I’ve been collecting action figures as an adult for nearly twenty years. As a child, my scale of choice was 1/18–more popularly known as 3 3/4 inch. Prominent examples of this scale are the original Star Wars toys made by Kenner in the late 70’s to early 80’s followed shortly thereafter by Hasbro & their iconic GI Joe: A Real American Hero line. Collectors frequently refer to this line as the “small joes” to distinguish them from the original classic 12-inch GI Joe that debuted in the 60’s. As an adult, I began with what I played with as a child but eventually grew to desire more realistic & posable action figure which brought me up the 12-inch figure, also known as 1/6th scale. The idea being that the ideal action height for a normal human is 6 feet tall so that a 1/6th scale toy version of such a human such stand about 1/6th that height–meaning one foot, or twelve inches.
For Christmas 2021, one of my brothers bought me two GI Joe figures for the newer 1/12th scale line. I had known about this scale since around 2010 when Marvel Legends figures would fill the pegs when I went on a hunt for the more traditional smaller GI Joes. I never bothered picking up a 1/12 figure but had been intrigued with the recent decision Hasbro had made to introduce GI Joe into that scale. I had decided that I have enough to waste my money on so I had avoided them; but now that my brother had handed me two such figures at no cost, I was intrigued. The debate began; 1/6 scale figures no longer had a major retail presence & they took up enough space to boot. I knew I’d have to give up collecting for a while or perhaps adopt a smaller scale moving forward. Would 1/12 the the answer?
Regardless of scale, the focus of toy collection at any age has always been action & adventure. While I realize that some people may find this insensitive to say, but that focus frequently meant military themed figures like GI Joe; or at least, warrior-themed ones like He-Man & the Masters of the Universe. I had never been a huge fan of wrestling figures a la WWE because I didn’t see much potential for them outside the ring. The big draw of toy collecting, even as a kid, was inventing numerous scenarios that brought your favorite heroes until dangerous situation; situations that frequently could only be resolved through violent conflict. Wrestling, though combat oriented, was still a sport to me. I wanted my heroes in extreme harm’s way playing higher stakes than just championship belts.
GI Joe Classified, the 1/12 scale Hasbro figures that my brother’s Christmas gift were a part of, had been my intended target for future toy collecting. The problem is, they are rarely available on shelves. After a three month break from toy hunting, I decided it was time to try my luck at my nearest Target store. I just had a feeling I would find what I was looking for. Interestingly enough, there was one GI Joe character available on the pegs that I had been interested in. But the prospect of owning this figure didn’t “wow” me. I decided to look at Masters of the Universe just to see if they distribution would be much improved over GI Joe Classified but I had pre-determined not to buy anything. Next to the Masters I saw a slew of WWE Elite Legends figures, which I normally do. I thought I may as well take a look at this collection since they were at least commonly available. My glance came upon a normal looking male wrestler in a T-shirt & camo pants & that light bulb in my head went off.
I could see possibilities in this particular figure as we wasn’t sculpted exclusively in his wrestling wear. Plain camo pants would work with my military themed plots in my imaginary adventures & fan-faction pieces. Plus, the presence of genuine cloth gear (soft goods) in lieu of clothing sculpted onto the figure intrigued me. I liked the big joes because you could use your same handful of figures & gear them up for different environments & dioramas. To accomplish this same thing with smaller figures which often had their clothes sculpted onto them often required buying numerous version of the same character in different gear. I grabbed the package, based on a character named Road Dogg, tor a closer inspection. This figure looked bigger than the GI Joe Classified but still fairly close to 1/12 scale. Well, long story short, I took the figure home & after removing him from the package–the debate was settled. I would be collecting WWE Elite Figures in conjunction with the occasional GI Joe Classified figure when a character of interest was available. The went to Target looking for a particular solution in mind. I didn’t find it; but found an even better solution. It just wasn’t the one I had expected to find.
Military & adventure will always be the foundation of my toy collection for as long as I continue to do it. However, my discovery of Elite Legends allows me to execute this same ideas through different molds. I no longer have to limit myself to GI Joe, Ultimate Soldier, or similarly themed toy lines. Moving forward, I plan to cut my current 1/6 scale figures in half & suspend purchasing anything outside of 1/12 scale for a while.
It’s not that I’m giving up on GI Joe–it’s more that I’m no longer limiting myself to them. That line will always have a special place for me because of how much it played a role in my childhood, spending time with my friends & cousins & brothers happily living out one adventure after another. But right now, I’ve found something better out there–something that bridges that gap between my beloved small & big joes. Truth be told, it’s really as sure a thing as a body slam! WWE Elite Legends are the definitive mass retail 1/12 action figure line–for now at least.
So that’s what I’m going with–for now at least.