is Preserving Toy History.
Preserving Toy History.

Ideal Toys Battle Action Playsets in the Toy Memories Archives

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"Battle Action - The Military Toy Line With All The Sound and Action Of Real Combat by... Ideal"!

   Such reads the original Ideal Toys catalog text describing this most classic line of 1960's military playsets.  "Each Battle Action unit is a complete and exciting toy!", and yes, they certainly were... Some of the items shown here from the Toy Memories archives are from the "Road Block" playset (4863-7), one of the "spring motor operated" sets (some of the other playsets were battery operated; for example the "Twin Howitzers" playset required one D battery to operate the recoiling barrels and "Battle Action sound").

   Shown here (above), from "Road Block" is the original hand-painted Ideal Toys artwork for the package, as well as an original printer's proof.  "Jeep hits hidden mine and tree falls across road.  Machine gunner fires at jeep."  Yikes!  Those are some mouth-watering words for any kid looking for an addition to his war game excitement!

   I'm sure when you hear praise for Ideal's Battle Action playsets (if you should come across someone lucky enough to have had them as a kid), you might think it's exagerrated.  But you definitely do have to see them in person (and play with them, if possible!) to appreciate how cool they really are.  Three-dimensional molded terrain, moving parts, accessories, and you can combine sets for a really sharp battlefield make for an excellent line of toys (this is one area that Ideal seems to have beaten Louis Marx to the punch.)  Figure Motorific in the military without the motor, if that makes any sense (and actually, it would have been so very cool if these had been Motorific compatible!)

   Shown above is an original mold for a machine gun from the Battle Action playsets.  High quality, and made of beryllium copper (meant to last), it looks almost as good as new, not too bad for 40+ years old.

   Here we have an excerpt from the "Road Block" Battle Action instruction sheet.  I don't know about you, but I can say personally a few of these sets scared the crud out of me when I initially operated the mechanisms... they definitely gave your army men play a bit more excitement and realism!  You have to love those chattering guns...

   Sadly today, most of the sets are not that easy to find, and when you do find one it's usually just a large terrain piece with basic parts on it.  Boxed examples are pretty tough (although, for me, it seems the really big combo set shows up semi-regularly).

   Catalog text describing the "Road Block" Battle Action playset makes your mouth water, and heart race just a bit: "Our troops lie in wait for the enemy.  Two of their soldiers approach in a jeep.  Suddenly, the vehicle hits a carefully planted triggering device and CRASH!  A tree comes thundering down to bar their path.  FIRE!  Our hidden machine gunner swings his vibrating gun around with a cracking blast.  Ambush complete!"  It really takes you back to the pure joy and innocence of our youth... dirt everywhere, total excitement, and not a care in the world...

Finally (for now) we have an example of the "Twin Howitzers" playset (no accessories shown, they're a little buried at the moment) and an original 1964 Ideal Toys hand-drawn technical drawing for the Battle Action "Twin Howitzers" playset, which shows a side-view of a howitzer's assembly (see above).  Though relatively simple, it is still fascinating, and a rare little glimpse into the toy-making process.

   If you like military toys, or playsets, trust me... try a Battle Action set.  Maybe it's just me, but there's something magical about them.  That could be part of why they're so hard to find today, as once you have one I'd think it would be difficult to give it up!  (I know I'd never give mine up, haha...).  The "Machine Gun Nest" is really nice, "Twin Howitzers" is another favorite, but really any of them are pretty nifty.  One of these days I've gotta get the "Fighter Jet Strip", and once again I'll be a kid again, lost in the battle... 

   Above you can see a little of the "behind-the-scenes" work that went into making some classic toys; material that has never before been seen by the public, yet which deserves a place of honor.  It should be recognized for the important part it played in many of our fondest childhood memories.  For ToyMemories, thanks for stopping by!