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Find Out How to Collect Action Figures

If you follow this guide on How to Collect Action Figures you will save yourself a lot of time and money later on because despite what you may think it's not as easy as it may seem.

The first true "Action Figure", the G.I. Joe, was the idea of toy creator and licensing agent Stan Weston who came up with the idea of a toy soldier based on the hit TV series "The Lieutenant", in 1963.

He later approached Don Levine, the CEO of toy manufacturer Hasbro Co, with his idea as Mattel's Barbie doll, which was targeted for girls, was dominating the toy market at that time.

This spurred Levine and Hasbro on as there were no particular dolls made for boys and they saw the huge potential for a new brand of toy line targeting boys and that this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

But how were they going to get around the problem that "dolls" were already perceived as strictly a girls toy that no boy self respecting boy would be seen dead playing with?

It was because of this that during the development of the G.I. Joe line of plastic figurines someone in Hasbro's marketing department coining the phrase "action figures" to make them more appealing to boys.

Thus in 1964, Hasbro launched the GI Joe line of military-themed Action Figures rather than a line of military dolls!

The GI Joes' were 12" articulated action figures featuring changeable uniforms and clothes to suit different purposes.

Hasbro soon realized that they were onto another winner here with a huge International market waiting to be exploited and decided licensed the line internationally to other companies, opening up new markets and ensuring its global popularity and place in the history books.

However, the modern day Action Figure is very different to the traditional GI Joe and Action Man figures released back in 1964, with thousands of different variations no available representing movie stars, wrestlers, anime characters, cartoons, TV personalities, sports stars, pop stars and even Playboy has a line of Centerfold action figures, fully pose-able with removable clothes!

The hobby has undergone some major changes since the mid-sixties when it was often considered "geeky" to becoming more mainstream and acceptable.

Probably one of the biggest and most influential events that changed people's perceptions and attitudes to these toys was in 1977 with the release of Star Wars and its phenomenal success,.

Star Wars was probably one of the first movies that created such a hunger for its merchandising, especially the Kenner figures which flew of toy shelves quicker than they could be filled!

In fact Kenner was caught with their trousers down and realized that they couldn't get their Star Wars toys into stores in time for Christmas.

So what did they do?

They did the next best thing and sold a cardboard display for the forthcoming figures and a mail in certificate that guaranteed the holder a set of the first four figures and good to their word in early 1978 Kenner sent out thousands of mailer boxes containing Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Chewbacca, and Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2).

This is why the first series of the Kenner Star Wars figures are dated as 1977 when in fact they didn't come out until 1978, but unfortunately they were ALL dated 1977 so these have no significant rarity.

Even when they did eventually reached stores they weren't prepared for the huge demand as they flew off shelves quicker than they could be refilled and with demand quickly outstripping supply they became difficult to find.

This led to the figures beginning to appear at comic-cons and swap meets where they were sold on the secondary market at inflated prices, especially for the more popular and harder to find figures, many of which are still highly sought after to this day!

The Kenner Star Wars figures were the first to use the 3.5-inch scale, which soon became the industry standard.

Kenner decided to make the figures to this scale to keep the price low so kids could afford to buy them and collect multiple figures; it also meant that they could easily be mass produced.

The next big "shake up" in the hobby came in 1994 when Todd McFarlane founded McFarlane Toys specifically to launch a line of action figures based on his Spawn comic character.

McFarlane Toys was different because its figures weren't the standard 3.5-inch figures being produced at the time but made to a larger 6-inch scale and were targeted at an older and more mature customer base.

McFarlane wanted these figures to be of excellent quality and highly detailed so that his Spawn fans would be proud to own them. McFarlane's figures also had tons of articulation compared to the average figure at the time, which generally had only four points of articulation!

As a result these figures, along with McFarlane's Movie Maniac line and other licensed figures, created a new market specifically targeting the adult collector, which grew at an exponential rate spawning (pardon the pun!! ;-) ) a host of new companies manufacturing collectors figures, such as The Three Horsemen, Gentle Giant, NECA, Mezco, Sideshow Collectibles and WETA to name a few.

The hobby has continued to grow and mature over the years and has now become a mainstream and respectable hobby.

In fact many sports stars, movie stars, pop stars or other famous personalities aren't considered to be truly "famous" until they have had an action figure of themselves made!

The current action figure market can generally split into three categories:

i)3.5 inch mass produced figures, e.g. Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, GI Joe etc.

ii)6-inch collectible figures, although these are still 'mass produced', e.g. NECA Gears of War figures, McFarlane's Halo Figures, Medicom RAH figures, Diamond Select Toys' Battlestar Galactica figure etc.

iii)12-inch collectible figures, which are usually very limited editions, e.g. Hot Toys, AAA Figures, Sideshow Collectibles etc.

Ever since the release of the first "Action figure" of the most contested, and heated debates, has been on exactly what an action figure is and the differentiation between an action figure and a doll. In fact, the case even went as far as the Federal Court in the USA to determine determine its tax category for import duties due to the hobbies popularity!

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