A Look at the Most Popular Battery-Operated Toys & Action Figures Past & Present

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by UnderScoopFire Staff & Contributors on March 26, 2013

in Geeky

Battery-operated action figures have been a mainstay of pop culture for decades. Since the 1960s, plastic poseable figures have been of interest to kids, collectors and enthusiasts of all ages. Whether your thing is super-heroes, futuristic space-vehicles or soldiers, there is an action figure for every fiction universe out there.


Battery Operated Action Figures

Because there are so many types on the market, today we’ll just focus on battery operated action figures from mainstream culture, comparing past and present in the industry. The 1980s was an important period for action figures, because the film industry was going through a transformation with the advent of CGI. Collectors could re-enact scenes from films such as Star Wars, RoboCop and Hellraiser.

While Hollywood was producing this style of film and merchandise, there were many influences coming in from Asia as well, especially Japan. Martial arts, futuristic animé (such as Akira and Gundam) gave rise to a huge variety of action figures across the world.

Battery operated action figures took off in the 1980s. Among the collector’s items that you emerged from this era are:

Kenner 1981 AT-AT Imperial Walker from The Empire Strikes Back. The model could make laser sounds and the guns would move.

1981 kenner esb at-at battery operated

Super Joe Adventure Team series in the G.I. Joe line of action figures had battery powered packs with flashing lights and motorized accessories.

super joe adventure team gijoe

Zoids action figurines, featuring transforming mechanized dinosaurs, were another hit from Japan that made it into the mainstream in Europe and even Australia. The war between the Blue Zoids and the Red Mutants was even waged in a comic in the UK!

Zoids 80s toys battery

Just about every sci-fi film, fantasy flick, horror movie, animé series and comic book was turned into literally thousands of action figures. Collectors can trawl sites like Ebay nowadays and find action figures from every era.


Battery Operated Action Figures in the Present

Today, the trend continues. The old classics are back in newer forms and you can find battery operated action figures updated with new technology and new characters from the ongoing sagas in story-lines such as The Terminator, Ghost in the Shell, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Princess Mononoke. Action figures from WWE wrestling, the A-Team, the Justice League and Star Trek are a few more of the classics that are still well and truly alive.


Taking Care of Your Battery Powered Action Figures

If you want your children to get maximum enjoyment out of their action figures, just make sure that you always keep spare batteries on you when you go out. This simple tip will save many parents from their kids from becoming annoyed or upset simply because playtime was interrupted when the batteries give out.

For those who love collecting popular action figures to add to their burgeoning toy collections, always make sure that you have ample space set aside to keep your toy sets and collections free from dirt and the build-up of dust especially if you have already unboxed them and would like to put them up for display. A see-through cabinet with a glass display would be best option for this. This ensures that your toys remain pristine and maintain their near-mint condition.

And don’t forget if you’re a collector – don’t open the blister pack!


Jessica Dixon grew up watching She-Ra every afternoon at 4PM at her neighbor’s house. She’s probably the only female on Earth who doesn’t think Channing Tatum is the best thing about G.I. Joe.


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