How to Collect Action Figures: The Ultimate Guide for Enthusiasts
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How to Collect Action Figures: The Ultimate Guide for Enthusiasts

How to Collect Action Figures: The Ultimate Guide for Enthusiasts

Introduction to How to Collect Action Figures

So you’ve decided to dive into the world of action figure collecting, a hobby that combines nostalgia, fun, and sometimes even investment. Whether it’s for the sheer joy of revisiting childhood memories, displaying impressive collectibles, or banking on the potential future value, action figure collecting is a world filled with excitement and diversity.

From the iconic action figures of Star Wars to the dynamic heroes of the Marvel universe, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about starting, maintaining, and enhancing your action figure collection.

Key Takeaways

Focused ThemesChoose specific themes for your collection, like Star Wars, superheroes, or TV show characters, to make collecting more manageable.
Profitable BrandsThe most valuable brands include Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Packaging DilemmaDecide whether to open action figures or keep them in original packaging based on personal preference for display or investment value.
Action Figure GradingUnderstand the importance of grading (e.g., by AFA) for assessing value, especially for investment-focused collectors.
Editions and WavesKnow the terms “backs” and “waves” to identify valuable editions in long-running action figure series.
TerminologyFamiliarize yourself with terms like Points of Articulation (POA) and figure scales to make informed collecting choices.
Types and VariantsLearn about different types of figures, including chase, variant, and exclusive figures, each with varying levels of rarity and value.
Storage and ProtectionStore and protect your figures in temperature-controlled environments, away from direct sunlight and humidity, using acrylic boxes or glass display cases.
Buying Action FiguresPurchase figures from reputable sources like specialty online stores and avoid counterfeit products.
Collector CommunityEngage with the collecting community for shared experiences, knowledge, and enhancing your collecting journey.

Deciding Your Collectibles Focus

When embarking on your action figure-collecting journey, it’s essential to focus on specific themes that resonate with your personal tastes. This could be a particular movie franchise like Star Wars, a genre like superheroes, or even characters from your favorite TV shows or video games.

A focused collection not only makes your hobby more manageable and affordable but also allows for a more coherent display. However, it’s wise to diversify within your chosen theme to safeguard against market fluctuations or availability issues. For example, you might start with characters from Star Wars Episode 1 or focus on figures like R2-D2 and C-3PO.

Most Profitable Action Figure Brands to Collect

As an action figure collector, it’s beneficial to know which brands tend to be more profitable, especially if you’re looking at your collection as a potential investment. The top five brands in terms of value and demand are:

  1. Star Wars: With a massive, multi-generational fan base, Star Wars action figures, especially from the original series, are highly sought after.
  2. Marvel: Thanks to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, figures from early 2000s movies and recent ones are in great demand.
  3. DC Comics: Iconic superheroes like Batman and Superman make DC Comics figures valuable, with some rare pieces fetching high prices.
  4. Transformers: These figures have been a favorite since the 1980s, with vintage ones being particularly valuable.
  5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, these highly collectible TMNT action figures continue to be a favorite among collectors.

To Open or Not: Packaging Dilemma

One of the first decisions you’ll face as a collector is whether to open the action figures or keep them in their packaging. This choice can significantly impact the value of your collectibles. Figures that are “Mint in Box” (MIB), “Mint in Package” (MIP), or “Mint on Card” (MOC) tend to hold the most value.

However, many collectors prefer to display their figures, which often involves removing them from their packaging. It’s a personal choice: whether you prioritize the potential investment value or the aesthetic pleasure of displaying your figures.

Understanding Action Figure Grading

Action figures are often professionally graded, with the Action Figure Authority (AFA) being a prominent grading authority. The grading includes designations like MIB, MIP, MOC, and NM (Near Mint). Graded figures, while more expensive, can be a crucial factor for collectors who focus on the investment aspect of their hobby.

Grading provides an objective measure of the figure’s condition and thus its potential value.

Knowing Editions and Waves

In action figure collecting, the terms “backs” and “waves” are crucial. They refer to different editions or versions of a collectible. For instance, the first wave of Star Wars figures, known as “12 Backs”, is more valuable than subsequent waves.

