Action Max

The closest I ever got to an Action Max video game console was the closest I got to a lot of toys: the commercial. I never saw an Action Max in person. Maybe I saw one in Toys R Us. Maybe not. But I definitely saw this commercial many, many times.

Action Max was brought to us by Worlds of Wonder, the same company that produced Lazer Tag, Teddy Ruxpin, and the Stuff-It Binder. It was a video game console in the truest sense of the word. The games it ran were actual VHS video that had to be played on your VHS deck.
Because the games were actual VHS videos, they never changed and had limited replayability. Still, the commercial made them look cool. I was especially interested in the Pops Ghostly game.

As I understand it, there weren’t a whole lot of these games, and they were all shooters. But like all things Worlds of Wonder, it was great in theory even if it wasn’t that great in practice.


Doug is a child of the 80s who was raised in Ohio and is now living the life of oblivion in the bay area of California.

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9 thoughts on “Action Max

  1. Thanks for the great post, Doug! I can say…that I’ve never seen this console in my life or if I have it’s buried too far in the clutter of my brain. I would kill to be able to play the Rescue of Pops Ghostly. :)

  2. I had this. Unfortunately I only had the cruddy fighter jet game that came with it, what I really wanted was the haunted house one. The video had some previews of the other games available in addition to the actual current game.
    The concept of the console was neat, but it practice it was junk. The sensor didn’t work very well, and even when it did, there was nothing to the “game”. You just shot at the screen & hoped your score would go up. Because of the fact that you were just shooting at a video tape, nothing responded to your shots. There wasn’t even any pretend interaction. There was no penalty for not getting enough shots, the game didn’t shoot back in any way (there are ways they could have done that, even with a video tape. Look at captain power, which was almost the exact same thing, but much better executed. Since the 2 both came out in the same year, I wonder if one was ripping off the other?), nor anything else. I was sorely disappointed.

    It’s too bad this didn’t come out in the DVD era, they could have done something where hits would make the dvd player shift tracks similar to dragon’s lair.

  3. Well I watched that entire Pops Ghostly clip, and for the second time this weekend Doug you have provided a piece of video that has completely melted my brain. To that I say well played sir, well played…

  4. I love this post. I had an action max when I was a kid and actually bought another one to replace it a couple years ago. I made a video about it too. Just do a YouTube search for retrosmash action max and you should find it.

  5. I have never seen one of these out in the wild, or even heard of it! Great post, definitely going to be on the lookout for one of these things.

  6. You’d be better off getting some captain power toys & videos. They’re essentially the same thing, but significantly better. Unless you manage to get a system for about $5, including shipping, you’ll wind up seriously regretting having wasted the money. You’re seriously better off just watching the vids on youtube, pointing your finger at the screen and saying “pyew! pyew!”.

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