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10 Coolest Action Figures Ever Made

The Coolest of the Cool

By Robert T. Trate     April 16, 2010

Hasbro’s Soundwave from Transformers
© Hasbro/Bob Trate


There have been hordes of action figures over the years. Many were mass produced and had nothing but different heads or paint jobs to distinguish them from the others. Eventually boundaries got pushed and even kung fu grip came into play. There would come a figure now and again that would change the game completely, a figure so cool he usually spawned copy cats. To remember those figures here are Mania’s 10 Coolest Action Figures Ever Made.
10. Darth Vader(with removable helmet)

Bad Ass Action Figures

By 1998 there had already been a few Darth Vader figures on the market. They were all the same: Dark Lord of the Sith, cape and lightsaber. There was an Anakin Skywalker figure made but a variation on Darth could not be found. Hasbro finally put Anakin in that costume by making a Darth with a removable helmet. Hasbro put the character back in the figure and made him coolest Darth Vader of all time.
9. Clay Face

Bad Ass Action Figures

Batman the Animated Series changed the cartoon genre forever. The figures for the series were perfect reflections of their 2 dimensional counterparts. The Clay Face figure broke the mold and capitalized on what the character could do. Not only was it the scariest figure in the line it was the epitome of what was on screen. It was the coolest of the cool and one of the last great Kenner figures produced.
8. Death Row Marv

Bad Ass Action Figures

I never would have known that Death Row Marv even existed if some parent group wouldn’t have complained about him. McFarlane Toys was the first to capture this cool moment back in 2000 from Frank Miller’s Sin City Comic. Not only do you get to the flip the switch to juice Marv but he has blinking red eyes, shaking hands and a voice chip to say his classic line.
7. Modulok

Bad Ass Action Figures

If you look at most Masters of the Universe figures they either have one set of arms and legs or another. All of that changed when the evil beast of a thousand bodies hit the toy stores. Modulok was one cool Masters of the Universe figure in that he could change into anything you could think of. Grant it losing any one of his 22 different pieces wasn’t tough to do but he was unique and totally cool. Ram-Man was unique too. Well, he was more “special” than unique.
6. Jabba the Hutt

Bad Ass Action Figures

Outside of the occasional tall figure, R2 unit or little figure most Star Wars figures were the same. Then came the coolest gangster in the galaxy: Jabba the Hutt. Now Jabba wasn’t big on the action part of his figure. No Jabba made the action happen. He did come with a cool smoking pipe and a munchies bowl. When you put all the original Star Wars figures together one clearly stands out above the rest. Jabba!
5. Zartan

Bad Ass Action Figures

Yes, Storm Shadow and Firefly were totally cool but could then turn a different color? The master of disguise took action figures in a whole new direction for G.I. Joe. He came with two different faces, removable pads and his own mini vehicle. To top it all off when you put him in the sunlight he turned a different color. He was the coolest action figure from the eighties and every kid wanted him. What wasn’t so cool about him? He tasted like poison. Don’t ask.
4. Soundwave

Bad Ass Action Figures

Some changed into a car, others a jet, two even changed into guns. Soundwave broke the mold by becoming a tape player. Adding to his cool factor, outside of his voice, was that Soundwave came with an additional Transformer which resided inside him. He was big, bad and totally cool as he rocked an evil jam on the show. As cool goes no other Transformer ever came close.
3. The 6 Million Dollar Man

Bad Ass Action Figures

Some will ask where are the original G.I. Joe or Big Jim figures? Here is a cool figure that is worth 6 million of those guys. Steve Austin in action figure form was produced by Kenner and was packed with accessories. No, they didn’t come with him they were attached to him. There was the fisheye lens in his eye socket and a switch on his back to elevate his right bionic arm. Steve even came with a built in flashlight. Let us not forget his bionic grip. All this made him more than just an action figure. Steve Austin was the coolest 12 inch figure in the entire world. Sorry G.I. Joe.
2. Alien

Bad Ass Action Figures

There have been many since but the original Alien figure from the 1979 film still reigns supreme. Action figures were just starting to take over from the giant G.I. Joe and MEGO style figures. However Kenner went out of its way to produce this giant sized Alien figure. What makes this figure incredibly cool is that the inner jaw has a trigger in the head which activates it. Plus the look of it completely captures H.R. Giger’s designs. Though what really makes it completely cool is that here is a figure from an R rated film. That was unheard of in 1979.
1. Godzilla

Bad Ass Action Figures

Why they ever produced a Godzilla figure for the Shogun Warriors line is beyond me. The 2-foot-tall Godzilla is on my permanent must have list. Godzilla’s coolness factor hits several points but the biggest was his fist firing hand. Why Godzilla’s hand did this had to do with the Shogun Warriors line but shouldn’t this have been Mechagodzilla then? Perhaps with some tear away skin? There are very few toys that are quintessential for collectors and Godzilla is one of them. A truly cool toy if ever there was one.

