The 50 Coolest Action Figures of All Time

<<< See #100 – 51

50. Mego Batman

(1973 Mego)

8 inches tall. Oven Mitt Gloves. Classic vintage figure. ‘Nuff said.

49. Dragon Blaster Skeletor

(1985 Mattel Masters of the Universe) Water squirting fun with Skeletor’s pet dragon chained in a baby carrier.

48. Snow Job

(1983 Hasbro G.I. Joe ARAH)

The first Joe whose accessories all snapped to his backpack. Check out Joe A Day’s excellent write up of this figure – and while you’re at it, add that site to your favorites or subscribe to the daily updates. It’s like a ray of sunshine in your inbox everyday.

47. Battle Damage Darth Maul (2000 Kenner Star Wars Power of the Jedi) @LamarRevenger mentioned this figure recently on Twitter, and I’m glad he did because I had forgotten about it. Break apart action set this guy apart from the rest of his wave.

46. Baldwin P. “Bulletproof” Vess (1988 Hasbro C.O.P.S. n’ Crooks) I’ve spent a lot of time professing my love for the C.O.P.S. toyline. Bulletproof with his suitcase and handcuffs, great machine gun, removable coat, and insanely well detailed cybernetic parts was the best of that line.

45. Solid Snake (1998 McFarlane Toys Metal Gear Solid) McFarlane Toys produced this line of 7 inch scale action figures based on the hit Konami video game Metal Gear Solid. A pretty solid military figure. Excellent sculpt, decent articulation. Pretty good assortment of accessories.

44. Bruce Wayne (1992 Kenner Batman Returns) It can sometimes be difficult for toy companies to attain the rights to actors’ likenesses with regard to producing movie-based action figures. That’s why you rarely see figures based on the unmasked actor’s character. This figure was a fantastic likeness of Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne, complete with the batsuit and accessories.

43. Big Boa (1987 Hasbro G.I. Joe ARAH) Cobra’s troops were in dire need of hand-to-hand combat training. Big Boa was in desperate need of a job. A match made in heaven! Regardless of the involvement of Rocky rumors, the design of the character was a bit odd, but it’s undeniable that this figure’s unique set of accessories was awesome. Removable boxing gloves, a ‘Joe’ labeled punching bag, and his breathing apparatus (?) hose made for a cool overall package. 

42. Slave Leia (2004 Hasbro Star Wars Unleashed) Still available at a relatively affordable price, this is the best rendering of Princess Leia in her most popular form (according to fanboys everywhere). The sculpt detail is the best you’ll find of any Slave Leia.

41. Daggit (1978 Mattel Battlestar Galactica) What an odd figure! We hardly got any Battlestar Galactica figures and one of them happened to be the hapless robot dog.

40. She-Ra (1985 Mattel She-Ra Princess of Power) Mattel’s attempt to rope girls into the boy-targeted Masters of the Universe mythos, She-Ra was a successful cartoon, comic and toy line of the mid-80s.

39. Egon, Peter, Ray, Winston (1986 Kenner Real Ghostbusters) Take your pick. Wave 1 of this toy line was the most sought after, as it included the 4 Ghostbusters, each packaged with their own small ghost to bust. Later lines provided larger and more functional adversaries. The Ecto-1 vehicle from this line was so cool.

38. Lego Minifigures

(1978-present Lego)

Over 4 billion Lego Minifigures have been produced since their inception, a staggering number that speaks to their overall appeal to children of all ages. Typically sold as part of a Lego set, the minifigs have established a life of their own over recent years as standalone items. Popular licensed lines include Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and Lego Batman minifigures.

37. Man-E-Faces (1983 Mattel Masters of the Universe) In a toy line that sported some of the most inventive and sometimes odd play features, this guy had one of the best. Our boy Man-E started out as a human, but turn the knob on his head and he became a robot! Turn it again- a monster! Like all of the MOTU figures, the gimmick was everything. Who was this guy? The Zartan of Eternia?

36. Dark Knight Batman

(2008 Mattel Movie Masters)

Super-solid figure whose sculpt was strikingly true to the movie. The Movie Masters line from Mattel is really geared toward the adult collector.

35. Inspector Gadget (1983 Galoob) Go Go Gadget playability! Launching hands, extending legs and neck, helicopter-hat! Not only was this figure is a spot-on likeness of the cartoon character, but he has tons of the same action features and accessories that give true meaning to the word “gadget”.

