The Best Action Figures in 2023, Ranked & Reviewed
Action figures have come a long way. They started off as small and simple things — little toy soldiers without names or details. Then, generations of boys and girls were introduced to bigger and better figures, with established heroes like G.I. Joe and Batman. And the evolution simply continued from there.
Nowadays, figures are more diverse, detailed, and exciting than ever. Almost every franchise, from movies to comic books to video games, is represented in action figure form. Every iconic character has at least some sort of figure, and many people keep their love of figures going as they get older, displaying their favorite figures and seeking out new items for their collection.
But, with such a wide range of figures on the market, picking out the very best action figures can be a bit of a challenge. This guide is here to help. Below, we'll take a look at some of the coolest action figures you can buy. We'll also examine some of the best action figures of all time and look at the key factors that are needed to make truly awesome action figures.
Top Action Figures in 2023
There are countless high-quality action figures available to buy in 2023. Here's our full breakdown of some of the best franchises to aim for and specific toys to bring into your collection.
Best Batman Action Figures
Batman has seen so many action figure iterations over the years, with lots of different outfits and accessories for fans to collect.
The NECA 1989 Michael Keaton Batman is one of the best, with incredible, lifelike detail. The Play Arts Kai Justice League Batman is another beautiful figure, looking like it jumped right out of the pages of a comic book and into your collection.
Best Spider-Man Action Figures
Spider-Man is another superhero who has been a big part of the collector action figure world, with dozens of versions and variants of everyone's favorite web-slinging hero.
The Bandai No Way Home Spider-Man is a modern classic, taking inspiration from the movie of the same name. It has lots of points of articulation and comes with multiple accessories, including spider webs and alternate hands.
Best WWE Action Figures
Wrestling fans have a massive array of figures to choose from, dating back to the classic legends of the past, like Hulk Hogan, or the modern superstars, like Roman Reigns.
The Mattel Ultimate Edition Undertaker is one of the best for 2023. It's a perfect plastic recreation of one of the wrestling industry's biggest icons, with multiple faces, hands, and outfits.
Best Marvel Action Figures
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has dominated the movie world in recent years, introducing legions of new fans to heroes like Iron Man and Captain America.
There are lots of good Marvel figures out there, and the Bandai Avengers Captain America is one of the finest. It features a highly intricate, battle-damaged suit and shield combo, perfect for fans who want to recreate their favorite moments from the movies.
Best Superman Action Figures
As one of the most popular comic book heroes of all time, Superman has also had lots of cool action figure iterations over the decades. And there are still new Superman toys coming out all the time.
The Medicom Zack Snyder's Justice League Superman is a fantastic example. It looks just like the movie version of Superman, with a dark black outfit. Or, for those who prefer Supes in his distinctive red and blue costume, you might like to consider the Beast Kingdom Dynamic Superman instead.
Best Naruto Action Figures
As Japanese culture becomes increasingly popular all over the globe, we've also seen a surge in manga and anime figures, too. For example, series like "Dragon Ball Z" and "One Piece" have lots of figures. "Naruto" is another smash hit, with lots of popular characters immortalized in plastic.
The Anime Heroes Naruto and Sasuke double-pack is a great gift for fans of this franchise. It includes two of the series' key characters, both sporting their classic outfits, with wonderful, bright paintwork and plenty of poseability.
Best TMNT Action Figures
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or TMNT to fans, has been a popular figure franchise for several decades. Fans have had tons of fun collecting the turtles themselves and other assorted characters, like Splinter and Shredder.
The NECA Last Ronin Armored figure is one of the best to buy in 2023. Not only is it a fun take on the classic TMNT formula, but it also comes with a huge selection of accessories, letting fans dress up this figure however they like.
NECA's Last Ronin Unarmored variant is another option to consider. It's just like the armored one but shows off more of the turtle's distinctive green skin and famous "half shell." Like the armored option, it also comes with lots of interchangeable parts and accessories.
Best Dragon Ball Action Figures
"Dragon Ball," like "Naruto," is one of the biggest anime series on the planet. It also has tons of different characters. So, it's no surprise to see hundreds of "Dragon Ball" figures for fans to collect.
The Bandai Super Saiyan Blue Gogeta is a surefire hit with "Dragon Ball" fans. It almost radiates with Saiyan energy. Or, if you're more of a Goku fan, you might love Bandai's Super Saiyan Goku Version 2.
Best Transformers Action Figures
Transformer toys have been hugely popular ever since they were introduced in the mid-80s. They almost feel like two or three toys in one, as you can transform them into different forms by moving the pieces around.
The Hasbro Super Series Deluxe Arcee is a perfect example of what Transformers toys are all about, with tons of detail and complete transformation from robot mode to motorcycle mode. The Studio Series Optimus Prime is also a popular choice and can be turned into a truck.
