Mattel dolls of Big Jim, Big Jack, and Big Josh
Here is the original box for the Canadian version of Gold Metal Big Jack which seems to be less common than the American version. He originally came with a small dumbbell and a band to put around his bicep that would pop off when his bicep is flexed! According to the illustration it also looks like he's supposed to have a necklace of some kind. The necklace for the American version had a circular medallion piece rather than an oval, and the box had different graphics.
Above are both of my Gold Metal Big Jim dolls... Big Jim and Big Jack. These dolls have red and blue stripes with stars painted on the front of their white briefs. They were originally sold without any clothes. Unfortunately, the rubber arms on Big Jim have discoloured which is a common problem for Big Jim dolls. A Gold Metal Big Josh was also made, though it may not have been available in North America.
Here is a comparison of the 9 inch Big Jim with Mego's 8 inch Spider-Man.
A closer look at Dr. Steel's face and his manly cartoon dragon chest tattoo!
Here is a closer look at Zorak's two faces, above and below.
G.I.Joe, and the 12 inch Kenner Star Wars dolls were the only "dolls for boys" that I was aware of until at least the mid 1980s. Therefore, all of the Big Jim dolls I now have were found second hand at flea markets. Mattel did an excellent job on these Big Jim dolls.
Page 1 of 2 page ad
Page 2 of 2 page ad
Marvel Comics, Kazar #5, Sept 1974, p.4 and 5
DC Comics, Kamandi #22, Oct 1974, p.16 and 17
Marvel Comics, Skull the Slayer #3, Jan 1976, p.9
This ad tells us that "P.A.C.K." stands for "Professional Agents / Crime Killers"
Lastly, here's a photo of the Big Jim page from the 1975 Eaton's catalogue.
Here is an awesome website that I found which shows much more of the Big Jim collection:
Sunshine Family, by Mattel, 1974 -1982
TV Character Dolls page for more info about these two TV doll collections. Mattel also produced three dolls based on TV's Space 1999 using these same doll bodies, however I don't yet have any of those dolls in my collection.
Harley Davidson Ken, by Mattel, 1999
During the 1990s Ken went through a major transformation. Rather than simply being an accessory to Barbie, Mattel had begun to market Ken separately to collectors who are not the least bit interested in owning a Barbie. An example of this is the Harley Davidson Ken dolls. Below is the second Harley Davidson Ken to be offered. He's all decked out in his motorcycle riding gear. Mattel did an awesome job on this doll and added lots of detail, including a Harley Davidson belt buckle and a printed Harley logo bandana.
Grand Ole Opry Ken, by Mattel, 1999
The same year that the second Harley Davidson Ken was available Mattel offered this Grand Ole Opry Ken doll. Unfortunately he was sold in a two pack set with Barbie. I thought this Ken was interesting enough to get anyways, and I gave the Barbie to my sister. I didn't bother to keep the box either, I just wanted the Ken. Mattel did an awesome job with the detail such as a headset microphone and a flocked cowboy hat. Ken's guitar even has separately attached strings.
Hawaii Ken, by Mattel, 1999
Surf City Ken, by Mattel, 2000
Max Steel, by Mattel, 2000
From the mid 1980s to the early 1990s toys that were essentially "dolls for boys", such as G.I.Joe, Mego superheroes or Big Jim, fell out of vogue in favour of standard action figures (such as Star Wars, He-Man, DC Comics "Super Powers", or Ninja Turtles figures). But in the mid 1990s 12 inch dolls such as G.I Joe were starting to make a comeback. By 2000 they were back in demand and renewed battle between toy companies to create the best 12" action figure doll series was in full swing. Hasbro produced G.I Joe and Action Man assortments while Mattel introduced their new 12 inch hero...Max Steel!
Here is the second assortment as shown on the back of the card. Click on the image to see a larger version.
In 2003, while the Max Steel series was still being produced, Mattel used Max Steel's muscular body to produce a limited edition set of Barbie and Ken dolls based on a romance novel by Jude Deveraux titled "The Raider". Above is Mattel's promotional photo for the dolls which shows the prototypes. Max Steel's head/face was used for this prototype but the actual doll that was produced had a different head. It looks to me like they may have used the head from Barbie's new boyfriend at the time, Blaine, adding the long rooted hair. (see California Boy Blaine below on this page).
I think this Ken/Max Steel mash up is hilarious and a shrewd bit of marketing. I like that this doll set is based on such a silly concept, and this Ken/Raider doll also looks really cool IMO. As such I certainly wouldn't mind owning one of these Ken dolls someday, though I have no interest in owning a Barbie so unfortunately her romance novel story would end badly. I would sell the Barbie and replace it with another Ken, or some other male doll. Now there's a juicy romance story... The Raider and Prince Ken! :) I'd read that book!
My Scene, 12 inch doll by Mattel, 2003
The back of the box shows illustrations of the four male dolls in the series, which in addition to Bryant includes Sutton, Hudson and River.
California Boy Blaine, by Mattel, 2004
Big Bad Wolf, 7 inch doll by Mattel, 2008
Ken Riviera!, by Mattel, 2008
Ken Fashionistas: Hottie, by Mattel, 2009
The following year, in 2009, Ken moved up from cutie-pa-tootie status to become an official hottie. The doll body used for the Fashionistas "Hottie" Ken above uses doll body parts from the Harley Davidson Ken doll shown above. The upper arm was modified to have thicker biceps, and the legs are a bit longer than the previous Kens. The face for this doll is the same as the Riviera! Ken, but instead of sculpted hair it has rooted doll hair that has been styled and glued into position. Several Ken dolls were made for this Ken Fashionistas series. In addition to "Hottie" Ken there were two different "Sporty" Kens and a "Cutie" Ken. These have since been followed by at least six more Fashionistas Ken dolls.
Ken: A Fashion Fairytale, by Mattel, 2009
Also in 2009 "A Fashion Fairytale" Ken was sold to promote a DVD of the same name. A small hang tag on the front of the box explains that the DVD would be released in the Fall of 2010. I've decided to leave this Ken in the box unopened, so I'm not sure what type of doll body was used. His hands are shaped differently from any of the above Ken dolls, and he is a bit shorter than the Fashionista "Hottie" Ken. Once again the same face as the Riviera Ken was used, but with the rooted doll hair that is glued into position. I think this Ken really looks sharp! Mattel did an awesome job on this Ken doll.
Ken, by Mattel, 2010
Text and Photographs © Mike Artelle, 2013, 2015