Mattel Marvel Secret Wars Action Figures
The ‘Secret Wars’ line of action figures was released by Mattel in 1984, and ran until 1985. Mattel were eager to produce a range of superhero action figures, as their main rival Kenner had recently licensed the DC Comics characters for their Super Powers line of figures.
Mattel proposed to Marvel that a line of toys should be accompanied by a line of comics to maximise the publicity. Their market research showed that the words ‘secret’ and ‘wars’ tested highly with kids, and the line was born based around a 12-part comic series in which all the major heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe were brought together in a single storyline.
The series ran from May 1984 until April 1985, and was hugely successful for Marvel. It was the first major crossover of characters on a large scale, and set a precedent for crossover titles that has remained ever since.
The range of figures was, however, less successful and lasted a single year. After two initial waves of figures, a third was cancelled due to the falling sales and the three remaining figures were released in foreign markets only.
Comic book series
The comic book series saw numerous superheroes and villains from the established Marvel Universe transported to a distant planet by a cosmic entity known as the Beyonder. They were given access to alien weapons and advanced technology, and commanded by the Beyonder to fight to the death in return for ‘all they could desire’.
The story introduced elements, ideas and plot threads which had long-lasting effects on the Marvel Universe, ranging from Spiderman’s ‘black’ suit which turned out to be a symbiotic alien life-form to She-Hulk joining the Fantastic Four.
The first wave of figures was released in 1984, and featured eight characters. This was followed by a second smaller series which featured four new characters and a redeco of the Spiderman figure from the first wave.
A third wave was planned and three figures manufactured, but the decreasing popularity of the line meant Mattel chose to ‘dump’ the figures and only released them in foreign, non-U.S markets. These three figures have become the rarest and most sought after by modern collectors due to their relative rarity.
In addition to the figures, Mattel also produced a number of vehicles and play-sets for the range. The majority of these did not appear in the comic book series, but were featured heavily on other ‘Secret Wars’ merchandise which included everything from colouring books to a lunchbox.
See main article: List of Mattel Marvel Secret Wars action figures
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