For collectors of rare Toys and games, the latest find of an Action Man judo outfit that had been left untouched for decades by an anonymous 87-year-old retired toy rep in his garage is sure to raise the temperature, when it goes under the hammer at auction. The set was one of a number of similar items that the rep had kept at his home both in the loft and the garage, and they now fill a wall at the Vectis auction house in Thornaby, Teesside. The prize lot is no doubt the judo set though, which could attract enough interest to reach the £20,000 mark at the upcoming auction, making it the most expensive action toy in British history if it does.

The rep's son had read about the sale of a Boba Fett Star Wars figure that had recently been sold for £18,000, so decided to have the collection of items valued to see if any of the figures and toy sets were of any real value. The valuer has since catalogued all of the saleable items, but is in no doubt which one is the star of them all. With the judo set remaining untouched in its original cardboard box with its cellophane packaging intact, something that a collector would be looking for to make it really valuable to him or her, the valuer has made his expectations clear by stating that: "A fever is building up for it." A spokesperson for the auction house suggested that finding such memorabilia was akin to discovering the "Action Man Holy Grail."

His insistence on the value of the item is probably down to the fact that it has been deemed to be so rare, that even experts in the field were not aware that it still existed.

It is believed to date back to the late 1960s or early 1970s, although given its rarity there is no certainty as to its precise production date. A photo of the original packaging did not even feature in a collector's book of Action Man and the various accessories that were made available to dress him.

The total collection is believed to have a valuation of around £100,000 and includes other rare Action Man uniforms that were not believed to still be in existence.

No date has yet been set for the sale of the items, but it is likely to be in either May or June.

Action Man became the classic boys' toy when it was launched in 1966 by Palitoy, the company for which the rep used to work. It was a licensed copy of Hasbro's similar action figure G.I. Joe, with moveable parts, but robust enough for a young boy to play with without breaking too easily. Besides the basic action figure itself, there were also kits, sets and accessories sold that could adorn the 'man' and add to (such as) his weaponry.