34. Snake Eyes (2010 Hasbro G.I. Joe: Pursuit of Cobra Wave 3)

Perfection.  This figure set the tone for the rest of Pursuit of Cobra and for the 30th Anniversary and almost single-handedly redefined G.I. Joe for the 21st Century.  Does that earn it “best figure of all time”?  Not alone, but it plays a part.  Combine that with the sheer coolness of the figure design, the improved articulation, removable silencer, elastic webgear, and swappable heads.  Fantastic.

33. Bertie

(2010 threeA Toys World War Robot)

Robots have been a staple of toy culture since they were conceived. Ashley Wood has taken it to the next level. The sheer detail and artistry of the post-apocolyptic World War Robot toyline is what makes it standout. Super-detailed, weathered paint jobs? Check. Big-ass gatling guns, bowie knives and rocket launchers? Check. Robots that can shoot the bird? Check, check, check.

32. Lt. Max Jones (Tonka 1986 Spiral Zone)

I feel it necessary to add yet another underrated toy out there.  Spiral Zone was a larger scale and extremely well articulated figure line with removable uniforms and armor. Max Jones in his great camouflage uniform was one of the best of the line.

31. Flash (1982 Hasbro G.I. Joe ARAH Wave 1) One of the original 12, Flash had that 10 minutes into the future look. Probably didn’t hurt having those bright orange pads in a line of mostly green and black.

30. G.I. Joe

 (1964 Hasbro G.I. Joe Action Soldier)

Dubbed the “World’s First Action Figure”, we wouldn’t be doing this list today if it wasn’t for this guy. Standing at 12″ tall, Hasbro had a wildly popular toy on its hands- and the action figure phenomenon has grown ever since.

29. Spawn

(1994 MacFarlane Toys Spawn Series 1) Everybody was blown away when Spawn figures started coming out. I remember there was a small outcry that this is what Star Wars figures should have been.

28. Hordak

(1984 Mattel Masters of the Universe Wave 4)

Many of our treasured 80s properties attempted to revive interest after a season or two by upping the ante with the primary villain. Cobra brought in Serpentor to usurp Cobra Commander, Megatron was recreated as Galvatron, and MOTU was no different.

If you didn’t think it was possible to “outcreepy” Skeletor as a kid’s villain, think again. Hordak was more ruthless, less bumbling, and his face was at least 18% scarier. She-Ra had her hands full with this arch-enemy. The recent Mattel update of this figure is excellent as well.

GL Batman, me. (Courtesy of Will’s World of Wonder)

27. Green Lantern Batman 

(2008 DC Direct Green Lantern Series 3)

This version of Batman appeared for one page in Green Lantern #9, but made enough of an impact to warrant an action figure (that, and DC will find ways to slip a Batman or Superman in a wave to boost sales). The sculpt of the figure was amazing and true to Ethan Van Sciver’s rendering in the comic book.

26. Hellboy

(2008 Mezco Hellboy 3.75″)

Honestly, I think this may be what I consider the best small scale figure ever. The paint, likeness and articulation are darn near flawlessly executed. I just wish the line had lasted longer.

25. Crystar (1983 Remco Crystar) The best toy line from Remco; the title character is iconic 80’s–and translucent!

24. Rowdy Roddy Piper

(2007 Hasbro International G.I.Joe Convention Exclusive)

Complete with removable kilt, helmet, and black leather jacket, this figure is super cool for so many reasons. Limited to 1,000 pieces and packaged on a 25th Anniversary card, the figure typically goes for $250 – $1000. Piper was portrayed as a trainer in Destro’s Iron Grenadier Corps. Amazing.

23. Specialist Trakker

(Hasbro 2008 G.I.Joe 25th Anniversary)

Wait, Matt Trakker was already on this list! Not this Matt Trakker. While it may be poor form to have two G.I. Joe figures back to back on this list, they are linked in a lot of ways. Besides both being 3 3/4″ Joes, both are crossover delights based on characters not indigenous to G.I. Joe.

The slight edge went to Trakker over Piper here – Hasbro had already demonstrated a working relationship with the world of WWF/WWE in the form of Sgt. Slaughter, but the M.A.S.K. crossover was unexpected. Listed on GeneralsJoes’ Most Underrated Modern G.I. Joe Figures of All Time.

22. Cobra Commander

(2010 Sideshow Toys 12”)

Sideshow Collectibles has been doing some impressive stuff with their 12” G.I. Joe line, but the Cobra Commander is probably my favorite.  The trenchcoat look was a great update to the classic 80’s villain.


