Did you know that the very first comic book action figures, in fact the very first action figure, was actually released by Ideal 25 years before Hasbro's GI Joe figure?
For decades Hasbro have taken the credit for creating the very first action figure with their GI Joe line in 1964, when in fact Ideal released their articulated Suprman "action figure" 25 years earlier, in 1939!
This was also the very first official Superman figure ever released, and NOT the Mego figure as most peoples believe.
This figure was released to coincide with DC's first big marketing campaign for the Super Hero just in time for the Christmas season sales.
Later in 1967, Ideal released a line of "Comic Heroines" which were also known as "Super Queens" by collectors.
These 12 1/2" dolls featured Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, and Mera. but they did prove to be popular with fans or collectors so the line was cancelled after its first series making them extremely rare,
In fact, despite the early lack of interest in these figures they now sell from between $2,000 (loose) to $10,000 MIB (Mint in Box)
Then from 1972-79 the Mego Corp released a line of The World's Greatest Super Heroes, which featured approx 31 DC and Marvel characters. This line was very popular among fans and collectors and remains so to this day.
Prices for these vary from as little as $15 to $8,000 depending on condition, boxed or unboxed, and rarity.
The Golden Age of Comic Book Action Figures though was probably the late 80's and 90's when Toy Biz (Marvel) and Kenner (DC) released hundreds if not thousands of action figures.
During this period just about every DC and Marvel character was produced in plastic with multiple versions, particular for the likes of Batman, Spider-man, Superman, Iron Man etc.
However in the mid to late 90's both Toy Biz and Kenner were bought out by Hasbro, who still have the license for Marvel action figures whereas the DC Comics figures are produced by Mattel.
One of the other big players in the action figure world is, of course, McFarlanes Toys which is own by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane who used to be an artist on the Spider-man comic with Marvel.
Todd left Marvel to start up Comic Images as an independent comic book publisher, in particular the Spawn comic book which was his own creation. He also later set up McFarlane Toys specifically to produce Spawn action figures when he couldn't find any manufacturers able to manufacturer them to his specifications and satisfaction.
These Spawn figures were unique in that they were specifically targeted to the adult collectors market and the fans of the Spawn comics and as a result more more detailed than most figures were at that time.