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How to Start an Action Figure Collection

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Collecting action figures can be an incredibly fun and rewarding hobby. It can make you feel like a kid again. It can help you celebrate your love for your favorite movie, comic book or TV show. And, if you buy carefully, it can become a great financial investment, as many figures reach values of hundreds of dollars on the collectible market.

But first, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why do I want to collect action figures?
  • Where should I start looking to begin my collection?
  • How should I collect and display my action figures?

Why?
We all know that action figures are cool, but what is your deeper reason for wanting to collect action figures as opposed to, say, stamps or coins? The answer to this question will help you make smarter purchases and ultimately build a better collection.

Are you a fan of a particular movie? Then you may want to limit your collection to action figures based on the movie (e.g., collecting only Star Wars figures). Are you a comic book fan? Then you may want to focus your collection on only Batman or Spider-Man figures.

Limiting your collection to just one or two themes will keep you from spending willy-nilly on any old action figure that catches your eye. Not having a focus can lead to a mish-mash collection of figures that, down the road, you may consider impulse purchases and ultimately a waste of your money.

Perhaps you're looking to find all of those great action figures that you had as a kid. This can be an expensive but greatly rewarding and nostalgic way of collecting.

Or maybe you're simply a fan of the craftsmanship put into action figures. Therefore, you may want to focus your collection on figures that have excellent sculpts and paint jobs. This could make for a very beautiful collection as each new figure is added.

Where?
Once you've gotten a good idea on why you want to collect action figures, you can start your collection by making some smart first purchases. Start out by doing a little research by reading online action figure news sites and fan forums. They'll let you know what's hot and what's not.

Great places to find action figures:

  • Toy sections of stores in your area: Look up and down the action figure aisle, keeping in mind your goals. For example: I'm looking for Spider-Man figures and I'm only going to allow myself to buy the best two. With any luck, you'll be walking out with the beginnings of a great collection.
  • Websites that specialize in action figures: These sites are great for finding newer action figures that may be tougher to find in stores. You're usually guaranteed that they'll be in good condition.
  • Thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets: Some sellers just don't know what they have, so you stand a good chance of finding vintage action figures for a fraction of their going rate on the collectible market. They may be in worse condition (missing paint, missing accessories, etc.), so you you'll have to decide how important condition is to you.

How?
If you're not careful in your purchases, you could end up with a massive collection with no rhyme or reason taking up every square inch of available space in your home, garage, storage unit and trunk of your car. This ultimately does not make for a satisfying collection.

As mentioned before, have a clear idea of which action figures you want to collect and stick to it, no matter how much you may be tempted by another figure that doesn't fit in to your theme.

Displaying Action Figures
A lot of thought should be put into how to display your figures. This is just as important for building a satisfying collection as which figures you buy. Many furniture and department stores sell beautiful display cases with shelves and glass doors. These are ideal for displaying collections in a specific area of your house or office, and help keep your collection from spreading all over the place. If you can't find a nice display case, a couple of tall, matching bookshelves work just as nicely.

One Last Thought: Loose or Mint?
This is a major debate among action figure collectors.

"Loose" refers to action figures that have been taken out of their packages, in order to display them in poses and holding their accessories (weapons, gear, etc.). Some collectors feel that this lowers the value of an action figure, but other collectors, who are less worried about the collectible re-sale value, prefer displaying their figures loose for the fun they get from displaying them "in action."

"Mint" can refer to action figures that are in the condition in which they were displayed in stores, in their original packages, with the packages in brand new condition. You may see terms on collectible and auction sites like "MIB" (mint in box), "MIP" (mint in package), or "NM" (near mint, meaning the figure is still in the package but has some wear and tear on the packaging).

This is a purely personal choice and can be equally rewarding for the collector, so be sure to give it some thought.

Now Start Collecting!
This should give you a good feel as to how to begin your new hobby of action figure collecting. But never forget the first and most important rule: have fun!

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