Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thargas Anvilmar

This is the second item I purchased at Hastings yesterday. As the label says, he is Thargas Anvilmar, Dwarf Warrior, and he is from the World of Warcraft, a licenced Blizzard Product for DC Unlimited ( He is probably the only figure I am going to buy from this release.

That's because he represents another one of my specialized action figure manias, dwarves. Not dwarfs, the accepted English usage plural, but dwarves, the specialized fantasy plural usage, for this short-legged barrel-chested stone-crafty race. There are not many dwarf action figures. I have Elkhorn, from the old Dungeon and Dragons line. I have about six Gimlis from the Lord of the Rings line. And I have one dwarf action figure from the Heroclix line (a real action figure, not one of the tiny figures that stand on the hexagons).

In fact, one of the many reasons I look forward to them making a movie out of The Hobbit is that I hope they make an action figure for each one of the thirteen dwarves who accompany Bilbo, and an extra one of Dain, King of the Iron Hills.

It is, over all, a good figure. Having said this, there are a few things about it that annoy me. The fins decorating the shoulder armor are rather brittle, and will make storing it a rather finicky proposition if I'm to avoid breakage. The axe is definitely a fantasy axe, in that the eight blades would make it an impractical and unwieldy weapon in real life. And the name Thargas Anvilmar continues the time-honored D&D tradition of poorly coined monickers without a trace of real mythopoeic quality.

And yet I payed $16.99 for it. That shows my level of commitment to this fine product.

Or my level of insanity.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Today after work I dropped by the local Hastings and found a bonanza of five new figures that I wanted. I will be featuring them over the next few days.

This is Aerith Gainesborough from Final Fantasy VII, but I know her better from her guest appearances in the Kingdom Hearts video games. She has 22 points of articulation, a spare pair of hands in different poses, and a clamp on a clear plastic stand to help display her (not to mention her nifty fighting staff). To a small group of my acquaintances the Kingdom Hearts games are almost a religion; in fact a friend of mine from work named his daughter after Aerith.

I included the pictures of the other two characters in the scan; they had Tifa (the other girl) at the store, but not Cloud Strife. He is a very popular character and the "one to get", I suppose; I'll have to scour other places to see if I can get one. Square Enix Products ( has been producing very good figures from video games, usually in groups of three or four.

At $24.99, she is definitely on the high end of the price scale.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Action Figure Accessories: Books

Here is a sampling from of my collection of accessories to action figures, in this case, books. I find them fascinating as they are much rarer than swords or guns. Since they are mostly flat I was able to make a decent scan. I'm ashamed to say I'm not sure where each one is from, particularly. But starting from the top left: 1) Philosophy, from an Accoutrement figure, I think Freud; 2)came with the Shakespeare figure; 3)a log book the came with a Baloo figure from Tale Spin; 4)Vulcan book of philosophy; 5) book of Capt. Dathon from Star Trek; 6)not sure; 7)came with Charles Dickens action figure; 8)Capt. Picard's family album; 9)came with Claude Frollo from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame; 10)another Picard family album; 11)not sure; 12)Santa's Workshop, came with Jack Skellington; 13)Hogwart's textbook; 14) from Disney's Atlantis; 15)Pride and Prejudice, came with Jane Austen; 16) from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within; 17)from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; 18)came with Merlin; 19)Book Lust, came with the Librarian Accoutrement figure; 20)not sure; 21)Vulcan philosophy; 22)came with Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hollow; 23)came from Anastasia; 24)Sexy Dictionary, came with Austin Powers; 25) + 26) not sure, but the same place, possibly Hogwarts; 27)came with Claude Frollo; 28)another large format Picard album; 29)Life and Death by M. Shelley, came with Frankenstein Monster; 30)Demons and Dragons, more Buffy; 31)Dentistry, came with Hermes from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer; 32) the Red Book, came with Bilbo Baggins; 33)Evolution by Robert Louis Stevenson, came with Dr. Jekyll; 34)Darkest Magick, more Buffy; 35)Medical Journal, came with Dr. Caligari; 35) Vampyr, more Buffy; 36)King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, came with Ichabod Crane; and lastly 37)Vampyr, even more Buffy.

Lest that list give anyone the wrong idea, I am not a big Buffy fan, in fact I've never watched a single episode. But I like the accessories that come with the figures. In fact if a figure has a book with it I'm likely to buy it whether I like the figure or not. Title in italics are actually on the books themselves. The Accoutrements action figure line ( features famous people from history and popular culture.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Professor Dumbledore

I've been trying to get a good Dumbledore figure since Mattel came out with their first line from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, where the Dumbledore figure was based on the appearance and performance of the late Richard Harris. Due to some sort of production problems (I think he was given two left hands) release was limited and delayed, and because he was such a popular character he was snatched up quickly. I never found one, and the ones available now go for inflated prices. Mattel came out with a second Dumbledore figure, based on Michael Gambone's personation in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I didn't like this figure, mainly because it was produced in a different scale to the other figures, and seemed clumsy and blocky.

