The only action figure scale worth collecting is…

The 6 inch scale.  C’mon.  Like you didn’t know that?

I was working on this article, when fellow Action Figure Fury writer, Ryan Bradley, posted his article, “How do you figure?”  After reading his article, I changed the tone of this one a bit.  Originally, I was here to trash 3.75 inch figures.  But, Ryan’s article convinced me otherwise about the best action figure scale. However, while I do completely appreciate Ryan’s points (especially when it comes to price) about 3.75 inch figures, I still have to respectfully disagree that it’s the best scale (for the money) around.

I say the 6 inch action figure scale is where it’s at.

Now, look.  I grew up on 3.75 inch action figures.  Kenner’s Star Wars line, Mego’s Pocket Superheroes’, Toy Biz Marvel Superheroes, Kenner’s Super Powers.  You name it.  If there was a superhero/scifi line out in the late 70’s/early 80s, I had it.  And it was pretty awesome.

But, we’re talking that was 30 years ago (Man!  I’m old).  As a collector today, I’d much rather have a 6 inch figure over a 3.75 figure every day of the week.  Including Arbor day.  I’m not saying there isn’t a place for the 3.75 figure line.  The cartoonless Batman line Mattel has been putting out the last couple years, is a prime example.  It’s a good line. And it’s aimed at kids.  I’m sure there are adult collectors picking up these figures, I myself went back and forth about picking up Azreal as Knightfall Batman (I didn’t).

However, I much rather see a line like Mattel’s Multiverse as a 6 inch collection, than in the four inch scale (iknowiknowiknow.  But, at a quarter inch difference, a 3.75 inch figure and a 4 inch figure might as well be the same size).  Now, I’m not privy to any insider deals that may or may not require Mattel’s Multiverse line to be made in the 4 inch scale.  But, that unknown aside, who’s picking a 4 inch Christopher Reeve Superman over a 6 inch?  Even if it is 10 more dollars?  Especially if he came with a cool kryptonite necklace that, that bastard Lex draped over him in Superman: The Movie.
Ryan did bring up an excellent point about price.  Price point is the big issue here, especially those of us collectors on a “budget”.  The 3.75 figures tend to be in the $9.99 – $12.99 range (depending what store you frequent) and the 6 inch scale retails about $19.99 – $24.99.  The 6 inch figures are clearly more money.  Just about double, actually.  And I often have a hard time plunking down 25 bucks for a figure, as you can see for yourself in my now infamous Toy Valuation Theorem.

For whatever reason, though, I have a harder time paying 10 bucks for a 3.75 figure, than 20 bucks for a 6 inch figure.  It feels like there’s more value in the 6 inch line especially since most time, the 6 inch scale comes with additional accessories (weapons, hands, base, etc).  Whereas the 3.75 figures typically don’t.

Granted, when I’m checking out at Target, and the 5 Guardians of the Galaxy figures I’ve got in my basket are costing me $120, that’s pretty much when I’m not really crazy about the 6 inch line.  But, it’s also why I’m not a completist, it’s why I don’t like the whole “build a figure” phenomenon, and it’s also why I think lines should have less figures in them.

I’ve heard people point to the $19.99 price point being the death knell of the Mattel’s DC Classics line.  I don’t believe that for a second.  I circumstantially point to how well Marvel’s Legends line sells, and how well the Star Wars Black Series sold (until they made way too many Slave Leia and Greedos).  Too many figures per line at too high a price point, are just two of the many reasons the Mattel line died a slow death.

That’s why your friendly neighborhood jman subscribes to the theory of smaller lines (4 figures per line.  5 figures max) with one additional wave per year (4 waves per year?  Maybe 5).  Switch out one or two of the figures to refresh the line, like Hasbro did with Spidey and Cap.  Keep it interesting.

And this way?  The lines will last longer.  We’ll get the depth of figures and at the right scale.  Yea…it’ll be at a higher price point and we’ll need a bit of patience getting all the characters we want, but at least we won’t be stuck buying those tiny 3.75 inch figures!

But…stay tuned for next week when I review that Multiverse Christopher Reeve as Superman 4 inch figure!

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.


