Western Animation / Action Man
In 1966, Hasbro
licensed the British company Palitoy to manufacture and sell the popular G.I. Joe
toy in the U.K. Because the term "GI Joe" is very American, they decided to rename him "Action Man." He was more or less the same toy as his American counterpart, but his costumes and accessories were quickly redesigned to depict 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 with live-action segments was released by DiCnote
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
and Fox Kids
. It follows the adventures of Alex Mann, alias "Action Man," an extreme sports athlete who discovers he has something called the AMP Factor
, which is an adrenaline triggered ability that lets him analyze any situation and mathematically determine the best course of action,
represented by complex equations 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 Simon Grey (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
, which seem to follow a Broad Strokes
version of the 1995 cartoon, but with visuals like that of the 2000 series (as they were all produced by Mainframe). 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 (in some parts of the world
, it was even called Action Man A.T.O.M
2016 saw the launch of a new ongoing monthly comic
from frequent Hasbro partner IDW Publishing
; this has the premise of Action Man being a title used by many different people (a similar concept had been used in Hasbro's failed Unit: E
attempt in 2011) in the service of the UK; the Free Comic Book Day issue (as a dual title with ROM (IDW)
) has the previous Action Man performing a Heroic Sacrifice
while stopping a plot by Dr. X, resulting in his sidekick, Ian Noble, taking up the mantle. It's a part of the new Shared Universe
IDW's created for their Hasbro titles, starting with the crossover event Revolution
; the series ended after 4 issues (due to poor sales), and Ian then became a member of the Revolutionaries
Tropes associated with the 1995 cartoon series include:
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. He’s 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...?"
: *fires gun* "Blow Stuff
- 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.
- Brought to You by the Letter "S": Alex has his own badge-esque symbol (an "M" that has one side colored orange and differently shaped to suggest an "A", over a diagonally-divided black and white circle). It appears over or on pretty much everything associated with him, and Team Extreme has a variant with a blue "E" on the same circle. Dr. X, meanwhile, uses a brushstroke-style "X", typically in green or purple.
- Butt-Monkey: Ricky
- 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.
- Comm Links: Alex wears a specialized watch which can track his location (which proved useful on some occasions), check e-mail, give a rundown of that day's event (seen frequently at the beginning of the episode), and run data discs.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: How Dr. X initially stole Brandon's body. He also has a AI program housed in a small Trilobite that can inject and infect other humans with his nano-trilobites, infecting them with the same AI program and turning them into clones of himself. This only works on the strongest physical specimens, so it's implied anyone who isn't an extreme athlete would die from the shock of the transformation.
- Dating Catwoman: There were some vibes of this between Alex and Asazi, before learning she was an assassin he admitted to Gray that he was flirting with her and he would offer her a chance for redemption whenever they meet.
- De-Power: Tempest and Quake lose their powers in the finale.
- 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.
- Evil Versus Oblivion: In the finale, Asazi defects from Dr. X and joins up with Action Man to stop him once X unveils his plan to kill all of humanity through Colony Drop (he had the rest of his Council of Doom believe that it was just a bluff), which she notes would be bad for her line of work.
- Extreme Sports Excuse Plot: One of the more insane ones, given how extreme sports intersects with Cold War-style Super Soldier experiments, radical Trans-Humanism and Bullet Time powered by super-advanced math.
- Fair Cop: Diana Zerbas
- Fanservice: Fidget for the cropped shirts and short shorts. Asazi for the Spy Catsuit and Sexy Walk.
- Five-Bad Band:
- Big Bad: Dr. X
- The Dragon: Tempest
- The Dark Chick: Asazi (although she also has some characteristics that are usually associated with the Dragon)
- The Brute: Quake
- The Evil Genius: Professor Gangrene (although Dr. X and to a lesser degree Tempest can both fill for this role as well).
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Quake was just an overweight sleazeball before he stole a Powered Armor suit that can create earthquakes to become a supervillain.
- 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 Fidget's journalist sister, Amanda asks Team Extreme who this 'Dr. X and the council of doom' are, Ricky 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's 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. Alex actually abused it at one point to find out where an invisible airship was. An invisible airship that the latest radar detection system couldn't find.
- 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, tied to toy-related concepts and every episode had at least 30 seconds of shilling the fancy tech he uses. 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.
- Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dr. X claims he's trying to help the humanity evolve even if many won't survive the transformation into "Neo-Humanity". In actuality, he's a psychopath with delusions of grandeur and world conquest. When his plans start to crumble, he decides to decimate the Earth with an asteroid. He basically says "I am humanity" during his final We Can Rule Together speech to Action Man.
- 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 completely 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.
(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.
- Sigil Spam: Justified for Action Man, as he's an extreme sports star and the symbol appears on pretty much everything associated him, likely for (in-universe and out-of-universe) marketing purposes. (Ricky even wears a shirt covered in the symbol like polka dots.) For Dr. X, it's a bit less explainable, aside from maybe his large ego.
- 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.
- Super Ulysses Perhero: Alex Mann- aka "the Action Man". Somewhat justified- in universe, the name was likely made up based around his name to provide a good extreme sports moniker, only for the plot to turn him into a hero.
- 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.
- Villain Exclusivity Clause: The 2000 CGI version put Dr. X in this position. Pretty much every episode either has Dr. X as the villain, or someone who works for him. His plot is always the same: kill a bunch of people, mutate the survivors into neo-humanity. He would also narrate his darwinian goals Every. Single. Episode.
- Weaponized Car: In one episode, Grinder added explosive weapons to Team Extreme's convertible, including missile launchers under the hood and explosives in the passenger's seat to act as a self-destruct. Did we mention the car was being remote-controlled on top of all this?
- We Can Rule Together: Dr. X offers this to Alex in the finale.
- 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.
- You're Insane!: Alex's retort to Dr. X's We Can Rule Together offer.