original 12″ Captain Action, as well as his return in comic books, new forms of pop culture figures, other scales of action figures, and even Art Baltazar’s Captain Action Cat.

Joe and Ed at Captain Action Enterprises have more cool stuff up their sleeve for our hero, but they have to keep it close to their vests for the time being…with one exception.

This latest version of Captain Action comes to us courtesy of ZICA Toys, of Kentucky, who are known for several high-quality collectible figures of Buck Rogers and The Six Million Dollar Man, many in the popular MEGO-size and style.

There is quite a saga of how this project, which was funded through Kickstarter, took over four years to make it from the idea stage to my front porch, where it landed yesterday afternoon.

First, though, I have a genuine scoop, courtesy of Joe Ahearn, from Captain Action Enterprises, who licensed their character to ZICA for this project. Despite the ordeal that ZICA endured bringing this project to us (I’ll get to that later on, I promise), they are eager to proceed with a second series of figures that, if there is enough demand, will include Captain Action’s sidekick, Action Boy; his fellow agent, Lady Action; his arch-nemesis, Dr. Evil; and his distinctive mode of transportation, The Silver Streak.

Check out the image below, and click to see it larger.

 

In order for this to happen, it would help if the current run of figures sells out quickly. You can order the figures in series one directly from ZICA, or from Big Bad Toy Store. As I write this, Big Bad Toy Store is already sold out of four of the figures, and they’re still on pre-order (folks like me who kicked in on the Kickstarter campaign get theirs first).

It also wouldn’t hurt to let ZICA Toys know how much you’d like to see this line continue. You can leave comments on their Facebook page if you want to help the cause.

Of course, you’re probably wondering if the figures themselves are any good.

Yes. They are excellent. These may be the best figures I’ve seen in the 4″ scale. I counted 16 points of articulation. The sculpts are as impressive as some high-end 1/6 scale figures that I’ve seen. The joints are tight and hold a pose. The figures are balanced well, but also have tiny magnets in their feet, so you can use them with metal bases for even more action poses.

For the purpose of this review, I only cracked open one figure (so far). I chose the Stealth Captain Action, who has a gray variant of Captain Action’s original blue uniform.

I should point out here, that to get this line off the ground, the first series (of eight figures) all use the same basic body, only with different colors and chest emblems. This works better than you might think. It allowed them to focus on designing one high-quality body, with a variety of head sculpts. As you can see in the image I posted earlier, the second series will feature at least three new body designs.

I will also point out that this line went through a few changes while in the pipeline. Originally it was going to be called “Adventure People” and for this line, ZICA was going to revive the defunct REMCO name to put on the package. For reasons that don’t really affect the end product, REMCO was not used, and the name of the line was changed to “Comic Adventure Heroes.”

If you go way back to where I recommended the Kickstarter Campaign, you’ll see the different names. I’m not sure what happened to the collector-friendly packaging, but considering what ZICA had to go through to get these toys made, it’s a small sacrifice for the collector.

These are high-end 4″ figures, aimed at collectors aged 15 and up. They do have tiny pieces that would be a choking hazard to kids, so don’t mistake these for the toys you find at stores and keep them away from the mouths or other orifices of pets or small children.

Each figure comes with an alternate head (except for the Strike Force Trooper and Captain Evil’s Henchman) and several sets of alternately-posed hands.

 

Each figure also comes with a collection of weapons. Captain Action (In three different color schemes) comes with his lightning sword, raygun and space rifle. Captain Evil and his Henchman have the same weapons with different paint schemes, while Action Jackson, Jet Jungle and the Strike Force Trooper have the space rifle, but a more standard pistol and knife. Captain Action and Captain Evil also come with a removable Captain’s cap.

 

 

There are other nice details along the way: Action Jackson’s alternate head is clean-shaven. Jet Jungle’s alternate head has white hair instead of blond.

As with the sculpting and design, the paint jobs on these figures are fantastic.

 

 

If you collect 4″ action figures, then you will want in on these. The line combines three legendary action figures of yore (Captain Action, Action Jackson and Jet Jungle), with new enemies and…I’m not sure if the Strike Force Trooper is a good guy or bad guy, but he looks cool, and that’s all that counts.

