Action Figures and Heroes

Since their initial success in the 1960's with Hasbro's creation of G.I. Joe, action figures have captured the hearts of both children and collectors. They were initially made in reaction to Barbie, but soon after there was no stopping the boy's toy market; it would would fuel imaginations for decades to come. Today there are hundreds of figures in each manufacturer's line, and each character has its own personality and following. No matter how old you are, collecting (or playing with) your favorite action hero is always exciting and fun. Luckily, there are models out there for just about every television show, movie, cartoon, or comic book you can think of, so there's a good chance of finding what you seek. Don't forget about real life action figures--from Shakespeare to infantry soldiers, you can collect them all!

Shopping Tips

Kids love to play--and play they do. Age appropriateness is a key point to remember. A collector quality action figure is unsuitable for a young child because it is too easily broken; nonetheless, this could make a great gift for teens. Most of the playthings sold for kids are made to last, unlike collector's pieces that feature intricate designs and accessories made to impress. Toy action figures have solid, easy-to-move joints made of heavy-duty plastic and the details are kept to a minimum. When shopping, besides looking at brands or what's hot, be sure to consider the following points:

Major Toys

When you're a kid, there's nothing like tearing off the wrapping paper to reveal your first Wonder Woman toy or the Power Ranger you need to complete the team. That's why around the holidays, action figures are the ultimate stocking stuffers. Every franchise for kids has a range of merchandise, so it's mostly a matter of knowing what movie, show, or comic appeals to your son or daughter and picking something up.  Below are some great toys, divided by age appropriateness.

For Young Kids


For Older Kids


Collector's Corner

You know how some people say they're action figures, not dolls? Well here in Collector's Corner, they're not action figures, they're collectibles. For those just starting out, start with a concept that you want to stick with for at least a little while rather than just buying whatever you see. For example, say you want to make a grab for Superman action figures: you then have a very clearly-defined direction. It gives you a starting point for getting to know the market: developments, demands, rarities, prices, and collector's communities. In the future you will have a better knowledge base to branch out into other lines and products.


* '''Research''': Know what you are looking for before you start shopping, including what the going rates are for that particular item, any fluctuations in the price and/or value, and where you can find it. Internet forums are an excellent place to get started. Also look into magazines and newsletters about collecting action figures for a place to start.
* '''Relax''': Collecting takes time. It doesn't just happen overnight.
* '''Be persistent''': Check frequently with your local or Internet toy store to be on top of any updates or new shipments.
* '''Be thorough''': When scoping out stores for action figures, be sure to look everywhere: behind products, on top or bottom shelves, and anywhere that's far from reach. Often there will be gems stashed where the store employees hope you won't be looking.

Basic Terminology

Collecting has its own set of terms with which to set across-the-board standards. Here are some of the most essential things to know about the value of an action figure. You should also check out Raving Toy Maniac's Action Figure Collecting Glossary.
* '''All Original (A/O)''': Complete with all items, and accessories included in the original box.
* '''Never Removed From Box (NRFB)''': The most valued type of all original collector's items.
* '''Mint in the Box (MIB)''': A perfect condition action figure with the box.''''''''''''''''
* '''Mint in Package (MIP)''': Means the accessories are still in their packages.
* '''Mint and Complete''': Everything is together and it's all in good condition.
* '''Mint No Box (MNB)''': Valuable, but not as much as if it had the box.
* '''Near Mint (NM)''': Good, but not in perfect condition. Usually there is no box.
* '''Ratings''' for the quality of a given action figure are based on two scales.
** There is the C Scale (ranging from C1 to C10, with 10 being perfect and 1 being very poor quality) and the AFA (Action Figure Authority) percentage ratings, based on a scale from 1 to 100.
** The only action figures that are thought to be valuable are those that have a C rating of nine or higher and/or an AFA rating of 85% or more.

Related Guides

* Classic Kids' Toys
* Collectibles and Memorabilia
* Diecast Model Car Collectibles
* Toys and Games