Yeah, I don’t think holograms are essential for a Visionaries revival. They could get away with shiny foil bits, frankly (like on the Mighty Mugg), or on the more avant garde end, AR enhanced designs that work with an app to show the animal totems and summoned spirits as natty CGI things on your phone or tablet.
Even as a non-fan of the figures, that sounds awesome. Why isn’t somebody doing that already?
Stuff like this is quite common in toys these days. My daughter has some My Little Pony figures that have a design on them that interacts with an app and shows sparkles coming out of the figure, and then inserts the figure into a game on the app where it can meet other ponies and play games and go to parties etc. (I have far too much experience of My Little Pony these days).
Some of the Transformers figures my son has include a mark that interacts with an app too, to give you details of who all the characters are and suchlike.
Is that on the Robots In Disguise figures, that have circular faction stickers?
Yeah I think they’re the Robots In Disguise ones.
Yeah. It allows you to scan figures you own into the game.
The nephews really enjoyed the simple game play to it.
That’s true for the Joes. There’s been very little changed aside from some articulation tweaks. And ways to create them improvments allowing for better looking figures.
But Transformers have come a long way in design style. But they are still doing figures that feel very much like a G1 transformation. To keep things simple for the kiddies. Such as the RID line and the Movie 3 steppers!
Transformers has moved on massively, definitely, and there are significant improvements for the Joes too - injection moulding, hidden joint pins, better designed articulation, more refined sculpting, tampograph printing. Same if you compare vintage He-Man stuff with the Classics line.
It’s disingenuous to suggest nothing’s moved on in 30 years.
I’m not into toys enough to know what are significant differences and what are superficial differences, but I was impressed with a Spider-Man figure I picked up many years ago on the cheap, as it featured so many points of articulation and such a wide range of possible movement and poses. I think it was this one:
The arms bent at the elbows and wrist, fingers moved, legs had ankle and knee joints, the head could rotate around on the neck, even the torso had articulation. It was a pretty good figure.
The toys of my youth were mainly of the chunky basic action figure variety (where you could move arms and legs, and swivel the head if you were lucky), like this:
So the Spidey one seemed pretty impressive in comparison!
Modern transformers figures are pretty great too, even the cheap lower-end ones - there’s some wonderful engineering to make the transformations work, and the figures function in multiple modes - but then I’ve always thought that about transformers.
There’s some articulation improvements in certain lines, but all in all the market feels very similar to the 80’s. The big main lines seem to be Marvel & DC, Star Wars, WWE, Turtles, GI Joe and Transformers. The same lines for the past 30 years really. And while there’s been refinements in articulation and paint, there’s no creative evolution like there was when those lines came out in the 80’s. It’s just nicer versions of the same things.
When I look at toys in general I can see how my boys are going to be playing with toys I could only have dreamed of. In particular is the integration of electronics into most toys. Finn’s bears have sound chips, his Thomas is battery operated, his cars are remote control, he has a robot buddy like a baby version of Rocky 4. Yet for action figures they’re still the same little bits of plastic. I’m shocked no-one has introduced an electronics heavy line of figures, with sounds and actions and little microelectronics. My guess is there simply isn’t the pressure to innovate, but I’ve read recently that Star Wars toys are no longer selling and that retail outlets don’t consider them safe investments any more. So maybe something is coming, but it feels like this generation are going to be searching for their own version of what we got in the 80’s.
Are action figures still aimed at kids?
It’s a fragmented market now, with a little kids demographic, a bigger kids demographic and then man children like me.
The little kids is typically 5 point articulation cheap bits of plastic in bright colors - kids under 6 mostly. Then there’s your standard action figures - WWE, Marvel and so on aimed at 7 through lost virginity. Then there’s the nostalgia market for Gen X who hide in their childhood memories rather than face the grim reality of their life situation.
There have been things like that, they just don’t seem to take. MASK tried an infrared beam based laser tag style battle gimmick. WWF figures when I was ageing out of them all had resistors and metal plates in a foot so they could interact with playsets, activating entrance music and light displays or play sound-bites. They were starting to drop that in favour of other gimmicks (including more accurate face sculpts using laser scans of the subjects), mostly likely because they couldn’t keep up with the turn-over in characters. There have been plenty of Transformers with electronic gubbins in too, talking Daleks, GI Joe did a weird sound effects gimmick in the early 00s involving massive plastic keys. I think, much like the holograms for Visionaries, they’re rarely successful enough to justify the cost.
You’re right about the actual brands sticking around though.
My toys (Edit: in the 70s) used to have this many points of articulation:
But most importantly, they had these:
Eagle eyes too?
I never had that variant
That clarification was not necessary
My kids and their peers around 6 and 8 years old don’t seem very interested. They don’t do very much for the money they cost. They do still buy them and play with them, it would be an exaggeration to say otherwise, but I think since our day they have fallen down the rankings of desirability.
I thought the two figures were holding hands across a table in that first image.
Action man’s always been progressive that way