Until the mid 70s the term Action Figure was a term commonly used to describe Hasbro's GI Joe figure or Palitoys Action Man, however things were about to change, dramatically!
One of the biggest events in cinematic history was about to bring huge changes, not just to the toy industry but to many aspects of Western Culture and its impact is still being felt to this day, more than 30 years later.
Well, on a cold wet day on 25 May 1977 (USA) a small time movie, which nobody thought would be successful, was released 43 select cinemas across the States and only in central London in the UK.
A movie that within weeks became one of the biggest movie sensations of all time and has since gone on to gross more than $775,000,000!
In case you hadn't already guessed that movie was Star Wars…
Star Wars was to become just as big a toy sensation but Kenner, like everyone else, were caught on the hop without any figures planned to be released in time for the Christmas holidays!
When the Star Wars figures eventually hit toy stores Kenner were unable to keep up with demand which resulted in a huge secondary market opening up for the more popular figures and for the first time people began to collect figures in the unopened boxes!!
Kenner also set a new trade standard with their Star Wars figures which were only 3.5 inches in height whereas previous figure were either 6 inches or 12 inches in height. A trend that most other toy manufacturers where to follow, particularly for mass market figures such as these.
The old standard 6 inch and 12 inch movie figures still remain popular though with, particularly with collectors and there are several manufacturers, such as Hot Toys, Sideshow Collectibles and Gentle Giant etc.
Since those early days in the mid 70's the movie figure industry has matured and gone mainstream, so much so that what had once been considered a purely male hobby has seen an increasing number of women collecting their action figures of their favourite male movie stars, tv stars, pop icons etc!!
In fact these days it's almost a given that any major cinematic release will also have a series of figures released featuring many new and innovative techniques and technology to appeal to a wide range of consumers.