Private Eye Dolls, Action Figures & Collectibles
They’re not dolls! They’re not even action figures anymore! They’re… “collectibles.”
- Honey West
Possibly the first-ever P.I. action figure, this 11-inch doll was allegedly “beautifully fashioned after Anne Francis” who played Honey on television, and there were several “glamorous action accessories” available (a formal outfit, a karate outfit, a secret agent outfit, etc.). I guess the manufacturers were planning on cashing in on both the Barbie craze AND the popularity of the TV show. Unfortunately, the doll didn’t really capture Francis, although she did sport a beauty mark and she did come dressed for action in “svelte” black leotards, spiffy go-go boots, a gold holster with a gun and, best of all, Bruce, her pet leopard.
- J.J. Armes
Hoping to capitalize on the “Bionic Man” craze, released an action figure of real-life El Paso private eye Jay.J. Armes who had lost both his hands in a childhood accident. Billed as “The Detective with Interchangeable Bio-Kinetic Hands” or, as the tasteless TV commercial put it, “the double amputee you can play with.” The various “action” hands included suction cups for climbing walls, a magnet for hanging onto steel structures, a machete, a pair of false hands for undercover roles, a hook that converts to a pistol and a pair of spring loaded hooks. There were also numerous accessories available, including a Mobile Investigation Unit van with a “Super Hook”.
- John Shaft Action Figure | Buy this item
(2000, McFarlane Toys)
One of the first private eye action figures intended to be a collectible and not simply a toy, this finely detailed and hand-painted 6″ figure, looking drop dead cool in a long black trench coat, was based on the 2000 John Singleton remake of the classic ’70s blaxploitation film , starring Samuel L. Jackson as “the cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about,” and came with an official Movie Maniacs display stand. If only the film had been this cool…
- Inch High, Private Eye
(2000, Rick Wyatt)
This very limited, very pricey, very collectable collectible is a rare resin model, professionally painted, of Hanna-Barbera’s 1973 Saturday morning gumshoe, the incredibly shrinking shamus from 1973. Designed by the late sculptor Rick Wyatt, apparently a big name in the early days of garage kits, Inch High (who is actually an inch high in the show) came with an oversized magnifying glass with finger print. Inch High actually stands 4 7/8″ tall–he’s coming up in the world! Keep your eyes peeled–hoity-toity auction sites like WorthPoint occasionally offer items from Wyatt’s oeuvre.
- Mike Hama
(2014, Rocket Punch)
Twelve years after Shiritsu Tantei Hama Maiku, the 2002 television version of private eye Maiku Hama, went off the air, Rocket Punch released this cartoonish almost 8″ tall figure, designed by Takayuki Goto.
- Sherlock Holmes POP! Figure | Buy this item
John Watson POP! Figure | Buy this item
When Funko finally got around to detectives, naturally they chose the most famous detective of them all, and his erstwhile companion. And of course they chose their then-current and most buzz-worthy incarnation–the BBC version starring Cummerbund Bandersnatch and Martin Freeman.
- The Xander P.I.
(2015, POP! by Xander)
I was so disappointed at the lack of PI-related POP! figures that I asked my B&N pal Xander to make me one… and DAMN! He did a great job.
- Jessica Jones POP! Figure | Buy this item
Luke Cage POP! Figure | Buy this item
The P.I./Funko barrier was finally breached in 2017! After years of hoping that the makers of those ever-so-collectable, big-eyed vinyl figures would show us a little shamus love, they releases figures of both Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, both taken, not from the comics, but from the TV show versions streaming on Netflix. Of course we’re still waiting for more TV-based P.I. figures soon. Rockford? Mannix? Peter Gunn? Veronica Mars? Hello?
- Monk Bobblehead | Buy it!
I’m not sure when it came out, but it must have been during Monk’s heyday. Of course, this being a collectible, you’d best wash your hands with warm soapy water before giving Mr. Monk’s noggin a little poke.
- Jessica Jones Action Figure | Buy this item
Luke Cage Action Figure | Buy this item
Japanese toymakers Kotobukiya, who’d already done the Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man, etc, took on Netflix’s Defenders. A collaborative effort between Marvel artist Dale Keown and their own Junnosuke Abe, they tackled Daredevil, Iron Fist (really?), and of course private eyes Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Fan boy fave Jessica shows up in her usual jeans and jacket combo, ready for action, while Luke looks like he’s really, really into chains. At 1/10 scale, Jessica Jones stands just over 7 inches tall, and Luke clocks in at 7 ½ inches tall (1/10th scale). Both have magnets in their feet for the included display base.
- Funko Rock Candy Jessica Jones | Buy this item
- Funko Rock Candy Jessica Rabbit | Buy this item
Never let it be said Funko doesn’t understand its audience. Just in case fan boy fave Jessica Jones was a little too cute (plus too short and squat), they launched a line of “Rock Candy” figures that reimagine some of their most popular (female) figures, giving them an infinitely more comely appearance, sure to appeal to serious adolescent male “collectors” everywhere. And just in case Jessica was a little too butch for the one-handed mob, also in the series is Jessica Rabbit, the most femme femme fatale ever!
- Ace Harlem: The Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Comic Book Action Cut-Out | Get it!
(2020, Zelpha Comics)
Only available for a brief time in the fall of 2020, this moveable and magnetic cardboard figure, based on Ace Harlem, the golden age detective from the ultra-rare All Negro Comics #1 (1947), was a true collectible, limited to only twenty-five figures. Created by John Terrell, Ace was the first Black hero featured in comics, and artist Lue Nuwame did him right. Available only through a Kickstarter page, each figure was meticulously hand-cut, glued, trimmed, and assembled right in Lue’s living room, and shipped off in a custom box.
- The P.I. Toy Chest
Treasures from the Past
- Assembly Required
Some Cool P.I. Model Car Kits
- Oh, The Games People Played Then
Some Classic Private Eye & Detective Board Games
- Oh, The Games People Played Then (Part Deux)
Some Early P.I. Videogames (1988-2002)
- The Game’s A-foot!
Puzzles and Other P.I. Games
- Gimcracks, Geegaws & Other Dinguses
Private Eye Collectibles