The Point of Articulation (POA) Debate

August 5, 2014 – As any Star Wars collector will tell you, a figure’s POA (point of articulation) count is important. The higher the POA count, the higher the perceived value, the greater the range of action poses, and the happier the customer.

The POA’s for a vintage action figure customarily included a neck joint, hip joint and shoulder joints (each joint constituting one POA). In 2013-2014, Hasbro began releasing its Mission Series figures and, more recently, its Star Wars Rebels figures with a low 5-POA count, much to the chagrin of some collectors. Others, however, simply shrugged and didn’t care about low POA counts: If you’re going to leave the figure forever displayed in its original bubble packaging, then range of motion is no longer an issue. To these latter collectors, aesthetics are more important than poseability. straddles the debate by counting, for example, the Luke Skywalker figure (The Black Series 3 3/4″) as having “28 points of articulation at 16 point-sources: ball-socket head (1), ball-hinged left shoulder (2), ball-hinged right shoulder (2), swivel left bicep (1), swivel right bicep (1), hinge-jointed left elbow (2), hinge-jointed right elbow (2), ball-jointed left wrist (2), ball-jointed right wrist (2), swivel waist (1), ball-jointed left hip (2), ball-jointed right hip (2), ball-jointed left knee (2), ball-jointed right knee (2), ball-jointed/”rocker” left ankle (2), ball-jointed/”rocker” right ankle (2)” Read more of the discussion in JTA’s article: “Rethinking How to Count Articulation Points”.

The debate is now dividing collectors into two camps with the question, “How precisely do you define a POA?” The first camp counts EACH joint (whether a ball joint or a swivel point) as ONE point of articulation, no matter the range of motion (up-down, left-right, etc.) The second camp, including (see video below), has declared EACH RANGE OF MOTION to be a separate POA. So, for example, if a shoulder ball joint can move the arm up-down and forward-backward, that counts as two POA’s. Thus a figure which might have had, say, 14 POA’s (first camp), might now suddenly have 22 POA’s (second camp).

In the video below, has declared that it will be evaluating future figures following the second camp’s more liberal counting system. More than being a simple “egghead” academic exercise, the POA debate has real-world repercussions for setting retail values, Hasbro’s truth-in-labeling packaging and marketing efforts, and uniformity of rules in the collecting community.

Watch the video below and see what you think.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, I follow the first camp’s approach: By only counting each source point as one count (rather than counting the range of motion as, say, two counts), this avoids confusion and is easier to count. This simpler approach also prevents Hasbro and other manufacturers from hyping or exaggerating the POA counts (“Buy the all-new 2016 Darth Vader with 32 points of articulation!”)

UPDATE: indicates that it will be putting the reclassification/renumbering of POA totals on hold for now. Stay tuned as the discussion continues.

2 thoughts on “The Point of Articulation (POA) Debate

  1. Pingback: For Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary, Hasbro Looks To Win Collectors Back – Forbes | Top kids apparel

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