What we have here is a series of great action figures that will scratch that itch among 4″ figure collectors. ZICA has also revived the Sectaurs line, and these figures are compatible with those. They are also compatible with the new 4″ figures in the JazWares Fortnite line, so you can create all sorts of wild scenarios with these guys.

Like I said, if you want to get in on the (Captain) action, check out ZICA or Big Bad Toy Store.

 

 

This has been a long process. It’s actually not the longest I’ve experienced for a Kickstarter project, but it has been over four years since I kicked in my money. Craig Owen, the owner of ZICA Toys, has gone way above and beyond to see this project to fruition.

The first factory he hired in China turned out to be totally incompetent, making promises and failing to deliver. He switched to a new factory, and a year after the original delivery date, decided to throw in the towel, cancel the project, refund everyone’s money and take a huge personal loss.

 

After being assured by the factory that they could indeed produce the figures at the quality Craig wanted, he reinstated the project and kept plugging along.

More than a year after that, he moved the project to a new factory. Lesser men would have thrown in the towel, and I really have to give Craig credit for sticking with this. He has been completely honest and transparent with his backers throughout this entire harrowing project.

 

 

The new factory had to fix a lot of the work that the previous factories had messed up, but they finally got everything going smoothly, and the figures hit the US just last week. And now the 4″ Captain Action and friends are in my hands, and I have to say, it was worth the wait. I’m really glad I ordered the entire set to add to my collection. I know some collectors of the original Captain Action are purists who despise any Captain Action figure that isn’t in their favorite scale, but they have to understand that it’s projects like this and earlier figures in other scales and formats that keep the Captain Action name alive, and make a future revival of the 1/6 scale line possible.

 

 

That’s this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for fresh content every day, and all our regular features, plus bonus coverage of Toy Fair starting this weekend.

A Captain Action Update

The PopCulteer
August 9, 2019

Almost fourteen years ago, I first wrote about Captain Action in PopCult. Captain Action was one of my favorite toys when I was a kid. He was a 12″ action figure, created by Stan Weston (the real father of GI Joe), that could dress up as a variety of different comic book and comic strip heroes with the use of special costume sets (sold separately).

Captain Action was extremely cool, coming out at the height of the 1960s superhero craze, and I have lots of great childhood memories of playing with the good Captain, and with his outfits, Superman, Spider-man and Captain America. I always wanted his nemesis, Dr. Evil, but it took thirty years for that to happen, and that was what I wrote about way back in September, 2005.

Since that first post, I’ve told you about the revival of Captain Action in comics, pulp novels, vinyl figures, card games and once more as a full-fledged 12″ action figure. The fine folks at Captain Action Enterprises are still plugging away in service to the good Captain, and we have a lot of updates.

The big and most immediate news is that IDW Publishing will finally collect the 1960s DC Comics that introduced Captain Action to comics readers. Over the course of five issues of Captain Action we learned his real name (Clive Arno), his backstory, and met his son, Action Boy and his enemy, Dr. Evil.

These comics featured top-notch work by some industry legends. The first couple of issues were written by a then-teenaged Jim Shooter. Wally Wood pencilled and inked the first issue, then inked three of the remaining four issues over Gil Kane. Kane took over writing with the third issue and issue four saw him write, pencil and ink for the first (but not the last) time in his career. These are great silver age superhero stories, and it’ll be wonderful to have them all in one collection.

 

At the moment, the book is still being compiled, and is expected to be published in 2020. Mark Waid is on board to write the introduction, and in addition to the 110 or so pages of the DC Comics Captain Action title, the book is expected to include at least a sampling of the packaging artwork by Murphy Anderson, the comic book ads by Kurt Schaffenberger and the mini-comics that were included with the toys, which were drawn by Chic Stone. They’re still working on the book and determining the page count, so it’s not clear how complete that sampling may be, but I’m hoping they find a way to cram all of those goodies in there. The book is expected to be hardback, and given the high quality of IDW’s previous comics collections, is bound to be one impressive publication.

We will keep you posted on The Captain Action Archive here in PopCult.

