Private Eyes Are Watching You...

At the ripe old age of 6, I inherited a vast collection of 70's toys from a family friend who was much older. It was a treasure trove of action figures and accessories from all the major lines of the 70's. A G.I. Joe army box, Mego Batman and Robin, Mattel's Heroes in Action, the LJN S.WA.T. Playset, etc. I was already spoiled with too many toys from the early 80's from my newly divorced guilt ridden parents, so being the toy glutton I was I wrapped my arms around these old figures and quickly assimilated them into my already busting toy chest.

For many years, I have been recollecting all of the lost glory of that toy coup I rangled at such a young age. The only survivors of my youth were the Mego Batman and Robin who I treated with the same respect I would have the Lord Jesus himself.

Yet, the figure I missed most was the no-handed Über detective J.J. Armes.
J.J. Armes is a real life detective who lost his hands in a childhood accident. By the early 1970's, he was the most famous detective in the world with a long list of celebrity clients.

In 1976, the Ideal Toy Company (1 of my favorite vintage companies) wanted to somehow get in on all of the toy money being made by Mattel with the Six Million Dollar man line, so who was a popular real life bionic man.....why Mr. Armes of course.

It was a great idea. Here was a famous real private eye for the kids to look up to and he also had all kinds of fancy gadgets and guns that turned his disability in to an asset.

Ideal released 1 figure of Mr. Armes with interchangeable hands and weapons.

They also put out a SWEET van called the Mobile Investigation Unit.

Sure it was just the Evel Knievel Scramble Van with new stickers...

...but they added a huge claw on top for J.J. to grab all the bad guys.

As well as a computer, ladder, and satellite dish.

The van is well constructed and can take a good beating from even the roughest of terrain in your backyard.

The figure is of the classic 70's style.

He is 9" tall very proportionate with a large barreled chest. The head sculpt is pretty close to man himself, but they softened up his features and made his grin very approachable.

Onto to his accessories...

J.J. comes with a monogrammed suitcase full of hand replacement for any type of investigation.

He's got hooks, a sword, a gun/hook, suction cups, and a magnet hand for all his varied detecting needs.

Ideal did a great job with J.J. and brought the world it's first major disabled action figure. It is very sad that the C.A.M.P playset seen in the Ideal catalog never saw the light of day. For some great shots of the prototype, check out the great website

I am very happy that J.J. and I have been reunited after all of these years apart.
We had a lot of fun back in the early 80's kicking Steve Austin's ass in the
back yard and burying his bionic corpse in the mud.

In my heightened age, J.J. Armes and the M.I.U rest safely on the toy shelf with other remnants of my toy chest that got lost in all the moves and all the houses and all the time I've wasted in the horrific process of "growing up."


  1. I loved this post, Raines. We seem to have shared a similar childhood with so much moving around. That last pic is priceless! Kudos to Ideal for creating this line. The J.J. head sculpt looks ten times better than Steve Austin or any Adventure Team Joe of the era. An awesome figure all around!

  2. Brilliant post! You have an amazing knowledge of the toys and the industry... this type of journalism may just be the scam you have missed out on to make your ultimate fortune...

    Toyfare would have NOTHING on a "Colonel Raines' Toy Chest" magazine!!!


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