Jay J Armes and his mobile investigation unit

Jay J Armes and his mobile investigation unit

Ideal’s JJ Armes has to be one of the more interesting licensed action figures of the 1970s, mainly because it’s not based on a TV or comic series but on a real person. 

Armes is a Texas area private investigator with a single acting credit (a Hawaii Five-O episode) but his autobiography and subsequent talk show appearances made him a national celebrity.

I vividly remember seeing the commercial for this line and WANTING this van for a Saturday, it was quickly forgotten and I don’t think I ever saw JJ or his killer vehicle in a store.

Ideal had planned a playset that was never released, see below:

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About The Author

AKA Brian Heiler author of "Rack Toys: Cheap, Crazed Playthings" and co-editor of "Toy-Ventures Magazine". Co-Host of the "Pod Stallions" podcast. Host of the Brick Mantooth Youtube channel, painter, designer, writer, mental health advocate, toy collector, Mego, and Mego Knock-Off enthusiast. I have large feet, ADHD and I live in Canada. Talk toys, not others.


  • Jack Norris on May 23, 2018

    "And that's why you always leave a note!"

  • Anonymous on May 24, 2018

    This would have been perfect for Big Jim.

    The C.A.M.P…. where the P.A.C.K. prepares for W.A.R.!

    It's truly a product of its times. These days the toy-concept alone would give people kittens. "Marksmanship Preparation" …with a sub-machine gun. In the city. How about "no".

    Definitely a Big Jim-type HQ. Not ashamed to admit it. I'd love to have Doctor Steel take on the fighting robot.

  • Anonymous on May 27, 2018

    When I was at college – I left my GI Joe collection at home.

    To keep visiting kids from playing with my GI Joe fig.s, my Mom bought a used JJ Armes for them to play with. Maybe she bought JJA's van, too!

    I wonder if she still has him, somewhere. 😀

  • Seventiesfan on May 27, 2018

    Years ago I bought a JJ Armes action figure at a toy show, not knowing that he was "Hookmn" from that Hawaii Five-o episode. Interestingly, his hands are interchangeable with the hands of Star Team's Zem-21.

  • YesterdayIsNow on May 29, 2018

    C.A.M.P.! Yes, it is. Kind of amazing that Ideal expected little kids to keep track of removable hands. There must have been a lot of figures nicknamed "Stubby."

    The C.A.M.P. set does look pretty cool. How did the target range work? Did it actually shoot some kind of projectile?

  • Nick on June 5, 2018

    I somehow ended up with a JJ Armes figure in the UK in the 70s, where we'd certainly never heard of him; I suspect it may have been a cheap remainder purchase from stock that had somehow made it over here. It fascinated me – not just the fact he had a hook for a hand, but also his clothes and the general look of the figure. It was just… unusual. I recall some biographical details on the packaging, but I'm pretty sure that just made the whole thing even stranger. Was it some TV show I'd never seen, or just another indecipherable US toy range, like GI Joe, with an established mythos I had no chance of catching up with?

    I liked his jacket, I remember that. The clothing links JJ in my mind to Kojak, another oddly-clothed figure of my youth with his bib-shirt and hat. UK action figures tended to come with military outfits, and that was your lot. Streetwear was something new.

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