|THE HISTORY OF FANTASTIC PLASTIC:|
Action figures were established as a top-selling toy category way back in 1965. And collecting them started to become a serious hobby over twenty years ago in the 1970s. The reasons why are clear... because, some of the best pop-culture icons come from movies, television and comics.
POINTING THE FINGER:
It all began in 1964 when Hasbro, Inc. (then known as Hassenfeild Bros, Inc.) infiltrated the imaginations of children around the world with their "G.I. Joe Action Soldiers" line. The 12" fully articulated action figure (complete with interchangeable clothing, various vehicles and endless accessories) took the toy market by storm.
It seems Ideal unknowingly was the first company to touch on such a trend which would forever more be directly be asociated with action figures... the super hero!
A SUPER IDEA:
Despite the differences from their 12" counterparts, kids and
Not to say that Mego didn't produce 12" figures, in fact they did.
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MEN:
It was the summer of 1977 when "Star Wars" embeded it's imagery into the minds of the entire planet! Somehow, Kenner Products (then a division of General Mills, Inc.) exclusively secured all rights to toys and games of the Lucas film. Thus, the 3 3/4" (and incredibly inarticulate, I might add) action figure was born!
Along with the enormous success of this galactic series, Kenner also produced figures for the "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" movie in this miniature style which soon established it as the industry standard.
SATURDAY MORNING MAYHEM:
Although the miniature style still prevailed, many lines deviated from the 3 3/4" size to a larger 6" standard. Some examples include "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe", "Voltron", "Captain Power", "Thundercats" and who dosen't remember "Transformers" or "G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero"? To increase the potential success of these lines, interactive concepts were applied to the figure and the "action feature" was introduced. With such claims as "Swivel-Arm Battle Grip" or "Cap-Firing Action" who could resist?
SPIDER-SENCE GOING BERZERK!:
But dissatisfied with the sculpting of the figures and endless shipping delays, Marvel Entertainment Group quickly gained 46% ownership and control of the toy company. Striving for more of a presence on toy store shelves, Marvel's marketing strategies were now geared towards the collector.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE "JOE":
In the beginning, posability was the main concern which separated the action figure from the common doll. The introduction of the 3 3/4" scales accomodated the need for more diverse vehicles and playsets and the 5" scales allowed the integration of interactive features.
However, if you pay close attention to the industry's marketing tactics today, you will find that action figures are starting to come full-circle back to the 8-12" format. It is already apparent in such collector lines as Playmates' "Star Trek", Kenner's "Star Wars", McFarlane's "Spawn" and Hasbro's "Classic Collection G.I. Joes".
It may even be plausable to speculate that the past conventions used in action figures (as documented above) will be incorporated into this format. One thing is for sure... it's a fabulous era to be a toy collector !