Johnny West: The Original Movable Action Cowboy
the Marx toy company introduced their very first old west era action figure in the form of a rugged everyman named Johnny West (Marx stock #2062). At over 11 inches tall, Johnny wasn't just a strong
competitor to Hasbro's popular G.I. Joe, but the beginning of a whole new line of sixth scale 19th century
themed toys that would prove to be every bit as long lived and lucrative for Marx as Joe had only just
begun to be for Hasbro.
Johnny wasn't alone in 1965, of course. To start
their western line off right, Marx also introduced a generic Indian figure (Chief Cherokee - Marx stock #2063) and even a trusty horse named Thunderbolt (Marx stock #2061). After all, every good cowboy needs a
ride to get around to his many adventures out on the open range.
page examines the original, American made, caramel colored Johnny West action figure. During the nine years
of his initial production, from 1965 to 1974, the figure was produced in Marx factories in the United States in pretty much
the exact same color scheme, with all the same accessories. Although there were of course numerous JW
production runs over the years, the figure's basic design and manufacture didn't change all that much - until his
"Quick Draw" counterpart finally showed up in 1975.
|From left to right, 1965 to 1974 or 75, with the middle head somewhere in between
the photo collage above, you can clearly see the progression of the JW head sculpt. The head on the left is the oldest
and was probably produced in the mid 1960s. The one on the right shows the distinctive signs of a mid 1970s head, with
light reddish, sprayed on hair and a somewhat narrow face with less distinct features than the oldest version. This
head closely resembles the narrow faced sculpt seen on most Quick Draw Johnny West figures. The one in the middle falls somewhere in between, but it's difficult to say just exactly when. Given
that the figure has exposed rivets in his upper arms, odds are that it was produced somewhere between 1970 and 74.
|I believe that actually a melt mark on the tip of the nose of the head in the middle
in the image above, that the two part mold for Johnny's head changed somewhat over the years. It's not merely
that the one in the middle and at far right both have sprayed on painted hair (while the oldest one on the far left has hand
painted hair), but look closely at the ear of the head on the far right. That ear is much narrower, and the head
very closely resembles the ones usually found on QD Johnny figures from 1975.
on any of the portal images below to get a closer look at the original Johnny West figures in my own personal collection.
Although each one is just another typical caramel colored Johnny, they're all somehow distinct and just
a little different in their own unique way.