Action figures hold a special place in the hearts of many. These small, detailed replicas of beloved characters capture imaginations and bring joy. They are not just toys; they are collectible items, pieces of art, and a link to the past. This article explores the fascinating world of cool action figures. It delves into their history, notable collections, the reasons behind their popularity, and tips on starting your own collection.

cool action figures

The History of Cool Action Figures

Origins and Early Days

The concept of action figures dates back several decades. In the 1960s, the toy company Hasbro introduced G.I. Joe, considered the first action figure. This was a strategic move to market dolls to boys without calling them dolls. G.I. Joe had the attributes of a soldier, complete with gear and accessories. This innovation paved the way for future action figures. The term “action figure” was born, and it changed the toy industry forever.

Rise of Popularity

During the 1970s and 1980s, action figures saw a significant rise in popularity. This period coincided with the release of blockbuster movies and successful TV series. Franchises like Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, and Transformers capitalized on this trend. They launched their own lines of action figures, each capturing the likeness of their beloved characters. These figures were not just toys but cultural phenomena. Children and collectors alike clamored to own them, cementing their status in pop culture.

Transition to Collectibles

By the 1990s, action figures evolved from mere children’s toys to valuable collectibles. Toy manufacturers recognized this shift and began producing figures aimed at adult collectors. These figures often featured higher levels of detail, articulation, and limited runs. The adult collector market grew, expanding into diverse genres and styles. This period saw the creation of figures from comic books, video games, and other entertainment media.

Notable Collections

Star Wars Action Figures

One of the most iconic action figure lines is Star Wars. Since the late 1970s, Star Wars action figures have captivated fans. Kenner, and later Hasbro, produced numerous figures based on characters from the movies. These figures became cultural icons, spawning a vast and dedicated fanbase. Limited editions and rare variants made Star Wars action figures highly sought after by collectors.

Marvel Legends

Marvel Legends is another notable action figure line. First introduced by Toy Biz in 2002, and later taken over by Hasbro, Marvel Legends features detailed representations of Marvel superheroes and villains. These figures are known for their articulation, allowing for dynamic posing. Special series, such as the Builder Figure sets, encourage collectors to complete the collection to build an additional figure.


Transformers action figures stand out for their unique feature: transformation. Each figure can convert from a robot to a vehicle, animal, or other forms. Introduced in the 1980s by Hasbro, Transformers captivated audiences with their innovative design and engaging characters. Collectors value not only the figures’ appearance but their engineering. The transformation process adds an extra layer of fascination.

G.I. Joe

Returning to its roots, G.I. Joe remains a staple in the action figure world. Over the years, G.I. Joe figures have seen various iterations, from the original military heroes to more fantastical versions. The attention to detail and numerous accessories make these figures appealing to collectors of all ages. G.I. Joe’s enduring popularity showcases the timeless appeal of action figures.

Why Cool Action Figures Are Popular

Nostalgia Factor

For many, action figures evoke a strong sense of nostalgia. They remind collectors of their childhood, of simpler times spent playing and dreaming. Owning a piece of their past gives collectors joy and a tangible connection to their favorite characters and stories. This emotional bond makes action figures more than just objects; they become cherished keepsakes.

Artistic Value

Modern action figures often reach impressive levels of artistry. Sculptors and designers spend countless hours perfecting details to bring characters to life. High-end collectible figures can feature realistic textures, intricate paint jobs, and multiple points of articulation. Some figures even come with interchangeable parts and accessories. This artistry transforms action figures into miniature works of art, appreciated for their aesthetics as much as their play value.

Community and Camaraderie

Collecting action figures fosters a sense of community. Many collectors join online forums, attend conventions, and participate in social media groups. These platforms provide opportunities to share their collections, purchase rare items, and meet like-minded enthusiasts. The camaraderie found in these communities enhances the collecting experience. It turns a solitary hobby into a shared passion.

Value and Investment

Action figures can also be seen as an investment. Rare and limited-edition figures often appreciate in value over time. Savvy collectors recognize this and treat their collections as valuable assets. Whether collected for financial gain or personal enjoyment, the knowledge that figures can hold and increase in value adds to their allure. This aspect of collecting introduces an element of strategy and excitement.

Starting Your Own Cool Action Figures Collection

Choosing a Theme

The first step in starting a collection is choosing a theme. This could be based on a particular franchise, genre, or character. For example, you might focus on Star Wars figures, Japanese anime characters, or superhero figures. A defined theme helps streamline your collection and makes it easier to find and acquire specific items. It also adds a personal touch, reflecting your interests and passions.

