Tomart which publishes the Action Figure Digest made the
greatest attempt to cover all of the action figure toy lines
since 1964 up to current day which at that time was the mid
No other publication has ever attempted to do so and with
Tomart’s fine reputation for brilliant photography anyone
thumbing through the pages of these volumes could see a
picture of just about every toy line made. It was like having
a catalog of action figures of over 30 years worth.
The books were broken up into three volumes and most
collectors purchased all three in order to see the
breathtaking items that have come out during that period. Tomart also added in their own price guide for each item.
If are serious about vintage toy lines, then these books
have to be in your collection.
The collecting hobby has never seen books like this since.
Here are the titles:
Tomarts Encyclopedia & Price Guide to Action Figure Collectibles, Vol. 1: A-Team Thru G.I.Joe
Tomarts Encyclopedia & Price Guide to Action Figure Collectibles, Vol. 2: G.I.Joe Thru Star Trek
Tomarts Encyclopedia & Price Guide to Action Figure Collectibles, Vol. 3: Star Wars-Zybots
Tomart produced a
follow up called Tomart's Encyclopedia of Action Figures The 1001 Most Popular Collectibles of All Time.
This book attempted to add some additional information to
what was not covered in their three volume encyclopedias
from the 90s. The book includes character information,
qualities, special features, packaging, where to buy and
much more, all with wonderful photography that Tomart is
Some authors decided to cover specific time periods and two
of the books available cover the 1980s and the 1960s.
Action Figures of the 1980s (A Schiffer Book for Collectors)
and Action Figures of the 1960s (A Schiffer Book for Collectors).
The 1980s book covers such lines from that era as GI Joe,
Star Wars, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Thunder
Cats and Transformers. It has a price guide listing next to
each figure for both packaged and unpackaged items.
The same author developed a book on the 1960s covering GI
Joe, Captain Action, Johnny West, Major Matt Mason, Johnny
Hero, and James Bond. Again it contains a price guide next
to each figure for both packaged and unpackaged items.
Both volumes contain various photographs on the toys from
Continuing to narrow down the focus to a specific theme,
some authors would write books about one of the most
impressive action figure toy lines ever made.
One of the foremost Star Wars collectors/experts developed a
book on Star Wars action figures back in the early 2000s.
Steve Sansweet who at one time in recent years worked as an
advisor for LucasFilm put together an amazing book called
Star Wars Action Figure Archive
which covered all of
the vintage figures from the 1970s to the mid 1980s and then
picked up on the re-launch of Star Wars figures in 1995 up
to that present year of the early 2000s.
This book was truly a first as it had photos of the actual
actors in costume from the films with the figures that were
made to portray them adjacent. Photos of the weapons
and accessories were
right next to each item with a detailed description on the
There were vehicles and playsets photos and information as
The same publisher
who produced the 1960s and 1980s books above made their
attempt on Star Wars toys as well. Collecting Star Wars Toys 1977-Present: An Unauthorized Practical Guide (A Schiffer Book for Collectors)
covered items from 1977 to
1997 including information and photographs on not only the
figures, but accessories, playsets, gaming equipment, model
kits, playthings, promotional items, puzzles and weapons.
A price listing was also detailed in the book.
Tomart ventured into covering Star Wars too.
Tomart's Price Guide to Worldwide Star Wars Collectibles, 2nd Edition
also went beyond Star Wars action figures with detailed
information on just about everything Star Wars ever
produced. As usual with their wonderful photography this
book would be a nice addition to your overall Star Wars
action figure collection.
The incredible world of DC Comics characters dating back to
1938 became a subject for a book focused on DC action
figures. The DC Comics Action Figure Archive
photo journal on action figure icons of pop culture like
Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman. If you’re a fan of DC
figures this book is worth having in your collection.
The world of GI Joe has had some impressive books
produced on both GI Joe figure scales - 12 inch and the
3-3/4 inch versions.
The first one to discuss was produced by one of the top
collectors of the 3-3/4 inch Joes providing in a magazine
like format a photo guide of all figures from 1982 up to the
mid to late 1990s. Collecting & Completing Your GI Joe Figures and Accessories
has clear photos of all figures
and accessories. If you want to have a visual guide to this
great line, then this is one reference material that you
cannot pass up on.
The 12 inch Joes has seen a few books produced by one of the
most well-known GI Joe collector. The Complete Encyclopedia to GI Joe (Complete Encyclopedia to G. I. Joe)
and GI Joe Official Identification & Price Guide: 1964-1999 (Collectibles)
are bibles on the 12 inch
versions containing in depth information on all of the Joes
and its accessories with a history on the creation. There
are interviews with the design teams from Hasbro in its
The Transformers book called Transformers Vault: The Complete Transformers Universe -
Showcasing Rare Collectibles and Memorabilia
is probably the first book
solely devoted to Transformers’ action figures and
collectibles. The manufacturer has provided the authors an
inside peak into their archives to uncover some of the well
guarded secrets on this amazing toy line.
