Last year we began an anthropological study focused on the evolutionary changes visible within the species parumplasticus populus (little plastic people). Over the last several months I undertook to reexamine the fossil record. The findings range from predictable to surprising. Whereas today’s parumplasticus populus is more sophisticated in many ways, its ancestors maintain the genetic “nostalgic variation” advantage.
The purpose of the following visuals is not to crown either the ancestor nor the modern incarnation “better.” Yes, in many ways the more recent representations are more detailed and articulated but this does not necessarily qualify them as superior. What is better: a chimpanzee or a human? The question itself is incomplete. An improved inquiry would look like this: which is more intelligent? or, which is better at climbing trees?
For many action figure anthropologists more detail or more articulation or larger scale do not always equate with a more cherished figure. Nostalgia aside, some enthusiasts just outright prefer basic and simple. The popularity of the Justice League Unlimited subspecies is a glaring example. Then again, some of the evolved subspecies available for inspection demonstrate that progress does not have to exclude charm.
Allow me to present a few more examples of evolved plastic people culled from the Action Figure Observer’s Field Manuel.
fig 1. rexrgis mare, "Aquaman"
fig 2. scumethicus mercenota, "Bounty Hunters"
fig 3. kungfustris gripimus, "G. I. Joe"
fig 4. homo accipiter, "Hawkman"
fig 5. boomopaeus jackolanternolus, "Hobgoblin"
fig 6. aurospeedocetus manialis , "Hulk Hogan"
fig 7. homo piscari, "Merman"
fig 8. itstimetogetthingsstartedulus hensonapra, "Muppets"
fig 9. vipera ninjaris, "Snake Eyes"
fig 10. unumbrachiis yeticus, "Wampa"
As you can see from the examples above many of the ancestral examples retain a dignified charm appropriate for a child’s plaything. In that regard I often contemplate the following: does a more basic toy foster a more creative imagination? Does the design maxim “less is more” find relevancy with parumplasticus populus? Regardless of the multiplicity of our individual opinions one fact remains: it is great to have so many examples to study!