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Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com.


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Betenoire 4/16/2010 2:04:48 AM

I bought the Godzilla at a yard sale for a dime and he was minus tail and hand. Now I know where he came from. Other than that...I think some of the Gundam figure released in the states bear some attention given the deco and insane accessories some came with but beyond that anything I would replace on the list would likely not make someone elses (like Lion-O with light up eyes).

My biggest complaint is you missed what may be Soundwaves coolest feature-his weapons transfom into batteries and fit in his battery compartment. That to me blew me away when I bought the toy at a yard sale and had no idea those were there.

TayDor 4/16/2010 4:05:16 AM

I still have my 6 million dollar man.  He's missing a foot, but he was cool.  He came with a rocket ship that turned into an operating table.  You could crash him and rebuild him all you wanted.  I also had his boss, Oscar Goldman.  He came with an pretty cool briefcase accessory.  If you opened it the wrong way, it looked like it had blown off (complete with a panel that popped off the side of the briefcase).  If you opened it correctly, you saw his computer inside.  There was a dial so you could change the picture on the monitor.  It also came with two figure sized file folders.  One for Steve austin and one for jaime summers.

A friend of mine had the evil robot arch enemy that could change its face to be in disguise.  The figure had changeable faces.

Dazzler 4/16/2010 4:43:06 AM

My list is...


TNMT figures

Secret Wars figures

Mega man, not sure if right name, had a flashlight on his head and detected movement

Robot that spun around and shot lasers at everything and walked.



Darkknight2280 4/16/2010 4:43:23 AM

I almost picked up a Steve Aution (6 million Dollar man) figure at a toy show they had here in Columbus, Ohio last week. I didnt have alot of money on me and they were an all cash business. I had already dropped some money on (ironically) Death Row Marv and a couple Metal wind up Bender figures, so i couldnt afford the $100 tag on the mint/near mint in the box Steve Austin.

Boombatty 4/16/2010 6:17:59 AM

This is a tough one.

If there ever is a list of In-Active figures, or cool figures that don't have a lot of movement I think McFarlane wins hands down. 

Transformers always had a lot of cool figures as a kid.  I mean the Original Megatron looked like crap in robot form but as a gun, complete with Scope and Silencer, made you the coolest kid on the block when playing GI Joe (until some unsuspecting cop showed up and shot you on sight, at least these days you'd most likely get Tasered and only die of the resulting heart attack).  

Some here I don't agree with like Modulok.  I think Man-E-faces was much cooler as a kid.  Modulok always looked stupid and you always lost the pieces.  Hell, I'd trade Modulok for a Hordak in 2 seconds. 

I think the issue here is there is Cool and there is Cool Stuff You Can Do With Said Figure.

Cool - Soundwave, Not Cool (but still can do cool stuff with) - Modulok

Zartan fits both categories where Storm Shadow and Firefly were the epitome of Cool within the Joe line as a kid.  No one ever looked at your Bazooka figure and said, "Cool".  Even if he came with a big ol' Cool looking Bazooka.

Secret Wars figures were pretty cool, especially the Wolverine and Black Spider Man.  Those were figs all the kids in my neck of the woods coveted. 

Add in some of the Cool ginormous items like the USS Flag, Terror Drome, Metroplex and Omega Supreme and you have quite the list.

lusiphur 4/16/2010 6:20:13 AM

TayDor - I had all three of those (or myself and friends did.  It's been a long time.)  I have no idea where they are now.

Darkknight2280 - Did I miss the toy show at the Alladin Shrine Temple again?  I used to go twice a year, every year.  But I have missed the last four or five years.

Darkknight2280 4/16/2010 6:50:29 AM

lusiphur- They hold it at the Vets memorial now. ( if its the same one ur talking about). They hold it 2 times a year, April and September I beleive. so you have another chance to go to it. Its nice been going for the past 3 years.

Roqueja 4/16/2010 7:00:30 AM

Stretch Armstrong should definately be on this list.  There wasn't anything like it before or since.

Migg 4/16/2010 8:18:29 AM

I had a Six Million Dollar Man figure as a kid. Very cool toy. Coolest part was that you could roll back the skin on his arm to reveal the bionics!

millean 4/16/2010 8:30:54 AM

Of course everybody is going to have their own preferences as to what should be on here.  My list begins and ends with the mighty Defendor of the Universe: Voltron!  (The cool lion version, not the vehicle one.)  I played with that thing so much all of the lead based paint fell off before the recall ever happened!  :)

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