Action Masters Die-Cast Metal Figure
Item No.: n/a Manufacturer:Kenner Includes:Trading card Action Feature:Spring-loaded rocket Retail:$2.99 Availability: ca. Summer 1993 Other: The only Predator figure in this line
The 1990s were an amazing time to be alive if you liked toys. Things really changed in a big way-- you had the innovation of the 1980s slowly running out, while the nostalgia-fueled 2000s were being foreshadowed against a backdrop of familiar and beloved licenses. Were these toys for kids or adults? It was tough to tell, especially when Kenner put out Action Masters. The Predator was one of several creations in the line, which spanned films like Terminator 2, ALIENS, and of course, Star Wars. This 2 1/2-inch tall collectible figure comprised the entire Predator range for Action Masters, so he'd need some Xenomorphs to fight.
Being short, the figure has to look good. Even in 1994, I knew it looked OK-- today it doesn't seem to have aged too well. The sculpted detail on the body is actually quite decent, but the pointer in his hand, his pose, and the fact that his head is plastic doesn't sit well with me. Die-cast metal is fantastic for cars or miniatures, but when we get into larger-sized mini-figures, well, it's a little disappointing. The body can hold a lot of detail, but when you get right down to it this was a descendant of a pre-posed plastic solider. It has a base, and it can stand around. And that's it.
This line was test-marketed in the midwest, which resulted in some rare pieces and some variations. Well, in some lines, not so much for the Predator which actually shipped widely and was common as this line goes. It was a cheap toy then, and today it's still pretty cheap-- you should be able to get it for a buck or two, which is a shame as this line was actually pretty neat when you get right down to it. Think of it like McFarlane Toys' Movie Maniacs, but smaller, cheaper, and with less-terrifying characters.
I liked Action Masters and bought a lot of them. This was a great snapshot of Kenner going from the early 1990s when we saw Terminator and ALIENS, and the late 1990s when Star Wars ruled the roost. Actually, this line had Kenner's first Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in years, heralding the coming of a toy company that makes fantastic stuff, but has definitely grabbed on to the myth that the future will be entirely within licensed properties. It's a nice enough line of mini figures, and seems tailor-made for desks across America. I'd love to see another company try a similar line-- small, cheap display figures-- but my guess is that as manufacturing prices in China increase, the very notion of being able to buy a licensed toy for under $5 is going to be increasingly unlikely. So go get these on eBay, they're cheap and neat and you'll probably like them.
Hasbro (who bought Kenner) would return to licensed sci-fi die-cast figures with Titanium Series in 2005, eventually spawning Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica figures. Ultimately, Action Masters were a better, more varied line. The Titanium Series 3 3/4-inch figures were around $15, but the 3-inch robot figures for Transformers were a pretty fair $5 a pop. And yes, we'll be looking at those soon too.
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