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Vintage Action Figures

Action Figures

Action Figures are everywhere today including comic pages, the movies, television and in Toy Stores. The likenesses of our favorite Action Figures are among today's hottest toys.

Collecting Action Figures is one of the fastest growing and largest collectible category today and a walk through the toy section of any toy store is proof enough. Buyers include teen, pre-teen and adults and their numbers are huge and growing. Action Figures surpass Hot Wheels, Model Kits and building toys in sales. An estimated 100 different action figures are currently for sale.

The term "Action Figures" began in the 1960s. The 1960s saw technologies improve that changed everyday life including how toys would be made and sold.

Television replaced the radio as a window into a wide world of people, places and neat thing to buy. Toy makers such as Mattel aided by television took the world of girls by storm with the Barbie doll. No one dreamed of selling dolls to boys. So the simple solution to this dilemma was "If boys won't play with dolls, why not rename them Action Figures". Youngsters clustered on the floor and soaked up the names of their new friends and heroes such as Superman, Batman and G. I. Joe.

G. I. Joe was Hasbro's answer to Barbie and it debuted at the New York International Toy Fair in 1964. The Toy Fair was where retailers and manufacturers would meet to view the new toy lines. The Fair could make or break a toys success. However no orders were written for the 12 inch G. I. Joe from the buyers. As much as Hasbro touted G. I. Joe as "America's Moveable Fighting Man" the buyers in spite of everything saw a doll. Later in the year Hasbro released their new Action Figure directly into a New York test market of several stores. Every store sold out within a week and the invasion of Action Toys was on. By the end of 1964 G. I. Joe had earned Hasbro over 17 million dollars. G. I. Joe was the first true Action Figure for boys but he wasn't the last.

In 1965 A. C. Gilbert introduced James Bond action figures but it was not very successful. Louis Marx and Company enter with its "Best of the West" series, a line of articulated 12-inch action figures featuring a western play theme. The main character in the series was the iconic cowboy action figure named Johnny West. These action figures were not very popular.

The first real challenge to G. I. Joe came from Ideal's Captain Action. Captain Action was a man of many faces and could become Spider-Man, Batman, the Phantom, Green Hornet and others. Ideal's brief venture into the Superhero action figures paved the way for many to come. Ideal discontinued the Captain Action series in 1969. Meanwhile G. I. Joe soften his image from Green Beret Joe of 1967 to Adventure Team Joe of the 1970s.

Action Figures

In 1972 The Mego Corporation, founded by David Abrams released its first superhero series and they dominated the action figure toy market during most of the 1970s. The Superhero series was a six figure set of the "World's Greatest Super Herors" eight inches tall and made of cloth and plastic. They were joined by 28 others by the time the series ended in early 1980s. Mego supplemented this superhero line with film and TV characters such as Planet of the Apes and the Dukes of Hazzard.

Another high point in action figure history took place when Star Wars became a worldwide hit at the theaters. Kenner Products was a toy company founded in 1947 by three brothers, Albert, Phillip, and Joseph L. Steiner, in Cincinnati, Ohio and in 1977 they produced Star Wars action figures. By 1978 the Star Wars line had had grown to 17 figures was the first wave of a flood of accessories and related toys. Kenner's Star War Action Figures were 3 3/4 inches tall.

Next came, in 1981 the six inch action figures produced by Mattel called Masters of the Universe Series. Mattel's New Action Figures had punching and grabing movements which enhancing their play value. Then in 1985 Hasbro introduced the next level of action figures called Transformers consisting of vehicles that transformed into Robots.

Action Figures are a big business and are regularly ranked in the top 20 best selling toys.

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