Friday, October 13, 2006


Buddy Charlie was Marx Toys’ strongest effort to compete directly with G.I. Joe, and I was not aware of the figure’s existence until just a few years ago. Unlike Stony Smith and the other Marx figures whose clothes were molded as part of the body sculpt, Buddy Charlie was a nude action figure with cloth uniforms. His body design and articulation were almost identical to the early G.I. Joes, except his hands were a definite improvement. While Joe’s hands were contorted in some arthritic tangle only good for holding a rifle, Buddy Charlie had hands that were formed in a semi-grip, so you could put just about any accessory into them and he would be able to hold it. The hands are very similar to the type that Captain Action would have a year or so later.

Buddy Charlie came in four different versions representing each of the armed services (Soldier, Sailor, Pilot, and Marine). This was similar to the G.I. Joes of the day. Marx was uncharacteristically skimpy with the accessories for Buddy, but I think they were trying to make him as much like the Joe figures as possible. Accessory sets were sold separately, featuring the same accessories that came with Stony Smith.

When I discovered Buddy, what struck me first was the head sculpt. G.I. Joe had the ultimate in bland faces. From what I’ve read, that was done intentionally so that a wide range of boys could relate to him. Heck, they used the same head sculpt for both the Caucasian Joe and the African American Joe and it works perfectly, so neutral are the facial features. But that very blandness was always a turn off for me. Buddy Charlie had a distinct face. He looked mature and battle weary, but also decent and kind. He reminds me a bit of the late Darren McGavin in his younger days.

So scarce are these figures that I never thought I’d own one. Luckily, I managed to snag one on eBay as part of a Marx toy lot for a reasonable price. He came cheap because he was not 100% original. His arms had been replaced with new ones taken from a repro Captain Action. With his clothes on, you can’t tell the difference…from a distance.

Speaking of Buddy Charlie and Stony Smith, there are some Marx Toy enthusiasts who have been selling what I can only describe as build-it-yourself Stony Smith kits. Apparently, in the early 90s, Marx Toys was asked to make Stony Smith figures for a special order, but the deal fell through and the parts sat in a warehouse. I purchased one of these kits and had a great time trying to figure out how to build it. I dismantled a busted up Geronimo figure to use his hardware. The head and hands that were provided with the kit were not of Stony Smith, but of Buddy Charlie. They didn’t fit the design of the Stony body, so I swiped an old Sam Cobra head and set of hands and put them on the body. I then repainted the head so he looked a little different from Mr. Cobra. Here is the result:

By the way, if you want to learn more about Marx action figures, go to this site.

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