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1980-1990s Action Figures

1980-1990s Action Figures The 1980s and 1990s were very popular periods for action figures, and many icons filled the shelves of toy shops up and down the UK. In the aftermath of cinema debuts for famous heroes and villains (such as Batman, He-Man and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), as well as the increasing popularity of cartoon and film franchises (such as Star Wars), it is no surprise that the likes of Hasbro sought the opportunity to create action figures which would capture the imagination of children globally.

Even though decades have passed, these figures are more popular than ever. Due to the nostalgia of their original release, many collectors seek 1980s to 1990s action figures, and auction houses are often the preferred method of finding them. At Cullens of Surrey, we’re the retro toy and model experts with a great deal of knowledge in this field. If you’re looking to buy or sell action figures from this era, look no further!

Background Information: 1980-1990s Action Figures

The 1980s and 1990s saw the release of numerous iconic action figures that became immensely popular. The most notable figures from the 80s include G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man, Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, followed by 90s figures such as Power Rangers, Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men and WWE. The vast majority of these are still popular today, with further films, books, comics and TV series being produced in the years following.

The action figure era was actually first created in the mid-60s by Hasbro Industries, who were responsible for many of the most popular action figures during the 80s and 90s. G.I. Joe was the first “action figure”, debuting in 1964 but staying in demand during the following 30 years and beyond. This saw the creation of a TV show and comic book line based on the popular hero toy. Transformers also followed this trend, where supporting TV shows (and later on, movies) were produced following the success of the action figures, instead of being the other way around (which is more often the norm).

Examples of High-Value Sales

Action figures from the 80s to 90s have proven to be highly valuable in recent times, especially the earliest lines of each figure and theme. We’ve discussed the prominence of Hasbro, but toy brand Kenner created some of the most expensive action figures in the 1980s, including the “double-telescoping lightsaber” Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader action figures, which sold at auction in recent times for £60,962 (Kenobi), £20,053 (Skywalker) and £24,064 (Vader).

Away from Star Wars, another high-value sale for a 1980s-1990s action figure is the 1993 Kamala Krush WWE figure, by Hasbro. The real wrestler featured a moon painted on his belly, yet the action figure, for unknown reasons, featured a star instead. The inaccurate star-belly was the mass-produced version, but 24 “accurate” figures were created featuring the signature moon instead. If you’re lucky enough to own the accurate figure, mint in box, this could sell for up to $22,000 (£17,392).

WWE Logo

Fun Fact

Ever heard of a toy that's released after the business had already shut down? This was the case for the Hulk Hogan WWE action figure, created by toy company LJN. The action figure was a prototype, unpainted with poseable arms and legs, and is valued at $50,000 (£39,130) since it is one of a kind. This prototype was given to the seller by a former engineer at LJN, and therefore never had a box.

General Tips for 1980s-1990s Action Figures - Buying and Selling

If you’re looking to get your hands on a collection of 80s-90s action figures at auction, or you’re considering selling a current collection that you own, there are a few useful things to consider to make sure you’re getting the best deal and maximise the sale price. At Cullens of Surrey, it is our utmost priority to ensure you are comfortable with all parts of the auction process, from buying to selling, so never be afraid to ask us for further information on how our auctions work.

  • How popular is the character that the action figure is based upon? For example, popular superheroes in the 80s and 90s such as Spider-Man or the X-Men are more sought after, since the character is more universally recognised.

  • Are the items boxed, and if so, what is the quality of this box? Action figures that are still boxed (or have the box to hand) are typically worth more, especially if the box is in good to mint condition. This isn’t a necessity but is certainly a bonus.

  • In what state is the product itself? It is natural for older figures to become discoloured over time, but those that have minimal colour fading and have been looked after well are usually much more valuable.

  • Consider the edition of the items; could it be considered a “limited edition”? The majority of the most valuable action figures are limited edition items since there are few remakes available, therefore bringing a greater demand for collectors.

  • How genuine does the item seem? Check for any parts of the item which could indicate it is fake, such as the colours. Use online comparisons to genuine versions. The box (if it has one) should be free from spelling mistakes, with crisp printing.

Looking to Sell With Us?

If you have 80s-90s action figures that you’re looking to sell, or any other toys and models, we offer various routes, such as at auction, direct purchasing or third-party sellers. You can read about each selling route in more detail on our dedicated “Selling At Auction” page.

Start Your Collection Today At Cullens of Surrey

If you’re looking to start an exciting new retro toy collection or expand an existing one, Cullens of Surrey offers multiple ways to get bidding. Explore our upcoming auctions, or get in touch with us for more information.