Northampton

Action Man missing in Northamptonshire 'after space flight'

Action man astronaut and capsule Image copyright Wisdom Design
Image caption The Action Man doll - dubbed Major Tom - landed in a field but was missing when its launch team reached the site

An Action Man astronaut doll that was launched into near space went missing after returning to earth.

The original 1966 doll was launched in Leicestershire on Sunday after delays, to celebrate 50 years of Action Man.

It had travelled 19 miles (30km), with its tracker device leading the team to a Northamptonshire field but "Major Tom", as it has been named, had gone.

A reward has been offered by owner Rob Wisdom, of Essex, who wants to recover a camera that filmed the flight.

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Image copyright Wisdom Design
Image caption The project team hopes a social media campaign will raise awareness of "Major Tom's" space flight plight

The space flight - which used a modified original space capsule for the doll and a parachute to help it back to earth - was the brainchild of Chris Hillcox, from Sutton Coldfield, in the West Midlands.

A keen Action Man fan, he got in touch with fellow collector Mr Wisdom, and said: "I want to put an Action Man into space for his 50th anniversary year, and I know how to do it."

'Spiritual home'

Mr Wisdom and Mr Hillcox - who runs a near-space photography business - used a crowdfunding site to raise more than £3,000 to fund the "Mercury 10" mission, named after the NASA Mercury missions of the 1950s and 60s.

Image copyright Wisdom Design
Image caption The plan after the launch, which had originally been due to take place on 10 June, was to recover the astronaut doll shortly after it landed
Image copyright Wisdom Design
Image caption Chris Hillcox retrieved the tracker devices about 20 minutes after the capsule landed but the doll was gone

They used a vintage doll and modified its space suit and original capsule to include sponsors' names.

The launch took place from a field next to the old Palitoy Factory in Coalville - where Action Man toys were made under licence from Hasbro.

"He was sent off with a helium balloon from his spiritual home, 50 years after his birth," Mr Wisdom said.

Image copyright Wisdom Design
Image caption The original Action Man space capsule was modified for the flight

However, when Major Tom fell to earth in Creaton, 75 minutes later, someone snapped up the orange balloon, the doll, capsule and the on-board camera, within 20 minutes.

"The sad thing is we won't get to see what it was like up there as that is all on the camera," Mr Wisdom said.

Also missing were 100 brass dog tags, which had been minted as gifts for the project backers.

"We're hoping a child just found the capsule as it was near a play area, and thought Christmas had come early," Mr Wisdom said.

"Hopefully, their mum will see the #Findmajortom posts on social media and bring him home."

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