Basic Tips for Action Figure Collecting
Where Do I Start?
This one comes up whenever the news shows something about a hot new toy. If you are collecting as an investment, you should closely follow the recommendations in the price guide sections of the toy magazines. My stance on this issue is that if you want to make money, you should invest in something other than action figures and toys.
But if you are collecting for fun, the best place to start is with what you like. For kids, this is never a problem. For adults, this might mean some experimentation with deciding which lines they like: figures are often very different from how they appear in their packaging, with more or less play value than you would first suspect.
I Feel Overwhelmed: How Can I Stop?
Easy: stop when it is no longer fun. Stop when it becomes a chore to go out to the stores and track down every last figure in a line.
Time away from collecting can often give you a greater sense of perspective about your collection. Most people come back to their collections with a more narrow focus about what lines they wish to continue, or with a resolve to buy everything from online toy stores and avoid the “hassle” of finding the new figures they want. Action figures aren’t like milk. They don’t turn sour after a certain date, so taking some time off from buying new figures won’t be quite the hassle it might seem. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can catch up on the figures you may have missed buying the very first time they were stocked.
On occasion, collectors forget that there is no requirement for them to be completists. Even if you have the other 162 figures in a certain line, don’t buy the 163rd if you think it is a pile of garbage. The small buzz of being “complete” will be outweighed by the annoyance you feel every time you look at it and think how much you dislike it. Breaking free of the completist view on certain lines will make the act of collecting much more enjoyable.
How Can I Store All These Figures?
This one depends on if you open them. If you leave your figures carded, you’ll want to make sure to store them in a dry place where nothing can chew on the packaging. Rubbermaid RoughTote containers are a common solution for carded figure storage.
Those also work well for loose figures, although it is tough to find the one figure you are looking for. The obvious solution to that is to store them out in the open and display them!
How Can I Clean a Figure?
This one depends on the kind of filth covering it. If, like most of my loose figures, yours are just dusty, you can either get the “canned air” used for cleaning out keyboards and blow the dust off, or use a feather duster or electrostatic duster to wipe the dust away. Any of those are much quicker than actually wiping off each figure. For more stubborn dirt, you may want to resort to soaking your figures in warm soapy water and using a soft-bristled tooth brush to scrub off the dirt. Take care to dry the figures afterwards, as many figures have hollow portions that can take on water.
Why Does My Custom Figure Look Like Garbage?
One word: practice. Start simple, and as you acquire skills, move on to more complex projects. A simple repaint is a good beginning step. There are tons of customizing resources online: look around and see how other people started out.
Another common reason for bad customs, aside from impatience, is the wrong paint. Some plastics don’t take certain paints. Ask around and experiment to learn which figures need acrylic and which need enamel.