“So what about the ReAction aesthetic do you appreciate?”
A friend asked me this after seeing that I picked up the TMNT ReAction figures, and it got me thinking…what IS it about Super7’s ReAction Figures that appeals to me? We’re living in an age where Hasbro’s Marvel Legends basically has any Marvel character you could think of without going through the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, and they generally look like they jumped right out of the comic book page. Mattel’s WWE line is like holding six-inch versions of your favorite wrestlers. Storm Collectibles is creating some of the best-looking action figures based on various video game properties of all time, despite their hefty price tags. NECA continues to make some of the most remarkable-looking pop culture toys at a reasonably affordable price point. Bandai’s S.H. Figuarts line is making the coolest Japanese action heroes. The list goes on and on.
And the toys I’m most excited about these days are the simple, 3.75-inch, five-points-of-articulation offerings from Super7, a company that started as a small vinyl toy maker before transitioning into proper action figures and other ephemera. Heck, even Super7’s Ultimates line of 80s pop culture characters are pretty rockin’. I mean, in 2021, who expected anybody to announce new SilverHawks action figures?
So, what is it about the ReAction line?
I took some time to think about it after getting that initial text. I answered my friend, and then used the response texts to write this post. And then wrote a whole lot more, because I’m not going to make friends suffer with 100 texts in response to a question. Making them suffer through 35 texts is enough.
Not that I need to justify my toy-collecting hobby to anybody. As long as my bills are paid, I can spend my money on whatever I’d like. But I DO see comments consistently asking why anybody would collect ReAction figures, or Hasbro’s new Marvel 3.75-inch line that’s clearly playing off Super7’s success. I thought maybe I’d give that answer at least for myself, if not for some other collectors, too.
There’s a handful of main points about the Super7 ReAction figures that appeal to me, and it’s really the combination of all of them that makes the line work for me. Take out any of these, and the whole thing falls apart.
At the 3.75-inch scale, the figures are smaller, so I can fit more of them on the same amount of shelf space than I can a 6-inch figure. This may not be an issue for all collectors, but I don’t have an entire house in which to display my collection. I have a few shelves in one room. The real estate a figure takes up is a legit concern of mine, especially when you consider I’ve been collecting action figures my entire life.
I have a lot of toys, you guys. Some of you reading this will have more than me, some will have fewer. Either way, space for new stuff is at a premium for me right now.
2) Limited Articulation
Reaction figures aren’t covered in articulation points, meaning the sculpting is generally a lot smoother and cleaner. There’s a solid argument for being able to put figures with more joints in more dynamic poses when displaying them on a shelf. I can’t deny. But The Real Ghostbusters figures I had as a little kid only have 5 points of articulation, and I never had any issue using my imagination with those guys. And at the end of the day, toys are there to help spark a child’s imagination to help them learn to work things out. So if a toy isn’t a super-literal representation of a character you like, I think that’s okay.
I’m not going to tell anybody they’re wrong for liking more joints on a figure. But articulation isn’t as important to me as it is to other collectors. And that’s okay.
3) Unique Sculpts
99% of the ReAction figures have completely unique sculpts. The exceptions are generally things like characters who share sculpts anyways, or color variants — For example, the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all use the same arms and legs, and there are two torsos amongst the four of them, although all 4 have unique heads. There’s several color variations of characters like The Toxic Avenger or The Misfits’ Fiend. As more Power Rangers are revealed, sure, it makes sense to recycle some parts between the various Rangers.
But, most of the sculpting on ReAction Figures are unique to themselves. Even on figures where I’d expect some torso sharing, like Back to the Future II Marty, Terminator‘s Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Motorhead’s WarPig which are all just bodies in leather jackets, those are each sculpts unique to that character. Compare that with Mattel’s WWE line or Hasbro’s Marvel Legends, where some bodies are shared amongst dozens of figures. Admittedly, Hasbro’s Marvel 3.75″ line has a TON of parts-recycling, and it hasn’t even been out for a full year at the time that I’m writing this.
ReAction toys are cheaper than the average 6” figure. Most Marvel Legends are pushing $22.99 now, and even that new Legends Retro Venom is over $30 for some reason, even though, as far as I can tell, mostly reused parts from other figures. I did NOT buy the Colossus vs Juggernaut 2-pack, because, IMO, in no world should re-releases of two pre-existing figures cost $60. Many other 6″ figures are at least $24.99, with a handful that have prices starting at $30. Again, Super7’s own Ultimate figures start at $50 per character.
