This Dark Spoof On Action Figures Delivers A Message On Military Recruitment, The Reality Of War

Veteran for Peace UK wants to show war is not a cartoon.

The harsh realities of war and its consequences are delivered in uncompromising fashion in a new campaign by education and lobby group, Veterans for Peace UK.


An unsettling three-minute film is specifically aimed at raising the age of recruitment to the British Armed Forces from 16 to 18 years old.

The film opens with flickering scenes from ‘90s children’s TV and then breaks to an “ad” for “Action Man Battlefield Causalities,” a range of Action Man figures. The first vignette is set in a squalid apartment and features “P.T.S.D. Action Man,” who is paranoid, violent, swigs from a can of super strong lager and sets out lines of cocaine to “block out the memories.” The point that he is left with “no support from HQ” is made and then the shot pans out to a child playing with the toy, who laughingly puts a noose around the figure’s neck and flicks the chair beneath it away.

Two further grim scenarios are played out in other spoof ads, the first featuring “Paralyzed Action Man” and the final, “Dead Action Man.” All include an over–the-top voice over, contributed by actor and comedian Matt Berry (The IT Crowd) who lists the toys’ “attractions.”

The film, written by Darren Cullen and directed by Price James, closes with the Veterans for Peace logo and a website address, where people are urged to write to their MPs to ask them to “put a stop to child recruitment.” The webpage provides guidance as to how to go about this as well as some shocking facts and figures, such as: “The U.K. is one of only 19 countries worldwide that still recruits 16 and 17 year olds into its armed forces–others include North Korea and Iran” and “The suicide rate for 16-20 year old males in the armed forces has been 82% higher than for civilian males of the same age.”

Veterans for Peace UK is made up of former service men and women whose stated aims are to “educate young people on the true nature of military service and war, resist war and militarism through nonviolent action and stand in solidarity with people resisting militarism and war.”

The Action Man figures and play sets, as well as the film itself are currently on exhibition at Red Gallery in London.


About the author

Louise Jack is a London-based journalist, writer and editor with a background in advertising and marketing. She has written for several titles including Marketing Week, Campaign and The Independent.