McFarlane Toys is an American company founded by comic book creator Todd McFarlane which makes highly detailed model action figures of characters from films, comics, popular music, video games and various sporting genres. The company, a subsidiary of Todd McFarlane Productions, Inc., is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona.[1]

McFarlane Toys
Founded1994; 29 years ago (1994)
FounderTodd McFarlane
Key people
Todd McFarlane, CEO
ProductsAction figures
OwnerTodd McFarlane Productions, Inc.
Number of employees
100 (2005)

As of 2021, McFarlane featured products with licenses of games and companies such as DC Comics, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Warhammer, Mortal Kombat, Disney, The Princess Bride, and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Overview Edit

In 1994, Todd McFarlane was working with Mattel to produce action figures based on his comic book characters. When the two could not decide on how to make the toys to McFarlane's satisfaction, he reclaimed the toy rights to his characters and started his own toy company.[citation needed]

Originally dubbed "Todd Toys", the name was changed in 1995 following pressure from Mattel, who feared that the new company's name would be confused with that of Barbie's younger brother.[2]

Production began with action figures based upon Todd McFarlane's Spawn comic series and has since grown to feature a large number of licensed property lines including The Simpsons and "Movie Maniacs" (which features numerous famous horror icons such as Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, The Terminator, Leatherface, and The Thing), as well as other characters and lines like basketball, hockey and baseball legends, along with characters from video games such as Soulcalibur, Onimusha, and Metal Gear Solid. Other media such as story book characters from Where the Wild Things Are have been represented.[3]

The company has produced original works, giving a grotesque twist to fairy tale stories such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and historical figures. McFarlane has collaborated with artists like Clive Barker (on Tortured Souls) and H. R. Giger to produce other original figures.[2]

Spawn figures Edit

The first line of Spawn toys ever produced was released in 1994 and consisted of six figures, the hero Spawn and his medieval counterpart (aptly named Medieval Spawn) with Tremor and the villains Violator, Overt-Kill, and Clown, as well as a Spawn Alley Playset, the Spawnmobile and the Violator Monster Rig. They were notably different from the toys common on shelves at the time because of their level of detail in both sculpting and painting. Other toys utilized only a few colors painted in general areas (a single "flesh tone" for the face, etc.) and were tacked to cardboard backs. McFarlane's figures had individual items such as spikes, teeth, claws, and buttons painted individually and packaged encased by hard plastic which surrounded both the figure and blister card, making them more suitable collectors items. Each toy in the first line came with a regular-sized comic (although with fewer pages than the standard 22), which were individualized to the character.[2]

The series would include alternate time periods and different takes on the classic characters with Series 10, 20[4] and 30[5] showing homage to the core characters of the books.[citation needed]

Prototypes for Series 35 were revealed in 2008 but the series was cancelled before its release. Series 36[6] was also teased at SDCC 2008 but was also cancelled. Some of the teased series 36 figures were later released at statues.[7] and was called "Robot Wars". It refers to a villainous "Mechanoid Army".[8]

Anime figures Edit

McFarlane Toys has produced licensed figures based on various Japanese anime and manga properties. Series McFarlane have merchandised include Akira, Tenchi Muyo, Tokyo Ghoul, Attack on Titan[9] and Naruto Shippuden.[10] In 2019, it was announced that the company had also gained the rights to create figures based on One-Punch Man and My Hero Academia.[11]

Horror figures Edit

McFarlane had been a long-time fan of the horror genre and decided to produce his own perspective on the classic monsters with the "Todd McFarlane's Monsters Playsets" line in 1997.[12]

McFarlane continued the idea of generating new versions of classic stories and characters, releasing a shocking line subtitled "Twisted Land of Oz" in 2003, which featured vicious or sadistic versions of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz characters created by L. Frank Baum.[2]

In 2004, the third series, subtitled 6 Faces of Madness, used historical killers and madmen as its theme, generating vividly detailed figurines of the 5th-century conqueror Attila the Hun, American "Wild West" gunslinger Billy the Kid, the "mad monk" Rasputin, the British serial killer Jack the Ripper, the Hungarian "Blood Queen" Elizabeth Bathory, and the real-life inspiration for Dracula, Vlad the Impaler.[2]

