A Year of Action: Talking Captain Action with Joe Ahearn and Ed Catto

Captain Action, the first super-hero action figure, is turning fifty years old next year. The Captain, his sidekick Action Boy, Lady Action and his arch-nemesis Dr. Evil are still going strong in the worlds of action figures and comic books.

We speak to Joe Ahearn and Ed Catto, the folks behind Captain Action Enterprises, to learn more about the new Captain Action figures in the works, the Captain’s being feature on the new Overstreet Comics Guide and get a glimpse into what’s coming from Dynamite Comics.

AFF: Congrats on the new CKRTLAB vinyl figures. They look amazing! How did producing the Captain with CKRTLAB come about? 

Ed Catto: We’re big proponents of comic conventions. We’ve been going to them as fans since the 70’s and magical things always seem to happen at each one. In many ways, last year’s C2E2 was the site of the “Secret Origin” for this project. I was walking the floor and was drawn to the CKRTLAB booth. I loved his clever logo and the cool figures on display. The brilliant guy behind it all is named Tim Ellis, and it turned out we had crossed paths a couple of times in before. After I finished gushing over his product and his company, we both agreed that it would be fun to explore a way to work together. Joe agreed and that’s exactly what we hammered out in the weeks subsequent to the show.

AFF: CKRTLAB is producing a Limited Variant Captain Action: Black-OPS figure for C2E2. Any other upcoming variants? If there a chance for an Action Boy or Dr. Evil from CKRTLAB?

Joe Ahearn: The Black Ops variant looks sharp, and we can’t wait for fans to see him first hand. He brings a bad@$$ attitude to the character and really stands out. In fact, we’ve been discussing other ways to create this variant in other formats. At Toy Fair this February, we developed even more variant ideas. They are now in the proposal stage and we’ll be excited to hear what the fans have to say. And as we plan ahead, you better believe we’re looking at Dr. Evil and Action Boy as future line extensions. We offered a sneak peek of Dr. Evil in our NYCC Convention Sketchbook/Coloring Book in October and the feedback was exceedingly positive!

AFF: Most recently announced at New York Comic Con, Go Hero, Executive Replicas, and Phicen Ltd announced an 1/6 scale Lady Action figure. Can you talk a bit about the design process behind this figure and when it will be shipping to fans?

Ed Catto: Our 1/6th scale Lady Action is a high-end product and looks just beautiful. She’s a fantastic figure and we’re thrilled to be working with the folks from Go Hero, Executive Replica and their international partner, Phicen.   The strike on the west coast really slowed everything up, but now she’s available to fans through a wide variety of retailers, including Stewart’s Attic, Cotswold, Big Bad Toy Store and Past Generation Toys, among others. Unlike our all ages Round 2 one-sixth scale figures and costume sets, she’s clearly for collectors and priced accordingly. Thus far, however, the fans that have received her have been over the moon. Due to very a conservative production run, we worry that she’ll sell out too fast, but becoming an “instant collectible” is a good thing too.

AFF: Zica Toys has been promoting their 1/18th scale line as shipping in Summer 2015. Are we close to the release and will the first wave see Captain Action and the release of the Silver Streak?

Joe Ahearn: One of the coolest things about working with the team from ZICA is the Silver Streak they are developing for the line. As you probably know, the Silver Streak was Captain Action’s version of the Batmobile. It was an imaginative collectible and is still very sought after by vintage collectors. One thing that always bothered us, however, is that the Silver Streak looked long and sleek in the packaging illustrations, but the actual toy vehicle was a bit stubbier. We’ve worked with the gang from Zica to rectify this, and the new Silver Streak will more accurately reflect the idealized version from the packaging. (No pun intended.)  And as its sculpted digitally, we’re plotting behind the scenes to figure out the best way to create a 1/6th scale version of it somewhere down the road.

We’re also planning additional characters for this line, including Dr. Evil and Lady Action. The Lady Action will be highly anticipated, we feel, because we’re designing an alternate outfit for her as part of this line.

