Action Figure History – The Beginning

Action Figure History

How did action figures get their start in the world? Action figure history first started in 1964 by Hasbro. The first figure mad was the famous G.I. Joe designed by the man Stan Weston. The figure was inspired by a popular movie in 1945 called “The Story of G.I. Joe“. G.I. Joes were initially a military themed 11.5 inch action figure. You could change his clothes to suit whatever you wanted to do with them.

Action Figure History – The Launch

The market in the early 60’s was tailored to girls with Barbie. Boys did’nt really have anything hot in the toy market. Then the first G.I. Joe was launched at a toy fair (maybe something like comic con, but smaller) Now boys had a hot new toy that took off like a rocket.

In 1966 the action figure license was given to Palitoty in the UK. They released an action figure called Action Man. They license moved around to other countries too.

One license was given to Takara, a Japanese toy company that created the cyborg figure. This figure was based on the original G.I. Joe concept by Hasbro but with robotic parts. The cyborg figure used the G.I. Joe torso, transparent plastic to reveal the innards, and a chrome head with cyborg feet.

Microman Birth

Takara started to struggle with making the 12 inch action figures in the 1970’s (along with other companies) because of the oil crisis. The smaller version of the cyborg was born! It was now only 3.75 inches tall and was called Microman. Micro man was first sold in 1974 and was a special line because it had interchangeable parts.

Mego Success and Death

In the early 1970’s Mego began licensing and making american comic book superheros like Marvel and DC. They had a very good success rate. Mego brought Microman to the US under a different name but shortly after they declined the license to produce the Star Wars toys for the first Star Wars movies. This was the death of Mego. Today Mego toys highly prized collectables to adults around the world.

The Star Wars Effect

Star Wars was a massive hit in the 70’s and collectible action figures quickly because a milti-million dollar business. Kenner made the 3.75 inch Star Wars toys and set the industry standard of 3.75 inch figures as opposed to 11.5 inch.

80’s and 90’s

After Star Wars figures along came the figure lines like Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, Transformers, and Super Powers Collection, just to name a few.

Collectors were surfacing around the late 80’s. They would buy action figures in their original packaging and keep them like that for display.

The market today is expanding fast with companies like McFarlane Toys, Palisades, and NECA. These toys are especially appealing with adult collectors. The figures are becoming more and more detailed and some are even intended to be displayed as statues.

If you enjoyed this article about action figure history check out The most expensive toys ever sold.

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By Nick Lenihan

Nick is toy fan, geek, and action figure collector. When not geeking out about action figures and keeping up with the latest Toy News, he likes to pretend to play guitar. He's just another one of those pop culture fanatics that likes to share his passion with the world.

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