The very first movie based action figure was produced by AC Gilbert as far back as 1964 and was based on the James Bond 007 movie Goldfinger!
These figures now sell for around $200-$600 each!
Before Star Wars release surprisingly few Movie based action figures were produced, other than the previously mentioned AC Gilbert Bond figures.
However, another little-known figure released in the 60’s was a Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons figure released by Pedigree in 1967. This was based on the popular Super Marionation (puppets) film and TV show created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who also created Thunderbirds using Super Marionation. Only the one 12-inch figure/doll was produced and generally sells for $200-$500 on the secondary market.
Surprisingly little else of note was produced based on movies until the very popular Mego Planet of the Apes line was produced between 1973-75. This line proved to be very popular with collectors, enthusiasts and fans and remains a favorite to this day.
Another popular Mego movie based line of action figures, released in 1974, was their Wizard of Oz line. As with many of Mego’s figures this also remain very popular with collectors to this day and sell for premium prices on the secondary market, particularly the harder to find figures.
Probably one of the biggest and most influential event that changed people’s perceptions and attitudes to action figures came with the phenomenal, and unexpected, success of the Star Wars movies.
Previous to the huge, and up to then, unprecedented demand for these figures very few movie related action figures were produced,
Even Star Wars had very little in the way of action figures planned before its release and Kenner didn’t have any figures at all planned to be released in time for the Christmas holidays and even when they eventually hit toy stores they were unable to keep up with demand!
This resulted in a huge secondary market opening up for the more popular figures and for the first-time people began to collect action figures in the unopened boxes!!
Kenner also set a new trade standard size with their Star Wars figures which were only 3.5 inches in height whereas previous figures 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.
As a result, after Star Wars, hardly a film was released without a corresponding line of action figures. However, many toy manufacturers were reluctant to tool and manufacture the figures until the movie had proved itself in the theaters first which meant there was often a gap of months or at times as long as a year before they hit store shelves.
This is in stark contrast to the present-day market when they are often released BEFORE the movie as part of the pre-release marketing plan and publicity.
In fact, these days it's almost a given that any major cinematic release will also have a series of figures featuring many new and innovative techniques and technology to appeal to a wide range of consumers, targeting adult collectors as well as the children’s toy market!
Do you know of any earlier movie based action figures that were released in the 60's or 70's? or earlier?
Then let me know in the comments below!