Articulation – Is More Really More?


Evening all, straying from the norm with a bit of a brainfart this evening, apologies if it’s not very coherent. As the years go by with manufacturing and plastics technology constantly improving collectors have for the most part welcomed and come to expect a growing level of articulation in their action figures. I’m among them, an action figure that can pose well helps to make for a more enjoyable experience. We’ve seen some great developments up to wrist swivels, ankle rockers and more, it has really helped to create figures that can emote effectively. There’s a lot more they could do and I look forward to seeing it.

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A reduced level of articulation means fewer cuts to the sculpt to disrupt the details of the toy itself. A great many figures with hyper articulation suffer from looking like a collection of joints if not done with care. On 5 PoA figures this is less of an issue, true they can’t move as well, but more of their sculpt can be preserved which makes for an attractive figure on display. “But they all just look the same though”, I hear some say, well this would be excellent for a display of Cobra Troopers, and with some imagination in positioning them for photos and the like this doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t appear different.

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Figures with fewer joints have fewer weak points at which they can break or snap. True that modern plastic isn’t quite as brittle as older toys and this shouldn’t be a problem, but it does happen when companies are not so concerned by their QC. Less articulation makes the figures more durable and be able to be thrown around the sandbox for some hardcore child play. Online I see a lot of figures missing heads and hands which makes them a bit useless.

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One thing that I don’t think the companies that are putting out the toys are adhering to is pricing. They are releasing these toys with less movement, but the same price. Inflation could be blamed and oil prices (which are at crazy lows currently), reducing the articulation to maintain the price, but I would imagine the price should drop for these guys making them more accessible to children. These toys are for children after all and is often forgotten.

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Hasbro and Mattel both seem to have made shifts back to the 5 PoA formula where they can get away with it to mixed reactions. I grew up on 5 PoA figures and it alarms me to see that they are greeted with a certain degree of derision when presented to collectors now. While it’s true that these figures can’t move as well as their super articulated cousins they could have a place in modern collections. It should be less expensive to amass a horde of these figures that are fun for the kids to collect and play with, so that kids can get something out of their pocket money and parents have an option that won’t break the bank, this is not a cheap hobby after all and no one has bottomless pockets especially parents who need money for silly things like food and rent/mortgages.

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I love my modern figures that can pull off the sweet moves, but I can see a place for the figures with less articulation in them. Such as for army builders, if for every Joe or Star Wars figure I buy instead of getting a useless spring loaded weapon I get a 5 PoA troop builder I’d be delighted, much like with the Star Wars two packs that are coming out at the moment, many of them are paired with Storm Troopers, with a couple of pickups one would have a nice coherent squad of them for their heroes to face off against. But why stop there, what I’d really like to see is a box set of a mixture of figure types, like a 6 pack with 2 highly articulated figures and the other 4 with a reduced level, the best of both world, again especially true for troop builder sets. For example consider the ninjas in the pictures here, or the Droids pictured as well.

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I’d much prefer see useful articulation that serves a purpose over articulation there for the sake of it. If we’re facing this articulation reduction which appears to be the case in a lot of lines I’d prefer to see it in a meaningful way, than what the cheap out it appears to be with very little value being passed down to the customer, whether that’s the fault of the manufacturer or the retailer I don’t know. These toys were fun as a kid in the 80’s and I believe they can be now too if sprinkled into lines.

2015-03-25 22.27.572015-03-25 22.30.48All the above said there are characters that I don’t want to see have their articulation reduced, well not without an option for a figure of the character that does have the necessary points. Characters such as Spiderman, Snake Eyes and others that are typically very agile wouldn’t be welcome to have this treatment. But for some others it’s not such a big deal really, for faceless troopers mostly. I may tidy this up, but it was fun to type up, so I may consider other topics for discussion like this rather than review in future.



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4 Responses to Articulation – Is More Really More?

  1. Tony says:

    One of the best lines of 5 POA figures was Mattels Secret Wars.Yeah they had limited articulation,but most came with a balled up fist that allowed kids to play out fighting scenes better.The angled right foot was also a nice touch,giving figures the appearance of a battle stance . Subtleties like this can make a lesser articulated figure more appealing to the kids and adult collector.Character selection Is also key.What made the Secret Wars line so popular were the obscure characters like Hobgoblin,Falcon,Ice Man,Baron Zemo etc.I think we’re all getting tired of the same old figures getting the 5POA treatment ,you know,Hulk,Iron Man,Captain America.People would jump on a 5 POA Juggernaut ,Nightcrawler,Electro(classic version) or Thanos figure.

    • Orniphus says:

      OOooohh, Secret Wars, I only ever had 1 that I can remember, but I haven’t so much as a leg left from one of the figures now. They look really cool and I enjoy the variety of characters that came out of it. It’s also the line with the greatest play set of all time, the Tower of Doom, now that is a grail for me… someday…
      The 5 PoA thing at the moment would certainly be made more bearable if they were producing a wider variety of characters, but when it’s a line made up solely of different Spidermans or Iron Mans it gets very tiresome.
      With some creative parts swapping I’d say they could make a wide variety of characters with minimal effort. Offering a wider variety of characters we wouldn’t stand a chance of getting in other lines would be sweet as well.

  2. Tony says:

    BTW-What did you use for the floor in those pics?

    • Orniphus says:

      It’s faux concrete flooring made from wood I found in a local shop here about a week ago, it’s very sturdy and figures stand really well on it as the surface is a little rough. It’s from a line of farm toy accessories for creating farm yards, but works really well for action figures too 🙂

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