A reward has been put up for the return of an astronaut Action Man doll who parachuted to earth in Northamptonshire following an ambitious bid to send him to the edge of space.
On Sunday, extreme photographer Chris Hillcox and toy fanatic Rob Wisdom, attached one of the classic boy’s toys to a weather balloon as part of a crowdfunded bid to send him up to the stratosphere.
They had raised £3,000 for the mission, timed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Action Man toy.
But after letting go of the balloon in front of excited schoolchildren in Coalville, Leicestershire, the doll, his space capsule and the attatched cameras have not been seen since.
A tracking device charted the parachuting to a landing in Creaton.
But when Mr Hillcox turned up at a field to pick up the doll and equipment, only the tracking device was found.
“I think someone has seen this thing on the floor and picked it up not realising what it is,” said dad-of-three Mr Hillcox, from Sutton Coldfield.
Mr Hillcox wanted to do the project as a tribute to the favourite childhood toy - and enlisted the help of designer Mr Wisdom, from Chelmsford, to build Action Man a special capsule for the flight. They began working on prototypes at the end of 2015.
Mr Hillcox said: “When we were young we all wanted our Action Man dolls to do things for real. We wanted his tank to go over real land, we wanted his plane to fly and his capsule to go into space.
“I thought to celebrate his 50th birthday let’s send him up into the stratosphere for real.”
Sadly though, as a Go Pro camera attached to the space capsule has also been lost, the team cannot recover any photos of the flight, which should have shown pictures of Action man, “Major Tom,” so high, both coasts of Britain would be visible.
Also missing were 100 brass dog tags, which had been minted as gifts for the project backers.
The flight had gone according to plan, travelling 19 miles in 75 minutes. But Mr Hillcox said he was delayed in picking the craft up from its landing due to traffic on the M1.
He said: “My son was with me in the car and we could see the tracker beeping, but we couldn’t do anything about it.
“If I had come off at the A14 maybe we would have found him.”
Mr Wisdom and Mr Hillcox have offered a £200 reward for the return of Major Tom, his capsule and camera.
If you know his whereabouts, call Mr Hillcox on 07783 903096.
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.