The Mego company got its start as an importer of toys and household novelties but in the early 1970s, they began production on an action figure that was meant as a low-cost alternative to the incredibly popular G.I. Joe.
This first doll’s name was Fighting Yank, and when the Yank didn’t do so well, Mego opted for a smaller scale figure.
Their next protégé – launched in 1972 – was named Action Jackson, or “AJ” for short.
AJ and Dinah-Mite, also from Mego, were heartily advertised on television. AJ had a slew of military garb, sports garb, and all-around adventure garb.
There were sets like the Fire Rescue Pack, the spy set, and scuba and mountain climbing gear that were all sold separately from the figure.
There was a battery-powered Mustang horse to match AJ’s cowboy attire, along with battery-powered and remote controlled Jeeps, snowmobiles, Volkswagen vans and motorcycles.
AJ was also available with several different hair colors and styles, beard or no beard, white or black and, in 1974, Hispanic too, with the release of an AJ figure named Amigo.
Unfortunately, AJ just couldn’t loosen G.I. Joe’s kung-fu grip on the action figure market.
Mego had bought up licenses for characters like the Green Hornet, Dick Tracy and the Star Trek characters, though, and they put these new heroes’ heads atop figures made from AJ’s body.
The many costume sets and bodies left over from the Action Jackson line are still found in large quantities and possess a certain charm. Undeniably hokey, often poorly designed, AJ is nonetheless a broad and interesting line to collect.