That’s not all that’s happening with Captain Action though. ZICA Toys, which has been hard at work on creating a 4″ version of Captain Action finally has a light at the end of the tunnel. Originally Kickstarted in 2016, The Adventure People featuring Captain Action has fought its way through quite the adventure indeed with different Chinese factories, and this line is now in production with a firm delivery date. Below you see the good Captain, complete with interchangeable hands and his blaster rifle.

 

I’ll tell you the whole story of Captain Action’s Chinese adventures when I review my set of these figures later this year, but if you are interested in this new scale of Captain Action (along with several friends and enemies), you can pre-order them HERE. After almost a three-year delay, it looks like these figures are going to be well worth the wait and you won’t want to miss out.

You can also still order the Captain Action card game. I wrote about it HERE, and you can order it HERE.

There is also a new television concept in the works, but we don’t have any new developments on that, so until we do we’ll just wait patiently for the news.

And if you recall, last year Captain Action Enterprises announced that new uniform sets are in the works for Captain Action, like the one at right. Those are still in the works, and in a big way, but until all the details are worked out, the CAE folks have to remain tight-lipped. We hope to have some exciting news on that front soon.

Over all, things are looking up for Captain Action, and 2020 might just turn out to be a very exciting year for fans of the original super hero action figure.

That is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for all our regular PopCult features. Let’s take one last peek at a page of uncolored original Kane/Wood art from Captain Action #2…

Captain Action’s Mission To Mars…Attacks!

Last month we told you about the new Captain Action uniform sets being released later this year. Now we know more about them.

The big reveal from San Diego is that the new Captain Action space mission outfit will allow him to fight the Martians from Mars Attacks, who will be represented by an outfit set for Dr. Evil. We have these images below from Joe Ahearn of Captain Action Enterprises, and we’ll have more details tomorrow.

Also check back for news on the MEGO revival later this afternoon.

 

 

 

UPDATE: Thursday evening, Ed Catto posted this additional Captain Action uniform. Details on where these will be sold have not been released yet, and we may have to wait until after SDCC, but Dave Steven’s The Rocketeer is a must-have for collectors.

 

The 2016 PopCult Gift Guide: Captain Action Card Game

14884551_10210847699171568_5579749299001068931_oThe new card game that celebrates the 50th anniversary of Captain Action is available now. This new card game celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first superhero action figure, Captain Action. The game features all the characters from the Captain Action mythos: Action Boy and his pet black panther, Khem, Lady Action and the diabolical Dr. Evil. You can expect classic art from legendary comics artists such as Murphy Anderson and Carmine Infantino, plus fan-favorite comics artists, including Jerry Ordway, Paul Gulacy and Kerry Callen.

The game offers 3-in-1 gameplay, just like the classic Captain Action card game. with three fun ways to play: Let Justice Be Done! is a casual game is for three or four players. Each player’s goal is to create the highest number of sets of 3 or more matching cards. Cards can form sets with the same background color (3+periwinkle backgrounds) or the same character (3+ Lady Actions). Action Boy is helping Captain Action, so any Action Boys in a set count double at the end.

giftguide-graphic-008Lady Action’s Escape is for three or four players. Each player’s goal is to discard all their cards before the others can do the same thing. The storyline is that the team is trapped in Dr. Evil’s prison! Lady Action has devised a way out, but they’ll have to be sneaky. Each person needs to carefully follow the person in front of them. Lady Action might find a different escape route… you’ll have to follow her if she does!

Find Dr. Evil is a simple game is for young fans of Captain Action.The object is to catch Dr. Evil by ending the game with him in your hand.In the storyline Dr Evil is in disguise! The team must flush him out of hiding! The object of game is to end up with Dr. Evil in your hand.

14992045_10154058671578857_6793925091387755628_nThis is a great way to keep the spirit of Captain Action alive while we wait on the next toyline and the cartoon series, plus it’s a fun way to brainwash young children into wanting Captain Action so that they can play with him, too.

