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How Action Figures are Made + 30 Most Valuable Collectible Action Figures

While the majority of people were probably busy ripping open the packaging, clashing their action figures together in battle, and dragging them with them wherever they went, collectors were foraging for future gems and biding their time. There are some toys that could have been found on shelves in stores everywhere yet are worth small fortunes today.

However, there are more interesting cases. Cases of characters receiving toys that were never released in the U.S. but are still somehow linked to franchises that many grew up adoring. Or cases of companies changing design features on some of their products, making the originals all the more valuable. It’s these figures that stick out as rare and bizarre moments of pop culture.

But even outside of these instances, time comes for all. The better condition a figure is in, the more money people expect for it. And since the majority of those who owned these toys would rather have enjoyed them than keep them neat, mint condition figures are extremely difficult to come by. But there’s always time to start collecting toys now and beginning the patient wait. Here are the 30 rarest action figures and how much they’re worth.

30 She-Ra And Swift Wind: ($100-$4,000)

She-ra and Swiftwind action figures

She-Ra may have recently made a comeback through a Netflix series, but there was a time in the 80s when she was fairly popular. This heroine was created as a way to entertain young girls in the same way He-Man did for boys.

Which was fantastic news for Mattel, the owners of the Masters of the Universe toy rights. They launched a line called Princess of Power in 1985, the same year that She-Ra made her debut. One She-Ra figure also came packaged with Swift Wind, her flying unicorn sidekick. A mint condition boxed figure sold in 2018 for $4,000.

29 Vlix: ($150+)

Vlix from Star Wars action figure

It’s hard to believe there could be a Star Wars figure more valuable than Darth Vader himself. Only in the world of collectibles. Vlix came from a short-lived animated series in 1980 called Star Wars: Droids. While there was a first wave of figures released, the second wave (which Vlix was a part of) was scrapped when the show was canceled.

The Brazilian Glasslite acquired the mold but didn’t produce the toy until 1988. Obscure, not released in the U.S., and yet still part of a major franchise.

28 Silver Shirt Luke Cage: ($200+)

Silver shirt luke cage action figure next to original shirt

The case of the Silver Shirted variant of Luke Cage from ToyBiz’s Marvel Legends line is exactly the same as the Crimson Dawn Psylocke. These were made, though never placed in stores for consumers to pick up.

This has naturally made some question the validity of this figure as well as the Crimson Dawn Psylocke.

27 Attack Armor Batman: ($200-$500)

Attack armor batman action figure

The first superhero to appear on the list, but definitely not the last. In 2004, Mattel released a series of new Batman toys that each came with different gadgets and weapons to pair with Gotham’s Dark Knight. Each had a different title.

The Bat Signal Batman toy sold well. The Attack Armor Batman, however, did not. Therefore, fewer copies were produced and it is now very difficult to find. It’s valued at around $200-$500, depending on whether or not it is still in the box and has all the pieces.

26 Faker: ($200-$2000)

Faker from He-Man action figure

In the ’80s, Masters of the Universe was one of the most popular cartoons around. Kids loved tuning in to watch He-Man’s adventures and battles against the evil Skeletor. And as it was one of the most popular shows around, it produced a plethora of merchandise.

While certainly not the rarest of gems in regards to Masters of the Universe toys, the Faker action figure produced by Mattel in 1986 is still worth a decent amount of money. This evil robot clone of He-Man can sell from $200-$2000 depending on condition and if it’s been opened.

25 Spider-Man: ($350-$1,000)

Spiderman 60s action figure

In the mid-’50s, Mego became the first toy company to produce action figures from TV shows and superheroes. Basically, fans have this company to thank for the current booming collectible industry.

This particular Spider-Man figure was produced by the company in the early 1970s. And while they created a ton of different superhero toys, both Marvel and DC, the wildly popular Spider-Man is the one worth the most and can sell for up to $1,000. Count this as one of the rarest action figures from Mego.