Best Venom Action Figures
Thanks to the popularity of the "Venom" movies, this anti-hero/villain has also gained lots of new fans, and many are eager to pick up a Venom figure or two to add to their collections.
The Hasbro Retro Collection Venom is a great choice for hardcore comic fans. It's a pure and simple figure, copying Venom's distinctive design from classic comics of the past. Hasbro's Marvel Legends Venom is another terrific option, looking more like the modern-day iteration of Venom, with a creepier design and super long tongue.
Best Action Figures of All Time
When it comes to the greatest all-time action figures, G.I. Joe typically tops the list. Introduced way back in the 1960s, G.I. Joe essentially introduced the concept of the action figure. And, as the years went by, lots of variations on the classic G.I. Joe formula were released, with outfits, accessories, and an entire backstory, building up the biggest action figure line in history.
"Star Wars" figures also rank among the greatest action figure lines, especially the classics, like Chewbacca and Darth Vader. Then, there are the quirky figures, like Stretch Armstrong — released in the '90s, Stretch differed from typical articulated action figures, letting kids stretch his arms and legs as far as they could and even tie them in knots.
Other classic lines that always appeal to action figure collectors include Transformers, Batman, Marvel, and WWE figures. Lots of kids were amazed by the possibility of transforming toys that could change into different forms, and many action figure aficionados have had fun building out their comic book or wrestling figure collections across the decades.
The Rise of Action Figures
Arguably, the history of action figures goes back several centuries, with military-style toys and tin soldiers produced many, many years ago in places like Egypt, Germany, and the U.K. But it wasn't until the 1960s, with Hasbro's introduction of G.I. Joe, that the modern-day definition of "action figure" was truly born.
While old toy soldiers couldn't be moved or posed in any way, G.I. Joe gave us the concept of articulation. These toys could be moved around, letting kids live out imaginative battles and missions. They rapidly proved popular, and it didn't take long for other companies around the world to begin copying Hasbro's formula.
The '70s was a particularly exciting decade for action figure evolution. This is when the very first superhero figures were released, and the massive success of the "Star Wars" movies proved that demand was also high for figures based on major motion pictures, too. In no time, children and grown-ups alike were building up their own action figure collection.
In the '80s and '90s, action figure manufacturing ramped up even further. Lots of new franchises hit the scene, like He-Man, Thundercats, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And, in the decades since then, stronger plastics and innovative manufacturing techniques have made today's figures even more detailed, articulated, and durable.
What Makes an Action Figure "The Best"?
Not all figures are made equal. There are lots of bad figures out there, and it takes a lot of care and quality to make a truly great figure. Here are some of the key features that separate the best figurines from the rest.
Craftsmanship and Detail
The best action figures to collect are really well-made, with a high degree of detail and craftsmanship. These figures simply look more engaging and exciting than the rest, and a lot of care and attention is put into their paintwork, coloring, and design.
Many of the rarest and most highly prized figures are also limited editions. As opposed to their mass-produced counterparts, limited edition figures are only made in specific quantities, giving them additional value. Such figures usually have extra special designs and may come with unique accessories.
Material and Durability
Of course, good action figures also need to last. They were originally designed to be played with, picked up, dropped, bashed into things, and so on. So they have to be pretty tough. Various plastics have been used over the years, and hard, resistant plastics tend to be the best and longest-lasting.
In addition, more recently, there has been a push towards more eco-friendly materials and production techniques. While an '80s figure may be made from materials that aren't exactly kind to the planet, more modern models tend to use more sustainable plastics instead.
Articulation and Poseability
The most popular action figures also tend to be quite poseable, with multiple points of articulation. This allows owners to move the arms, legs, and other pieces into various positions. It's particularly important for people who want to play with their toys, but those who display them also appreciate articulation, too.
Embark on the Action Odyssey: Begin Your Collection!
With so many great action figures to collect, there's no time to waste! Whether you're a "Star Wars" fan, a Transformers addict, or a comic book nerd, check out the massive collection of toys at ToyShnip and find your new favorites today.
What is the best action figure ever?
It all depends on opinions, but many people have a particular fondness for the likes of G.I. Joe and Batman toys. These figures have stood the test of time, proving popular with multiple generations of children and adults alike.
What is the most popular action figure brand?
There are many great action figure brands to choose from. Hasbro and Mattel often compete for the title of best action figure brand in the US. But McFarlane Toys and Bandai are also very popular. And NECA is known for making detailed, high-end action figures.
What action figures should I collect?
It all depends on your tastes and preferences. If you love "Star Wars," for example, you might like to build a "Star Wars" collection or invest in a whole range of movie figures. If you don't know where to start, begin with the classics and then move on to more limited editions and niche collectibles.