The Evolution of the Female Action Figure: A Journey from Doll to Hero

Action figures: An Evolution of female characters.

The term “action figure” was created by Hasbro in 1964 to market the GI Joe franchise to boys, in the same manner that Barbie had been presented to girls. While sharing some core similarities with a Barbie doll, as far as removable clothing, accessories and articulated body parts, action figures were a way to reach the younger male demographic, giving them their own toys to fantasy roleplay with. Around the early 90's there was a huge resurgence in the Comic Book industry, the appearance of masculine female action figures such as Marvel & DC.

The Toy Biz Era began to expand the focus to include more than just the mainstay characters of Batman and Superman; they create more female characters and increasing the quality of sculpt. They also followed suit with the "Collect and Coinnect" feature that allowed a new character to be constructed of separate components packaged with each figure in the assortment.
It's also very interesting to look at the timeline of the evolution of female action figures.


As we can see from the timeline of women wrestling action figures...

(1) 1985 Remco AWA Series 2 Precious. LJN produced a collectible eraser of Wendi Richter in 1985, but the first true female wrestling action figure was released by Remco in 1985. Precious came packaged with former AWA tag team champions “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin and “Mr. Electricity” Steve Regal. Precious didn’t look much like the other toys in the series, but more closely resembled a cheap Barbie-type discount store toy. 

(2) 1986 LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars Series 4 Miss Elizabeth. LJN made WWF toys from 1984 to 1989, but produced just one female figure. The first figure of the First Lady of the WWF was solid rubber with no articulation. She was made with a purple top and removable gold skirt. 

(3) 1997 and 1998 Jakks-Pacific WWF Sable. Jakks released the first female wrestling toys in more than a decade in 1997. The first toys of Sunny and Sable were little more than a solid block of plastic with moveable arms. The female figures changed drastically in 1998, when Jakks released a controversial busty Sable toy wearing next to nothing. 

(4) 1999 Toy Biz WCW Smash ‘N Slam Elizabeth. Aside from the Nitro Girls, WCW didn’t feature many prominent female personalities on its TV shows. Because of this, companies like Galoob, OSFTM, and Toy Biz made very few female WCW action figures. This is the only figure of a heel Elizabeth as a member of the NWO. 

(5) 2005 Jakks-Pacific Ruthless Aggression Series 14 Trish Stratus. Jakks made dozens of toys of Divas over the years, including Stephanie McMahon, Lita, Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson, Jacqueline, Marlena, Kelly Kelly, Layla, Vickie Guerrero, May Young, the Fabulous Moolah, Sherri Martel, Sunny, and many more. This figure of Trish comes with detailed pink and black ring gear and a WWE Women’s Title belt. 

(6) 2012 Mattel WWE Elite Series 17 Kelly Kelly. Mattel launched its line of WWE toys in 2010, and included early figures of Mickie James and Beth Phoenix. Each time Mattel releases a new Diva toy, it is almost always the most popular figure in the series and very difficult to find. This toy of Kelly comes with a removable jacket and the first painted metallic Divas title belt. 


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