It’s toy-time in this strip readers.


‘As Seen on TV’ – pfft! Do you you remember that one? Almost as if seeing something on TV made it more exciting. Like:


‘As Held by Neil Armstrong on the Moon!’
‘As Handed to the Israelites by Moses’
‘As Used by Alien Robots in the 5th Dimension’

as seen on tv logo


Eagle Eyes!

How silly – but, oh, how we wanted it! ACTION MAN was an amazing phenomenon in Britain. Boys were suddenly allowed to play with… dolls!


Action Man 'Eagle Eyes' TV advert

How we must have chatted excitedly about this TV ad in the schoolyard the next morning!

Action Man Eagle Eyes instructions



I have to keep reminding myself that when I first got an ACTION MAN, and I was reading war comics etc., the Second World War had only been over for about 30 years. Imagine that: if a WORLD WAR had only ended 3 decades ago


6 million dollar man toy comic advert

From an American comic. Always more exciting when we saw them in those. View Larger »

I suppose, like me, you used to pore over the toys section of those catalogues when you were a kid? With your eyes bulging? No, not the lingerie section – that would come years later – the toys! Lone Ranger and TontoEvel Knievel Action ManSix Million Dollar ManTin Can alley… excitement and torture all at once. No, the TOYS, I said!

It’s all innocent fun here at B*W.

But didn’t it make the run-up to birthdays and Christmas all the more exciting as you hoped and hoped that all those hints and the letter to Santa didn’t go unnoticed. but what if they did? I proudly brought my [brilliant] Cowboy Joe figure into a classroom party and was mocked by a couple of the boys, the majority of whom were holding their own Six Million Dollar Men. Conform, or else.



Am I an old fart when I bemoan the – yes I am an old fart – when I bemoan the popularity of video games these days? I know kids who were so creative when they were young; creating, building, drawing, writing stories, acting out scenarios with their soldiers and toys, and then the bloody iPad or Gameboy or DS was handed to them. No more drawing or creating. “Oh – but it is creative! Look at MINECRAFT? it’s like LEGO.” Yeah, yeah.

It’s too heavy to get into here, on a light-hearted webcomic, but it worries me: the instant gratification of shiny, colourful, explodey, on-screen play. Even if you ration video games; when they’re switched off, often all they feel like doing – after an intensive, immersive bout of it – is to slip into the other room and stare at TV. Swapping one screen for another one. It’s argued that gaming stimulates creative thinking, such as problem solving but… it still worries me. And does this mean that people weren’t as good at problem solving 30 years ago?

I suppose I am just an old fart. And maybe they’re better than toys that move their own eyes and arms.


Living Room Wars

Making this strip reminded me of my pal Phil Custodio‘s webcomic . If you love action figures and nostalgia – you’re here right? – then check it out. It’s brilliant and funny. And actually, I don’t know ho he manages to create all those strips! The tagline will help to give you a flavour:

While Away, my Living Room becomes a Battlefield…


Phil Custodio's Living Room Wars webcomic


** Stay Groovy, all you 1970s kids! **

– John White

↓ Transcript
(Purely functional)

The scene opens with a close up of an Action Man doll (a bit like G.I. Joe in the USA). He's wearing a French Foreign Legion hat.

CLICK! "Activate: 'Eagle Eyes' " says a voice, just out of shot.

Then we see another action figure's arm lifting something.

CH-CH-CH! "Activate: Bionic arm!" says a second out of shot voice.

CLICK! Foreign legion Action Man again. "Look: right!!!" His eyes swivel to the right.

CH-CH-CH! Six Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin lifts the engine. "Lift: One Thousand Tonne engine block!!!"

Cut to a wider shot, and we see that it's actually Jack and Jim, who are playing with their new toys. Jack lets out a very long and very bored bored yawn. Jim replies, "I think we've exhausted all of the creative possibilities of moving eyes and engine blocks."

Jack observes, "They seemed less silly on the TV ads. But tehy were all we could think about!"

"Pfft" goes Jim, "Steve Austin versus the French Foreign Legion - ha!" shaking his head at the utter ridiculousness of the very idea.

But then, "No - wait!" explodes Jack, "That's brilliant! So much potential."

A new voice, out of shot, makes an 'ahem' sound, trying to get attention and cut in on the very interesting discussion. But Jack doesn't hear, adding, "We just just one more ingredient..."

Then we see their friend Adam, who had just arrived, unnoticed, thrusting forward his new toy. "How about Steve Austin's side-kick: Evel Knievel? Ta - daaaa!" he shouts, dramatically and dynamically adding a more hushed "Gyro-Powerrr".

Recognising the term, Jim and Jack excitedly cry in unison, "Cor... 'As Seen on TV!!!' "

But Jack, thinking it over for a second, says "I love it Adam" but warns "Don't rev it up with that Gyro-Thing..." which looked so amazing on the TV ads, "It's flippin' rubbish."