Did you know that the British Army still uses child soldiers in the most terrible wartime positions? Veterans for Peace UK points this out in a fantastic video that certainly deserves a couple of minutes of your time. Enter Action Man: Battlefield Casualties.
As an organisation of ex-service men and women hardened in battles as far back as WWII, Veterans for Peace certainly don’t shy away from dark humor. Mimicking old TV ads captured on VHS tapes between children’s programming, veteran Action Man action figures are presented as everything a kid needs to fantasize about the glories of war.
“PTSD Action Man” features an amputated arm, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse. “Paralysed Action Man” has a wheelchair, colostomy bag and gets his benefits cancelled by the hyenas at Atos Healthcare. Dead Action man is blown to pieces and ready to be sent home in a bag (“coffins sold separately!”).
I’d say that this gets the point across pretty well, if part of your mission is to educate young people “on the true nature of military service and war.”
The Battlefield Casualties video’s “ads” feature boys and girls under the age of ten, which makes them just around a decade away from being able to join the child soldiers in the British Armed forces. To quote Veterans for Peace UK:
“The UK is one of only nineteen countries that still recruits 16 and 17 year olds into armed forces (others inc. North Korea and Iran). The Army channels the youngest and poorest of these soldiers into front-line combat roles, meaning they’re twice as likely as adult recruits to be killed in a war. The suicide rates for 16-20 year old males in the armed forces has been 82% higher than for civilians of the same age.”
The idea of realistic army-fetishising action figures aimed at children doesn’t appear in a vacuum. Note that the UK Ministry of Deference produces a set of toys under the moniker HM Armed Forces. The product line covers action figures from all branches of the Armed Forces. Good to build brand awareness among to potential recruits real early on, right?