At last NECA ( has come out with a great version of Dumbledore, and I have actually been able to get one. I got mine at the local Hastings, for $14.99. The sculpt is great, the scale almost compatible with the Mattel figures (especially the children), and the details are fine. Further good news gladdens my heart: I learn in the February issue of Toyfare: The Toy Magazine ( that the people at NECA are planning a line of figures from previous Harry Potter movies to include a Richard Harris Dumbledore (replete with cool accessories) and Mad-Eye Moody.

The picture accompanying this post is from the product card. I would like to include images of the actual figures I have, and if I had my old scanner I could have. On that one I could lay a 3D figure down and it would just take a picture. The scanner I have now seems to only work with flat images. I suppose I will have to get a digital camera if I want to have such pictures, especially from older toys from which I have no packaging.

...And What Definitely Isn't.

Fast food premiums (toys in boxed meals for children from fast food places) are not action figures. Articulation and sculpt are of inferior grades. Many unscrupulous or simply ignorant sellers on such sites as E-Bay will often try to bulk up assortments of loose figures with these cheaply made toys to make their offering seem more valuable.

Premiums ("free" give-aways attached to other products) as such are worthy items to collect, but should not be mis-labelled as something they are not.

...And What Is An Action Figure?

The term "action figure" was coined by the creators of the original G. I. Joe, to distance their product from the traditional idea that "dolls" as such were only for girls. The intents and purposes of such a toy were seen as for much more rugged play, and their design and accessories reflected this (with much simpler, coarse clothing and guns and knives instead of tea sets and bottles). Until the early 1970's action figures such as G. I. Joe, Johnny West, and Mego followed this format of hard plastic bodies, molded hair (with notable exceptions), and articulation points (joints) at wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck, waist, knee and ankle that put the action in action figure.

The oil crisis put an end to this style. The plastic that made up the bodies was a petroleum by-product, and the cost of making large figure, especially the foot tall Joes, became prohibitively expensive.

The concept of action figures was re-invented and re-vitalized in the late 1970's with the success of the Star Wars franchise. Hasbro came out with the first line of action figures in a smaller format (typically 3 and 3/4 inches high) and with fewer articulation points, at the neck, shoulder and legs. The first scuplts were simple and iconic, evolving with each new wave of figures over the years, until they reached the finely crafted likenesses of today. This smaller format allowed for many more characters to be made, were simpler to stand (if more limited to pose), and easier to store and carry. Many different toy lines were created along the same general format, including the new G.I. Joe line, which had retained most of the articulation points of the old Joes, losing only the ankle point.

Over the years the action figure has got taller, many lines producing figures 6 inches high, with each inch equalling a foot in scale. This allows for more accurate detailing and even texturing of molded sculpts of fabrics. While the likenesses, poseability, and even accessories of figures has improved, the "action" seems to have suffered, the durable playability lessened. For many of these figures I believe a new term should be applied: "action models".

But this does not seem to worry many hardcore collectors. To many the action figure is no longer a toy, but a collectible, or worse, an investment, not to be taken out of the box at all, for fear of damaging its' future value.

For myself, I can see their point of view. Ideally, and given enough money, I would like to buy three of each action figure I get: one to save for resale, one to preserve mint in box forever, and one to tear open and play with. Alas, money, storage space, and availability are not infinite. Having only one copy of an action figure I always opt to open it. For I believe that the true destiny of any toy is to be played with.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thundarr Figures

If this goes well, this post should be accompanied by a picture of the Thundarr figures, which I got a few weeks ago. They are made by Toynami ( and I got them through my good friends at Z's Toys and More, which is just across the road from me here in Seguin.

The sculpts are not very detailed, but this reflects the generally smooth nature of the animation design.
The Thundarr the Barbarian show originally aired 1980-82, and took place in a post-apocalyptic world where mutants, sorcery, and super-science made life interesting and hazardous for Thundarr (a self-freed slave out to fight injustice and evil) and his friends Ariel and Ookla.
The quote on the card: "On an Earth torn asunder by natural disaster, three comrades fight to protect the weak and downtrodden: Princess Ariel, a mighty sorceress; Ookla the Mok, a tremendously strong beast-man whose arrow always flies true; and Thundarr the Barbarian, a courageous and skilled warrior who wields the powerful Sunsword, giving him the edge against evil wizards and foul creatures who seek to destroy him."

Statement of Purpose

From Mego Planet of the Apes action figures to the first Star Wars to the latest McFarlane release, I have always loved and been fascinated with these sculpted plastic pals. To hold a solid three-dimensional piece of a dream is an indescribable thrill. This blog will be about my action figures--a collection that numbers in the thousands. I want to have a listing of every one, with special attention to new figures as I get them. I want to discuss the strange mania of action figures, their purpose, lore, and future. I am just an enthusiastic amateur, but I hope in this posting to grow in knowledge and expertise, with the help of anyone who can expand my understanding of the field. I hope to post my first entry and image soon!