Why are the Star wars action figures so small? These days the 3.75-inch height for action figures is pretty much the standard, but it hasn't always been that way. When the first Star Wars action figures appeared in 1978, the term "action figure" was most closely associated with G.I. Joe, a 12-inch U.S. military figure. By the mid-1970s, though, Joe and other figures like Mego's Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock from the "Star Trek" TV series had shrunk to about 8 inches because of an oil embargo by the oil-producing countries of the world. (Oil is a key component of the plastic used in making action figures.) When Kenner began designing Star Wars action figures, it determined that with a smaller size than even an 8-inch figure it could economically scale models and play sets of the elaborate vehicles and scenes from the movies to fit the tiny statues of Luke, Leia, and Yoda.