No other literary character from the last few years has generated as many fans as Harry Potter. Action figures are a great way for real fans to let their imagination run free - and have a fun collection as well. But where should you start your collection? This article explores some of the different series of collectibles produced by Mattel.

The last Harry Potter action figure series from Mattel came out in 2004. It was called the Deluxe Wizard Collection. The rarest of this series turns into a wereworld - Professor Lupin, of course! Also included were Expecto Patronum Harry, Albus Dumbledore, Extreme Quidditch Harry, and an Azkaban Dementor. These figures have some unusual features. Dumbledore looks like Michael Gambon, and none of Expecto Patronum Harry's three spells looks like a patronus. Furthermore, compared to the other action figures from Mattel, the Deluxe Wizard Collection is bigger. That makes them simply look odd next to the older figures.

The Duelling Club Collection came out in 2003 as the second to last series from Mattel. All of the figures in this collection are pretty easy to find. They are based on the duelling scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. There is a holo-tile for Lockhart, Harry, and Malfoy, and they are shown ready for a duel. Remember how Tom Riddle bewitched Ginny Weasely with the diary? It is included with the Tom Riddle figure.

One of Mattel's Harry Potter action figures is named after the included bottle of slime for pouring over the collectibles. You guessed it - it's called the Slime Chamber Collection. It even included a playset to make it easier to douse the figures in slime. Yuck! The hardest figure to find in this set is the Griphook Goblin. Maybe that's because it also came with a jewel cart. If you want to tell these figures apart from early ones, look for the splatters on the robes. For example, Malfoy has green slime on his, there are spider webs on Harry's, and there are slugs on Ron's robes. How gross is that? George and Fred have green shirts and yellow pants. If you're looking to make a mess, these figures are for you.

Those big Quidditch fans out there will want to keep an eye out for the Quidditch Team Collection. Those in the know will notice that the Harry in this set has black glasses unlike his counterpart in the older series, which had grey glasses. Two figures that are unusual in that they are not unlike each other at all: George and Fred. Unless they are in the box, they are completely identical. The most difficult figures to find in this set are Fred and Dumbledore.

With all these terrific Harry Potter figures available, it can be hard to know which ones to buy. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the figures from Mattel are no longer being made. So if you see one that you like or would like to give someone as a present, go ahead and get it now to ensure availability.