After doing some research, I’ve been able to find out what the actual difference between a doll and an action figure is.
It all started with a comment I made in this article where I wondered why the Wonder Woman figure was called a doll and the Batman and Superman figures were called action figures. One of the comments I got was interesting:
Isn’t there a legal definition for “dolls”? I remember Marvel going to court over their toys because certain category of toys have extra taxes attached to them. It ironically ends with Marvel successfully arguing that X-Men toys are not toys of human characters.
I decided to look up this case and found the 2003 Toy Biz, Inc V. United States case, where the company argued and won that their Fantastic Four & X-Men were not dolls because they were representing non-human creatures. After doing a little more research, I determined that to be considered an action figure, most of your figures in the toy-line have to be non-human in design.
As such here is a little list of toys that are dolls and toys that are action figures:
Dolls: Action Man, G.I. Joes, Rag Dolls, Barbie, Jem, WWE, Lego minifigures, Star Wars and M.A.S.K.
Action Figures: Transformers, Furby, My Little Pony, Cabbage Patch Kids, Thunder Cats and He-Man
Now please feel free to argue on what toys in your collection are action figures and what are dolls.