The fourth series featured Twisted Fairy Tales. The figures were of classic children’s stories, including Peter Pumpkin-Eater, Hansel & Gretel, Little Miss Muffet, Humpty Dumpty, & Red Riding Hood, and incorporated many of the gory elements that consumers had come to expect from McFarlane, but with a sense of ironic humor.[citation needed]

Series 5 featured McFarlane's Twisted Christmas. Like the previous series, the figures all are twisted variations of Christmas, including a hunchback and obese Santa Claus who hides a lifeless skull under a gas mask-like headpiece and wears contraptions on his hands similar to the glove of Freddy Krueger.[13]

Movie Maniacs Edit

In 1998, McFarlane introduced the Movie Maniacs line of figures. Series One began as a line of horror and science fiction based figures that had been licensed from influential and financially successful horror films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th.[citation needed]

The second series of figures expanded the character base for the line into the realms of cult and action cinema, with a figure based on the title character of The Crow. Series three would further push the boundaries of character selection into fantasy, with Edward Scissorhands, straight action with Shaft, and back into cult/sci-fi with Escape from L.A..[citation needed]

These conventions would continue, with character selections in future series frequently containing a mix of many, or even all of these various film genres, much to the chagrin of a small section of fans and collectors who, incorrectly, saw the line as being meant to be horror specific.[2]

Music figures Edit

McFarlane Toys did not solely limit itself to creating figures based on Todd McFarlane's creations. Rather it branched out into other forms of media, capitalizing on the popularity of famous rock musicians with the release of figures based on the rock legends KISS in 1997. The number of music figures produced by the company continued to grow in number, diversity, and quality in the following years as they acquired the action figure rights to famous properties such as the Beatles, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Slash, Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury and Elvis Presley.[2]


In 1997, action figures were part of an overall marketing deal between McFarlane Toys and the rock band KISS, with both toys and comic books based on their album Psycho Circus.[14] Release of new KISS products from McFarlane continues to the present day.[citation needed]

The Beatles Edit

The second musical property that McFarlane released was based on the Beatles, featuring figures of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr as they appeared in their 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine, as well as their appearance in the 1965 ABC cartoon show also titled The Beatles.[14] Despite three figure series based on cartoon versions of the band (two incarnations of the Yellow Submarine figures in 1996 and 2004), no figures of the real-life band members have been created by McFarlane Toys.[2]

Sports figures Edit

McFarlane Toys reflects Todd McFarlane's love of sports in its creations of popular figures from all five major North American sports (baseball, football, basketball, hockey and stock car racing). The company has official licensing rights to the major professional leagues of all of these sports, and began this line, officially known as McFarlane Sports Picks, in 2001.[14]

Television figures Edit

In January 2007, McFarlane Toys announced plans for a line of 24 action figures.[2] Other series figures have included Lost and The Walking Dead.[15][16] In 2015, McFarlane toys launched a line of construction sets based on HBO's popular Game of Thrones TV series,[17] followed by a line of 6" action figures to be released in 2019.[18] The company also produces action figures based on the Netflix series Stranger Things.[19]

The McKenzie Brothers Edit

Released in September 2000, the figures were based on the characters of SCTV and Strange Brew fame, Bob and Doug McKenzie. Originally portrayed by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, respectively. The figures were sold separately and each came with half of the diorama from the Great White North set. Each had a sound chip with famous lines from the film and various extras to complete the scene.[20]

The Simpsons Edit

In 2005, McFarlane acquired the rights held by rival manufacturer Playmates Toys to produce figures based on the popular Fox TV series The Simpsons.[14]

Star Trek Edit

In 2017, McFarlane Toys inked a deal to produce action figures and role play items based on the popular Star Trek franchise.[21] Controversy ensued when the company's Star Trek: Discovery phaser toy was cancelled just months before its scheduled release date. In a statement, McFarlane Toys said that the product was cancelled due to disagreements regarding the safety regulations around toy guns in the United States.[22] The first action figures were released in early 2019, with James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard serving as the inaugural entries in the line while the next figures Michael Burnham and Spock are in production.[citation needed]

