The Original Action Figure

 

My Favorite Links (1/6 Scale Toy Collecting and Shopping)

 

A 1/6 (or 12-inch) scale "action figure" is simply an articulated plastic toy figure that is 12 inches tall, or what is known as "G.I. Joe" size. The Hasbro toy company first invented the "movable fighting man" known as the G.I. Joe* in 1964. G.I. Joes were considered the first mass produced line of what would be known as "action figures". The "action figure" served as a male replacement for girl's dolls, and the concept has increased in popularity since the 1960s.

*(G.I. is a historical military abbreviation for "Government Issue", referring to a soldier's status)

 

In fact, the idea of the modern action figure is so popular and influental, that during the 1990s various companies began selling high-quality figures aimed at adult collectors and enthusiasts. The term "1/6 scale" and "12-inch figure" became common terms for any figure produced in the G.I. Joe size. Currently, many successful companies (mostly based in Hong Kong) produce highly-detalied and finely-sculpted 1/6 scale figures and accessories that are shipped and marketed internationally. These usually expensive figures are bought and traded by collectors who want something a little nicer to display than the average G.I. Joe.

 

The following is a list of ten sites that either buy or sell 1/6 figures and high-end collectibles, or are reviews and discussions of such products by enthusiasts and collectors. I currently own a collection of at least ten 1/6 figures, of varying quality and price. I have about three figures from some of the companies listed below. I would not advise 1/6 collecting as a hobby, as it can be very expensive and the figures are much more fragile than mass-market toys. If you're a G.I. Joe or action figure collector who wants to upgrade to something a little more impressive, please do the research and know what you're getting into beforehand.

Good luck and happy browsing!!

 

Ebay

 

1. Ebay (http://www.ebay.com/)

Ebay is an international auction site where online vendors buy and sell just about any product one can think of. If you want it, ebay almost always has it. Ebay is one of the most popular shopping sites for toy collectors and has an extremely extensive collection for the 1/6 figure enthusiast. However, any ebay auction can be very risky since not every seller is honest, and may not mail an item at all after payment. Even a trustworthy seller can unknowingly send a defective product and refuse to give a refund because said product was intact to their knowledge. Also, as it is primarily an auction site, many buyers must rely on hope and luck that they won't be outbid.

Most ebay sellers require the use of the Paypal money transfer service, which can be difficult to use for the Internet shopping novice. I only purchased an item once on ebay, and had a somewhat negative experience. The item (a 1/6 scale soldier uniform) arrived intact and as described within the alotted time (two weeks). However, the seller became impatient because Paypal took far too long to transfer my funds (five days) and I accidentally paid for the item twice ($14.00 instead of $7.00) because of an illegitimate e-mail requesting payment from another person I thought was the seller. Ebay warns in advance about the potential for "spoof" e-mails impersonating ebay administrators and sellers, but its still a risk.

Overall, ebay has a very extensive collection of toys, games, hobbies, collectibles, and just about anything you can imagine. However, buying and selling can be a hassle, and the site itself is a bit difficult to navigate because of the various banner ads and multiple subcategories. Ebay is very nice to look around in and many people find great deals on items that are much less expensive than market price. But ebay is certainly not a site for beginners.

Product Quality: 5 out of 5

Site Quality: 4 out of 5

Site Navigation: 3 out of 5

 

 

2. Michael Crawford Toys (http://www.mwctoys.com/)

Michael Crawford Toys, also known as "MWC Toys" or "Captain Toy Reviews" is my favorite site (and the most useful site) on this list. Michael Crawford is a semi-professional toy and collectible reviewer, meaning that he has become prominent enough to host company ads and sponsors on his site, and occasionally companies will send him their products to review. For the most part, Michael Crawford purchases the latest collectible for himself and gives an extensive product review that goes over paint quality, sculpt, packaging, price, etc.

I have never met the man, nor have I ever contacted him by e-mail. I only know him through his reviews, but Michael Crawford's site is a great starting place for those wishing to start a high-end toy collection or even buy market products as gifts. Navigation is somewhat complicated because of his sponsors and banner ads, but the site is neatly divided into "Reviews", "Features", "Links", and "Newsletter". I came across this site on accident about five years ago, and it has been one of the most helpful guides in determine what and what not to purchase, as well as where and when.

