Early action figures depicted popular television western heroes from the 1950s and were produced by Hartland. Louis Marx also included action figures in several of its playsets from the late 1950s.
Hassenfield Bros. triggered the modern action figure craze with its introduction of G.I. Joe in 1964. The following year Gilbert produced James Bond 007, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Honey West figures. Bonanza and Captain Action figures arrived in 1966.
In 1972 Mego introduced the first six superheroes in a series of 34. Mego also established the link between action figures and the movies with its issue of Planet of the Apes and Star Trek: The Motion Picture figures.
The success of the Star Wars figures set introduced by Kenner in 1977 prompted other toy companies to follow suit, resulting in a flooded market.
References: John Bonavita, “Mego Action Figure Toys With Values,” Schiffer Publishing, 1996; Tom Heaton, “The Encyclopedia of Marx Action Figures,” Krause Publications, 1999; John Marshall, “Action Figures of the 1960s,” Schiffer Publishing, 1998; John Marshall, “Action Figures of the 1980s,” Schiffer Publishing, 1998; Stuart W. Wells III and Jim Main, “The Official Price Guide to Action Figures,” Second Edition,House of Collectibles, 1999.
— Harry L. Rinker
“Official Price Guide to Collectibles”