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Sizing up the Competition

From micro to macro, action figures come in all shapes and sizes. But is that a good thing?

By Andrew Kardon     June 13, 2002

When it comes to action figures, some lines just tower over others. Literally. If toy companies are sizing up the competition, they're not just looking at sculpting details and articulation... they're also taking note of just how big the friggin' toys are too. And just like the age old "sculpting vs. articulation" debate, size differences can make a serious toy collector's blood boiling.

While there's no set standard anymore for an action figure's size, we can break it down to three far-from-complex categories: small, medium and large. Yep, just like an order of fries, except no ketchup.

Let's start with the bigguns. There are plenty of monstrously enormous figures, but the most common large ones would have to be the 12-inchers. Nowadays, you've got all sorts including Hasbro's special STAR WARS and G.I. JOEs, McFarlane Toys' big-ass SPAWN and MOVIE MANIACS, and a huge collectible frenzy with Sideshow Toy's PLATOON, JAMES BOND and TWILIGHT ZONE figures.

Then there's the medium figures, which clock in around the 5 or 6-inch range. These are your standard action figures. If it's a basic toy line, it'll fall into this category, like Playmates'SIMPSONS, Toy Biz's MARVEL LEGENDS and LORD OF THE RINGS, and JAKKS Pacific's WWE figures.

And finally, there's the li'l guys which seem to be all the rage these days. And we're not just talkin' Legos. DC Direct's got a whole line of 3-inch POCKET HEROES and Art Asylum's releasing some seriously articulated 3-inch MINI-MATES.


So with all these different sizes, does that mean one is any better than another? Not at all. Personally, I'm partial to the 6-inch puppies, because that's where you get the most bang for your buck: the best articulation/sculpting combo. They fill out a shelf nicely. There's something to be said about the current mini-craze, too. The li'l guys can hang out all over your desk or computer monitor without freaking out your co-workers. And the 12-inchers seem to give off a more serious collectibility aura.

Now, what conclusions have me made? Well, for one, that a guy can spend a few hundred words just talking about the size of action figures. But also that just like real people, action figures come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They should be treated with respect and share equal space on your shelf.

Oh, and when you're not looking? Yeah, your 12-inch figures are kickin' the crap outta your 3-inch guys.


Hasbro's got a new soldier in town and he's not a member of G.I. Joe. The toy company's reached an agreement with the Singapore-based Stikfas Private Limited to market, manufacture and globally distribute STIKFAS action figures. These kick-ass little figures are actually like model kits that you put together and easily customize. Hasbro will launch the STIKFAS brand at the Wizard World Chicago convention July 5-7. The first action figure kit the ALPHA MALE MILITARY includes 44 interchangeable parts that snap together to form one bad-ass 3-inch figure. Look for the green and tan military figures to follow soon after, along with all-new Stikfas themes.


Move over, bearded ladies. The Trekkies are a' coming. Yep, Sideshow Toy recently announced that it has snagged the license to put out some killer collectible polystone busts based on the STAR TREK line, including film and television. With licenses to the TWILIGHT ZONE and OUTER LIMITS already in effect, Sideshow's quickly proving it can handle the final frontier.

Toynami's going cartoon crazy this year! The uber-popular HERCULOIDS are getting the full plastic treatment this fall/winter in a number of box sets. What? You don't remember who the Herculoids are?!? Geez. Okay, listen up: King Zandor, his wife Tara and their son Dorno fight to defend their planet with the help of the amazing Herculoids: the mighty dragon Zok; Tundro, a rhinoceros-type creature with a cannon-like horn that makes the coolest sound; Igoo, the big smashing rock monster; and the blobby shapeshifters Gloop and Gleep. See, we're fun and educational! And following the release of this family's figures, look for BIRDMAN, DYNOMUTT and THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN! Figures to follow in 2003.



Ready for some small exclusives? Then check out Dynamic Forces and Palisades Toys exclusive MICRONAUTS TIME TRAVELER action figure. Limited to just 5,000 pieces, the glow-in-the-dark figure is available this summer exclusively through Dynamic Forces. And hey, considering how tiny these Micronauts characters really are, you won't have to worry about losing this one. Just turn off the lights and look for the warm green glow...


Looking for love in all the wrong places? Then try the shelves at your local Toys "R" Us. That's where you should find Playmates' ALL-STAR VOICES TWO-PACK: MOBILE HOME ENVIRONMENT. Not only do you get your own mobile home environment, but you get two exclusive figures: LURLEEN LUMPKIN (voiced by Beverly D'Angelo) and the cowboy hat-wearin' COLONEL HOMER. All we can say is, "Yeee doggies!"

Go Figure is our weekly Toys and Action Figure column.

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