4 Improvements To The Modern Action Figure


There is a great deal of confusion among the “great unwashed” (non-geeks) regarding the distinction between dolls and action figures.  I don’t have anything against dolls; they have a valid and venerable place in the play and collecting pantheon of toys.  Dolls, however are not action figures.  Dolls get dressed up and are used to role play situations boys and girls hope to engage in when they grow up – like dating a hot person or driving a bitch’ car.  Action figures are used by boys and girls to role play situations that they’ll most likely never engage in, like fighting dark Jedi, or blasting Cobra troopers and H.I.S.S. tanks.  A doll might snuggle with you when you are feeling sick.  An action figure will empower you to fight off your illness.

My introduction to action figures came with the original Star Wars Trilogy figures by Kenner Toys.  These toys opened up a whole new world of play – not only did my friends and I reenact scenes from the films, but we made up whole new stories.  These first generation action figures certainly had their limitations but the Hasbro line of Star Wars action figures have incorporated some incredible improvements over the Kenner toys.

Articulated Joints

Where the Kenner figures were stiff armed and legged, the Hasbro figures have articulated elbow and knee joints.  Some figures even have articulated wrists and torsos.  Not only do today’s figures have greater pose-ability but they can hold and shoulder rifles with both hands.  Since many of us don’t play with (openly) but display our figures in dioramas, these improvements allow for much more dynamic displays.

Figure stands

Articulated joints offer greater pose-ability, but make it more difficult to pose figures in a standing position.  Running poses would be impossible without figure stands.  Hasbro carried these handy pegged rectangular bits of plastic forward from their original line of G.I. Joe action figures.  Collectors can display their action figures in all kinds of cool impending action poses thanks to the figure stand.


Your actions figures gotta have some thing to be posed in or around – enter the vehicles of today.

The new X-wing (there are a few different varieties) are substantially larger than the original toy.  I don’t think they are to scale with the 3.75 inch action figures but they offer a much greater level of detail.  There is a socket to accommodate your astromech droid, a  compartment behind the pilot’s chair to stash weapons and stuff, three landing gears, and various scarring and battle damage so nobody thinks your T-65 Space Superiority Starfighter just rolled off the showroom floor.

The Legacy Edition Millennium Falcon is the Falcon we thought we’d never see.  The 2008 update of the vehicle is much larger than the original and boasts a number of upgrades:

  • A cockpit with working lights and seating for 4 figures
  • Dorsal and ventral quad laser cannons
  • A tech station with a seat
  • Seating around the light up game table
  • A gangplank that works
  • A bunch of really cool pre-recorded sound effects

I could go on for hours about this iteration of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.

Working Holsters

Though it might seem like a little thing, the addition of holsters on action figures is the next best thing to come along since action figures.  As a kid, my solution to keep from loosing blasters was to epoxy them into my action figures’ hands.  A buddy came up with a better work around.  He used the rubber bands off his braces to strap the guns to figures’ legs.  The addition of working holsters removes those unsightly globs of glue from Luke’s hands and the green rubber from around Han’s right leg and you don’t have to worry about loosing guns!

At my day job at the chicken ranch, I don’t spend of great deal of time at my desk but when I do I always get a few comments on the two Boba Fett action figures on display.

“Those are pretty cool Star Wars dolls.”

“They aren’t dolls.  They’re action figures.  That’s not Skipper.  That’s Boba Fett – he’s got a jet pack, he’s slinging some serious firepower, and he decorates his Mandolorian armor with braided Wookie scalps.  Does that sound like shit a doll would have?”