An action figure is a poseable character doll made most commonly of plastic and often based upon characters from a film, comic book, military, video game or television program; fictional or historical. These figures are usually marketed toward boys and adult collectors. The term was coined by Hasbro in 1964 to market G.I. Joe to boys (while competitors called similar offerings boy's dolls).
In 1971, Mego began licensing and making American Marvel and DC comic book superhero figures, which had highly successful sales and are considered highly collectible by many adults today. They eventually brought the Microman toy line to the United States as the Micronauts, but Mego eventually lost control of the market after losing the license to produce Star Wars toys to Kenner in 1976. The widespread success of Kenners Star Wars 3-3/4" toy line made the newer, smaller size figure with molded-on clothing, the industry standard. Instead of a single character with outfits that changed for different applications, toy lines included teams of characters with special functions. Led by Star Wars-themed sales, collectible action figures quickly became a multimillion-dollar secondary business for movie studios.
The 1980s spawned all sorts of popular action figure lines, many based on cartoon series, which were one of the largest marketing tools for toy companies. Some of the most successful to come about were Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, The Real Ghostbusters and Super Powers Collection, to name just a few. Early in the decade, the burgeoning popularity of Japanese robot anime such as Gundam also encouraged Takara to reinvent the Microman line as the Micro Robots, moving from the cyborg action figure concept to the concept of the living robot. This led to the Micro Change line of toys: objects that could "transform" into robots. In 1984, Hasbro licensed Micro Change and another Takara line, the Diaclone transforming cars, and combined them in the US as the Transformers, spawning a still-continuing family of animated cartoons