I want to take a few minutes to talk about action figures. For years now, I’ve been collecting Star Wars and Superhero figures. Usually I buy two of each; one in package, the other out to play with my boys with. That way I always have a collectible.
Recently I’ve noticed something about action figures as they’ve been released. With the 3.75″ Star Wars action figures, originally (Kenner) they only bent at the hips and shoulders, allowing for very limited arm and leg movements with almost no pose-ability and lower quality plastic. For the time (1970s-80s) that was expected. It was fairly typical of that era of toys.
As time progressed (late 80s-90s), we started seeing far more effort being put in. Better, more durable plastics and paint have been used, arms were jointed at the elbow and legs were jointed at the knees. More intrepid toymakers also made waist twistable.
Then things got REALLY interesting… REALLY… all right… then they started trying to get the figures to pose in almost every possible way you could imagine. The hips now had ball joints, heads were also on a pivoting joint, shoulders and elbows pivoted, biceps twisted, and even the waists were jointed. If done right, the figures looked great… if not, they looked like robots. The early to mid 2000s were, in my opinion, the glory days for collecting action figures.
However… then roughly around the time The Force Awakens came out (or maybe earlier, this is just when I noticed it), something happened. Suddenly, a lot less effort was being put into the average action figure (ones ranging around $10-$30). You still had the premium collectible ones that were really something, but the regular toy store figures saw a significant drop in quality.
Well as far as Star Wars went, they were pretty much back to the vintage standards. No joints, and you could only bend at the arms, legs, or neck. Not only that, I also noticed that The Force Awaken toys had a significantly reduced production run (When’s the last time you saw the first Kylo Ren, Sabine Wren or Starkiller Base Rey on the shelves?) I can honestly say that I was glad to have grabbed them when they first came out… because they’re going for 3-4 times retail on ebay and amazon.
Superhero figures, I can’t speak to as much as I’ve only bought a few… but for the ones I have bought… well…
I bought a Spider Gwen recently. It’s so far the only official release of a poseable action figure for that popular character. She’s a 6″ figure with some fairly good detailing… until you take her out of the box…
So what’s wrong with this figure?
Well off the bat…
-The paint is cheap and tends to rub off easily.
-The joints are stiff and have to be carefully heated before you can move them, otherwise they will break.
-The hood is too small for the umasked face.
-The rolled back hood should be longer.
-The head has little detail, looks generic, and is too big for the body… making it look pretty bad.
So I guess I’m just wondering what happened? Why is the quality of action figures in a state of decline?
Any thoughts readers/ Fellow collectors?
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I recently picked up a Rey figure from the dollar store and had similar thoughts on quality. Then again, it was the dollar store. Maybe lower demand for figures has contributed to the low effort productions? Makes me want to try and hunt down more of the old Playskool toys.
They would say it’s thee rising cost of plastic, labor and so on …or it could be new breed of designers that are not really fans and don’t appreciate how fans look at action figures. Kids don’t need high standards right? 😜