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Remember, this is only about 25% of what is shown in my encyclopedia! To Give some perspective on what types of action figures were produced, here is a detailed outline. The book elaborates on this breakdown in much more greater detail. Tom- The Vintage Toy Room

  • The Beginning Military Series.(Includes: Stony, Buddy Charlie's, All American Figter type)
  • The Western/Calvalry era. (includes: Johnny West, Fort Apache Fighters, Best of The West, Johnny West Adventure)
  • Canadian and U.K. differences.(Includes: Mod variations, Unique figures not made in the U.S.)
  • The Noble Knights and Mighty Viking Series. (Includes: Knights, Vikings, horses, castle)
  • The Short Lived Secret Agent / Spy Series.
  • The 7.5" Production Run.(includes: Apollo's, Rat Patrol, Military, and western figures)
  • The Lone Ranger Series in the U.K.
  • The Safari Adventure Series.
  • The Ready Gang Series.
  • The Archies.
  • Here is sample used in a Toy Shop article 1999.


Marx covered action figures from Stony Smith in 1964 through one of the most sought after figures, Jed Gibson in 1975. What did Marx bring in more than a decade? Lets go back in time to see when it started and what Louis Marx Inc. delivered in the 60’s and 70’s. Many adults today will have similar stories to share with their kids on these wonderful action figures and what they meant to them 25 plus years ago…

The Military Era, the Beginning.
It all started in 1964.  The giant toy manufacturer Louis Marx & Co. of U.S.A. was faced head to head with the introduction of GI Joe.  To “combat” Hasbro, Marx used their state of the art plastic injection technology to build a 12” articulated figure.  This figure was called “Stony Smith, the Paratrooper”. At first Stony did not have leg articulation, but quickly in 1965 it was added. Despite the efforts of Marx, Stonys were low volume sellers. A final step taken by Marx was a fully clothed figure called The All-American Fighter, a.k.a. “Buddy Charlie.” He was available as a marine, pilot, sailor, or combat soldier. The clothing and body style was similar to Hasbro’s GI Joe, and was partially supported by Marx in Hong Kong. Other military items included a Jeep Set, and a General Eisenhower figure. Despite Marx’s efforts, none of the military figures did well in the action figure market. During the production run of the Marx military figures and sets, they were diligently planning a counter attack with the production of a new line of action figure toys. These would become Marx’s largest sellers with a very long production run of 10 years….

The Western Series “Best Of the West”.
Marx realized they would need to take a different spin if they were truly going to put a dent in the action figure market.  Marx went after TV show themes.  One of the firsts was the figure “Daniel Boone” which was a tie into the TV series and/or the “Davy Crockett” show. The head mold carried a Fess Parker look and the body was molded in caramel tan. This figure also did not have articulating legs, but did well in 1965 unlike the Stony figures. To further capture market share, they branched into more TV themes, i.e. “Wild Wild West”, “Gunsmoke”, “Bonanza” etc. Marx went full force into production, building a 12” cowboy action figure named “Johnny West”. Also in 1965, along with Johnny, an Indian “Chief  Cherokee” and “Thunderbolt” a western range horse with full tack was introduced.  “Johnny” and the “Chief” had full body articulation. Over the next few years more western figures were created.  These included  “Jane West”  (Johnny’s wife), her horse “Flame” the non-jointed trotting posed horse. Major department stores added many nice sets in the early stage of Johnny West. Some examples include a ranch jeep set, Indian teepee set, and a Johnny West wild mustang set. Many parts of the combo sets were also sold individually depending on the retailer. Other figures added to the Johnny West line include animals, more horses, and the West kids! These include two boys Jay and Jamie West, two girls Josie and Janice West, a chestnut or palomino “Poncho” pony for the kids, a wild buffalo, and two dogs Flick (shepherd) and Flack (Setter). A horse and rig (buckboard, covered or surrey wagons) were added. Moving down the list, Marx developed the cardboard “Circle X Ranch” playset. More color versions of Thunderbolts were created (black, brown, pinto) along with a new horse called Buckskin. Buckskin was available in brown or palomino and had fixed legs with articulation in the head and neck. 1967-1968 brought many other Marx action figures treats. Marx branched out into the Fort Apache Fighter Series.  This series brought in the Cavalry theme and more Indians. Marx seemed to be again targeting TV shows, i.e. “F-Troop”, “Rin Tin-Tin” etc. Figures added included Captain Maddox, Zeb Zachary, and the now rare hard to find Bill Buck, Geronimo,  Fighting Eagle, and lastly General Custer. Two Fort Apache Fighter horses called Commanches were added, and were available in brown and tan/palomino colors. These were fully jointed and are notorious today for having loose joints and fail to stand and display well as a result. They included the same set of tack as the other large horses except they had a special cavalry saddle. The tack was available in black or brown.  Other playsets added included a cardboard full-scaled Fort Apache for the 12” figures.  

Corporate changes
Around 1972, Marx had corporate changes. Quaker Oats company took over and updated figure construction, added some sets, changed packaging, and eliminated a few items. Two figures added were “outlaw” Sam Cobra and Sheriff Garrett. Quaker Oats also added a Johnny West camping set. This set had a hard plastic yellow/orange jeep with a variety of camping gear. After 10 years of action figure production, Marx brought out another western series in 1974. This was “The Best of The West” series. It offered an across the board packaging change for all figures and horses. The main new addition to “The Best of the West” series was the addition of a female Indian figure “Princess Wildflower.” In 1975 Marx western / cavalry packaging and figures changed yet to another new series. They became the Johnny West Adventure Series, a.k.a. JWA series. In this series, the boxes changed more to watercolored lithographed illustration on the cover and were one piece constructed. JWA offered big color changes to the standard blue and caramel tan molded figures. Johnny West and Sam Cobra were changed to “Quick-Draw” figures. These had a right arm, controlled by a lever in their backs, which would allow the two figures to draw their “special” pistols out of their “special” holsters. Most figures were molded brighter colors, and accessories were all changed to look more colorful. JWA figures and accessories are uncommon today due to such a short production run. Finally…. the most sought after JWA figure was developed. Jed Gibson was a black cavalry scout and is quite hard to find today. Many collectors are in need of this figure and as a result pay top dollar for him. His gold accessories are very hard to find especially the bugle. Many sealed sets do not have the bugle like the box illustrates. Boxed Jeds are extremely rare and as a result, prices escalated into the $600-$1200 range for a mint and boxed figure. The Marx western line of action figures provided a long profitable era for Marx. These are among the most remembered by adults today when they think of Marx “action figures” and I am sure are highly remembered by previous employees at Louis Marx Inc. due to over a decade of producing “Johnny West” and friends…Many Marx action figures will be long remembered. I have only given a small piece of the pie here, but hope it will help new collectors, or give older collectors some more areas and ideas for collecting.

To see much more, check out the Encyclopedia! Tom- The Vintage Toy Room

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