Video game figures Edit

McFarlane Toys has produced a number of products based on video games, including Metal Gear Solid, Soulcalibur II (The Xbox version of which featured McFarlane's own Spawn as a guest character), Halo, Five Nights at Freddy's, Call of Duty, Destiny, Cuphead, Borderlands and Assassin's Creed. In 2018, McFarlane Toys launched a series of Fortnite action figures, which differed greatly from the company's previous figures (which were often statue-like and had very limited movement) by including at least 18 points of articulation each.[23] The toys proved very popular, and Todd McFarlane later announced that the increased articulation scheme would become standard in the company's product from then on, including their upcoming line of Mortal Kombat 11 figures.[24]

Other figures Edit

DC Multiverse Edit

At the tail end of 2018, news broke that Mattel had lost the rights to create figures based on the characters of the DC Universe to Spin Master Studios after 15 years of producing DC merchandise.[25] In February 2019, it was announced that McFarlane Toys had secured the rights to create 6"-12" collector figures based on the various comic books, movies, cartoons, live-action TV shows and video games featuring DC's characters. Dubbed DC Multiverse, the line will be aimed at adult collectors, in contrast to the all-ages oriented DC toys produced by Spin Master.[26] In a subsequent interview with IGN, Todd McFarlane confirmed that the new figures will target the same collectors who bought other 6" superhero toy lines, such as Mattel's DC Universe Classics or Hasbro's Marvel Legends.[27] He also revealed that the figures will use the new articulation system first seen in the company's Fortnite toys, meaning that they will all include between 18 and 24 points of articulation.[28]

McFarlane's Dragons Edit

McFarlane's Dragons are a line of action figures which were launched in 2005 under the "Horror, Fantasy and Sci-Fi Action Figures" section of McFarlane Toys. These figures were released biannually.[2]

This set features several highly detailed six inch dragon action figures and a slightly larger and more expansive "boxed set" figure. For the first five series, the figures were broken into these clans: Eternal Dragon Clan, Fire Dragon Clan, Komodo Dragon Clan, Sorcerer's Dragon Clan, Water Dragon Clan, and Berserker Clan. Series Six includes new clans: Fossil Dragon Clan, Hunter Dragon Clan, Ice Dragon Clan, Scavenger Dragon Clan, and Warrior Dragon Clan. In addition to these highly detailed dragons, McFarlane released a part of the dragon's history with each dragon set; some had a piece of the story with each dragon, and some had whole chunks of the story in one boxed set.[29]

McFarlane's Military Edit

The company launched a "toy soldier" range in 2005 with McFarlane's Military. The figures did not depict actual people so much as it did their professions, named simply by their job descriptions, such as "Army Ranger" or "Navy SEAL." All were of stern-looking males in full military gear, with highly detailed weapons and accessories modeled after the exact materials each soldier would be carrying in real life.[2]

Where the Wild Things Are Edit

In 2000, McFarlane Toys produced figures based on Maurice Sendak's classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are. Figures include Max, Goatboy (packaged together), Moishe, Emil, Bernard, Aaron and Tzippy. Each character was sculpted with the same crosshatch style from Sendak's original illustrations.[citation needed]

DC Direct license Edit

On July 27, 2021, McFarlane Toys announced that it would take over management of any remaining DC Direct inventory and that it would continue to make statues, busts, and other collectibles (such as action figures) in DC Direct's previous merchandise lines. The company anticipates releasing new products in 2022.[30]

Controversies Edit

A number of McFarlane's figures have attracted criticism and led to boycotts for the subject matter they depict, such as Death Row Marv, which depicts the central character from the graphic novel Sin City in the electric chair, which includes a toggle switch that allows the user to "execute" the character, who shakes and speaks as if being electrocuted when the switch is flipped.[31] Others, such as the company's Austin Powers action figure, were criticized for risqué language in their sound chips and packaging.[32]

