Thursday, 16 September 2010
Action Figures: Antiques for the Common Man
Given enough time, one boy’s toy is an antique collector’s prized possession. Strange as that may sound, there are many collectors who would love to see an original G.I. Joe or an original Star Wars action figure. Remember He-Man? Action figures tend to be based on shows, movies, or comics that always have a following, and therefore even years after companies stop producing the figures, there are individuals who still seek to collect them. There are many a man who think of all the G.I. Joes they blew up with fireworks, only to find out twenty years later how many hundreds or even thousands of dollars their collection would have been worth if it remained in mint condition!
One interesting story dealing with action figures involves Takara, a Japanese toy company. They are best known to modern toy collectors as the company that built the original Transformers action figures. In 1974 Takara created a 4-inch humanoid action figure, which was called "MicroMan." In the late 70's and early 80's this toy was brought over to the United States by the Mego Toy company, which was desperate for a hit after they made the famous blunder of passing on Star Wars. They re-named the line "Micronauts", and created enough of a back story for Marvel Comics to get a good run of comics. Mego got several years of good sales, which was about the same size as Star Wars figures, before the whole company went down.
The basic construction of the Micronauts action figure would soon be utilized by Hasbro for their new action figures: the now famous and very collectible 3-3/4" G.I. Joes (an action figure famous amongst young boys of the time for their propensity to have bad run-ins with fireworks). In recent years, the Micronauts concept has enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence. There has been a decently successful series of comic books, a trilogy of paperback novels, and a toy company called Palisades managed to re-create many of the original Micronauts molds. Now the original company is coming out with larger action figures based on the originals. Like many classics, companies want to keep dipping back for more. Why mess with success? Still it’s the old action figures that gain the most attention from collectors, so if you’re thinking about putting out the old toys from twenty years ago out in the garage sale, maybe think twice and take a second look before putting the boxes out. Who knows what you might find?