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Can Action Figure Joints Be Proprietary?


Chunkylover
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While doing some schoolwork I happened to glance at my LCBH display and while looking at the O'Brien figure I considered its superiority to the She-Hulk figure with which it shares a common mold. It made me wonder, is it possible that Hasbro had to make certain figures with their funky elbow and knee joints because of some copyright or contract limitations?

 

No one else uses the Star Wars/Sigma 6 joint but Hasbro (a fact which might not surprise you). Neither does anyone use the narrow Mattel pelvis. Could action figure joints be secured through copyright restrictions?

 

And I know Hasbro did use some of the old Toy Biz joints, but that was on figures which were old molds. Most of their new molds did not use the double-hinge so maybe the ones that were made were allowed by the contract by which Hasbro obtained the Toy Biz molds.

 

Real Inside Baseball stuff, I know, but at least were not talking about an April Fools joke.

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I doubt there's a trademarkable patent restriction on the use of the specific designs of the joints, because Hasbro uses different styles on different figures--some of the articulation schemes are the same as with other companies and some are not.

Toybiz didn't develop their joint style either- because companies like Bandai were using the ganged (double) hinge design and finger/toe articulation years before Toybiz came around to it.

 

Any specifically unique enginneering could be patented ( but not copywritten because that applies to other kinds of creations), and some toys do have patents applied to their designs ( the original 12" GIJOE, for example) but I'm not sure how often its done today.

 

The reason they probably went with certain kinds of designs over others was likely a cost issue.

The Anne O'Brien figures is a good example--especially compared to Hasbro's She-Hulk figure.

The two figures clearly came from the same design genesis, but the O'Brien figure has more articulation.

There's actual common parts between the two, yet there's marked differences too. Going with less articulation, in the case of She-Hulk, appears to be a cost cutting measure, because she has fewer parts and doubtlessly costs less--a clear political decision on the part of Hasbro.

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No one else uses the Star Wars/Sigma 6 joint but Hasbro (a fact which might not surprise you). Neither does anyone use the narrow Mattel pelvis. Could action figure joints be secured through copyright restrictions?

 

Some of the newer Marvel Select figures utilize the "elbro" joint. Marvel Toys also used it on a few of their TNA figures.

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