Mimetic fandom and one-sixth-scale action figures

  • Victoria Godwin Prairie View A&M University
Keywords: Action figure customization, Affirmational fandom, Bricolage, Material culture, Material fan practices


Within material practices that emphasize reproduction, customizers often extrapolate, creating new material to fill in gaps. Bricolage transforms mass-produced items into individualized creative works by improving the perceived accuracy of licensed merchandise or by recycling and repurposing items to achieve realistic and imaginative results. Customization's material fan practices reproduce items in order to create transformative narratives. After duplicating a beloved fan object's definitive appearance, clothing, and/or accessories in one-sixth scale, customizers often pose and photograph action figures in recreations of iconic scenes. Other images and photostories use miniature reproductions of material objects to rework existing media texts and characters or to tell completely original narratives. Images also disrupt and deconstruct the valorization of accuracy. Living rooms, pets, and other aspects of everyday life intrude into photographs of accurately reproduced items and characters. Figures in photostories may be made to break character. Such transformative moments call attention to the toys' status as toys and to the constructed nature of poses, dioramas, and narratives.

Author Biography

Victoria Godwin, Prairie View A&M University
Department of Languages & Communications Assistant Professor