Western Animation: Action Man

In 1966, Hasbro licensed to Palitoy to sell the popular G.I. Joe toy to the U.K. Because the term "GI Joe" is very American, they decided to rename him "Action Man." It was more or less the same toy as his American counterpart but with British military uniforms and equipment.

In 1992, Hasbro took over the Action Man line and redid it, turning him into a kind of "Jack of all trades." With his new extra buff physique, Action Man was now a soldier, an athlete, a secret agent, and many other things with a brand new enemy named Dr. X.

In 1995, an animated series was released by DiC where Action Man was part of a Global Defense team called Action Force (including Knuck, Natalie, Jock, and their dog Raid) but has complete amnesia and only tends to have minor flashes of memory at various times. The Action Force is often called upon to deal with the threat of a paramilitary organization lead by Dr. X.

In 2000, a CGI series (unrelated to the 1995 incarnation) was produced by Mainframe Entertainment . It follows the adventures of Alex Mann, alias "Action Man," an extreme athlete who discovers he possesses an ability to analyze any situation and mathematically determine the best course of action, or as he perceives it, lots of complex math floating around in his head while time appears to stop. Alex maintains a friendly rivalry with fellow athlete Brandon Caine, who quietly resents always coming in second to Alex. The pair are approached by the mysterious Dr. X who offers to improve upon the two with cybernetic implants. Alex refuses but Brandon accepts. Soon an altered Brandon comes after Alex and Dr. X makes it clear that he wants the secret behind Alex's ability for himself. With the help of his former high school football coach (who is far more than he seems) and the rest of Team Extreme (Alex plus his camerawoman, manager, and pilot,) the Action Man must stop Dr. X's plans for "the future of humanity" and try to save his friend while still maintaining his career as an extreme sports star.

There also exists a trilogy of CGI Movies. As of 2012, Hasbro is developing an Action Man film but nothing else is known so far. The French animated series Alpha Teens on Machines is derived from an Action Man replacement line, retaining more or less what could be reasonably called a different interpretation of the protagonist himself, but with a completely different set of characters.

Tropes associated with the 1995 cartoon series include:

  • All There in the Manual: Action Man's lost past was detailed in the series bible. One page is available here: [1]
  • Ascended Fanboy: Ken Davis, who provided storyboard art for this series, is a huge GI Joe fan and posts on GI Joe message boards as "Arrow". He also provided the series bible mentioned above.
  • The Dragon: Ursula.
  • Every Episode Ending: Each episode ends with Action Man reflecting about the missing memory he has recovered during that episode.
  • Genius Cripple: Jock/Jacques.
  • Landmine Goes Click: One character steps on a pressure mine. To escape, he unties his boot and does an unnecessarily impressive backflip as the mine goes off.
  • Large Ham: Dr. X.
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Gangrene.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. X is of the "evil" variety.
  • Quest for Identity: The Action Man has no memories of his past life. The now-notorious DVD Action Man:Past Performance indicates this.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Jock or Jacques? The latter pronunciation is particularly valid, on the assumption that the name is French (plus the fact that the guy's voice actor used a French accent).

Tropes associated with the 2000 CGI series include:

