How the tactile world of comic toys enhances the comic book experience

Ah comic books. I have written quite a bit in the past why I love them so much. They are a medium that combines art and storytelling in a way that resonates with me. Today I want to talk about the link between comic books and action figures. I want to specifically talk about comic book and super hero action figures.

I read a lot of different types of comics. My interests include comedies, horror, action, drama, irreverent, science fiction, fantasy, and of course, super hero. I have never been one to limit my enjoyment to sticking with a single genre or book. I enjoy a good Archie or Scooby Doo as much as I enjoy reading the latest Batman adventures.

That’s all fine and all but what do comic books have to do with action figures? I mean aside from the fact they allow you to own a physical, real world representation of my favorite comic characters. The best part for me is having a tangible item I can hold onto. It brings the world of the comics out of the pages and into the real world where I live.

The first comics toy I remember owning as a child was a Batman figure from Batman Returns. Of course this is before I discovered Transformers originated in comics so I never considered my TF toys as comics toys back in the day. I don’t know if that is a controversial opinion or not. Either way I do remember getting a handful of Batman Returns figures including the Penguin, a penguin soldier and a couple others I forgot which ones plus the Batmobile.

It was the Teenager Mutant Ninja Turtles that really brought me into the world of collecting action figures based on comic books characters. Today I have hundreds of toys ranging from dozens of different sources including largely comics. If I am being honest the vast majority of the toys I own are comics-related in some way. I love comics. I love toys. I love combining them even more.

When I was a kid I didn’t have a lot of friends. I am sure I have written quite a bit before about how I took my toys with me to school. They were my only friends for the most part. I used to sit in my bedroom for hours playing pretend with those different action figures. I especially enjoyed mixing and matching toys from different fandoms. Having Robocop fight Transformers or G.I. Joe soldiers chasing Star Wars “rebels” were some of the fun scenarios I would simulate with my toys.

Another thing I have written about a lot I am sure is how I do not collect toys, I play with them. I am not ashamed of that. I don’t just pose them and repeat dialogue to myself like I see some people do online, I reenact scenes from my favorite stories whether those originate in movies, tv shows, or yes even comics. I also rather enjoy creating my own stories around the characters. It’s my favorite thing to do.

The thing I love most about owning toys based on my favorite comics is the level of creative freedom it affords me. I can create my own stories with those characters free from the limitations of my lacking artistic skills and also expanded beyond the restrictions placed by the comics industry in their story telling. If I want to envision a scenario where Barbie marries G.I. Joe or Megatron gets defeated by Cobra Commander, I can. I am free to create a scenario where the Scooby Doo Mystery gang visit the Mushroom Kingdom from the Super Mario games. I love it.

As a storyteller myself I am fascinated by the story telling potential action figures presents. Sure there are some limitations in regards posability and the physical toys you own. However you can overcome any of these limits by using your own imagination. Of course this is only one step removed from using your own imagination for pure, unfettered role play, but still it is exciting in it’s own right.

Having a connection to the characters I admire is the key element I admire the most. The fact I can touch a representation of my favorite characters make them more real to me. That’s the best part. While it is fun acting out scenarios, sometimes I just have fun holding and admiring a favorite action figure of mine. The tactile rewards that come with physically touching the item help create an emotional bond with those characters making them more authentic to me. This is what I believe a lot of comic book toy collectors experience with their collections. Having a physical copy of their favorite hero helps them get closer to that hero. When I hold a toy of Megatron in my hand I am bringing the *real* Megatron into my home.

The reason I connect more with comic book toys is because I also enjoy reading the books, it’s a simple as that. It goes both ways. Reading a story about the Transformers brings those characters to life in a way my best imaginary play session couldn’t even dream of. I can get a glimpse into the every day lives of my favorite toys. When I read a comic book that features a character I also own a toy of it draws me deeper into the story. As with the emotional connection I feel touching the toy, I feel even closer to the characters events as they unfold in the pages of their books. It adds a level of intimacy with comics hitherto unobtainable. The fact comic books themselves provide a tactic connection to the story telling by being a physical thing we hold whilst we read further adds to the mystique.

Combining comics and toys creates a magical world that allows my imagination to run wild. It helps me to connect with my heroes emotionally. It provides me alternative story telling methods that go beyond the traditional, but above all it gives me an intimate connection to the characters I admire. Comic books and toys go hand in hand for me.

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Stephanie Bri

A transgender writer who also does podcasts and videos. If you like my writing please consider helping me survive. You can support me directly by giving money to my paypal: If you prefer CashApp my handle is @Stephaniebri22. Also feel free to donate to my Patreon. I know it's largely podcast-centric but every little bit helps. Find it by going to, Thank you.