24 Dinosaucers: (Up To $750)

rare Dinosaucers action figures

The situation with these toys based on the late ’80s cartoon is a bit of a weird one. Galoob was given the exclusive toy rights for the characters but canceled the toys when the show didn’t do well enough. Instead, they sold the molds to Glasslite, a toy production company based in Brazil.

Even they only used 5 of the 8 molds, so not every character got made and they were never released in America. It’s basically impossible to find them in the box, but they can go for up to $750 depending on the condition and which character it is.

23 MacGyver: ($400-$900)

A rare original Macgyver action figure from Glasslite

MacGyver, a show about a secret agent that could use literally any object to solve any problem, was one of the most popular action shows in the late ’80s. And while it certainly got toys in the US, this is not one of them.

This specific figure was produced by Glasslite, the same Brazilian company responsible for the Dinosaucers toys. It was released in 1993, a full year after the original series had gone off the air. While they did also release different cars to put the figure in, this is the toy worth the big bucks.

22 Green Beret G.I. Joe: ($500-$2,400)

Original Green Beret GI Joe figure

Any collector worth their salt knows that holding onto an old G.I. Joe figure is a smart call. Long before the animated series in the 80s, Hasbro was releasing real American hero toys for kids to play with. And for kids who preferred real-life heroes instead of the super-powered ones, there was no finer choice.

This particular figure was released in 1966 and came boxed with a ton of different accessories. Many figures without all of them no doubt exist. But one with them, and in a mint condition box, of course, can fetch a high price.

21 Optimus Prime: ($500-$1,200)

Original 80s Optimus Prime transformers action figure set

Until Michael Bay got his hands on them, Transformers was one of the most respected and beloved cartoon franchises from the childhoods of many. Kids found it remarkably awesome that these robots could transform into different vehicles. It was a show that was just begging to be made into toys.

Which is exactly what Hasbro did. This particular action figure of Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, was produced by the company in 1984. It’s now a bonafide collector’s item and can sell for $500-$1,200, though only if it’s in a mint condition box.

20 The Blank: ($750-$1,300)

Dick Tracy The Blank action figure

Along with the release of the 1990 film Dick Tracy, Playmate produced a series of toys featuring each character. They held back on releasing the villain, however, as it came with a removable mask and would spoil the movie’s twist about who The Blank was. The film was a modest hit, but the toys were not.

Therefore, Playmate made this last figure a Sears exclusive… in Canada. It’s now exceptionally hard to track down because of this and can sell for around $750-$1,300 depending on condition and if it’s in the box.

19 Computron: ($1,000-5,000)

Transformers Computron action figure

From the world of Transformers, Computron was the name given to the massive combination of the Technobots when they joined to form one robot (that’s Scattershot, Strafe, Lightspeed, Afterburner, and Nosecone for those of you who are curious).

One could have purchased Computron as part of Hasbro’s 1986 collection, but it was only available as a gift set. This has made it incredibly hard to find these days, especially one that is in mint condition. For a die-hard fan, it would cost up to $5,000.

18 Scratch The Cat: ($1,200-$6,500)

Scratch the cat action figure from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Back when copious amounts of toys were being pumped out for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon in the 90s, every character received their own action figure.

Even if they were some side character that only made a handful of appearances across the show, games, and comics. Because he was such a minor character, Scratch’s toy wasn’t as mass-produced as other characters. This 1993 toy is now highly sought after by collectors.

17 Rocket-Firing Boba Fett: ($1,500)

Kenner Rocket Firing Boba Fett Star Wars Action Figure

This little guy is a special part of Star Wars toys. While there have been plenty of toys featuring the popular bounty hunter, Kenner’s choice to recall this one is what has made it so rare.

It was originally part of a mail-in offer. Kids could purchase other figures and mail in proof of purchase tabs to the company so they could receive Boba Fett. And while Kenner initially planned to sell it in stores, they were worried about kids hurting themselves with the projectile and decided to release a non-spring-loaded version instead.

16 Megator: ($2,000+)

Megator He-Man action figure with Tytus

In 1988, the popularity behind Masters of the Universe was on the decline and that terrible live-action movie definitely didn’t help. Mattel still owned the toy rights, but probably didn’t see the point of releasing anymore in the U.S. if they wouldn’t sell.