You can order this game, which is an homage to the highly-valuable Captain Action Kool Pops mail-in game from fifty years ago, from the Gamecrafter, where it’ll set you back 26 bucks, which is a bargain compared to what you’d pay for the original Kool Pops card game. I’ve been telling you about Captain Action since the beginning of PopCult, and you have to know that this game is a toy-collector’s dream, perfect for the vintage toy afficianado on your holiday shopping list.

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PopCult at Toy Fair: Captain Action

The PopCult Toybox

ckrtlab-toys-captian-action-50-years-celebrating-vinyl-figuresIn this video, your PopCulteer sits down for a quick chat with Ed Catto and Joe Ahearn of Captain Action Enterprises. 2016 is the 50th anniversary of Captain Action and Ed and Joe show off a couple of cool products to commemorate the good Captain’s golden anniversary.

We talk a little bit about what the future holds for Captain Action, including a special Ultraman costume set. But the big news is that there is still plenty of big news coming. We can expect a huge announcement about Captain Action later this year, hopefully in time for the San Diego Comic Con.

As a totally irrelevant aside, this video clip is the 500th YouTube clip posted by yours truly. You can check out our messy and crowded YouTube page HERE. It’s really cool to share our milestone with Captain Action’s.

Captain Action Turns Fifty!

PT CA 01The PopCult Toybox

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in the PopCulteer, 2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary for many pop culture icons and notable cool things.  One of my favorite notable cool things is Captain Action, the first fully poseable superhero action figure. I’ve been writing about him since the very first month of PopCult but for those of you coming in late, the good Captain was released in 1966 during the peak of the mid-60’s superhero craze.

Captain Action was a 12″ poseable action figure created by Stan Weston, who came up with the idea for GI Joe, and his gimmick was that instead of dressing in military gear, Captain Action could assume the identities of superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America, The Green Hornet, and others.

PT CA 04Captain Action was out of production by 1970, but the character left such a mark on the collective psyche of children of the 1960’s that he has been revived many times in many different forms. Ed Catto and Joe Ahearn, the current stewards of Captain Action, have a lot planned to mark his fiftieth birthday.

With this being his golden anniversary, you can expect all kinds of really cool Captain Action projects ranging from audiobooks and comic books to trading cards and playing cards and several sizes of action figures.

Amid all of this, there are two terrific Kickstarter projects featuring Captain Action and we’ll tell you about those right now.

PT CA 02First up, Zica Toys hopes to launch a new line of 4″ action figures under the banner “The Adventure People.”  This project grew out of Zica’s plans to re-create the original Captain Action line in a smaller scale, but it has grown beyond that and has become an impressive stew of toy collector’s nostalgia.

The Adventure People name was originally used by Fisher-Price for a fondly remembered line of neat little action figures and accessories, roughly in the same scale as this new iteration.  For this project, Zica is reviving the Remco Toys brand name too.  Remco was a major player in the toy industry in the 1960’s and 70’s before fizzling out in the 80’s.  That’s not all the nostalgia packed into this Kickstarter project.

Offered up in this line of The Adventure People will be Captain Action, a new evil counterpart to the good Captain, Captain Evil, two color variants of Captain Action, a Henchman for Captain Evil, and more.

Continue reading…

Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

Okay, for this post I’m cheating. I’m cramming four posts into one. From eariler this year I’m giving you the post with the headline you see above. As a bonus, below that you’ll get one post from each of those legendary action figures, taken from various points in PopCult’s history.

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Photo by Mykol Blackwell

The PopCult Toybox

This week in the PopCult Toybox we’re going to catch up with three titans of the 1960s 12-inch action figure scene, GI Joe, Johnny West and Captain Action.

We will learn why GI Joe no-showed his fiftieth anniversary last year, the cool NEW Johnny West figure set that commemorates his fiftieth anniversary, and the very busy Captain Action Enterprises crew as they gear up for the Good Captain’s golden year in 2016.

Derryl DePriest (photo by Mark Otnes)
Derryl DePriest (photo by Mark Otnes)

First up, with GI Joe, we have a very good interview with Hasbro’s Derryl DePriest. Mark Otnes of The Joe Report and Patches of Pride caught up with Derryl at the 2015 JoeCon a couple of weeks ago, and heard firsthand why Hasbro is focusing on other action figure lines.

