Big Jim

Big Jim

As the Vietnam War raged on in the early 70’s, the public had tired of their usual fondness for war-related toys. Heck, even G.I. Joe took on more of a Steve Irwin persona, choosing a life of rugged adventure over another tour of duty. But he was no match in the brawn department to the one and only Big Jim. This was a man’s man – a sports hero, martial arts master and adventurer, all wrapped up in one beefy package.

Introduced by Mattel Toys, Big Jim had a body to be proud of and he wasn’t afraid of showing it off. With actual flexing biceps, and patented “Big Jim Body Action”, this was one highly flexible action figure. The included decorative armband proved no match for his biceps of steel and could be popped off with a single squeeze. And with a mere push of a protruding dorsal button, Jim’s mighty arm would snap into action, able to break his karate board as if it were a stick of butter. These weren’t the only accessories that came with Big Jim though. A Big Jim Sportsbook was also included, as well as dumbbells and, um, a skimpy set of shorts.

But what’s a guy without friends? To his credit, Jim had a number of equally muscular acquaintances, which in hindsight might have been a little too, shall we say, Village People-esque. You had Big Jeff, the blond with the khakis and machete; Big Jack, the African-American version of Big Jim; and Big Josh, the furry lumberjack with the cutoff denim shorts. Throw in a police officer and a construction worker and these guys could have gone on to enjoy a career as a successful musical act.

Of course, Jim had a wide variety of attire available when he wasn’t in the mood to show as much skin. Perhaps he was in the mood to hit home runs, catch a trout, engage in a little downhill slalom or go to a leather bar, er, ride his motorcycle. No matter the activity, Big Jim was appropriately dressed (outfits sold separately, of course). And if Jim wanted to grab the gang for a weekend of safaris, cow roping, or saving the day, he could choose from a number of rugged vehicles to transport his buddies. Perhaps he would take out the boat for a fishing trip, Or maybe the camper for a night in the great outdoors. The rescue vehicle, the Baja Beast – you name the adventure, Jim had the wheels necessary to get the job done.

And what is a hero without a nemesis? In Jim’s case, “his greatest challenge” came in the form of the dastardly Dr. Steel – a Mr. Clean looking dude with a dragon tattoo on his chest and steel right hand that he could use to break pipes (pipe included). The two would eventually make nice in 1976, as the good doctor became a member of Jim’s elite “Big Jim P.A.C.K.” or “Professional Agents Crime Killers.”

Perhaps it wasn’t the greatest acronym but the five members of P.A.C.K. made up a heck of a team. Accompanying Jim were Warpath (a tracker), The Whip (a weapons expert), Torpedo Fist (an intelligence expert) and the newly reformed Dr. Steel who acted as the enforcer of the group, thanks to that metallic right hand. Luckily for Dr Steel, the group chose their left hands to adorn with the team tattoo (steel doesn’t make a good canvas for a tattoo needle). With their matching boots, complete with wolf-print soles, the group was well equipped to take on the new villain on the block, the sinister Zorak – a mad scientist complete with hooded cloak and a striking resemblance to the Unabomber.

Like many a great Jazz artist (and Jerry Lewis for that matter) Jim’s popularity eventually waned stateside, but he and his buddies found a respectable longevity in Europe, where the people have a greater appreciation for the important things in life – scantily-clad muscle men with a penchant for saving the world … and camping.

If you were the proud owner of a Big Jim doll as a kid, we would love to hear your memories in our comments section. What accessories and members of his entourage were part of your collection? More importantly, why did you choose Jim over his iconic counterpart? Was he cooler than GI Joe in your opinion? Tell us all about it as we tip our hats to this rugged action figure who will forever live in our memories.

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10 Responses to “Big Jim”

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  1. Sparkina says:

    Believe it or not, I had a Big Jim doll — oh, beg pardon, a big Jim figure — when I was a teensy little lass. In my play universe, he was the fellow Barbie dumped Ken for :-)

  2. Spelurker says:

    I had a Big Jim that included a bunch of camping gear (tent, hatchet, back pack, etc…). Farily cool toy for the time.

  3. Kay says:

    I had the 4 Big Jim Dolls. I let my sister play with the Barbie dolls. I thought they were cool. I never wanted a GI Joe. I had the camper and some other things I cant remember. I gave it all away. But, it my late 20’s I decided to try and recollect them. Took a long time. But, I have learned something tonight. The store where I bought mine at back then, must not have carried the P.A.C.K. ones. Otherwise, I would of had them also. I was at an antique shop a few weeks ago. And I saw a Big Jim and a Dr Steel. And wondered who the Dr Steel was. Now, I know. Hopefully it is still there, so I can get it and display it with my camper and the other 5 figures. I do have 1 Jim doll with the Wolf tattoo. This time, my collection is not going anywhere. I am just going to let it collect dust and listen to company ask my why a 47 year old woman has an old “Action Figure” collection. LOL My best to all!

  4. Renee says:

    My brother had Big Jimdolls and I had Barbie. One xmas I wanted one of the BigJim Cars for Barbie so he gave it to me as a gift

  5. sam g says:

    WOW ! i remember getting jobs pulling weeds for people on my block to get enough to buy my first big jim….they cost then 3.99….so i charged a penny a weed until i could get him best day of my life that day lol

  6. Peelip says:

    For the longest time, I thought I must have hallucinated these toys! :-P I had Jim, Jeff, and Josh. Jeff was my favorite. I had pretty much all of the outfits you could get, but I don’t remember having any vehicles. Eventually they all merged together with my shorter Barbies for one big soap opera of romantic relationships. I had only one GI Joe, but I never cared for it.

  7. Greg says:

    I had a Big Jim and a Big Jack when I was a kid in the ’70s. I had the hockey outfit, a football outfit, and the eagle (which I had completely forgotten until I saw it mentioned on the Wikipedia page. I also had some kind of plastic zip line thing that you could (sort of ) use to have them slide down a piece of string tied to something. I think my parents got me Jim because my brother already had GI Joe. I really loved those toys, and played with them a lot before Star Wars came out. Then it was all over for poor Jim and Jack. I have no idea what happened to them. Probably Goodwill.

    • Tina says:

      I have a Big Jim figurine with the orange shorts and weights. He’s wearing a #9 jersey with cleats and he still has his armband to show his muscles, lol. I even have a GI Joe figurine with some military accessories but a few of the plastic pieces are broken.

  8. Doug B says:

    I had Big Jim and his Rescue Rig. Spent hours coming up with my own stories to use them

  9. Don B. says:

    I am a 50 year old Black man and when I was a kid in NYC I had a Big Jim action figure. It was extremely rare for a Black kid to have one. I got it as a Christmas gift with the Big Jim airplane rescue set. It was my favorite toy and the memories that I still have are some of my most precious ones. I have not seen those toys since back then. I know they stopped production of them but this story is the first time I have seen anything Big Jim related since that time. Thanks for that trip down memory lane.

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