Product Quality: 5 out of 5

Site Quality: 5 out of 5

Site Navigation: 4 out of 5

 

3. Sideshow Collectors (http://www.sideshowcollectors.com/)

Sideshow Collectors is primarily a discussion board site or "blog" that focuses on 1/6 figure collecting and other toy-related products such as statues, busts, prop replicas, and costumes. Sideshow Collectors is a group of various boards aimed at and operated by adult collectors of high-end pop culture products. This site is really for the obsessed "pop culture product" collector, producer, or buff where people have in-depth discussions and heated arguments about what are essentially expensive toys.

I have an account on the site and have taken part in a few discussions, but am no longer an active user. The site can be very informative, but also very tiresome and absurd for someone who has little experience with high-end toy collecting. Navigation is pretty complex as there are various topics (Star Wars, Horror, Indiana Jones, Military, Sci-Fi, etc.) and each of these have their own sub-menu. For those wishing to devote hours of online discussion to pricey 3-D versions of your favorite characters and icons, then this site is for you!

Product Quality: 5 out of 5

Site Quality: 4 out of 5

Site Navigation: 3 out of 5

 

4.Sideshow Collectibles (http://www.sideshowtoy.com/)

Sideshow Collectors is the upscale toy and collectible company that the Sideshow Collectors site was originally devoted to. I have never purchased anything from Sideshow directly (or from any company site) so I don't know how payment and shipping work. The Sideshow company site has many of the items for purchase that are discussed on the Sideshow Collectors site. Sideshow has a very extensive range of products; including 1/6 figures, minature statues, maquettes, complex 1/4 scale figures, full scale statue busts, etc. Sideshow features the same product themes as discussed on the Collectors board. (Marvel Comics, Disney, Military, Horror, Sci-Fi, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, GI Joe, Buffy, etc.) Again, Sideshow and the other companies reviewed are for the devoted/obsessed collector and has a pretty high price range for most of its products. The tiny stautues, ornaments, and some of the vinyl dolls are relatively affordable ($20 to $30) but prices normally range from $50.00 up to $1000.00.

Site navigation is somewhat complex, as it is an official company site. My biggest complaint is that sold-out and discontinued products remain on the site list for display purposes, even long after such items are no longer available for purchase. A discontinued Sideshow item (and other company products) can usually be found on Ebay and other unofficial sites, but for absurdly increased prices. However, Sideshow Collectors is probably the most prominent American company that sells detailed 1/6 figures from film and pop culture. Any other such company is usually based in Hong Kong. Thus, Sideshow is probably one's best bet other than Ebay for customer service, although I can give no guarantees.

Product Quality: 5 out of 5

Site Quality: 5 out of 5

Site Navigation: 2 out of 5

 

5.TTL Toys (http://ttlcn.com/)

TTL Toys sells 1/6 products and accessories with the customizer in mind. TTL Toys produce mainly loose parts and bodies that are hard to find other places so buyers can build their own figures. TTL Toys is around the same price range as Sideshow if you divide up the price according to individual parts. However, you must buy from other web vendors rather than the site itself. TTL focuses on figures of the female variety, for those wanting something a little uh....better than the average Barbie.

The site itself is much more simplistic than Sideshow and uses a single column to show its product range. I actually like the sites with simplistic navigation and a narrow product line rather them all these complex and overpriced prominent company sites.

Product Quality: 4 out of 5

Site Quality: 3 out of 5

Site Navigation: 4 out of 5

 

6. Amok Time Toys (http://www.amoktime.com/)

Amok Time is the only other American-based company that I know of that sells quality 1/6 figures from cinema and pop culture. Unlike Sideshow, Amok Time focuses on 1950s through 1970s classic B-movie horror and sci-fi figures. (Night of the Living Dead, Blacula, It Came From Outer Space, Teenage Werewolf, etc.) However, Amok Time sells many other products from different companies; primarily discontinued action figures from old mass market companies. (Kenner, Playmates, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Godzilla, etc.) (Although vintage mass market toys can also be found on Ebay) Again, I have never actually purchased anything from the site.

Site navigation is relatively less complicated than that of Sideshow, but it is also less organized. Unlike Sideshow's site, products are not neatly ordered by company, theme, and category. There are only two major scroll-down lists from where to select products. The rest of the site is advertisements for new and upcoming product arrivals. Prices for 1/6 figures are about the same range as Sideshow ($50 to $100), but many of the smaller action figures are relatively affordable. This site is for the collector who wants something a little more "retro" and "vintage" based than Sideshow products.