References Edit

  1. ^ Mcfarlane Toys Headquarters on
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Scott, Sharon M. (2010). Toys and American Culture: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 58, 201–203. ISBN 978-0-313-35111-2.
  3. ^ "McFarlane Toys". Playthings. December 1, 2000. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014.
  4. ^ Szadkowski, Joseph (2001). "Film, TV, Comic Characters Ready to Hit Store Shelves". The Washington Times. Washington, DC. Spawn Series 20 looks back at classic characters in Mr. McFarlane's 8-year-old sequential-art universe and pays tribute to its most popular characters – Domina, Overtkill, Violator and Spawn[dead link]
  5. ^ Benitez, Tina (October 1, 2006). "Spawn at 30". Playthings. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014.
  6. ^ "2008 SDCC Day 1: McFarlane Toys w/Images".
  7. ^ "SPAWN SERIES 35: ROBOT WARS". Archived from the original on 29 July 2008. SPAWN enters the machine age with Series 35: Robot Wars. The historic 35th line of SPAWN action figures makes the leap to the year 3047, when a heroic team of robot warriors fights to defend Earth from the unstoppable force of the villainous Mechanoid Army.
  8. ^ McMillian, Graeme (23 August 2008). "Our New Front In The War On Hell: Giant Robots". Todd McFarlane's Spawn is about to go through his most extreme transformation yet - into a giant robot. As part of October's new Robot Wars line of toys, McFarlane is taking his once-popular hellbound superhero in a more mecha direction. The new line sets up a brand-new setting for the character... Mechanoid Army? 3047?
  9. ^ "TOY FAIR 2016: McFarlane Explains Why Spawn Still Drives His Toy Line, New Licenses". CBR. February 16, 2016.
  10. ^ "ICv2 Interview: Todd McFarlane on his Anime/Manga Line".
  11. ^ "McFarlane Toys Previews 'My Hero Academia', 'One-Punch Man', and 'Naruto' Figures". Anime.
  12. ^ Szadkowski, Joseph (June 6, 1998). "A Specter, a Monster and a Tank". The Washington Times.[dead link]
  13. ^ Motihar, Jhilmil (August 25, 2008). "Customer care; These entrepreneurs are giving the city's retail landscape an adventurous twist". India Today. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014.
  14. ^ a b c d Natale, Tony (January 27, 2005). "Tempe-based McFarlane Toys to develop action figures based on film". The Tribune. Mesa, AZ. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014.
  15. ^ Schneider, Michael (May 23, 2006). "Go figure: losties turn up as toys". Daily Variety. Hollywood, CA. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014.
  16. ^ Szadkowski, Joseph (November 1, 2012). "Ghoulish 'Walking Dead,' Phantom Figures". The Washington Times. Washington, DC.[dead link]
  17. ^ "Game of Thrones Holiday Gifts: McFarlane Construction Sets". November 27, 2015.
  18. ^ "McFarlane Toys Gets Game of Thrones Action Figure License". The Toyark - News. October 2, 2018.
  19. ^ Squires, John (February 16, 2018). "McFarlane Shows Off New "Stranger Things" Figures Including Punk Eleven".
  20. ^ Szadkowski, Joseph (February 26, 2000). "Stars Come out to Plug Their Wares at Toy Fair". The Washington Times. Washington, DC.[dead link]
  21. ^ Staff, TrekMovie com. "McFarlane Toys Inks Deal For Star Trek, Including 'Discovery' [UPDATED]".
  22. ^ "McFarlane Toys Explains DISCOVERY Phaser Cancellations". June 8, 2018.
  23. ^ "First Wave of Fortnite Figures from McFarlane Toys Revealed - IGN" – via
  24. ^ "Toy Fair 2019 - McFarlane Toys Video Game Figures". The Toyark. February 17, 2019.
  25. ^ "Mattel Stocks Plummet in Wake of Losing DC License to Spin Master - The Beat". 2018-12-31. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  26. ^ "McFarlane Toys Gets DC Comics License". The Toyark - News. February 12, 2019.
  27. ^ "Todd McFarlane Teases the Future of DC Toys and Collectibles - IGN" – via
  28. ^ "Todd McFarlane Confirms His DC Comics Figures Will Include Movies and TV". DC.
  29. ^ Szadkowski, Joseph (April 2, 2005). "Justice League Heroes, Fire-Breathing Berserker". The Washington Times. Washington, DC.[dead link]
  30. ^ "McFarlane Toys Reveals New Deal with DC Direct".
  31. ^ Turner, Allan (August 31, 2000). "Toy Action Figure With Electric Chair Draws Criticism". Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. Washington, DC. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014.
  32. ^ Hyman, Julie (June 23, 1999). "Atlanta Mother Wants 'Risque' Austin Powers Dolls Out of Toy Store". Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. Washington, DC. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014.

External links Edit