Page last updated at 09:01 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 10:01 UK

Real RAF hero is model action man

Sgt Ed Griffiths
Helicopter winchman Sgt Ed Griffiths rescues people from mountains

He is a real-life action hero who has helped rescue people from some of the UK's most treacherous mountains.

But Sgt Ed Griffiths says being the inspiration for an Action Man-style figure rates as one of the best experiences of his career.

The helicopter winchman based at RAF Valley on Anglesey is the model for one of a series of new military figures, backed by the Ministry of Defence.

He hopes it will inspire children to "ask questions" about his job.

The new action figures aim to represent active servicemen from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force and fill a gap in the market left after the demise of the Action Man figures in 2006.

Sgt Griffiths said he was "shocked" to be asked to become the model for one - but was pleasantly surprised by the likeness.

"I'm really pleased and hopefully for years to come my children will be playing with this sort of stuff," he said.


Real life action man Sgt Ed Griffiths shows off the doll based on him

"I had a look and I thought it was great. I thought it was a really great likeness with all the kit that we use and the uniform and even the small flying helmet as well. I was quite impressed."

Sgt Griffiths works as part of a four-man crew with the Sea Flight 22 Squadron on a Sea King rescue helicopter at RAF Anglesey.

The team help rescue people in north and mid Wales, along with the Lake District, conducting around 250 jobs a year, primarily on mountains.

He said his colleagues were having a "bit of fun" about his figure, but it was an offer he could not refuse.

"I remember when I was growing up, seeing the yellow helicopter going past and I understood they were on a rescue but I wasn't really sure what they were doing," said Sgt Griffiths, whose picture appears on his figure's packaging.

Hopefully this will inspire them [children] to ask the questions as to what sort of things we get up to
Sgt Ed Griffiths

"Hopefully this will inspire them to ask the questions as to what sort of things we get up to and hopefully get the answers and look into it for themselves and then they will have a better understanding as to the kind of duties we get up to here in the UK."

He added it rated as "probably one of the best experiences" in his career.

The range of action figures includes three servicemen from each force.

The Navy has a Royal Marine Commando, a Royal Navy diver and a Commando with canoe. The Army has an infantryman, a mortar man and fully armoured infantryman, and the RAF has a Falcons parachutist, a fast jet pilot, and a winchman.

They have been produced by Character Options in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence, who said: "We are rightly proud to be celebrating our armed forces through the production of these new action figures.

"These toys showcase our people and equipment and this commercial recognition proves the high level support for our forces among the British public."

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