The Encyclopedia of Marx Action Figures: a Price & Identification Guide by Tom Heaton is a reference and price guide for the action figures produced by Marx in the 1960s and early 1970s. It is 192 pages, and has more than 400 photographs of 200+ action figures.
The Introduction by the author contains a caveat about the price guide, making clear that it is merely a guide and not a definitive statement of a figure's value. It is always nice to see this statement in a price guide, and hopefully beginning collectors will take the time to read it.
Physically, although it is a softcover book, it is not a handy size to carry with to flea markets and toy shows. It is a nice size to use as a coffee table book, and should display well on a book shelf next to other similar reference volumes. It is printed on a heavy stock of paper that can take much flipping back and forth.
The book is organized into three main sections: (1) a history of Marx action figures, with a page or two outlining the history of each figure line; (2) detailed descriptions of each line, along with numerous photographs and a price guide within each line; and (3) a compact version of the price guide, such as you might find in a monthly action figure magazine, so that you can more quickly find a value if you were at a show, for example.
The Marx action figure lines covered in the Encyclopedia include:
- Stony Smith
- Johnny West
- Fort Apache Fighter
- Best of the West
- Johnny West Adventure
- Secret Agent/Spy
- Noble Knights
- Mighty Vikings
- Marx's 7.5-inch figures
- Safari Adventure
- The Ready Gang
- The Lone Ranger
- The Archies
The price guide includes three categories of values: MIB (mint in box or carded), LC - loose complete (with a poor box and most accessories), and LI - loose incomplete (loose with some accessories).
The real strength of The Encyclopedia of Marx Action Figures is the quality and number of photographs. There are multiple shots of each figure in every line, to show the variations and production changes. Collectors will appreciate that there are photographs of the boxes and packaging material, as well as photographs of the opened items and playsets. A bonus for collectors is that for most of the figures that came with accessories, there are photographs of the loose accessories. (Every accessory is listed, although not all are shown.)
The pictures are of good quality: every one is crisp and in focus, with very few instances of glare from a flash to be found. A few photographs have shadows or dark edges, but in all cases, the subject can be seen clearly.
The Encyclopedia of Marx Action Figures is an excellent reference volume, one that will revive childhood memories for collectors of a certain age, and will leave older and younger collectors with more appreciation for the breadth and variety of Marx's action figure product line.
Author's web site: The Vintage Toy Room
Publisher: Krause Publications
Suggested retail price: $24.95 USD