Creating My Own Sagas: Dragonball Z Action Figures

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I wish I had this as a kid. Doesn't that just scream "epic?"

It’s been a while since I’ve delved into the action figures of my past. It’s also been a while since I’ve mentioned Dragonball Z, hasn’t? Why not mix the two together then and tell you all about DBZ action figures? I think I’ll do just that. Here I go!

Only In Japan

DBZ really started to hit big when I was in 6th grade. I wasn’t yet into the series, but I was aware of it. I’d see toys and action figures popping up in stores whenever I’d go searching for something cool, but it wasn’t until 7th grade when I got hooked and needed my DBZ fix with action figures. Sadly, the only available toys at the time were really, really bad Japanese imports. How bad? We’re talking two points of articulation and then only at the shoulder. Not a pivot joint, just an up-down motion. I bought two originally: A Piccolo and a Super Saiyan Goku. Both had removable clothes (Goku his shirt and Piccolo his cape and turban) but not much going for them. Oh, actually, their feet could move from side to side, which was totally useless.

The two figures I mostly saw in stores were Kid Trunks and Krillin with hair. Kid Trunks hadn’t appeared in the series yet and Krillin wouldn’t wear the new outfit until that point in the series also. I found it incredibly strange that they came with guns that the characters couldn’t even hold. Their hands were fists, so the only way to use the accessory was to balance it on their arms. I choose not to buy any more stupid DBZ figures.

And Then Things Got Better

Oh, one of the "last figure hanging" figures of the line.

That’s why I was so happy to learn that Irwin Toys would be making new toys for the current US releases. I got pumped until I saw the first series. Radtiz? Okay, he’s gotta be there. Yajirobi? Oh…kay, sure, put him in. Master Roshi? I’m assuming Goku’s here somewhere, right? Nope, he wasn’t in the first series. Or the second series. In fact, it took them until the third series of action figures to include Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo. Finally! But still, no Super Saiyans just yet.

Everything after that just got better. I was careful to watch for when the next series of action figures came out, ready to buy my favorite characters. Surprisingly, some of the best action figures in the Irwin line were of more obscure characters. Take for example Evil Buu, by which I mean the gray version that appeared for maybe half of an episode. They made an incredibly great figure for that character. Android 16 also got a great action figure that included a removable hand, just like the character could do in the show. Nice! My favorite Goku turned out to be the Super Saiyan Goku dressed in Saiyan armor, seen only for a few episodes while he was training. It was just great.

This was easily my favorite DBZ figure right here. Super Vegitto was perfect.

But there were some definite misses, too. Fat Buu, for example, was terrible. His legs couldn’t move due to them being stuck in the solid plastic of his pants. Piccolo could have his turban removed but not his cape, meaning a lack of moveability. Some of the biggest disappointments were Super Saiyan 3 Goku, who looked deformed and didn’t have much articulation, and Kid Buu, who looked entirely unimpressive for what should have been a great end to the line. Regardless, Vegitto didn’t disappoint.

Again, why wasn't this the Goku available to me when I was a kid?

After DBZ ended I sort of lost track and interest in the figures, though I saw that Jakks did a lot of great things, adding some awesome articulation. These days if you want good figures you’ll have to go looking online, sticking with the Bandai Hybrid Mega Articulated models, otherwise the only thing you’ll be able to find are action figures based off Dragonball: Evolution, i.e. really stupid toys.

I don't know why they even bothered.

I wish I could justify buying more DBZ action figures. I’d really like to, but I have no place to put them yet. Also, the thrill of the hunt for a really cool action figure is lessened somewhat when I have to just find it online. But I still have probably close to 50 DBZ action figures waiting in a box at home. What about you? Did you buy some really awesome DBZ action figures at some time? Let me know with a comment. In the meantime I’ll be searching for a way to travel back to my childhood.

Need more for a DBZ fix? Check out these articles:

The DBZ Technigue Guide

A Look Back on DBZ

Ten Worst Instances of Filler in DBZ

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About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

7 Comments

  1. Nah, I have an Android 18 figure that has legs and arms that move, but the legs are heavily restricted due to the plastic skirt. Also, it’s met an untimely demise as it’s broken at the midsection. Still, I’m baffled the toy designer didn’t go with her design with the black dress outfit rather than her jeans outfit. Does articulation mean nothing to them?

  2. taurean12345 on

    i have a lot of dbz figures i also do figure reviews check out my videos there on youtube!

  3. I just found an awesome movie set of figures that include super saiyan goku, super saiyan trunks, super saiyan majin vageta, and regular goku and I cant wait to get them. Some of the figures that came out recently are REALLY dumb. If you want extreme attention to detail you should lean towards the movie series though they arent really much for movement just looks.

  4. Perhaps that wasn’t the best image, but the figure itself was great because it had tons of articulation. I guess I never noticed the weird neck or anything.

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