21. Cobra Commander v1.5

(1983 Hasbro G.I. Joe ARAH)

The figure that started it all (after the 1982 Mail-Away straight arm version). The chrome faceplate, the baby blue uniform with red stripes, and the very cool removable pistol on his integrated backpack.

We realize the overall quality of the figure pales in comparison to #22, but this is the one that all descendants were based on.. and oh have there been descendants.

20. Trap-Jaw 

(1983 Mattel Masters of the Universe Wave 2)

So many accessories for a vintage MOTU figure! This guy was the predecessor to the Cobra B.A.T. with his interchangeable arm gun, claw, and hook. The only moveable mouth in the MOTU line as well, this was great playability for a kid in the 80s.

Did we ever figure out what the loop on top of his helmet was for? I used it to slide him down a zipline into Castle Grayskull. Then again, I also had him defend his green weight belt against my LJN WWF Superstars, so maybe I’m not the best authority on Trap-Jaw.

19. Metlar

(1986 Hasbro Inhumanoids)

The sheer hugeness and Lovecraftian style of the property’s villains made the line memorable.

Much like other Hasbro properties such as Transformers and G.I. Joe, the show was produced by Sunbow and Marvel Productions.


18. Indiana Jones

(1982 Kenner Indiana Jones)

I remember as a kid liking the articulation of these figures better than Star Wars figures. Whipping action and could ride a horse, awesomeness.

17. Low Light (2010 Hasbro G.I. Joe: Pursuit of Cobra Wave 4)

Another crazy recent figure with awesome detail, some insanely well detailed weapons (removable sniper rifle FTW!) Low Light definitely has earned a spot near the top.

I’ve yet to pick up a Pursuit of Cobra figure I haven’t liked. Low Light pushed it over the top. His large array of stowable gear is amazing. Figures like this are why I’m hooked on G.I. Joe collecting.


16. Jetfire 

(1985 Hasbro Transformers G1)

If G.I.Joe’s Sky Striker was a Transformer, it’d be Jetfire. This guy was a repainted Robotech toy, but as kids we never knew that. We just knew he was a big honkin’ badass jet that towered over most of the other Transformers.


15. Luke Skywalker (Bespin Gear)

(1982 Kenner Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)

This figure is “THE” Luke Skywalker to me. He wasn’t wearing the wussy farmboy outfit, this was warrior Luke. He was a Luke made for action.

It also didn’t hurt that he was one of the few Star Wars figures to get more than one accessory. Han Pistol and lightsaber? This was pure action figure gold in 1982.

The recent update makes my list as well because of my love for the original. Well articulated and accessorized, this is really the ultimate version of  Bespin Luke.

14. Grimlock (1985 Hasbro Transformers G1)

A dinosaur AND a Transformer? What a great decade to grow up in.


13. Ace McCloud

(1986 Kenner Centurions)

The Centurions were a group of special operatives assembled to thwart the evil Dr. Terror and his army of drones. Their leader was Ace McCloud, an aerial assault specialist.

Though some of the modular attachments in the line were lame, Ace fared the best with his snap on jets.


12. Lt. Stone 

(2006 Hasbro G.I. Joe Sigma 6)

What our contributors said about this figure:

  • Sigma Six kept G.I. Joe alive, and Lt. Stone has to be one of the more memorable characters. A different take on the Joe mythos, Stone reflects the mesh of anime and military styling characteristics of the line.
  • The stylized Sigma 6 sculpting and a Cobra Trooper disguise combined with a new original character and background to create the best figure in the line.
  • Sigma 6 is one of my favorite toylines of all time, and Lt. Stone is the best figure of that series. Well articulated, great accessories, a cool disguise who can double as a Cobra Trooper. Good stuff.

11. Bravestarr

(1986 Mattel Bravestarr)

Another line I sampled from the 80’s that was unfortunately saddled with a terrible cartoon. The figures were a bit large, but pretty poseable, and the working infrared “laser tag” weapons was INSANE. So much cool interactability.



Click here for the 10 Coolest Action Figures of All Time —>

For more background on the making of the list, check out UnderScoopFire Podcast #21 – The Top 10 Figures of All Time – with a preview of NYC Toy Fair 2012! Guest starring Justin Bell (GeneralsJoes), Engineernerd (TV & Film Toys), Justin Gammon, (Weirdo Toys), Rob Buzan (Joe A Day). #TOYS!