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Action Man is the British take on GI Joe, and was first introduced in 1966, hence Action Man 4040 at the Blink Gallery in Soho, London. The exhibition begins today, 16 May 2006, but I managed to get in for an early look.

It has been put together by designer-toy magazine Clutter, with a little bit of help from makers Hasbro, and features 40 different figures that have been customized, bastardized and abused by artists and designers from all over the world. Monsterism creator Pete Fowler and James Jarvis, the designer behind Amos Toys, to name just a couple. A few of the efforts may or may not be a comment on Action Man's military heritage, as they variously show him in a coffin, dressed to look like Mahatma Gandhi and holding a protest banner that says "Inaction Man". Others respect his roots, decking him out in the kind of heavy-duty hardware beloved of toy fan-boys, but it's worth a look even if you're not a collector and simply played with Action Man when you were a kid, like I did.

Action Man 4040 runs for a fortnight at the Blink Gallery, and then each of the figures will be auctioned for charity.

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