So, the 16-inch-tall Megator action figure (green guy on the left) was only released in Europe. His size and exclusivity have made the figure incredibly rare. For fans wishing to complete their He-Man toy collection, it’ll cost around $2,000.

15 Tytus: ($2,000+)

Tytus 16 inch tall action figure

Megator wasn’t the only Masters of the Universe character to receive a 16-inch-tall figure and he wasn’t the only one to be released exclusively in Europe. Tytus was the other oversized action figure Mattel released overseas and pretty much at the exact same time as Megator. Therefore, he’s just as hard to come by.

The size of these figures makes sense as both of them are much bigger than any other character in the show. Both of these characters would eventually receive other toys in the future, but these are the ones for collectors.

14 Laser Power He-Man and Laser Light Skeletor: ($2,000-$2,500)

He-man Laser Light figures with Skeletor

Along with Megator and Tytus, Mattel also released figures for He-Man and Skeletor exclusively in Europe that were much cooler than those in the States. Known as Laser Power He-Man and Laser Light Skeletor, these special figures came with weapons that could light up.

All they needed was one AA battery and the fights between these two were made extremely cooler. It’s a shame that only kids in Europe could get these and they can now sell for around $2,000-$2,500 a piece.

13 Technodrome: ($2,000-$3,000)

The Technodrome playset from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Arguably one of the most fun and creative aspects of playing with action figures in the ’90s was pairing them with different items and play-sets. The Ninja Turtles saw a ton of different vehicles and accessories to use with figures and the Technodrome was one of the coolest around.

Krang’s lair from the show was released in 1990 and even came with a little Krang figure. But as it came with a ton of different (and easily losable) attachments and items, finding a complete set in the box can be very difficult. Rare action figures are one thing, but action sets are something entirely different.

12 Marvelmania Ghost Rider: ($2,000-$2,595)

Marvelmania Ghost Rider toy

This figure may not look like the highest quality toy by today’s standards, but it’s one of the rarest Marvel action figures around. It was produced by Fleetwood Toys in 1976 and came with an extra head so that you could swap which character was riding the motorcycle: Johnny Blaze or the demonic Ghost Rider.

Even mere pieces of this figure, like the motorcycle, have sold alone for a few hundred bucks. But, as is always the case, the figure in a mint condition box would make any collector happy.

11 Blue Wasp: ($2,000)

Blue Wasp Marvel alternate outfit figure

This Wasp figure was another produced by ToyBiz in the Marvel Legends series in 2006. Unlike the Crimson Dawn Psylocke, however, this one apparently did make it to shelves as it was released sooner. That doesn’t mean it was easy to find.

While the original red-suited Wasp could be found everywhere, only a handful of the blue variants were made. One could attribute its high value to a combination of scarce copies and the fact that the character has become more popular thanks to the MCU.

10 El Capitan Rayo: ($2,000-$8,000)

El Capitan Rayo rare action figure

The rarest superhero figure is of a character that most have likely never heard of before. And that’s because he can’t be found in any comic or cartoon. So how does El Capitan Rayo exist? In the 1980s, DC teamed up with Kenner to release some figures based on their most popular heroes.

Somehow, a South American toy company called Gulliver acquired the mold for Superman and released their own hero in Columbia. They just used different colors and painted The Flash’s symbol on his chest.

9 Crimson Dawn Psylocke: ($2,500)

Crimson Dawn Psylocke Original Outfit colors

The Marvel Legends line from ToyBiz featured really great action figures that also came packaged with a comic book of the character for buyers to read. Some of the figures received variants; superheroes wearing different costumes.

The Crimson Dawn Psylocke, which had her in a black costume instead of the traditional one seen above, is one of the rarest around now. It was produced in 2006, though ToyBiz gave up the Marvel toy rights in 2007 to Hasbro. It supposedly never made it to shelves, but a single box of twelve somehow made it out of the factory.