It’s a little sad reading the logic behind Hasbro’s moves, but it’s not hard to understand why Hasbro sees the future of GI Joe in other scales than 1/6. Collectors of 12″ GI Joe, after being a bit spoiled in the late 1990s, simply did not support collector-centric product like 2004’s Fortieth Anniversary line, and more recent attempts to revive interest in the scale failed to perform at retail. DePriest does point out that Hasbro’s “Titan” 12-inch figures with limited articulation (I panned them when they were first released) are among the best-selling action figures on the market right now. While that’s sort of depressing, it does give one hope that we will see a revival of quality 12″ action figures at mass-market retail in a few years, once the children of the 1990s are feeling the pangs of nostalgia.

Continue reading…

Captain Action’s Kool Card Game Returns

42b549cb97c0f4efb0e1c513167525abThe PopCult Toybox

One of the most rare Captain Action collectible items from the vintage era of 1966-69 was the Captain Action Card Game, which was a mail-in premium, available only to kids who devoured Kool-Pops frozen treats.

The Captain Action card game AND the Kool-Pops package--a holy grail among collectors
The Captain Action card game AND the Kool-Pops package–a holy grail among collectors

Complete sets of this card game go for over a hundred bucks easily–way more than that if they’re in mint condition. The original Kool-Pops packages go for even more and are considered one of the hardest-to-find collectibles of the 1960s superhero boom.

A couple of days ago, Captain Action Enterprises, LLC  (CAE), in cooperation with veteran game designers and developers Harold Sipe and Meg Stivison, announced a new card game based on the beloved Captain Action properties. The team will bring Captain Action, Dr. Evil, Lady Action and the entire mythology to gamers and action figure fans in 2016 as part of Captain Action’s 50th Anniversary.

Continue reading…

11188410_1109819459044796_3591966670955105703_n
Photo by Mykol Blackwell

The PopCult Toybox

This week in the PopCult Toybox we’re going to catch up with three titans of the 1960s 12-inch action figure scene, GI Joe, Johnny West and Captain Action.

We will learn why GI Joe no-showed his fiftieth anniversary last year, the cool NEW Johnny West figure set that commemorates his fiftieth anniversary, and the very busy Captain Action Enterprises crew as they gear up for the Good Captain’s golden year in 2016.

Derryl DePriest (photo by Mark Otnes)
Derryl DePriest (photo by Mark Otnes)

First up, with GI Joe, we have a very good interview with Hasbro’s Derryl DePriest. Mark Otnes of The Joe Report and Patches of Pride caught up with Derryl at the 2015 JoeCon a couple of weeks ago, and heard firsthand why Hasbro is focusing on other action figure lines.

It’s a little sad reading the logic behind Hasbro’s moves, but it’s not hard to understand why Hasbro sees the future of GI Joe in other scales than 1/6. Collectors of 12″ GI Joe, after being a bit spoiled in the late 1990s, simply did not support collector-centric product like 2004’s Fortieth Anniversary line, and more recent attempts to revive interest in the scale failed to perform at retail. DePriest does point out that Hasbro’s “Titan” 12-inch figures with limited articulation (I panned them when they were first released) are among the best-selling action figures on the market right now. While that’s sort of depressing, it does give one hope that we will see a revival of quality 12″ action figures at mass-market retail in a few years, once the children of the 1990s are feeling the pangs of nostalgia.

Continue reading…

Scooby Doo, Captain Action and JoeLanta

The PopCult Toybox

scooby-dooThis week the PopCult Toybox brings you some short items along with updated graphics. The International Toy Fair in New York City is less than three weeks away, and lots of companies are jumping the gun with new toy announcements.

Scooby Doo Hits The Bricks

Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Fred, Velma and Daphne will drive The Mystery Machine straight into the world of construction toys with a series of new Lego sets headed to toy stores, thanks to an extension of the partnership between the Lego Group and Warner Bros.

The new Lego sets include Mummy Museum Mystery, Mystery Plane Adventures, the Haunted Lighthouse and the big-ticket set, The Mystery Mansion (seen below). They’ll range in price from $15 to $90.

scooby-doo-lego

Continue reading…