Understanding these variations can help you make informed decisions about which figures to add to your collection.

Action Figure Terminology

Understanding action figure terminology is essential for making informed choices. This includes knowing about Points of Articulation (POA), which refers to the movable parts of a figure. The more POAs, generally, the more valuable and complex the figure.

Additionally, the scale of the figure, usually expressed in terms of height, is another important factor. Action figures come in various scales, with 1:10 scale figures being among the most collectible.

Types of Action Figures and Variants

Action figures come in various types and variants, each with its level of rarity and value. These include:

  • Regular figures: The standard, most common versions.
  • Chase figures: Limited edition figures with intentional modifications.
  • Variant figures: Variations due to manufacturing errors or changes.
  • Super chase figures: Extremely rare variations of chase figures.
  • Custom figures: Unique, one-of-a-kind figures modified by collectors or artists.
  • Exclusive figures: Limited edition figures available only from specific events or retailers.
featured image depicting Storing and Protecting Your Action Figure Collection

Storing and Protecting Your Collection

Proper storage and protection are crucial for maintaining the condition and value of your action figures. Keep your figures in a temperature-controlled environment, ideally between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Avoid high humidity, ensure sufficient air circulation, and protect your figures from direct sunlight to prevent fading. For storage and display, options like acrylic boxes, specialty plastic bags, and glass display cases are popular among collectors.

Buying Action Figures: Where and How

While brick-and-mortar toy stores are an option, the online marketplace offers a vast selection of both new and vintage collectibles. However, it’s important to be cautious about authenticity and condition when buying online.

Auction websites like eBay or specialty online stores such as Geek Slop are popular choices for collectors. Ensure that the seller is reputable to avoid counterfeit products or inaccurate grading.

FAQs About Collecting Action Figures

Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are among the most valuable action figures by collectors.

This depends on whether you value potential investment over aesthetic display. Figures in their original packaging, especially in mint condition, tend to hold more value.

Store them in a temperature-controlled environment, protect them from humidity and sunlight, and consider using acrylic boxes or glass display cases for display.

Conclusion: Embarking on Your Action Figure Collecting Adventure

As we conclude this guide on collecting action figures, it’s essential to remember that at the heart of this hobby lies a passion for nostalgia, storytelling, and the joy of ownership. Whether you’re collecting as an investment, for the love of specific characters or series, or simply for the enjoyment of curating a collection, each action figure has the potential to be a treasure trove of memories and stories.

The world of action figure collecting is as diverse as it is fascinating. From the iconic characters of the Star Wars universe to the dynamic heroes and villains of the Marvel and DC comics, each figure offers a unique glimpse into the rich tapestries of popular culture. As you delve into this hobby, you’ll find that the journey of building your collection is as rewarding as the collection itself. The hunt for rare figures, the excitement of finding a mint condition piece, and the satisfaction of displaying your collection are unmatched experiences.

While the financial aspect of collecting – such as investing in the most profitable brands like Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – can be enticing, it’s the personal connection to your collection that will bring the most joy. The decision to open or keep your action figures in their original packaging, the understanding of action figure grading, and the knowledge of different types and variants of action figures all contribute to making your collection uniquely yours.

As you continue to grow your collection, remember the importance of proper storage and protection. Keeping your figures in a suitable environment ensures that they remain in excellent condition, preserving both their monetary and sentimental value. Whether displayed proudly in glass cases or carefully stored in acrylic boxes, each figure in your collection tells a story – a story that you have curated.

Finally, the action figure collecting community is a vibrant and welcoming space. Engaging with fellow collectors, sharing insights, and participating in discussions can enhance your collecting experience. As you embark on this exciting journey, remember that the joy of collecting is not just in the figures themselves, but in the memories they create and the community they build.

As you continue to explore the world of action figure collecting, don’t hesitate to seek out additional resources and information. For those interested in expanding their knowledge or looking to buy and sell action figures, Busby Antiques and Collectibles offers a comprehensive platform to connect with a broader community of enthusiasts and experts.

In summary, collecting action figures is a journey filled with discovery, nostalgia, and personal growth. Embrace the adventure, cherish each addition to your collection, and most importantly, enjoy the process. Happy collecting!

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