Year: 1966. Don Josep M. Arnau, one of the partners of Industrias Plasticas Madel in Madrid (Spain), is on a bussiness trip in USA. He discovers there GI Joe, and, after returning to Spain, decides to make something similar for the Spanish market.
In Christmas 1968 Madelman is market-born. Despite his very high tag price, becomes the standard Spanish boys toy for several years (1968 / 1982), precisely in a time when the Spanish toy market, thou very isolated from foreign markets (it still was Franco's rule time) was incredibly active with an astounding offer of very good toys.
Although initially inspired by Joe and AM, the design results were totally different, First of all, the size: 17 cm, around 7". Some say it was the minimum size the sleeves of the uniforms could be sewn. Curiously, most Spanish kids found the 12" size too big and clumsy, compared to the Madelman size and ergonomics.
Second, the articulation system. It was called ATOMIUM, after the Brussels monument, for obvious reasons: It was composed of an internal skeleton with spherical articulation which allowed Madelman figures to perform a very wide range of positions... and hold them! If you posed a Madelman in a sitting position... he would stay that way! still nowadays some Spanish collectors stand with the idea that a Geyperman can't be sitted properly in a vehicle, opposed to Madelman. And you know what? They are right.
Third, it was the quality of the materials and attention to detail. Everything was so detailed, well made, so exquisite... for example, the weapons: There were no painted parts, but different materials (and parts) to represent different pieces in a weapon (stock, etc). Some "wooden" parts are plastic, of course, but in an absolutely convincing wood finish. The finishing of the uniforms was so good. They used cotton poplin to represent texture and scale thicknes, and that attention to detail paid. We were hooked...
The "PRIMERA GENERACIÓN" (First Generation) figure was used since 1968 to 1976. It's well known his distinctive feature: he had no feet. Only pegs, who were inserted in the boots. That has been seen only recently in modern 1/6 high-end figures to get a narrow ankle look.
The second characteristic feature were the "OJOS DE CRISTAL" (crystal eyes). Much in the same way as the Eagle Eyes, they were inserted inside of the head. Made of transparent plastic, and painted from behind, gave the man a very convincing and realistic look.
They were injected in very high quality styrene plastic, Rigid and stiff (a good thing in an action figure) were the inspiration point for the very good quality of the Geyperman figure a few years later: Spanish kids wouldn't tolerate less...
And of course the ATOMIUM articulation system, which allowed him stand in his grounds no matter how rough they were!
In a following chapter, We'll see the Madelman line in these first years. Stay tuned!