History of Action Figure Toy Variant Comic Covers

2015 marks the year that a new craze in variant covers has become the norm. Marvel has had a massive surprise hit on their hands doing a line of action figure variant covers running through their Star Wars titles this year. However they didn’t create the format ! Let’s take a look at a history of “action figure” covers.

The indie comic Scud The Disposable Assassin had the first action figure cover back in 1995 on issue #9

Scud9

In 1998 Batman Gotham Adventures #3 featured a cool action figure style gimmick cover.

BatmanGothamAdventures3

In 2006 a small indie publisher released possibly the first cover made to look believably real with bubble.

ACTION FIGURE JOURNALS OF RICHARD MARZELAK #1 – BABOON BOOKS by Richard Marzelak (January 2006)
In the year 2053, a young couple, shopping at an estate sale, discover a box filled with personal journals detailing the life of an artist who flourished in the early part of the 21st century. They begin reading one of the volumes which covers his days at “Hasmark,” the world’s largest toy and greating card company.

ActionFigureJournals1

It is believed there might be a Baltimore Comic Con variant cover of Hellshock from Jae Lee at Image that had action figure variant cover but I have not located it.

Early 2013 saw the release of the He-Man and the Masters Of The Universe #1 variant cover.  This is quite rare!
HeManMasters1ActionFigure

In October 2013 DC released 4 photo toy action figure variant covers for Injustice Gods Among Us
Issues #10 11 12 and Year 2 #2.

INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US #10 VAR ED – DC COMICS
(W) Tom Taylor (A) Jheremy Raapack & Various (CA) Photo
Hoping to stop Batman’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering, Superman has decided to take him out of the game. He’s going to go worldwide with the news that the Caped Crusader is really Bruce Wayne. But at the last minute, Batman plays his one remaining ace. He’s about to turn off the lights on the JLA’s satellite headquarters.

InjusticeGodsAmongUs101112Variants

The comic that really started the new trend was Spread in August 2014

SPREAD #1 2ND PTG (MR) – IMAGE COMICS (W) Justin Jordan (A/CA) Kyle Strahm
Ten years ago, we dug too deep. We unleashed something ancient that couldn’t be controlled. Something that couldn’t be stopped, twisting everything it touched into more of itself. The Spread. Humanity was nearly destroyed before we found a way to slow the Spread to a crawl. Now, deep inside the quarantined zone, one man has found the key to stopping it forever: a baby girl. And if he can save her, he might save the world.

Spread12nd

In October 2014 Marvel released possibly their first real action figure cover in their month of Hasbro toy variant covers.
AVENGERS #36 HASBRO VAR TRO – MARVEL COMICS (W) Jonathan Hickman (A) Stefano Caselli (CA) TBD
IN 7 MONTHS TIME RUNS OUT! Rated T+
Avengers36Hasbro

January 2015 saw Marvel release their first Star Wars comics in 29 years. Each new issue comes out with many variant covers including a regular running Action Figure figure paying tribute to the original Kenner action figures of the 1970s.

STAR WARS #1 CHRISTOPHER ACTION FIGURE VAR – MARVEL COMICS
(W) Jason Aaron (A) John Cassaday (CA) John Tyler Christopher
THE GREATEST SPACE ADVENTURE OF ALL TIME RETURNS TO MARVEL!

StarWarsActionFigureSet5

So far 7 action figure variants are announced for
Star Wars #1 2 3 4 5
Darth Vader #1
Princess Leia #1

The new fad will officially take over in May 2015 when Marvel is adding NINE more action figure variants !!
UNCANNY X-MEN #600 CHRISTOPHER ACTION FIGURE C VAR MARVEL COMICS $5.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #600 CHRISTOPHER ACTION FIGURE B VAR MARVEL COMICS $5.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #600 CHRISTOPHER ACTION FIGURE A VAR MARVEL COMICS $5.99
DEADPOOLS SECRET SECRET WARS #1 (OF 4) ACTION FIGURE VAR SWA MARVEL $4.99
SECRET WARS JOURNAL #1 (OF 5) ACTION FIGURE VAR SWA MARVEL COMICS $3.99
SECRET WARS BATTLEWORLD #1 (OF 4) ACTION FIGURE SWA MARVEL COMICS $3.99
ULTIMATE END #1 (OF 5) CHRISTOPHER ACTION FIGURE VAR SWA MARVEL COMICS $3.99
SECRET WARS #2 (OF 8) CHRISTOPHER ACTION FIGURE VAR MARVEL COMICS $4.99
SECRET WARS #1 (OF 8) CHRISTOPHER ACTION FIGURE VAR MARVEL COMICS $4.99

DeadpoolSecretWars1ActionFigure

Since these have been popular almost since day 1 they will always be sought out by collectors. They are fun! But we are likely going to get bombarded with these in the future. It will be interesting to see if retailers keep selling out or if they learn to order more as Diamond never has any leftover after retailers make their initial orders.

Its only time before collectors start to collect sets of these and realize they are variants therefore print runs are much smaller than regular covers.

Article by comic book historian Terry Hoknes of www.HoknesComics.com – hoknes@hotmail.com
www.HoknesComics.com – carries all these new comics and all new products in stock and does special orders!!
Weekly article by Terry Hoknes, comic book historian, writer of the Investing In Comic Book series (gold,silver,bronze) and also Canada’s leading comic book retailer focusing on hot sold out comic books and small publishers at www.HoknesComics.com
Contact Terry at hoknes@hotmail.com

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