Superhero action figures first stormed the doors of department stores and toy stores nearly 35 years ago. Constructed of various kinds of plastic and clothed in uniforms, costumes and capes G.I. Joe, Superman, Spiderman, the Lone Ranger and others marched, flew and rode off store shelves and into our lives. After short stops under the Christmas tree or at birthday parties, these action figures found their way into toy boxes and playrooms around the world.
These action figures did their superhero work of incredible feats, saving scores of lives and neutralizing villains. They accomplished these heroic deeds on lazy summer afternoons and rainy Saturday mornings in front of the TV set. Too often, they also needed our help after school when we were supposed to be doing homework.
These superheroes were always our friends and they helped us through our childhoods. They taught us to share, to value friendships and that good will triumph over evil. Perhaps, most importantly, they stretched our imaginations and made us believe that anything was possible. These mighty action figures were invincible to everything but time. Time finally did them in. Or did it?
For more and more people, these action figures are returning to superhero status. The Star Trek crew along with Power Rangers, the Star Wars characters and transformers are popping up in offices, dens and family rooms everywhere. These action figures have become collectibles.
The most popular of these action figures include G.I. Joe, Captain Action, the Six Million Dollar Man, the Lone Ranger and the Mego line of action figures. These include characters from Super Heroes, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, Happy Days, CHIPs, Monsters and others. There were literally hundreds of different action figures produced during the decades of the ’70s and ’80s.
The action figures come in different sizes. Just as with other collectibles, size, condition, original popularity and whether or not the figure is readily available now all come together to determine price. Prices are all over the board. Some of these figures have been known to sell for thousands of dollars. Others go for a few hundred. Most are in the $10 to $100 range.
Action Figures Make Great Collectibles
How do you know what to pay? There are a number of sources for current price information for these action figures. One important source is toy magazines such as “Toyfare” and “Lee’s Action Figure News”. There are also dozens of websites that have pricing information. More good sources are the online auction sites, such as eBay.
The auction websites are also great places to buy these action figures. Numbers of these toys are sold on these sites every day. You can determine the condition, see what other people are bidding and then make a bid. The top online auctions are safe places to do business.
These action figures crop up in other places as well, just waiting for the opportunity to march into your collection. You can find them in flea markets and sometimes in antique shops. You can buy them from other collectors, at garage sales and estate auctions. There are dozens of toy shows around the country where dealers and individuals buy and sell collections.
You will find these action figure toys in every conceivable condition from mint in the box condition to pieces of the original toy. There is a rating system to help collectors determine condition that runs from condition C-1 through C-10. The very best condition is mint in box or mint on card. These toys are in the original box or bubble wrap card. They are in exactly the same condition today as the day they were first packaged. They are, of course, the most valuable.
One of the first steps in collecting action figures is to decide which toys to collect. A good place to start is with your favorites when you were a kid. Collections will be more valuable if you have complete sets. For example, you might build a collection of a complete set of the Marvel Comics heroes. Part of the fun is putting these collections together – acquiring hard-to-find figures in a set.
The next step is taking care of your collection of action figures. If you are lucky enough to find a toy sealed in the original box or package, leave it in the box. Do not open it. Display your toys on a shelf or in a cabinet where they will be kept dry, out of direct sunlight. You will also need to keep these toys above the reach of your own youngsters. They will be just as tempted to play with them as you were.
Finally, enjoy your collection. Owning these action figure superheroes will bring back many of the wonderful feelings of those carefree days before mortgage payments and college tuition bills. The dollar value of your collection is likely secondary to assembling the collection and enjoying its aesthetic value. Even so, your collection will almost certainly become more valuable in time, especially if you can assemble entire sets.
These action figure superheroes are reminders of your childhood and will serve to tell your children and grandchildren a little about whom you are and how you learned that good triumphs over evil. Somehow it is comforting to know that Superman, G.I. Joe and the Lone Ranger are still fighting crime and saving lives.