35+ Action Figure Terms

Action figures are fun and expansive. From Star Wars to Marvel, there’s a whole world of cool characters waiting for you to explore! But before you can get started, it’s important that you know about the key terms so that you don’t feel like an outsider in your own hobby. In this article we’ll go over some essential action figure terminology so that if someone says “I’m going to form a team” or “This is my favorite fig,” then you will know what they’re talking about!

  • 2-up: A figure that is two times the size of a single action figure.
  • Action Figures: Toys which represent characters from comics, movies, TV shows etc.
  • Accessories: Items which come with an action figure like weapons, clothes or vehicles. This might also refer to additional items designed for use with figures (e.g., weapons racks).
  • Army Builder: A term used when someone collects enough different characters from one faction so they can play with them as a team.
  • Articulation: The amount of movement that an action figure has in its joints, such as the ability to rotate at their hips and shoulders or move their elbows outwards.
  • Ball joint: A type of articulation where two balls are connected by a rod on both sides so they can freely rotate around each other.
  • Ball-and-socket joint: Similar to ball joints but instead allows for 360 degree rotation over numerous axes (e.g., swivel).
  • Bio: Short for “biography” which is usually written on cards accompanying figures inside packages. These provide information about the characters before you open up the package containing it’s toy representation! Often found next to proof-of-purchase stickers.
  • Blister: A plastic or cardboard container which holds a figure inside and is taped to the outside of it’s package for protection during shipping (e.g., when someone says “I got this blister”).
  • Buck: A base for many different characters.
  • Build-a-Figure (BAF): Figures sold in multiple parts so buyers have to assemble them themselves as well as purchase each individual part before they’re complete.
  • Card: A cardboard sheet with information about the character or figure that it accompanies (e.g., “The Amazing Spider-Man” card).
  • Casepack: Refers to an assortment of action figures from one particular faction all packaged together within a single case so they’re easier to buy as gifts or keep organized in your collection. Sometimes also called Case because this is what they look like when opened.
  • Case: A box that contains a set quantity of figures and/or accessories.
  • Collect & Connect: Figures sold in multiple parts so buyers have to assemble them themselves as well as purchase each individual part before they’re complete, also known by other names like Build-a-Figure (BAF).
  • Combiner: Any single action figure or accessory that fits with others to create a larger one. Optimus transforms into a robot character typically through the combination with five or six other Transformers.
  • Customizer: Someone who alters action figures by swapping out their parts, either using new pieces from other toys and models kits for this purpose or by cutting up existing ones in order to make something different than what they started with. Customizers can also add paint jobs on top of these figure mods as well! This is called customizing because you’re making them into your ultimate version of an action figure.
  • Cut Joint: The type of articulation where the arms or legs are attached to an action figure’s body by a hard plastic resin which can be cut with scissors or pliers.
  • Dry Brush: A technique used for painting figures that involves using very dry paint so it doesn’t drip and create large puddles on your model, usually seen when you want to do subtle weathering effects like dirt stains on clothes and skin areas.
  • Fiddler: A person who opens and plays with all his or her action figures. They don’t keep them in the package.
  • Flocking: A technique used primarily in toy manufacturing which involves covering surfaces with tiny pieces of plastic or paper so they resemble fur.
  • Hinged Joint: The type of articulation where the arms and legs are attached to an action figure’s body by a flexible wire which allows them to move in all directions.
  • Figures: An abbreviation for “Action Figures.” For example, you might say “I really like this figure” when referring to an action figure in general.
  • Kibble: Pieces that make up parts of Transformers toys, often referred to as “greeblies” because they’re made out of small pieces cut into geometric shapes like squares, triangles, rectangles etc. They’re very similar in nature to LEGO bricks and K’Nex pieces – these terms refer specifically to those brands rather than the generic term.
  • Mint-on-Card (MOC): An action figure that has never been removed from its original packaging and is in brand new condition; also known as Mint-in Package or MIP for short! It’s important to note that MOC doesn’t relate to whether an item is still sealed up tight with protective plastic wrap on it – this only means they’re unopened, so if you want a guarantee of quality then keep your fingers crossed when buying one because there are no guarantees once someone starts playing around with it.
  • Mint-In-Package (MIP): Exactly what it sounds like: Brand New Action Figures in their packaging which have not yet been opened by anyone else before them. These are also sometimes referred to as Mint-in Package or MOC for short!
  • Pegwarmer: A figure that was produced in higher quantities than the demand and is most often sold at a discounted price. This term typically applies to figures from toy lines like Masters of the Universe when they were still being made – these types of dolls are usually more expensive now because there’s not much chance you’ll be able to find them on store shelves anymore.
  • Prototype: Action Figures which have been created by testing out new products before mass production begins; this means their design may change, but it will never get any better since they’re never meant for public consumption. They can come with additional accessories such as weapons, clothing, hair pieces etc.
  • Repaint: An action figure which has had a new color or scheme applied to it that is different from the original one. For example, if you wanted your Iron Man toy to be white instead of red,.
  • Retool: The process where an old model is completely redesigned with new parts – this means they’ll have similar proportions and will maintain many features like articulation points but can also look quite different than their former selves! This term only applies when there are significant changes in design such as appearances. A repaint typically does not qualify for being called retooling; however, sometimes the words “repaint” and “retool” are used interchangeably by retailers because it’s easier just to say “it’s been repainted” rather than “it’s been retooled”.
  • Shortpacking: The process of creating a toy which features many accessories included, but in the interest of saving space and money only includes them with one out of every five or ten figures. This means that on average you’ll get this accessory about once for each set that is purchased unless they’re mixed up together at random!
  • Swivel Joint: A type of articulation where an action figure can move their joints backwards and forwards as well as side to side; also known as ball-and-socket joint. They’re not just restricted to making movements back and forth like elbow or knee joints – these types are used all over the body so think hips, shoulders etc. It’s often referred to as “swivel” rather than ball-and-socket because it’s difficult to say the full term when you’re out and about.
  • Mushroom Joint: A type of articulation that is restricted to just up/down movement, like a doll’s head – also known as pivot or swivel joint. This one differs from a normal elbow or knee in that it only rotates around on its axis, so they don’t have any ability to move backwards and forwards if there are no joints built into them!
  • Test Shot: Action Figures which were never meant for public consumption but instead made as test runs; these will be prototypes with some minor differences such as colors or paint designs etc. They might also come with additional accessories to make up for the lack of them in production.
  • Variant: A term you may see on a toy’s packaging that means it has different, more limited availability than its original release; this is why they’re often referred to as “variants” rather than repaints or retools where there are significant changes made. For example, if two figures only came out at one store instead of having several distribution sources like other stores and online retailers – these would be variants because their numbers were low from the outset.
  • Variation: It might sound similar but this type refers specifically to when an accessory comes in different colors/designs within the same line; for example, if a set of action figures had one figure with a red shield and one with a blue shield, these would be two variations of the same accessory.
  • Wash: A term used specifically in reference to when an action figure has been given some kind of paint application which creates a more weathered or aged appearance; this is often done on figures that are coming out for Halloween as it’s meant to make them look spooky!
  • Wave: In toy collecting terms, “wave” usually refers to all the products from one series within the company – so think about any time you see say Wolverine Toys in X-Men Toyline Packaging (Series); these will always come together as if they were waves crashing on shore! The other way people describe waves is by their release date, so a wave may be “wave one”, “wave two” or even something like “Halloween 2018 Wave”.

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