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ToyDirectory Checks out Collectible Action Figures

By Tim Connolly
October 1, 2002

Northern Cheyenne Warrior ($29.95) by Dog Soldiers

When I began researching grownup toys, my Google searches turned up “action figures/collectibles” too frequently for me to ignore it. It was clear that the market I had always dismissed as the domain of computer dweebs was much broader than that. According to market research firm The NPD Group, action figure sales rose 36% in 2001 to a total of 1.62 billion—making it the fastest growing sector of the toy industry last year. Signs of the obsession that drive such sales are abundant on the Web. About.com features a page of “Action figure How-to’s,” such as “How to remove a price sticker,” with instructions precise enough for bomb deactivation. At Rebelscum.com there’s a tool called the “Wedge Collection Price Guide,” allowing a collector to enter his current roster of Star Wars figures, and “the wedge will tally… the current value of your collection based on up-to-the-second prices.”

The obvious benefit to retailers carrying collectible action figures has to be their built-in customer base. If you stock it, they will come. The following review is by no means comprehensive; that would require a separate magazine. Like any collectible, prices rise and fall according to market caprice, so those quoted below are only an average drawn from a widely varied retail layout.

Mike Gauldin started Dog Soldiers (www.dogsoldiersfigures.com) in February 2001 when he realized he could employ his passion for Native American history to fill a void in the action figure market.

Chiricahua Apache ($29.95), and Buffalo Soldier ($31.95) by Dog Soldiers

Seeing Indian warriors as a “birth-to-grave” warrior culture that had been neglected by traditional military lines, he set to work creating authentic American Indian action figures in 1/6th scale (12”). Authentic is right; check out the scowl on the face of the Chiricahua Apache War Leader 1870—1886, influenced by the famous Chief Geronimo photograph.

This figure is fully articulated with rooted hair, dressed in the style of the Apache wars: Mexican “peon” clothing with Apache wraparound breechclout, high-topped Apache moccasins with silver disk decorations, and packing a Winchester 1866 “Yellow Boy” carbine with minute brass decorations. From a faraway tribe comes the Northern Cheyenne Warrior 1860—1890. Ready for battle in face-paint and eagle feathers, he’s dressed in a “buckskin” warshirt, with embroidered Cheyenne beadwork all the way down to his moccasins. Accessories include a “buffalo hide” war-shield with authentic bearpaw design, an “otter fur” war lance, Mexican Army-type lancehead, and a British war ax with brass tack decorations.

Given their nickname by the Cheyenne and Comanche, the African American Buffalo Soldier once constituted 20% of the cavalry forces on the American frontier. Dog Soldiers has brought this often overlooked veteran of the West back to life with a realistic mixture of Civil War and frontier accessories, including an 1872 slouch hat, 1872 gray shirt, 1874 uniform blouse with yellow cavalry trim, 1872 Springfield “trapdoor” carbine, and much more. As proof of Mike Gauldin’s commitment to historical accuracy, both Native Americans and African Americans have embraced his figures.


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