Everyone knows what action figures are. In this blog, we’ll look at the best of the best of them.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon was a sensation in the early 1990s, building on the success of the comics. Bizarrely in the UK, they were called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. The premise was that due to radiation, four teenagers were melded with turtles and trained by an old half rat half human sensei (I don’t know why comic writers get radiation so wrong either) were trained as Ninjas and took the name of Renaissance painters to fight crime. The cartoon was light-hearted and the toys from it had massive appeal to children, myself included. The toys were released over a period of a decade and had all kinds of variations including Star Trek versions weirdly enough.
The Real Ghostbusters
Before we had a controversial reboot (not controversial because it had women, more that it was unfunny, had no charm and was an all-round terrible film) of Ghostbusters we had The Real Ghostbusters, which was a kid-friendly cartoon, which didn’t have the same adult humour of the original. It did have ghosts and ghostbusters based on the film, but the cartoon version wasn’t voiced by the original cast, even though it was the same characters. The action figures managed to create all kinds of new uniforms and big bad ghosts for kids to collect.
Another victim of a reboot recently, the original Thundercats was a cartoon that was released in the mid to late 1980s. The human/cat hybrids caught the imagination of children and spawned a hugely successful toy range. Almost all of the characters that appeared in the cartoons got an action figure whether they were Thundercats, Evil Mutants or bizarre cyborg pirates. The range also had vehicles like the Thundertank and a Cat’s Lair playset
Transformers became a series of chronically poor flashy showpiece films with no substance for idiots when they were rebooted in the 2000s, but before that, they were what is now called “Generation one” which was the original set of toys and accompanying story which ran between 1984 and 1993. Hasbro bought the rights to a disparate line of transforming toys and got Marvel to create a backstory for these robots. Transformers was born, and the comics and cartoon marketed these toys brilliantly, even spawning a successful animated film. The original toys were the best and there were new toys added to eth line every year. If you didn’t have at least one there was no way I would have been your friend as a kid.
The action figures that really started it all weren’t available when Christmas came around in 1977 famously starting the selling of empty boxes and a promise of figures as and when they were made. The first figures from Episode 4 are quite poor (Did anyone think the Luke Skywalker X-Wing pilot looked ANYTHING like Luke Skywalker?) but with new figures for each film and amazingly lifelike vehicles, they have a place in the heart of anyone who grew up in the late 70s or 1980s. Some figures reach prices of hundreds of thousands of pounds now, so the love of these collectable figures is still huge.