  • Action Girl: Agnes "Fidget" Wilson, Diana Zerbas.
  • And I Must Scream: In the finale, this fate befalls Dr. X. Hes gained superhuman abilities, doesn't need food or air any longer, and becomes Nigh Invulnerable... and then Action Man traps him on an empty rock floating in the immense vastness of space with no means of escape. He actually does scream Action Man's name one last time as the rock drifts away from earth
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Action Man's signature Once an Episode move called the "AMP Factor" where Alex would mentally freeze time and evaluate his surroundings in Matrix-like slow-motion to save the day.
    • These became less and less impressive over time. Initially it would involve complicated sequences of moves that make Rube Goldberg Devices seem straightforward. Eventually it would simply involve him running around doing things really fast while everything else was in slow-motion.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Agnes "Fidget" Wilson.
  • BFG: The recurring BSU 10000?
    Alex: "BSU? What's that stand for? Ballistic... Sub-harmonic... Ultrasonic...?"
    Coach: *fires gun* "Blow Stuff Up".
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The trilobites.
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: Simon Grey
  • Beam-O-War: a brief one occurs between Tempest and Action Man (holding a power cable) during the last episode.
  • Butt Monkey: Rikki
  • Catch a Falling Star: Alex deals with gravity and acceleration every day, and making physics work for him is part of his job description. Piece of cake.
    • He even does this during the opening theme sequence.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Brandon, Simon Grey and agent Diana Zerbas are all never mentioned again after the end of season 1.
  • Colony Drop: In the finale Dr. X decides to destroy humanity by pulling an asteroid towards Earth.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul
  • De-power: Tempest and Quake lose their powers in the finale.
  • Dueling Shows: Premiered at the same time as rival show/toyline Max Steel.
  • Enemy Mine: twice. In the "Swarm" two-parter, Action Man and Dr. X have to team up to stop a group of rogue trilobugs. In the grand finale Asasi teams up with Action Man
  • Engineered Public Confession: One of Doctor X's targets is a sporting event being attended by leaders of two countries that had just begun the possibility of stopping the war between them. He hits them with a weapon they both know about and then broadcasts news reports seemingly produced by each side saying the other side did it. Of course, Asazi ruins it all by bragging about the plan when she's got the good guys cornered. She obviously didn't know that Fidget *always* has a camera — her headset, in this case.
  • Evil Gloating: Many villains, but Dr. X is most fond of it.
  • Evil Laugh: Dr. X at times.
  • Evil Plan: Dr.X wanted to create a new body for himself and used Brandon to work out the bugs in his system. After acomplishing this he moved on to creating neo-humanity.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Dr. X is a textbook example.
  • Expy: Simon Grey to Morpheus.
  • Fair Cop: Diana Zerbas
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Fun with Acronyms: AMP Factor (Advanced Macro Probability Factor)
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    Ricky: Isn't it your job to anticipate accidents before they happen?
    Fidget: Maybe your parents should've followed the same advice.
  • Grand Theft Me: Brandon, whose body gets overtaken by Dr. X in episode 2.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: The bad guys wear an assortment of black, red, dark green, and purplenote . Tempest averts it with his outfit, which uses heroic colors such as blue, yellow, and light grey.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: played with. In the episode "Ground Zero", when Fidgets journalist sister, Amanda asks Team Extreme who this 'Dr. X and the council of doom' are, Rikki answers they are a local rock band. Amanda doesn't buy it.
  • High Heel-Face Turn: Asazi, at the end of the series. Although it's questionable if she will really quit being evil, since her only motivation for helping Alex was that Dr. X plan to destroy all of humanity would be bad for her business).
  • Hitman with a Heart: If the final episode is anything to go by, Asazi plays this trope straight.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Little hints of it. Alex Mann was somewhere around 6 feet. Fidget was canonically 4'11".
  • Hyper Awareness: The AMP Factor.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Alex
  • Killed Off for Real: unless Harmless Freezing is in effect, Professor Gangrene is killed by Action Man in the Grand Finale.
  • Legion of Doom: Dr. X runs a villainous team to further his schemes. In fact, it's literally called "The Council Of Doom".
  • Man-Eating Plant: Action Man and Dr. X encounter a huge Venus Flytrap on a deserted island after they crash land there.
  • Merchandise-Driven: The show's downfall appears to be closely linked with this. The story began with good writing and decently-paced arcs. Once season two began (and toys were on the shelf) the stories became more generic and tied to toy-related concepts. Episodes became more formulaic and a "Today on Action Man..." intro often spoiled the whole episode's plot.
  • The Needless: After assuming his metallic form in the series finale, Dr. X no longer needs food, water, or air to survive.
  • Not Me This Time: the episode "Storm Front" stands out as the only episode in which Dr. X is neither seen nor mentioned. Instead Action Man gets to deal with a new villain, Tempest, who at the time had no connection with Dr. X yet.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Dr. X desires to destroy all of mankind to replace it with a neo-human race.
  • Obviously Evil: Dr. X and the rest of his evil team.
  • Poisonous Person: Professor Gangrene
  • Powered Armor: the quake suit, which eventually ends up in the hands of a fat janitor named Sydney, turning him into the supervillain Quake.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Asazi turns on Dr. X when he reveals his final plan is to competely annihilate mankind because it will be bad for her business as an assassin.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The quiet version is executed with ease by Simon Grey.
    Grey: (opens suitcase, shows big gun) The BSU-10000. It's still experimental, but quite potent.
    Alex: BSU? What's that stand for? Ballistic... Subharmonic... Ultrasonic?
    Grey: (takes out gun, blasts a car into sky-high pieces) Blow. Stuff. Up.
  • Race Lift: Action Man in the '95 version was voiced as a Brit to acknowledge the actual origin (being repackaged for UK release), making this version the racelifted one.
  • Robot Dog: Team Xtreme has a pet robotic dog.
  • Rule of Cool: All over the place, but most notably with the luge suit, which is basically motorcross armor with wheels so you can slide at breakneck speeds without a sled. This sort of thing is normally suicide.
  • Run the Gauntlet: happens in the series finale: Action Man has to fight all members of the Council of Doom, first one by one, then all of them at the same time, before facing off against Dr. X.
  • Scary Black Man: Simon Grey. Voiced by Christopher Judge, indeed.
  • Shock and Awe: Tempest.
  • Super Window Jump: Asazi does this on a motorcycle in her debut episode. This was in a diner, so There Was a Door about three feet to her left.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Alex uses this on Asazi in episode 25.
  • Take a Third Option: Alex has to fly up to his own team's plane and save his friends from a bomb on board. It's going to go off in a few seconds, and no one knows which wire will defuse it... so Grinder snatches the bomb and throws it off the plane. Problem solved.
  • Take Over the World: Dr. X's ambition, mixed with Evilutionary Biologist.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Dr. X has smuggled his trilobites onto the plane, and a large one is monitoring the crew via video camera. They realize they'll need some privacy before forming a plan, so Grinder picks up a screwdriver and throws it directly into the camera's lens.
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: Happens twice in the Grand Finale. The first time this trope is played completely straight; Action Man demands Professor Gangrene lets Rikkie go while the former threatens to throw the later out of the airship. Gangrene is more than happy to comply with this request. The second time, when Quake threatens to throw Fidget into a lava pit, Action Man is more carefull with his choice of words and specifically demands he puts her down safely on the ground. Not that it helps.
  • We Can Rule Together: Dr. X offers this to Alex in the finale.
  • You're Insane!: Alex's retort to Dr. X's We Can Rule Together offer.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Dr. X's plan in episode 25-26. He kidnaps Alex's friends, and puts them in deadly situations that will force him to use his AMP factor. If Alex succeeds in rescuing them by using his AMP abilities, then X will gain enough insight into it that he can replicate it on himself and become superhuman, and further his plans to create neo-humanity. If Alex fails in rescuing them, X will have killed Alex's friends. This doesn't help his body issue but it is personally gratifying.