Product Quality: 4 out of 5

Site Quality: 3 out of 5

Site Navigation: 4 out of 5

 

7. Hot Toys (http://www.hottoys.com.hk/)

Hot Toys is probably the most prominent Hong Kong company that produces 1/6 scale figure collectibles. It is almost undisputably the crafter of the most finely detailed, quality, and expensive 1/6 figures on the market ($100 to $500). Hot Toys may be described as Sideshow on "steroids". However, Hot Toys mainly only focuses on 1/6 scale figures only. The odd thing about Hot Toys is that for the price and quality, one has a rather narrow selection. Hot Toys only picks up specific licences for specific sci-fi, horror, or military related films and video games that are in recent popularity. (Godfather, Predator, Aliens, Terminator, and Batman makes up most of the line) Other than that, they also have a selection of figures based on Asian cinema and pop stars.

The site itself is relatively easy to navigate, although one cannot purchase from Hot Toys directly. The site does have a list of vendors under its Customer Service page. Other than that, the site is just a product listing without prices. This site is really only good for becoming familiar with the Hot Toys line. Michael Crawford's site above has detailed reviews of more than a few Hot Toys figures (as well as every company on this page) for a closer look.

Product Quality: 5 out of 5

Site Quality: 2 out of 5

Site Navigation: 4 out of 5

 

8. Medicom Toys (http://www.medicomtoy.co.jp/index.html)

Medicom Toys, in my opinion, is a cheap imitation of Hot Toys, without the change in price. It is a Japanese company that specializes in 1/6 figures and Kubrick figures (which are more detailed, slightly bigger versions of Lego or block people figures). Medicom originally made the highest quality 1/6 figures, until Hot Toys figures became extremely detailed, and Sideshow got their paint and sculpting more in-line with Hot Toys. Medicom does have some interesting products, and a few licences and characters not covered by Sideshow and Hot Toys.

The Medicom site uses an odd grid design with various products. Since the site is in Japanese, I do not understand navigation or product ordering. The best way to buy Medicom figures and toys is through a web search for American vendors (Sideshow sells some Medicom and Hot Toys products) and also there's always Ebay.

Product Quality: 3 out of 5

Site Quality: 3 out of 5

Site Navigation: 1 out of 5

 

9. Enterbay Toys (http://www.enterbay.com/web/list.php?id=13)

Enterbay is sort of a slightly cheaper alternative ($50 to $100) to Hot Toys, with an even narrower product line. Enterbay only sells 1/6 figures and model vehicles, and only has about 4 or 5 overall product lines. Enterbay does have a particular feature with their Bruce Lee figures that no other company has; the hair can be removed in order to rotate the sculpted eyeballs inside. Enterbay features figures from Bruce Lee movies, Mr. Bean, the Godfather, and the series 24.

Enterbay has probably the nicest looking site out of the list, and fairly simplistic navigation. It has the same sections as the Hot Toys site (mainly News, Products, and Dealers). Enterbay is for those who want a unique figure that is a bit nicer than Sideshow, but not as overpriced as Hot Toys.

Product Quality: 5 out of 5

Site Quality: 4 out of 5

Site Navigation: 4 out of 5

 

10. Four Leaf Toys (http://www.4-leaftoys.com/)

Four Leaf Toys is my favorite site (other than Michael Crawford's) on this list because it gives a pretty good preview of 1/6 figures from the other companies not on this list. Four Leaf Toys is an American shopping site based in Wichita, Kansas that primarily sales 1/6 military figures. This is a great site to look at to get a preview of Hong Kong company figures (Dragon, Dragon-In-Dream, In The Past Toys, etc.) that are Sideshow quality version of GI Joe. The figures focus mainly on World War II, but the "Ignite" page is probably the only company that has medieval and ancient figures (knights, gladiators, vikings, etc.)

Navigation is very simple, like the TTL site. You can buy directly off 4 Leaf Toys, but I don't know how their ordering process works. It is an enjoyable little shopping site.

Product Quality: 5 out of 5

Site Quality: 4 out of 5

Site Navigation: 4 out of 5