Dating back to 1964, Hasbro developed the idea of dress-able, pose-able play toys designed for boys that we now know today as action figures. GI Joe, one of the first action figures, was a huge success and has led to mass production of many of the action hero figures on the market.
In 1977, Star Wars changed the industry. The small size figures that were made available by Kenner were less flexible, however they provided a low price point and kids were able to play out favorite scenes from the movie.
In the 1980’s, television program tie-ins struck the market. Programs like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe provided children with both a television program to watch, as well as toys to go along with it. The action figures developed at this time incorporated more of what we see today with features like swivel waists, cap firing and other mechanical abilities. Soon after, Transformers were introduced – they cost more than double the original standard action figures, but they could be transformed into planes, cars and other objects.
Today, super-hero action figures, as well as many other continued to be introduced to the market along with many accompanying television shows.
How do you select an action figure for your child? Today, this mostly depends on the television show or movie your child is most currently interested in, however here are a few other pointers when making this decision:
- Know the difference between a collectible and an action figure. Collectibles generally have no moving parts, action figures usually have a moving head, arms and legs. Kids are usually more interested in action figures.
- Determine if the action figure you are purchasing is just a current trend or fad or one that can endure the test of time. It is worth the investment if it has lasting power.
- Review the accessories that may be available to go along with the action figure. Some sets have planes, boats or towns to encourage your child’s pretend play with the action figure.
- Check the durability of the action figure. Sometimes you may find that the joints are delicate and will not stand up to your child’s rough play.
Always remember, safety first! Be sure to review the safety information before allowing your child to play with any toy. Keeping toy safety in mind is extremely important when thinking about action figures, especially when children of different ages live in the house. Here are a few simple things you can do to be sure they’ll all be safe:
- Be sure the toy does not have a cord or pull string that could wrap around a young one’s neck.
- Packaging should not have sharp corners.
- What may be age appropriate for one child may be dangerous for another. Small parts measuring less than 3 inches by three inches can be a choking hazard for children four years old and younger. Keep these pieces out of reach of the smaller children. Remind older children to keep their toys, especially those containing small pieces, away from their younger siblings.
Battery-operated toys should house batteries in a tight, secure compartment. Those toys that require a small screwdriver to take the battery in and out are the safest.