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In 1964, Hasbro first used the phrase “action figure” in marketing their 11.5-inch G.I. Joe figures to boys who refused to play with traditional dolls. These articulating action figures had a greater range of play than vintage static dolls. An oil supply crisis in the 1970s led manufacturers to shrink the size of the typical action figure to 3.75-inches. The smaller action figures vaulted into prominence with Kenner’s licensing of Star Wars toys in 1971, which have since become their own vintage collectible. Licenses then stretched into Marvel, Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, Ghostbusters, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The list goes on. And continues to grow.
In February 2016, Mattel launched their first line of articulating action figures for girls, including Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Batgirl.