Research and Knowledge

Knowledge is key in the world of action figure collecting. Research the figures you’re interested in, learning about their history, variations, and market value. Understand the different brands and manufacturers, as well as factors that affect a figure’s rarity and condition. Familiarizing yourself with this information protects you from overpaying or purchasing counterfeit items. It also enhances your appreciation of the figures.

Where to Buy

There are various places to buy action figures. Online marketplaces, such as eBay and Amazon, offer a wide range of options. Specialized online stores and hobby shops also cater to collectors. Local toy stores, flea markets, and conventions are other good sources. Each venue has its pros and cons, so explore multiple options to find the best deals.

Preserving and Displaying

Proper preservation and display are crucial for maintaining the value and condition of your figures. Keep them out of direct sunlight to avoid fading and store them in a cool, dry place to prevent damage. Dust them regularly and consider using display cases for added protection. Well-displayed figures not only look impressive but also reduce the risk of accidental damage.

Tips for Advanced Collectors

Networking and Community

For advanced collectors, networking becomes increasingly important. Building relationships with fellow collectors, dealers, and industry insiders can open doors to rare and exclusive figures. Attend conventions, join online forums, and participate in social media groups. Networking not only enhances your collection but also enriches your experience by connecting you with a broader community.


Advanced collectors might consider specializing in a niche area. This could be a specific character, a limited time period, or a unique sub-genre. Specialization allows you to develop deep expertise and a more focused collection. It also makes it easier to keep track of your figures and identify gaps in your collection.

Staying Updated

The action figure market is dynamic, with new releases and limited editions constantly being introduced. Stay updated on the latest news, releases, and trends. Subscribe to industry publications, follow relevant blogs, and join mailing lists. Being informed helps you secure sought-after figures before they become scarce.

Selling and Trading

Advanced collectors often engage in selling and trading figures. This requires a good understanding of the market and the value of different figures. Selling and trading can help you acquire rare items and finance new additions to your collection. Approach this aspect cautiously, ensuring you price items fairly and deal with trusted buyers and sellers.

Action Figures in Pop Culture

Representation in Media

Action figures have a significant presence in pop culture. They appear in movies, TV shows, and music videos, often as symbols of nostalgia or fandom. For example, the Toy Story movie series features action figures as central characters, reflecting their impact on popular culture. This representation continues to fuel interest in action figures, keeping them relevant across generations.

Celebrity Collectors

Many celebrities openly share their love for action figures, further popularizing the hobby. Celebrities like Simon Pegg, Kevin Smith, and Seth Green are known for their extensive collections. Their endorsement of action figures adds a layer of glamour and legitimacy to the hobby. It inspires fans and collectors to pursue their passion with more enthusiasm.

Special Collaborations

Toy manufacturers often collaborate with artists, designers, and entertainment franchises to create unique action figures. These collaborations result in limited-edition figures that blend different creative disciplines. For example, collaborations with street artists or fashion designers can produce figures that are both collectible and avant-garde. These special releases attract collectors and highlight the cultural significance of action figures.

cool action figures

The Future of Action Figures

Technological Advancements

The future of action figures looks promising, with technological advancements opening new doors. Innovations like 3D printing and augmented reality can transform how figures are designed and interacted with. For instance, 3D printing allows for custom, one-of-a-kind figures, while augmented reality can bring figures to life in new ways. These technologies promise to make collecting even more exciting.

Expanding Markets

The action figure market is expanding globally. Regions like Asia, especially Japan, have always had a strong action figure culture. However, other regions are catching up, broadening the scope and diversity of action figures available. International collaborations and releases cater to a global audience, making the hobby more inclusive and accessible.

Sustainability and Eco-Friendliness

As environmental concerns grow, the action figure industry is also adapting. Manufacturers are exploring more sustainable materials and production methods. Eco-friendly packaging, biodegradable plastics, and recycled materials are becoming more common. This shift appeals to environmentally-conscious collectors and aligns the hobby with global sustainability efforts.


Cool action figures offer more than just playful joy. They are collectibles, artistic expressions, and sentimental connections to beloved stories and characters. The rich history, notable collections, and enduring popularity of action figures make them a cherished hobby for many. Whether you’re a novice just starting or an advanced collector expanding your collection, the world of action figures has something to offer. Embrace the nostalgia, artistry, and community surrounding these captivating collectibles, and dive into the fascinating world of cool action figures.