8 Yak Face: ($3,000-$5,000)

Yakface from Star Wars figure

One franchise that has always profited from merchandise is Star Wars. And the action figures from the original trilogy are some of the most expensive around. Yak Face could be seen visiting Jaba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi.

Yeah, that’s it. What has made his figure so rare, however, is the fact that it was released in 1985. It had been a couple of years since the last movie so toy sales were naturally down. Kenner released the majority of these in Europe, making it extremely hard for collectors to get their hands on them.

7 Vinyl Cape Jawa: ($3,000-$5,000)

Jawa from Star Wars with a Vinyl cape

Yeah, expect to see several from Star Wars. The Jawas were some of the most mysterious characters from the original film so it totally fits that their action figure would be one of the most elusive.

But it’s really because of a choice by Kenner that has made this figure so rare. It was released in the original 1978 line of toys, but the company decided to change the cape to cloth in later productions. This was apparently because they wanted it to look less cheap, since the toy cost as much as the others but was smaller.

6 Moon Belly Kamala: ($3,000-$22,000)

Moonbelly Kamala Figure

If there’s one thing that can make a figure’s value skyrocket in the eyes of collectors, it’s a misprint or a production error. This figure was created by Hasbro for the WWF line in 1992. But for any wrestling aficionado, they’ll know that Kamala had a yellow moon painted on his belly. Not a star.

The majority of these figures were actually released with the error. So one that features the wrestler with the moon design he’s supposed to have can be worth a lot of money.

5 Batman Robot: ($5,000)

Batman Robot Action Figure from Japan

Certainly not your average Batman toy. This figure was produced by a Japanese company called Nomura in 1966 and was therefore unavailable in the U.S. Nothing brings up the value of an action figure like location exclusions.

It’s actually a pretty nifty toy for the time it was released. Battery operated, collectors can turn the yellow switch on Batman’s utility belt to make the toy walk forward (or at least attempt to). The figure alone can sell for quite a bit, but the ones still in the box sell for even more.

4 Blue-Hatted Babe Ruth: ($13,000+)

Babe Ruth action figure with blue hat

The appeal of the variant strikes again. In 2008, McFarlane Toys produced an action figure collectible for Babe Ruth fans. While it featured the player wearing the traditional white Yankees hat, the variant had him in a blue one. And what a difference a small change like that can make.

Only five of these were made. Two were kept in McFarlane’s archives while the other three were randomly distributed. One of these sold in 2009 for an incredible $13,600. But as that was now a decade ago, it would probably go for a lot more today.

Darth Vader With Double-Telescoping Lightsaber: ($22,000)

Darth Vader action figure with double telescoping lightsaber

There have been a great many toys based on Darth Vader and I’m sure there are more still yet to come. But it’s highly unlikely any of them will ever be as valuable as this one. The original 1978 figures that wielded lightsabers had a unique feature implemented.

Known as double-telescoping, these figures had a small switch on their hands that caused their lightsaber to extend. But Kenner thought they were too flimsy and changed the later toys. These versions of Luke and Obi-Wan are also valuable, but Darth Vader is the prize gem.

Hulk Hogan Prototype: ($50,000)

A prototype Hulk Hogan action figure

Not ever completed and still worth more than most action figures will ever be worth. In the mid-80s, LJN produced a line of popular rubber action figures for the biggest wrestlers at the time. Fans could get Andre the Giant, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, and many others. They could even get Hulk Hogan, though this prototype was meant for a later figure.

Unfortunately, LJN went out of business before this particular figure could be mass-produced. Therefore, it is worth an absolute fortune.

Prototype G.I. Joe: ($200,000)

The prototype for the first ever G.I. Joe action figures

There are many aspects that can give an action figure immense monetary worth. But if something is one of a kind, that’s all it really needs. This figure was hand-crafted by Don Levine in 1964 before production on the first G.I. Joe figures had even begun.

That’s right, this is the first-ever G.I. Joe.

By now, this is more of an antique and a genuine piece of history than it is an action figure. In 2003, it sold to a private collector for $200,000. If that person ever decided to sell it, it would probably go for much more.

By Johnny Reynolds

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