Hasbro released their Soldiers of the World British Commando in 1966. Palitoy released their figure a year later. While the figures look similar, if you look closely, you’ll see that Hasbro and Palitoy went in completely different directions.
The most important difference, in my opinion, is their country of origin. Simply put, GI Joe British Commando accessories were made in Japan, and Action Man’s British Infantryman bits were made in Hong Kong.
The second, and albeit more obvious difference is the GI Joe Soldiers of the World British Commando was released with a ‘Circle R’ foreign head soldier (no surprise that British lads call him a ‘sour face’) while the Action Man figure was your standard 1967 figure with painted rivets
Before we determine the differences in the uniform and accessories, let’s first look how they are alike, or at least, very similar.
- Both Battle Dress Tunics follow the 1937 pattern, with back pleats, separately stitched cuffs, and a double stitched waistband. They both have machine embroidered rank stripes and unit insignia, with a crossed swords unit badge and a two tier medal cloth ribbon above the breast pocket.
- Both Battle Dress Trousers follow the 1937 pattern with material that matches the tunic, and details that include separate ankle tabs, an open pocket and a sewn outline of a round pocket with a flap cover.
SOTW British Commando: uniform was constructed of a heavy weight wool fabric. Worth noting: the early tunics came with the awesome and exceedingly rare foil rank stripes and unit badge. Later tunics featured the embroidered insignia used by Action Man. The tunic had two round pleated pockets. The open pocket on the trousers is also round.
SOTC British Infantryman: uniform was constructed of a heavy weight canvas fabric. The tunic had two square pleated pockets. The open pocket on the trousers is also square.
- Gaiters: Only the Action Man lad has gaiters.
- Helmet: Both lads wear the MK2 ‘steel’ helmet, originally introduced in WW1. The US version is stamped Hasbro ® Japan. The UK version is stamped Hasbro ® Hong Kong.
- GI Joe British Commando wore unstamped, unnumbered short brown boots with rimmed soles
- Action Man British Infantryman wore short black boots are stamped Hasbro Hong Kong, with a mold number on each. These boots came with eyelet holes and black laces.
- GI Joe British Commando wore a tan belt constructed of a medium weave canvas and fitted with a square brass buckle.
- Action Man British Infantryman wore a combat pistol belt constructed of a heavy weave cloth and fitted with a simple brass clasp.
- Canteen/Water Bottle: similar style
- GI Joe British Commando cover was constructed of the same woolen fabric as uniform.
- Action Man British Infantryman cover was constructed of the same canvas fabric as uniform.
- Gas Mask (also called a small box respirator) : both came with clear plastic eye lenses and elastic head strap
- GI Joe British Commando is tagged Hasbro ® Japan.
- Action Man British Infantryman is tagged Hasbro ® Hong Kong.
- Gas Mask Bag: different styles
- GI Joe British Commando bag: a flat design constructed of the same canvas material as the belt. Secures around shoulder and waist using a strap with square buckle. Tagged Hasbro ® Japan.
- Action Man British Infantryman bag is constructed of the same heavy weave sand colored fabric as the belt. The bag lid closes with two snaps. Colth shoulder strap with adjustable buckle. Bag is secured around waist using a thick corded rope drawn through a rope hoop.
- Sten SMG: similar clip, silver painted stock and elastic strap
- GI Joe British Commando Sten is stamped Hasbro ® Japan.
- Action Man British Infantryman Sten is stamped Hasbro ® Hong Kong.
- Victoria Cross Medal: similar front style with crimson colored paper ribbon decal
- GI Joe British Commando medal is flat and smooth on the underside.
- Action Man British Infantryman medal has a stamp imprint on the underside.
This reference chart was compiled to help collectors identify specific GI Joe and Action Man 1:6 scale accessories. Geff prefers to call them a work in progress, with room for additions, updates and the odd massaging of details. And photos. Lots of lovely photos.