The book also provides quite a bit of information on the
Transformers’ other forays - comics, television, movies and
gaming. If you are a collector of Transformers, then you
need to add this book to your collection.
One of the most favorite and highly sought-after action
figure toy lines ever made has an impressive book focused
strictly on them. Mego 8" Super-Heroes: World's Greatest Toys!
provides a chronological history on the company
that conceived and produced this incredible toy line with
detailed photos on each and every figure made.
The line contained characters from both DC and Marvel. You will not
find a more in-depth book on this line anywhere.
One of the memorable and collected action figure toy lines
produced came from the one-time largest toy company in the
world - Marx Toys. The Encyclopedia of Marx Action Figures: A Price & Identification Guide
insight and photos on 1960s and 1970s Marx figures
like Johnny West, Rat Patrol, Daniel Boone, Vikings, Knights
and Indians. If you’re a Marx collector, then this book is
a must have.
The 12 Inch Action Figures: World War Two (Action Figures and Toys)
focuses on 12 inch World War II figures. It
contains full color photographs on the various companies
that have produced figures in this scale and genre.
The customization of action figures is a big part of the
hobby. The book Pop Sculpture: How to Create Action Figures and Collectible Statues
is a good compliment to
this ever increasing segment. Learn how to build and modify
your own action figures from some of the top sculptors
in the industry as they take you through the concept phase
all the way to the final product.
There are so many other books on our great
hobby that you can find on various sites.
there are two long-running magazines where anyone wanting to
learn about action figures can pick up at any local comic
book store or national book store. They can be acquired via
their web sites and collectors can subscribe directly from
the publishers saving themselves time and effort from having
to go to these stores to pick up a copy.
Tomart’s Action Figure Digest started back in the late 1980s
and Lee’s Toy Review started at approximately the same time.
Action Figure Digest was distributed on almost a monthly
basis, but altered that schedule in 2011 to be available 9
times a year in order to reduce subscription costs and allow
their staff the opportunity to be provide more in depth
stories on vintage lines.
The magazine is one of the more impressive illustrated
periodicals on newsstands today for any subject matter. The
publisher has always tried to provide the best photographs
on all of the latest action figures as well as a sneak peak
on manufacturers’ future releases.
They cover and photograph past action figure toy lines
providing a detailed history on each. Creators of those
lines are often brought in to be interviewed for a feature
article and have presented a history on the making of a
given line. There are various articles on different topics
magazine gives us collectors an almost encyclopedia-like
photo journal on action figures.
This magazine is definitely worth picking up to keep you up
to date on the goings on in the hobby.
Lee’s Toy Review is available monthly. It has gone through
a couple of name changes over the years once calling
themselves Action Figure News and Toy Review and Lee’s
Action Figure News and Toy Review and Lee’s Guide to Action
Figure News and Toy Review.
The magazine has improved on its photographs from its
but the one thing that separates it from
Action Figure Digest is that it contains a price guide. The
source of their information is described from coming from
two major toy resellers and collectors from all over
averaging out confirmed sales data.
They also offer investment commentary providing readers
information on figures that are worth acquiring for future
The magazine started to include features and a price guide
on die-cast cars in addition to the action figure sections.
It may be little distracting initially for some, but after a
while you get used to it and some figure collectors have
ventured over to collecting cars as well.
Toy Review does not have as many photographic pages as
Action Figure Digest, but does have feature articles and
insight on upcoming and current products like its
If you want
the most current information on the hobby in a real-life
format, then these two are just the thing.
If you would like to acquire past issues of either magazine,
you can buy directly from the publishers’ web site. Most of
their past issues are available there especially Action
For the remaining issues that they do not have in stock then
Ebay or Amazon.com would probably be good options. I have seen
them offered at local comic book stores and comic and toy
Swap meets and some donation stores like Goodwill or
Salvation Army may be another source as well as the many
used book stores in your area.
Previously there was a third publication called
Fare. It too focused on the hobby and provided the latest
information. It had a combination of both magazines’
strengths with its own price guide section. It even
contained a regular comedic feature called Twisted Mego
Some of the
staff members would stage existing figures and customized
figures in comic book strip format entertaining readers with
hilarious scenes and dialogue that one has to experience.
Almost all of these skits were eventually collected into a
few trade paperbacks where one could read all of the stories
without having to go back and find past issues of Toy Fare.
Unfortunately the Toy Fare magazine ceased publication in
late 2010/early 2011.
Past issues are available at times on
Ebay and Amazon.com and at the
locations that I have listed above.