In the 1970s, there were a lot of things going on in the world. The United States was in a war with Vietnam, the president was caught up in a scandal, and the Beatles were no more.
This decade was also known for a change in the toys hitting shelves. Action Figures were gaining popularity and the events going on were important in forming the industry in the 70s.
In terms of toys, what started in the 70s laid the groundwork for the “plastic man doll” boom of the 80s. Depending on whom you ask, you will get different answers to which decade for these best action figures.
You may agree or disagree with the selection. This is a personal opinion and opinions vary, and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. I am listing my personal favorites and am not considering prices at all.
Table of Contents
Here are the best action figures from the 70s!
Evel Knievel by Ideal Toys
If you have seen “Storage Wars” then you may have seen this toy. Even if you weren’t around during the 1970s, you probably know the name, Evel Knievel.
Evel Knievel is an American classic, remembered for his red, white, blue costume, motorcycle, and high-risk stunts.
With Evel Knievel being so popular, there were going to be toys based on him sooner or later. Not only was there a toy of Evel Knievel on his bicycle but there were a couple of other vehicles which you could have Evel Knievel jump over to re-enact his coolest stunts.
Shogun Warriors by Mattel
The 1970s saw a big increase in different kinds of robot action figures. Numerous toy companies wanted to bring in merchandise from a licensed toy company in Japan. Mattel did that and sold the huge action figures known as Shogun Warriors.
These action figures that looked like robots came in different sizes but the most popular were the robots that were two feet tall.
The smaller robots that were about four inches tall could transform into something else and was years before Transformers would make an appearance.
These action figures could shoot projectiles or remove body parts due to springs under the specific parts.
AHI Monsters by Azrak Hamway International
Have you ever found yourself browsing the toy aisle of your local dollar store? In the ’70s AHI was a company that made those kinds of toys. AHI became the rightful owner of the license for Universal Monsters when the former owner Mego didn’t want to continue paying the licensing fees.
These action figures were only made by AHI from 1974 to 1976. In that short amount of time, the action figures would change the look multiple times.
This is good news for collectors, giving them many more action figures and variations to collect today.
Lincoln International Monsters
This was another toy company that was making toys you could find in the dollar store. Although Lincoln didn’t own the licenses, it did not stop them. They went on to make several versions of these toys that children of the 70s will remember and love.
The Six Million Dollar Man by Kenner
The Six Million Dollar Man action figure required a lot of work to make so different characteristics would be available with this action figure. The bionic grip, fake skin, and rearrangeable face plates just to name a few.
I remember having a few of these I played with when I was a kid and had no idea who the Six Million Dollar Man was. But they were still awesome. What kid wouldn’t like an action figure whose face comes off to reveal a robot or a bionic eye that allows you to look through his head and see the world as him?
People who loved the Six Million Dollar Man series may remember when Steve Austin met Bigfoot and there was even an action figure made for that. Creating the Bigfoot action help Kenner in the future, the first large Chubacca action figure was originally a reworked Bigfoot.
G.I Joe Adventure Team by Hasbro
The first G.I. Joe characters came out in the 1960s and they were successful. For that reason is why Hasbro wanted to make more G.I Joe action figures.
The next release was the Adventure team series which included new characters, outfits, and all kinds of vehicles.
There were different adventure sets you could choose from as well. Whether it was treasure hunts or helicopter rescues, the vehicles and outfits you would get would match the adventure set you chose.
These sets are why G.I. Joe is still well known today.
Micronauts by Mego
Micronauts had such a different look from other character lines that these microscopic heroes could not be mistaken for anything else. All these years later and people still recognize these action figures instantly when they are spotted in the wild.
The company that made Micronauts had the opportunity to make Star Wars action figures. However, that opportunity was turned down to make Micronauts instead. Unfortunately, as awesome as they were, Micronauts was not what most people would call a success.
Everybody knows how successful Star Wars action figures would become. But in terms of Micronauts, their biggest achievement was Marvel comics making a comic book for the line.
Adventure People by Fisher-Price
Unless you were a young child during the 70s then you might not have cared about Adventure People. Just because this line of toys appealed to younger kids doesn’t mean it was less influential than other toys of the time.
So what was the lasting effect of Adventure People? These figures would be altered to make the first Star Wars action figures. That means if it hadn’t been for Adventure People, there might have never been any Star Wars action figures.
Mego’s 8 Inch Action Figures of Superheroes, Monsters, and Star Trek
The toys that bought Mego the most success was their eight inches tall action figure line. The first eight-inch action figures were Marvel Superheroes. While the figures were simple, they included real cloth clothing, so you could dress them as girls did with their dolls.
Superman, Batman, and Spiderman sold well, Mego made more sets including, Star Trek, and Monsters.
The Mego style became so successful that the standard was used for many action figures throughout the 1970s.
While Mego has had its ups and downs, they are still going strong today selling many lines based on popular shows and movies.
Star Wars by Kenner
If you wanted to talk about a hit, the Star Wars action figures made by Kenner are a good example. It was very hard to find these action figures after they were released because they never stayed on store shelves for long.
These action figures caused excitement for the Star Wars movie and the movie caused excitement for the action figures.
The impact that the Kenner Star Wars figures had after their launch was a wake-up call to toy manufacturers. Not of how big their market was but how big they could make it
If you find original Kenner figures now, they may cost a lot of money but it is worth it, after all, they are the best action figures from the 70s.