AFF: We are seeing a wave of reproductions of retro toys right now. It seems Captain Action is now being seen in scales and formats never seen before for this line. Is this a conscious effort to introduce CA to new collectors? Might we see some retro reproductions in the future? 

Ed Catto: We love the concept of Captain Action, and have worked hard to pitch a big tent so that was can offer many manifestations of the character to a number of different types of collectors and fans. For many of the core fans, the 1/6 scale is the gold standard, but we find that’s not necessarily true for everyone else.

For example, last year the Tonner Doll community embraced their flavor of action with the Tonner Lady Action doll. I’ve got to tell you, these Tonner collectors are just fantastic fans. We’re so glad to offer them not only Lady Action, but also costume sets for Wonder Woman, Supergirl, the new 52 WW and more.

Likewise, our pulp novels from Airship 27 help us connect with pulp fans – who might not even be into toy collecting. (Plug Alert – the new Lady Action thriller should debut at San Diego Comic-Con.)

And the various figure formats for the toys all help to offer other ways for fans to come and party with us under the big tent.

As for reproductions – you bet. We haven’t figured out how to reproduce the 1960’s inflatable swim toy, but we’ve got a number of reproductions in the works right now – including one they said could never be done! You might say, this one is in the cards.

AFF: There is a beautiful Paul Gulacy Captain Action gracing this year’s Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. Can you talk a bit about how this came about and what’s next for CA in the comic book world? Any chance we will ever see the original DC series collected? 

Joe Ahearn:  As longtime comic fans, we’re thrilled to be part of the annual tradition of combining iconic characters with top-level artist on the covers of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.   One of the masterminds behind the guide, Gemstone’s J.C. Vaughn, has always been a big supporter of everything we’re doing with Captain Action. He’s been kind and helpful since about day #1. In fact, he helped us with a complicated deal where we used some gorgeous Walt Simonson artwork on our Thor packaging last year. The image that we felt was best suited to the costume set was not from a Marvel Comic – but from one of the recent Overstreet Covers.

So it was during Toyfair 2014 when J.C. called us and invited Captain Action to not only be on the cover the guide, but to be on the cover of the 45th Anniversary Guide. We again worked with one of our favorite artist, the incredible Paul Gulacy, to develop a cover that would be evocative of every 60’s spy movie you ever saw..and some you hadn’t. Now we admit we’re probably too close to it, but we feel as though Paul just knocked it outta the ballpark. We can’t wait to get the Overstreet Guide in our sweaty hands at SDCC.

As an aside – we’re also planning our second annual customizer contest for San Diego Comic Con. The first one last year was such a big hit and so much fun. This year, we’re probably making it a Bring On the Bad Guys theme!

Oh, and one other thing – the Overstreet Free Comic Book Day comic will also have Captain Action on the cover. But this is a wonderful image from Art Thibert. We always knew he was a brilliant illustrator, but he’s also a great guy and a big Captain Action fan.   Look for that one on Free Comic Book Day too!

In comics, we’re thrilled to be working with the crew from Dynamite. Nick Barrucci, Joe Rybrandt and the gang there have shepherded in our Codename:Action series and the wild Captain Action Cat series. Next up, we’re looking at focusing on Lady Action.

And sure, we’d love to get those old 1960 comics back into print too. We’ve tried to bring that about in a few ways – and haven’t quite been pull it all together yet. But with the gorgeous Wally Wood & Gil Kane artwork, it does deserve the collected edition treatment.

AFF: We have seen a lot of announcements and several Captain Action figures launch in the first half of 2015. What is coming up for 2016 and beyond?
Ed Catto: Well, 2016 is the 50th Anniversary of Captain Action – so we’ve got a lot of things planned. We’re looking at more toys, collectibles and printed adventures, but also hard at work on the animated series too. We’re hoping to make some absolutely mind-blowing incredible 2016 announcements about that very soon!

Thanks Ed and Joe! Keep up with Captain Action news on the Captain Action Facebook page! Also, check out Ed Catto’s new column on Comic Mix. 

By Bryan Stewart

Bryan first discovered an appreciation for action figures at an early age, setting up elaborate GI Joe ant hill attacks, complete with firework pyrotechnics. Due to the high injury rate for the Joes, replacements were a constant necessity.


