Toys / Toy Collecting

Heatwave Stability

By Hervé St.Louis
July 3, 2005 - 15:11

A major problem affecting all types of action figures is the heat. In the summer, the problem is worse and at any given moment, one of your precious action figures will fall over itself, often taking along a bunch other figures in its path. The problem is serious as often the figures are damaged. As these are collectors’ items costing lots of money, manufacturers should consider improving the quality of the plastics they use.

This problem is most pressing in DC Direct action figures. Unfortunately, DC Direct may be the one product vendor that is the least interested in taking responsibility for product defects and the long term quality of what it produces. DC Direct uses different manufacturing facilities in China for its action figure series instead of using the same trusted provider. Quality control issues surface frequently.

For example, the recent Green Lantern series had great plastics while the Hush line had soft pliable plastics. Some of DC Direct’s action figure series are completely worthless, when evaluated on their plastics. All of the Super Friends action figures bend beyond control, in warm and regular weather. When they bend, they also change the shape of the action figure. To fix them, drastic measures such as boiling them or putting casts on the figures and putting them in a freezer must be taken.

Boil Baby Boil

No one should have to boil an action figure, taking a chance the product will melt and lose its paint. This is ridiculous. Yet, a serious collector who wants to keep his collection intact has to do so. The alternative is storing away the defective product, or replacing it with something else. Often replacing a defective product is a short term solution, as the cause of the problem will eventually resurface with the new toy.

Finding a replacement is not a solution and sends the wrong message to the product vendors. They think people buy multiple copies because the product is great but the real cause is that the product is poor. Other DC Direct action figure waves with serious problems are the Hush, the Contemporary Teen Titans, the Hard Travelling Heroes. Figures often affected are Brother Blood, Harley Quinn, the Silver Age Black Canary, Orion, Black Fire, Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), the Silver Age Wonder Woman, Blue Beetle, The Silver Age Green Arrow, the Silver Age Speedy and Star Sapphire.

Marvel Legends action figures have the similar problem but it affects the figures differently. Marvel Legends’ joints and articulations are what is usually affected. Heat renders their joint pliable making their stability impossible. They won’t even have a chance to fall. They will simply never stand on their own.


As a collector, what can be done to reduce the problem? Well, after a while, it’s easy to identify problem figures, when one receives them. For example, I knew the moment that I opened Ra’s Al Ghul, that he would be a trouble maker. I stashed him far from others and put very stable figures next to him. I’ve put some padding bellow my action figure display so that falling figures will fall on a soft surface instead of breaking up when they reach the ground. I stored some figures, such as Star Sapphire and the Silver Age Wonder Girl temporarily.

The one thing I have learned is not to trust any action figure. Any of them is subject to problems anytime. I use action figure stands as much as I can. The action figure stands that come with a figure often provides the wrong amount of balance for a figure. For example, the Super Friends’ action figure stands are not effective with this line. However, they work well with others.

The Hush Batman-styled action figure stands are great with some Marvel Legends such as Deathlok. The new Green Lantern circle action figure stand is perfect for the Hard Travelling Heroes Black Canary. The Teen Titans action figure stands don’t work well with unstable figures. Use them with figures with limited problems, such as Superboy.

I place figures without peg holes in their feet either at the back, if they are very stable or upfront where they will fall by themselves on the padded protection bellow. This is the case with the Street Fighter line by Sota Toys. All the females are upfront, while the large guys who can stand up are at the back. The heat wave does not affect Street Fighter as DC Direct and Toybiz products.

The most resistant products are those sold to children. I find that Mattel and Jakks’ products are the most stable and never fall. Their plastic is stronger and resists a child’s rough play better. The quality of sculpts suffer as they have fewer details, but their stability is the finest. Perhaps this is an avenue to consider.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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