A Call to Action (Figures): Mad Max: Fury Road and the Hard-R

Mad Max: Fury Road is slated to be released this weekend, yet there have been no toys announced despite having a preview full of characters and vehicles that look like they’d make some awfully cool action figures. Seriously, watch this and tell me there’s not a single guy or gal you that piques your interest. They’re likely not getting a toy line because of the films R-rating.

After the success of their Star Wars action figures, Kenner branched into other licenses, one of them being Alien. The line was selling well, well enough that parents were taking their kids to see Alien in theaters to see the characters that inspired the toys. These parents were shocked, and the children scandalized by how violent the initial chestburster scene was and by how scary the film was. The volume of complaints was large enough that Kenner canceled the Alien line (and that cancelled line inspired Funko’s Reaction Figures) and since toy companies have been reluctant to make action figures for rated-R properties. Mad Max: Fury Road is the latest victim of this rule.

This isn’t quite the Kenner Alien.

We’ve seen a lot of improvement with rated-R films getting toys more recently, although they’ve mostly been focused on smash hits and classics. We’ve got Breaking Bad toys from Mezco, Game of Thrones Legacy toys and more than a few rated-R Reaction figures from Funko, and Terminator, Robocop, Alien, and others from NECA. My working theory is that NECA snagged a lot of those awesome licenses because other companies are still gun-shy about making figures based off of adult properties.

An R-rated toy from Funko.

The attitude that rated-R properties aren’t worth merchandising is standing between toy companies and making more money.

The general wisdom is that action figures are primarily bought by kids. Fair enough. The next step in the argument is that the film is rated-R so the kids won’t want toys related to them, or worse from the perspective of parents, the toys are making the kids want to see rated-R movies. The answer to the first argument is that if an action figure is good enough it’ll fly off the shelves by force of awesomeness. Kids and adult collectors are both interested in good products, regardless of the licenses. The answer to the second is that kids are exposed to all kinds of influences, and they’re going to want to see any rated-R blockbuster. The toys may exasperate that, but it’s more likely that they’re stoking a desire than starting it. I remember when I was in elementary school, we all needed to see the rated-R film The Matrix, though none of us owned Matrix toys. It spread by word of mouth, rather than merchandising.

Then there’s the adult collectors, a smaller market, but also a viable one. If NECA (please let it be NECA) picks up the license for Mad Max: Fury Road, they’ll be getting some of my hard-earned dollars and I’m sure a few other adult collectors feel the same way.

Enforcing the hard-R no toys rule made sense when the Alien toys first came out, but the same kids who were buying those have grown up now, and with the ever-increasing quality of action figures there’ll be more collectors every year. Some companies (Mezco, Funko, NECA, etc.) have gotten ahead of that curve, but more companies need to. Movies like Mad Max: Fury Road deserve action figures.

More figures like this!

On an unrelated note, today is my mother’s birthday. Happy birthday, Mom!

A Call to Action (Figures) is a weekly column published on Wednesdays, chronicling my rants and raves about all things action figure. Next week I’ll be weighting in on the controversy over the lack of female action figures being produced to go with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Did I get it right? Should Mad Max: Fury Road get an action figure line? Should toy companies ignore the movie ratings from now on? Let me know in the comments!

By Bryan Stewart

Bryan first discovered an appreciation for action figures at an early age, setting up elaborate GI Joe ant hill attacks, complete with firework pyrotechnics. Due to the high injury rate for the Joes, replacements were a constant necessity.


  1. George Miller and WB are definitely leaving money on the table by NOT having a decent and well-planned merchandising campaign.

    Fury Road should have a slew of posters, t-shirts, action figures, and especially Hot Wheels cars on the shelves now especially since we’re at the start of a whole new series of Mad Max films. SMH at the missed opportunity as I would be a fervent consumer of these products.

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