I love a good list of facts. One of the podcasts that has saved me from going slightly south of sanity during the pandemic is No Such Thing as a Fish. This podcast is a group of four plucky Brits who spend 30–60 minutes each week talking about various facts they learned the week before. In that vein, I wanted to give you all a list of random facts I have come across over the past few years—all of them comic and toy related.
Note: I am not a researcher, so I may not have everything right. However, for each claim below, I’ve cited my sources so at least someone else thought were true at some point in time. If you have a source to prove me wrong, *please* post it in the comments. I love this stuff, and getting updated information makes it all the more interesting.
With that out of the way, and with no further ado, I present to you 10 comic and toy related facts.
1. Marvel has official superhero height proportions.
According to the book How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way, the average Joe, aka us non-superheroes, have a body proportion of 6.5 heads tall. In other words, our total height is 6.5 times the length of our heads. But Marvel superheroes are drawn (with a few exceptions, like The Thing or Wilson Fisk) with a body proportion of 7.75 heads. This stretches their proportions and gives them that classic superhero look.
2. There may be more LEGO minifigures in the world than people.
LEGO is a bit stingy when it comes to releasing statistics about their product. According to the LEGO Discovery Centre website, more than 4 billion LEGO minifigures have been made. However, some sleuthing from some fans indicate the real number may be much higher. Both Mike Barker and famed esoteric numbers researcher and web comic master Randall Munroe from XKCD estimate that the total number of minifigures ever produced surpassed the current world’s human population sometime between 2018 and 2020.
3. LEGO is also the largest manufacturer of tires in the world.
LEGO manufactures on average 306 million tiny tires a year, which makes it the largest manufacturer of tires in the world. (Source: Guinness World Reccords)
4. Hasbro coined the term “action figure.”
The term action figure was coined by Hasbro in 1964 to market GI Joe (source: wikipedia). The new term was coined to avoid the word “doll” in product descriptions, so boys would accept it (marketing in the 60’s, eh?). Because of this, GI Joe has a whole list of firsts, including the first female action figure, and the first black action figure.
5. The actor with the most characters made into action figures is…
Samuel L Jackson. This stat was written in 2016 (source: Gizmodo), so it may be out of date, but as of then, Samuel L Jackson had action figures for these characters: The Octopus (The Spirit); Nick Fury (Avengers); Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction); John Shaft Jr. (Shaft); Stephen (Django Unchained); Mace Windu (Star Wars Prequel Trilogy/Clone Wars); Frozone (The Incredibles); Major Marquis Warren (The Hateful Eight); Whiplash (Turbo); Zog (Astro Boy); and Afro Samurai. Rounding out the top five actors with the most characters in action figure form are Clancy Brown with 10 (and surely soon to have another from his role on The Mandalorian); Gary Oldman and Johnny Depp with nine apiece; and Angelina Jolie with seven.
This list counts an actor and a character, so while someone like Luke Skywalker likely has hundreds of variations of action figures, Mark Hamill only gets to count Luke once in his total, which is why some of the actors with the most popular characters don’t make the list.
6. Barbie’s unrealistic body shape is designed to make her look more normal when dressed.
Anyone who has a daughter knows that Barbie dolls rarely get dressed, and they are famous for having ridiculously impossible to obtain body shapes. According to Barbie VP of Design Kim Culmone, her unrealistic body shape isn’t to set a crazy standard for little girls, but rather it’s “for function for the little girl, for real-life fabrics to be able to be turned and sewn, and have the outfit still fall properly on her body.” (source: The Guardian). Or as the article puts it, “So to make her look like a normal person when she’s wearing clothes, you have to turn her into an emaciated alien underneath, or else she’ll just look like a sausage in a sack, which wouldn’t be fun for anyone, right?”
I personally think the proportions could still be a little more realistic, but it does explain the super long thin neck for sure.
7. The largest collection of LEGO minifigures is over 4,000.
According to Guinness World Records in July 2020, Fabio Bertini’s collection topped out at a staggering 4,410 different figures (duplicates don’t count!). I know many toy photographers who would love to get their hands on his collection with their cameras in tow.
8. Holy #$@%! Those swear substitute characters have a name!
Ever read a comic book and see those weird characters substituted when someone swears? Those characters are called a grawlix. The first one is from a comic strip called Katzenjammer, published in 1902.
Of course that carries on today:
9. The first female comic book superhero is…
… a tie. Depending on your definition of superhero. Guinness World Records lists two characters who can claim the title. Fantomah was the first female character with super powers. She appeared in Jungle Comics #2 in February 1940. Just a month later, in March of 1940, the Woman in Red—who is the first masked and costumed heroine of natural birth—appeared in Thrilling Comics #2.
10. The world record for the most number of characters on a comic book cover…
If you want to see the cover, look no further than right here on this plucky blog:
So that’s it! 10 random facts. If you have facts of your own, drop them in the comments below! I’d love to read them.