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Holiday Gift Guide: RPG Action Figures Part 1: Scale, POA, Cyberpunk, and Warhammer

With the holiday season upon us, lets talk about the recent and upcoming waves of RPG action figures available as holiday gifts and beyond. For the first part of this two part series, I’ll talk about aspects of an action figure as well as what’s available for two tabletop properties: Cyberpunk 2077 and Warhammer 40,000.

Since 2019, several RPG action figure lines have launched or are about to arrive in stores. These toys focus on a few popular intellectual properties like Dungeons & Dragons, The Legend of Vox Machina, Cyberpunk 2077, and Warhammer 40,000. For the first part of this two part series, I’ll talk about aspects of an action figure as well as what’s available for two tabletop properties: Cyberpunk 2077 and Warhammer 40,000.

What Makes a Toy an Action Figure?​

As tabletop roleplayers, we live in an amazing time. RPGs are celebrated in mainstream media, streamers have dedicated audiences, a Dungeons & Dragons movie is leading the way for many more RPG movies and TV series coming from Hollywood, the number of RPG based video games is at a new high, comics based on Vampire: The Masquerade, Deadlands, and Cyberpunk are available in comic book stores, and getting into games has never been easier with online options across a variety of platforms as well as offerings at your friendly local game stores (FLGS). To compliment the pop culture explosion of tabletop roleplaying games, there are a variety of accessories from clothes to jewelry to posters and even action figures based on Dungeons & Dragons, Cyberpunk, and more. With the holiday season upon us, lets talk about the recent and upcoming waves of RPG action figures available as holiday gifts and beyond.

As a gift giving guide, I want to spend a few paragraphs breaking down what counts as an action figure. Action figures aren’t statues or miniatures, they’re toys that inspire play in the young and the young at heart. The division from statues or miniatures comes from an action figure’s size (scale), articulation, and the materials they’re molded from. If you’re using this as a gift guide, knowing your giftee’s preference on scale and POAs may make the difference between a beloved figure versus a returned-for-store-credit gift. If you’re a non-figure collector, let’s breakdown the physical points of collecting so the playing field is level.
  • Scale: The different sizes of action figures are categorized in scales, but what does that mean? This number represents the reduction in size from a typical human down to an action figure representation. For instance, a 1:12 scale is one-twelfth average human height, which converts twelve inches of full size human or animal to an action figure height of one inch. An individual that is six feet tall would be six inches tall as an action figure using the 1:12 scale. Other common scales are 1:6 (one foot tall action figures) and 1:18 (four inch figures). Most of McFarlane Toys’ figures are seven inches or so tall making them roughly 1:10 scale. If you’re an action figure collector, scale matters as many collectors (though not all) specialize in only one scale, likely 1:12 or 1:18. While some collectors buy a variety of scales, many choose a specific scale and focus only on that because the figures from multiple properties display together like they’re the same size. In this article, I don’t list the scale of every figure, but most of the modern offerings (2010s and beyond) are going to be 1:12 for Hasbro and 1:10 for McFarlane Toys.
  • Points of Articulation: Articulation is another important aspect of action figures. Points of articulation (POA) refers to the rotational joints connecting limbs and how of those points can be adjusted to create realistic poses. For reference, 1970s and 1980s Star Wars figures have five POA (points of articulation). Most modern figures tend towards fourteen to over thirty POAs. If you’re gifting an action figure to a friend, check out their existing figure collection to determine their scale and POA preference. It’s a small matter, but it helps to identify their interests.
  • Property: Your giftee isn’t going to like all action figures, they’re going to like certain properties. As a fan of properties such as He-Man or Transformers, which started out as toylines, collecting those figures is an obvious component of action figure fandom. For RPG based figures, it might not be a gamer’s first instinct to collect D&D figures. Make sure that the individual you’re buying for is a fan of that property and those toys before stocking up.

What Came Before & What's Available Now?​

The number of action figures based on RPGs has been growing since 2019. Prior to that point, there were only a few lines that were tied into tabletop gaming. LJN line of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons figures from the 1980s that coincided with the D&D cartoon, a three figure Vampire: The Masquerade line from Diamond Select in 2002, the Shadowrun Duels figures and game from Heroclix and Play B Toys in 2003, Pathfinder Minimates from Diamond Select in the mid-2010s, and Funko’s Magic: The Gathering Legacy Collection figures from 2014. Not a huge selection for 30 years worth of toys.

Today, that’s changing.
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Cyberpunk 2077 from McFarlane Toys​

Among the new waves of RPG action figures, let’s look at one line that arrived with the best of intentions but outside factors shuddered it (for now): McFarlane Toys’ Cyberpunk 2077 figures. Based on the video game by CD PROJEKT RED, which is inspired by R Talsorian Games’ Cyberpunk RPGs, these toys came from the video game, not the tabletop RPG but that’s being fixed retroactively. The Cyberpunk 2077 figures dropped when the video game released. However, due to the initial pushback against the video games’ bugs, this line only resulted in four figures. If it’d been popular, we might have Cyberpunk: Edgerunner figures now.

Through the four figures we got, you can see Mike Pondsmith’s iconic Cyberpunk character, Johnny Silverhand, modeled on Keanu Reeves. With the announcement that R Talsorian is adapting 2077 to tabletop, these video game action figures are retconned into RPG action figures.

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Warhammer 40,000 from McFarlane Toys​

Let’s talk about the most successful tabletop to action figure line to-date: McFarlane Toys’ Warhammer 40,000 figures. Sure, Warhammer 40,000 is a miniatures wargame, but Cubicle 7 has a successful RPG line in the Wrath & Glory series. Regardless of wargames or RPG debate, Warhammer 40,000 is tabletop, and its figures are available in Walmart, Target, Amazon, and more. Produced as fully painted 1:10 scale figures or primer gray colored “Artist Proof” variants in case you like the unpainted look or want to paint the figure yourself, McFarlane Toys’ versions of these figures are a mass market line with many different types of figures from space marines to guards to orks to flayed ones and genestealers.

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Warhammer 40,000 from Bandai​

Competing with McFarlane Toys’ Warhammer 40,000 line is Bandai’s version. Bandai produces figures that are nearly the same scale as McFarlane’s, but have their own aesthetic. Like McFarlane Toys, the Bandai offerings are beautifully done. That said, there is a notable price difference between the two lines, with Bandai’s closest in cost to the third toy company making Warhammer 40,000 figures.

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Warhammer 40,000 from JoyToy​

The third company making Warhammer 40,000 action figures is JoyToy. If you’d like a smaller scale for your Warhammer 40,000 figures, JoyToy offers a large catalog of 1:18 scale. Not only do they have an impressive number of figures, JoyToy also offers something the others have not: vehicles and mounts. If you’re going full Warhammer 40,000, you need vehicles, which are easier to create and sell at JoyToy’s smaller scale.

Next Time...​

In the final part of this gift guide, I look at all of the current and upcoming Dungeons & Dragons figures as well as The Legend of Vox Machina’s lines. Be sure to check it out if you’re looking for the right gift this holiday season!

Egg Embry participates in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, Noble Knight Games’ Affiliate Program, and is an Amazon Associate. These programs provide advertising fees by linking to DriveThruRPG, Noble Knight Games, and Amazon.

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Egg Embry

Egg Embry

Dire Bare

A friend of mine purchased a few of the Joytoy 40K figures and they are impressive. We are hoping to play a 1/18 scale Kill Team game in the near future!
At this point you could probably do a four-way skirmish between the Space Marines, Traitor Guard, Chaos Marines, and Necrons! It feels like they are working their way through the entire product line in action figure form!

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