Action Figure Smackdown – Making a Scene (Marvel Masterworks, McFarlane, Mezco)

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If you’ve ever wondered how to put together a kick-ass diorama, action figure nerd JT has some cromulent advice.

Step 1: Take the figure out of the box. This may seem like an obvious step, but I’m approaching this like we’re talking about toys, not investment pieces. Toys are made to be played with, at least as far as Action Figure Smackdown is concerned.

Step 2: Figure selection – put simply, it’s good to have a theme. You can start with team affiliation (Justice League/Avengers/Batman Family), producer or manufacturer (McFarlane, Mezco) or go a little left field – my bad guys shelf has Heisenberg standing next to the Suicide Squad and Eric Cartman.

Step 3: Scale – if you’ve got a six inch Batman, you don’t want him standing next to a three and a half inch Superman. If you’re going to collect action figures with the intention of creating a diorama, it’s not a bad idea to pick a scale and stick to it. Taking this into account, don’t pass up a cool figure because it’s bigger or smaller than the rest of your collection – there is always another shelf (as my wife will frequently exclaim with an exasperated sigh).

Step 4: Lighting – once you start layering your figures, you’ll find that you can’t see the ones up the back. You can get decent LED lighting kits from hardware shops or IKEA – these tend to be better than older style bulbs as they produce less heat, which can make the figures distort (particularly in enclosed spaces).

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Step 5: Use the accessories…, Most action figures these days (with the exception of brands like Funko and Pop Vinyl) come with a range of accessories from guns, to alternate heads and character appropriate props. Slightly fewer come with a detailed base (Marvel Masterworks) but these are great for setting the scene.

…but not all of them. Figures like Deadpool and The Punisher often come with a ludicrous number of weapons, so don’t feel you have to have all of them on display.

Step 6: Add some diversity. Female action figures. Action figures of colour. It makes for a more interesting scene and broadens the appeal to both genders. Proof by anecdote: we recently threw my 6 year old daughter a Frozen party, and the actor playing Anna spent at least 20 minutes staring rapturously at my toys, and went out of her way to tell my wife how cool they were. Heh.

Step 7: Try a bit of humour – and I don’t mean pose the figures like they’re having sex. Unless that’s your thing… weirdo. It might be as simple as juxtaposition of characters (Rick and Daryl from the Walking Dead stalking the Staypuft Marshmallow man) or God from Family Guy talking to John Constantine and Slash in a bar, but remember to have fun – these are toys, after all.

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