  1. It has been 2 years since any new uniform costume sets were released (Iron Man & Wolverine being the last) for the 12″ scale Captain Action. What I and many fans have been waiting these years to hear from CAE (Catto & Ahearn) is IF and WHEN will any further costume sets be released? Provide a Progress Report because the silence doesn’t look good (nothing over the last 2 years of SDCC & NYTF). Tell us if the previously announced sets for Red Skull, Superman, Batman, Aquaman pack-in, Joker, Brainiac sets are still scheduled? in production? or cancelled? or reason for delay? It’s just a shame to see the lost of opportunity of capturing the current popularity of super-hero movies & TV shows with new related product. For instance, I would think retailers would see a Daredevil, Flash or Green Arrow set sell well now and draw in new fans to the world of Captain Action. So CAE – give us fans some REAL information pertaining to the status of the previously announced sets and not another vague general statement that things are coming.

  2. To be totally fair and transparent, much of the focus here on the new vinyl figures and upcoming Zica set was from me. These were both scales that collectors have never had the opportunity to see from Captain Action and I thought them to be newsworthy. I never asked about other costume sets for previously released figures. One other point, having worked with licensed priorities in the past it is not always in the hands of the licensors when announcements or products see the light of day. I have no idea the status of the sets you are asking about (nor do I totally agree that movie and TV tie-ins guarantee retail sales) but I think you will agree we are in the middle of seeing a lot of new and previously unseen releases from CAE and their partners and that bodes well (in my mind at least) for a lot of excitement and fun toys out of the 50th anniversary.

    1. Your article is about CA and you interview CAE, so to not discuss or ask about the costume sets that historically were the entire basis for CA was a glaring omission. If CAE knows the reason for the extremely long delay for the costume sets, then let them explain what the hold up is – fans can understand. I’d rather hear CAE explain what the actual problem is than your assumptions about licensing. Furthermore, I didn’t say “guarantee,” but it is no secret that retailers look for media tie-ins which help drive sales. Lastly, I do agree that the further licensing of CA by CAE is a very good thing. I’m anxious to buy the Zica items & keep hoping that a 6″ scale line would happen. But while I applaud CAE for their licensing efforts, after 2 years of failing to say anything on the announced costume sets, they owe a proper explanation & progress report to the fans that have waited so long.

  3. Hi Ron – Ed Catto here. Let me take a stab at addressing your note. As Harold said – this interview wasn’t meant to focus on the 1/6th scale costumes. On the other hand, we’re way behind our original plans for development of the the 1/6th scale costumes and that’s frustrating for us and for many fans. As we have stated in many other venues, we’ve are working with Round2 to develop the next round of costumes and the focus is Batman and the DC characters. We’ve also talked about many of the reasons for the delays, including the business shift of Round2’s main mass retailer for the 1/6th line, Toys R Us. Right now we don’t have a calendar date for new 1/6th mass costumes.

    We did just release our new 1/6th scale Lady Action figure via Go Hero/Executive Replica, and fans seem to generally be as thrilled with that as we are. Admittedly, though, by the tenor of your note I assume/acknowledge that that’s not where your interests lie, and you are focused for new 1/6th scale costumes from Round 2.

    Please know this : we share your frustration and are working very hard to bring forward more costume sets for the mass 1/6th scale line to market, just we also work to expand Captain Action into new formats too.

    Thanks for both your passion & patience.

    1. Thanks for the response and explanation here. I would not know about what other venues you discussed the delay problem because I have not seen any such discussions elsewhere on the internet – not even at the CA website or facebook page. Nevertheless, I hope the snag with Round 2 etc… gets ironed out as soon as possible. The delay has already far exceeded reasonability. This kind of info really should appear periodically as updates at both the CA site & facebook page. All CA fans will certainly appreciate it and it continues to give hope to fans that the costume sets have not been cancelled and not a repeat of Playing Mantis’ short-lived attempt. Good luck & continued success with CA. I’ll be waiting for future announcements.

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