But less articulation per figure means fewer pieces need to be produced. ReAction figures are holding a price tag under $20, with the exception of a handful of larger figures — Voltron, Power Rangers‘ Megazord, and Transformers‘ Devastator are all a few extra dollars that break the $20 line. But they’re also larger toys. And if Super7 wasn’t paying for super-expensive licenses, I’m sure the figures would be even cheaper. But that brings me to my next point:
Super7’s getting licenses for just about everything, so all the figures feel like they fit together in a way that most other lines don’t. And the limited sculpt means all the ReAction figures look like they’re from the same world. So Lemmy from Motörhead can hang out with Leonardo and a Mars Attacks alien, and it all still kinda feels like it works.
I don’t collect Funko POP! figures at all, but I’ve always thought that was the biggest strength of that line of collectibles, as well. If you can get aesthetically-matching pieces from every license in the world, that’s going to be a huge plus to attracting collectors.
Despite a friend trying to convince me that ReAction figures were cool several years ago, they didn’t click with me until the Transformers ReAction figures started coming out. And it was at that point that they clicked. So I got a ReAction Optimus, and I dig it. I’ll definitely be adding more ReAction Transformers to my collection in the future, especially since BigBadToyStore kinda leaked the next wave including a character or two that I’m excited for.
And now that I also have all 4 Turtles, I can’t NOT get April, Splinter, Krang, Shredder and some other villains, right? And, hey, I’ve not owned any Thundercats toys since the ones I had as a kid, and wouldn’t it be cool to have all those characters again, and… Fuck. Super7’s prolly gonna get a lot of my money.
ReAction figures are pretty easily available. Sure, there are a handful of them that got super expensive, or the license expired and Super7 can’t produce any more of that figure, or a few convention exclusives. But those are things that happen in every toy line. For the most part, if you want a ReAction figure, you can just go to Super7.com or toy retail sites like BigBadToyStore, or even just check Amazon or eBay, and generally find the characters or figures you’re looking for. And since the ReAction line is less popular than the aforementioned 6-inch lines, it means you’re not competing with as many collectors, or even kids, for the same toy.
By comparison, if you aren’t pre-ordering most Marvel Legends figures, or constantly hitting up places like Target or Wal-Mart, good luck finding them for retail cost. And G.I. Joe: Classified figures may as well not even exist at retail for as little as I’ve seen those.
I’m not gonna pretend like all the ReAction figures are perfect. There are plenty of them that I have no interest in owning, even if they’re characters that I really like. Some of them are just really ugly. I know the idea is to go for the 70s & 80s Kenner Star Wars line aesthetic, but some of them just fail at even hitting that level of likeness to a character. It took me like a year of constantly considering and re-considering the ReAction TMNT figures before I got comfortable enough with their look to eventually give them a shot.
And, if I’m being 100% honest, I’d prefer if the figures had knee joints. My favorite time collecting toys was the 1990s 5-inch X-Men line by Toy Biz. My ideal action figure line would have 10 points of articulation: Shoulders, hips, knees, elbows, neck, and waist. Nobody is really making toys like that these days, outside of Mattel’s WWE Basics line (which are also 7″ figures, not 5″). And as much as I like pro wrestling, how many Triple H figures am I really gonna buy?
This didn’t really fit anywhere else in the above, but I feel it’s important to mention: I’m also not huge on paying secondary market prices for toys. I know a lot of folks are fine with it, including friends of mine, and that’s cool for them. But the more we feed the scalpers, the more they’re going to price gouge us. I think it’s 100% ridiculous that people can walk into Target or wherever, buy a toy for whatever price, drive home, and post it on eBay for quadruple what they paid for it, and people are willing to pay FOUR TIMES a figure’s retail cost. To me, that’s what hurts toy collecting the most.
Here’s the thing:
At the end of the day, we are, in fact, talking about adults buying toys. They are 100% a luxury item for people with disposable income. For the vast majority of people, buying these things past the age of, like, 10 years old is 100% unimportant to everyday life.
Besides, a good figure is a good figure, regardless of what line it’s from, or what scale it’s in, or whatever criteria you’re using. If it’s a toy that you want to own, and you can afford it, to ahead and buy it.
We should all be focusing on doing what we can to make the world better. And it’s okay if that includes bringing a little joy to your life with a plastic representation of a thing you like. So let’s all just buy the ones we want, and leave the ones we don’t for the next collector.
So no matter what you’re into, I wish you Happy Collecting!