Wednesday, November 3, 2010

InAction Figures!

I am an adult but I still find myself drawn to toys.  I do not play with toys and haven't bought any for collectors' purposes in quite a while, but I do still enjoy perusing the shelves of a toy store.  I cannot quite explain why this should be but it is and that is enough for me.

I have of late begun to appreciate the static beauty of the miniature far more than the articulation of the action figure.  It is these things that I call InAction Figures.  Ironically the static miniature captures the kinetic spirit of action far better than the articulated Action Figure.  Observe Exhibit A, an action figure.  The articulation leaves noticeable screws visible and the entire thing seems feeble and lacking in action.

Exhibit A:
Note the obvious points of articulation on the figure and the general lack of action 

Now observe Exhibit B, a miniature.  Note that although it lacks articulation it appears frozen in a moment of time, full of action and promise.  The miniature does not suffer from the need for poorly engineered joints that wear out over time.

Exhibit B:
This mini from Reaper Miniatures website is a moment of intense action frozen in time.  Note the feeling of kinetics in the static form.  

The term Action Figure was first coined in 1964 by Hasbro when the company introduced GI Joe, 12 inches of Ken Doll-like toy for young boys.  With this invention Hasbro expanded boys play into the world of dolls, but developed the more masculine term Action Figure to avoid negative stereotyping of femininity.  Boys weren't supposed to play with dolls.  To be fair, the toy soldier predates the action figure by hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.  Boys have long enjoyed small, often detailed, military toys with which to become indoctrinated into the manly joys of armed conflict.  Why, even the holiday nutcrackers represent this fine tradition.  The modern mini, or InAction Figure, is the latest in a long standing tradition.

Exhibit C: Toy Soldier
From the German company Schleich, this figurine is too large to be a miniature and is molded from plastic.  Again note the action frozen in time in this InAction Figure.

Some of the most impressively sculpted action figures of the past 20 years have come from Macfarlane, the creator of Spawn.  Many figures from Macfarlane feature dozens of points of articulation and creative sculpting that any artist should envy.  They are crap when it comes to play.  The fine sculpting goes away when any pose save the packaged pose is attempted as this reveals, often garishly so, the lines where the figure is joined.  Such does not happen with a mini or statue.

Exhibit D:  Hatchett from Macfarlane

Possibly one of the goriest and simultaneously one of the most badass action figures of all time.  The pictured pose is about the only way to stand the figure up without showing the articulation points that ruin the image.

I plan to continue my exploration into the wonderful world of Statics or InAction Figures, as I refer to miniatures and figurines, in the pages of this blog.

Until next time, keep your painted pumpkins pretend lit.


  1. I love that Flash fig. Also take a look at the static Unleashed line versus something like the 12 inch, ultra detailed, Side Show Collectibles figures. Even though the Side Show figures have many, many points of articulation, and those points are covered by high quality costumes, the limited poses presented in their gallery shots on the website indicate the limitations you have put forth.

    For instance try to get Aayla Secura's Side Show figure into the same pose as the Unleashed static sculpt. It can't be done, nor would it have the same visceral feel.

  2. Now see, I don't love that Flash fig. Despite owning the Zartan from that year's issue of figs, for the most part I find them built like the polygon figures of early 3D games from a decade ago.
    True, you can never get the toy to pose as beautifully as the statues.