  1. I am with you 100%. I grew up in the tail end of the 80’s and well into the 90’s where 5″ TMNT were ruling but also the Toy Biz X-Men lines later on. I tried my luck with the small figures but most of them came out with several issues and I was burnt on them early on. Sure I could display more of them but the appeal just wasn’t there.

    The fact of the matter is like you mentioned, cost. Toys are friggin expensive now! Now that $20 a pop is the norm it becomes really tough to collect a lot of new stuff. I think this is also where the scarcity of some figures comes into play which we have seen as of late (Black Widow, Carnage, Black Cat). People cherry pick the interesting characters. It shows that fans want a variety in new waves. Who wants 15 different versions of Cap, spidey, and Iron Man?

    1. price is a killer. i literally had those guardians figures in my cart. i really just want the Groot figure. i’m spending $120 for a Groot figure?!?!? i might as well just get the Hot Toys verison.

      that’s why i say smaller lines, and one additional wave per year. 3 figures per wave isn’t enough. i think four is enough for the collecting challenge. five is pushing it.

  2. I prefer the 6-7 inch scale overall. Sadly 3.75s are too flimsy… Bigger scales are just too much money. Agred prices on 6 inch are already pretty wack!

    1. agreed. when i took the pic of the two Steve Roger figures, the 3.75 figure was not being very cooperative. his joints were all loose and flimsy. there’s a lot of detail crammed into that little figure, but feels way to fragile.

  3. I liked 3.75 mostly so I could mix it with the older figures of my youth. It was just fun to have Cobra fighting all of the Marvel Universe and Star Wars Black Series figures. However, given that the 3.75 Black Series has been a mess, the 6″ has been very fun, and Marvel has basically gone all 6″… my hand has been forced.

      1. the marvel infinite series is really hard to get. i hardly ever see them in stores and when i do, it’s only a Cap or an Iron Man. that’s it.

        i ended up ordering Wasp and Hulk from the first wave off of Amazon.

  4. You make good points. I dig the article.

    I’d kill to start getting hands to alternate out for my figures, but I just don’t have the budget room or storage space for the bigger figures.

    1. i really was working on this article when i saw yours posted. i dialed it back after i read yours.

      as much as i like the 6 inch scale, i’ve got a bunch of 3.75 figures that i recently bought. including that Superman figure. so…i’m mostly just talk. 🙂

      1. Ohhhh… nuh uh. You didn’t just say that.

        12-inch “Action Figure”.

        Thank you.

        Maybe I need to write up a post that trumps both 3.75-inch and 6-inch figures?

  5. The problem with smaller waves is that the extra spots are usually were the breadth of the line comes into play. Most action figure lines end up with a hero/main character than ends up in every wave due to retailer demand. That means most waves are already a slot or two short for adding new characters. Drop Iron Man and Nova from GotG and you end up losing three figures. While you don’t need Iron Man or Nova, Groot completes the team. No manufacturer is going to be able to justify a single carded Groot at the same price as the rest of the team. You can almost guarantee you’ll never see a female villian again (in 6″).

    To the point of scale, 4″ allows for a larger cast of characters than 6″. Imagine how many more characters could have been made in a 4″ GotG line. Look at how rare villian characters are in 6″ scale. How long will you have to wait to make any type of decent display from the 6″ Black series? Other than ROTJ Luke and Darth Vader, none of the single figures really share a scene together. I collect G.I. Joe. There is no way that line works in the 6″ scale. The figures might look amazing, but try releasing 4 figures a wave for a property that has over 300 distinct characters (many with multiple versions). Your fanbase will be in retirements homes before they finish their collections. Also sculpting on 4″ figures is on par with 6″ figures. That wasn’t always the case. In terms of value, I’ll take two characters to one all day.

  6. As nearly a lifelong G.I. Joe fan I will proudly sing the praises of the 3.75/4″ scale, especially these days. It used to be if you wanted an exceptionally well detailed and articulated figure, you had to go with a 6″ one, but improvements in design and production make that point more or less null and void. The smaller size means less display space taken up, as well.

    I will say, though, I can’t argue the appeal of 6″ figures even if I don’t have a whole lot of them in my collection. I do have the 6″ Marvel Legends movie Avengers and 4″ Avengers together on a shelf, and the 6″ versions totally blow away their smaller compatriots.

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