Trivia

Hard

Why Were Children’s Action Figures Reduced In Size During The Late 20th Century?

Government Regulations
The Vietnam War
Consumer Backlash
Oil Shortages
G.I. Joe Collector's Club reissue of the 1970 Adventure Team Talking Commander.
Brian Ashmore/Yesterville Toy Room

Answer: Oil Shortages

When you’ve long since grown up and you return to the things of your childhood, you often find yourself amazed at how small the things are when you recall them being so much larger. Elementary school hallways look tiny, the old tree you used to climb doesn’t look quite so tall, and toys seem small in your hands.

If you grew up playing with toys before the 1970s, there’s one thing that might throw your size-divergent nostalgia off: action figures. Today, it’s standard for action figures to be around 4″ tall; a size that is easily engulfed by an adult’s hand, but still fairly large to the children that play with them. Whether you’re playing with G.I. Joe, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, or whatever new toy brand is on the market today, you’ll typically be playing with figures under six inches in height.

Children who grew up in the 1960s playing with G.I. Joe, America’s Movable Fighting Man, however, had a totally different experience. Back then, it was standard for action figures to stand a towering 11 1/2″ tall and pack clothing and accessories of equal scale.

When the 1970s Oil Crisis put a sizeable dent in the global oil trade and sent barrels of crude oil skyrocketing in price, it also made it prohibitively expensive to keep cranking out thousands of nearly foot-tall action figures. Japanese toy company Takara was struggling to keep their costs down and opted to release a reduced-size version of their popular Henshin Cyborg-1 line (a toy based on the articulated design of G.I. Joe the company had licensed from Hasbro, but with a cyborg theme).

The reduced size toy, called Microman, was wildly popular—thanks in part to the backstory that claimed the relatively tiny 3.75″ toys were actually 1:1 scale and the “Micromen” were from a planet populated by tiny people. The novelty of the story aside, other toy companies took note of the fact that children seemed entirely unbothered by toys that were around 1/3rd the size of the ones they were used to and quickly began producing smaller action figures.

Trivia

Hard

Anyone Venturing Outside Town In Svalbard, Norway Is Required To Bring?

Trivia

Hard

The First Smartphone-Powered Satellites Contained What Phone?

Trivia

Easy

Some Plants Use Chemical Signals To Call What To Their Defense?

Trivia

Hard

The First Computer Worm Was Called?

Trivia

Hard

The Modern Drinking Fountain Was Invented To Combat?

Trivia

Hard

A Group Of Scientists Actively Reference Which Musical Star In Their Articles?

Trivia

Hard

What Is The Most Expensive Video Game Console Of All Time?

Trivia

Easy

The Second Tallest Building In The World Is Protected From High Winds By?

Trivia

Easy

Which U.S. President’s Middle Initial Wasn’t Actually Short For Anything?

Trivia

Easy

A Non-Functioning Gargoyle Is Known As What?