The Evolution of Action Figures: A Brief History

     Action figures, often inspired by characters from movies, comics, games, or television, have significantly evolved over the years. Initially introduced in the 1960s by Hasbro with their GI Joe figures, these toys were marketed to boys, differing from similar products labeled as "boy dolls."

    A Swedish study suggests that action figures displaying masculine traits are primarily targeted at boys. While commonly considered children's toys, these figures have transitioned into coveted collectibles, sometimes designed solely for display, appealing to adult collectors rather than functioning as toys for play.

Action Figure

Early History: 1960s - 1970s

    The term "action figure" gained popularity with Hasbro's GI Joe in 1964, which was a military-themed 11.5-inch figure featuring changeable clothing and diverse uniforms. Concurrently, other markets across the globe produced versions with localized uniforms and accessories, sparking international interest.

    Additionally, Takara in Japan launched Microman figures, setting the stage for smaller-sized figures and transformative robot toys. Mego's licensing of popular comic book characters, such as Marvel and DC superheroes, became highly sought after and prized collectibles.

Action figure history Star War

1980s - 1990s: Rise of Popular Lines

    The '80s witnessed a surge in action figure lines, leveraging cartoon series for marketing. Titles like Masters of the Universe, GI Joe, and others dominated this era. Concurrently, Takara reinvented Microman into MicroRobots, influencing living robot concepts, ultimately leading to the creation of Transformers.

    By the end of the '80s and into the '90s, the rise of collectors significantly impacted the market. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures flooded stores, signaling that action figures were not limited to children anymore. Characters saw variations and specialized costumes, adding depth to the collectibles.

Super hero action figures

Precision and Design: Articulation and Expression 

    Action figures are characterized by body joints or points of articulation (POA), allowing movement in various body parts like the neck, shoulders, hips, knees, and wrists. Innovations like ball joints and cut joints improved flexibility and expression, influencing different toy lines' designs.

action figures


    Toy designers experimented with various facial expressions and articulation styles over the years. While some lines prioritized intricate details, others focused on minimalistic designs, each bringing unique elements to the toy landscape.


Anime Dragon Ball GOKU Action Figures