I have yet to meet a gay guy who has not heard of Tom of Finland. Frankly for most boys these sketches of hunks personify their earliest experiences of homoeroticism as art.
By RUBIN VAN NIEKERK
Having been a fan of Viking lore since my childhood, I’m not surprised that my first self-made toys resembled bad copies of Viking ships. Initially I used hollowed reeds then progressed to far more detailed versions made from clay at the age of about eight. Boats were my favourite toys other than a Cowboy Roy set of toy revolvers with holsters. Later at the age of ten, I received two Action Man toy dolls with “real hair”, and they were far more interesting and lifelike than the Ken dolls, and with real rubberised hands that could hold rifles and swords. My dream twins present came naked in two boxes labelled streakers! Great, now my gay side emerged as I needed to dress them in the right outfits! I immediately tried to find them Viking or Roman outfits, but the uniforms were primarily inspired by World War II, So I ended up with a French Foreign Legionnaire for my blue-eyed blond soldier and the dark haired solider got dressed as an Arctic explorer. Amongst the accessories available, there were stunning German outfits, motorcycles and even a Tiger tank. Later I learned of Hitler’s Aryan fantasies, which was a pity as my blonde soldier, scarred on the right cheek, looked good in the French Legionnaire’s dark navy-blue coat with gold buttons and white trousers. Unsurprisingly, I ended up in the navy and experienced the real sensuality of uniformed athletic guys training for combat. The Action Man series was launched in 1966 by Palitoy in the UK which copied the success of GI Joe, introduced in 1964 by the US owners and producers, Hassenfield brothers. GI Joe represented the first doll for boys but was obviously marketed as an “Action Figure” and movable “Fighting Man” and unashamedly copied their almost identical American cousin, GI Joe. Gradually Pallitoy steered Action Man to have a more British character, which included more accessories and vehicles. In 1970 flock hair was introduced by Bill Pugh and the gripping hands was based on the left hand of chief designer, Bob Brechin.
As a young teenager I found that my fascination with…