Friday, September 15, 2006


Even as a child, I was never athletically inclined. Always a few pounds overweight, lacking in stamina, and possessing the worst hand/eye coordination, I never could excel in any sport. Besides, I was so full of imagination, I much preferred fantasizing about amazing adventures with my action figures than confining myself to the rigid rules and procedures of a game. As a result, I developed a disinterest in sports and a dislike for those who excelled in sports, i.e., the jocks.

Big Jim was a jock. Unlike Action Jackson, who had outfit sets for any variety of activities from combat soldier to fire fighter, Big Jim’s whole milieu revolved around sports activities. He played soccer, football, baseball, and, of course, practiced karate. In fact, his gimmick was a push button in the middle of his back that lowered his right arm in a quick chopping motion. This was not a plus in my book. Just like the circle of bullet holes in Talking G.I. Joe’s chest, a collapsible back was not natural and kinda creepy.

But I digress.

During the summer of ’72, I was firmly in the Action Jackson camp. My friend Dave had a Big Jim, so we would play together, but the bulky, 9-inch Big Jim looked positively Hulk-like next to puny Action Jackson. Oh well, we had big imaginations. For my birthday that summer, a well-meaning but action figure-impaired relative bought me a Big Jim Rescue Rig. It was a cool piece of equipment, with the cherry picker on top, but it was way outsized for my Action Jackson, so I talked my mother into getting me Big Josh. He had a beard. Somehow, he seemed to me like a lumberjack rather than a jock like Big Jim. That was how I tentatively entered the world of Big Jim, but that was about it. In 1974, I asked for a Big Jim lunchbox to take to school only because it was one of the first all-plastic lunchboxes. Unfortunately, after carrying about three months worth of lunches, the plastic absorbed all the smells of the various inhabitants and turned into one God-awful stench. If you can imagine peanut butter, salami, tuna fish, and Fritos blended together, you get the idea. The all-plastic thermos was worse. Sure, it didn’t have a glass liner to break on you, but the plastic quickly smelled like sour milk. I threw it out before Thanksgiving and brown-bagged it the rest of the year.

I regained interest in Big Jim briefly around 1976 when they came out with the W.O.L.F. Pack. The team consisted of a much more macho looking Big Jim, a bald guy with a chrome hand called Dr. Steel, a lumberjack looking guy with a big whip called (imaginatively) The Whip, and a Native American stereotype called Warpath.

I think I fell for these guys mainly because of the box art, done by the comic book genius Jack Kirby. I was a sucker for his bold style, and bought some of these figures. Of course, by this time, I was approaching puberty and admitting to owning action figures was a bit like saying you wore dresses and danced to Captain and Tennille records in your room. Okay, that one time, but that’s all!

Big Jim fizzled out in America around this time anyway. I’ve since learned from the Internet that Big Jim continued on to great success in Europe. The costumes and accessories followed themes more closely related to espionage and science fiction rather than sports. If only he had started out that way in the states, I may have ditched Action Jackson a lot earlier.

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