Understanding Figure Collecting Part 1

Figure collecting is a harmless pastime that many people around the world can learn to enjoy regardless if they are keenly interested in anime or not.

While many people collect anime figures either out of the fandom that is centered around a particular series, there are some that choose to obtain them to some people’s surprise – as home/room decor.

As there is duality in everything, figuratively speaking, “two-sides of a coin” – this particular collecting sub-genre has a hidden allure which appeals to hobbyist and enthusiasts alike who make collecting anime figures a central part of their lives.

An interesting stereotypical cliche surrounding the collecting of anime figures in the adult community has garnered quite a bit of attention over the years as anime figure collecting is becoming increasingly popular among the populace.


Dealing With The Public Opinion

“Why do you collect anime dolls?” – is one of the few questions I get asked by the non-initiated.

What baffles me is how people mix up the definition of dolls and figures. They are TWO separate things, I’m quite sure of it.

For the most part, we can overlook their ignorance and say, “they are called figures” – and to put it as simple as possible to understand without getting into discussing the origins:

“I collect them because it’s like collecting art”

Of course I get a sharp glare and they usually accept the concept.

“Art” in my opinion in its most purest form is something akin to that of beauty. It is something by which has a form whether it be abstract (in imagination) or concrete (physical object) whereby we can derive some sort of visual stimulation by simply gazing or by admiring upon its presence.

Where I Am At With Figure Collecting

As of today, I am proud to say that I’m finally within a finger’s count shy of a wonderful family of 100 figures.

By my tally, I have spent somewhere north of about 85,000 JPY (approx $8,500 USD) within the last 7 years of my collecting career. These figures not including shipping and the dings from import/customs taxes.

Despite my humble beginnings, I do warn people that this harmless hobby has become a huge cash sink which has put many people in a bad financial spot mostly due to the fact that it can indeed become “addictive”.

To give you some perspective, the average cost of a ⅛ scale can range from $90 USD upwards to $170 USD. While it may not seem a whole lot initially, these figures to the average income maker can be a big deal.

In a good run with pre-ordering open, you can pre-order at least 1 (one) figure per month. This sometimes translates to overlaps in release dates when it is ready to ship, leaving you with times where you might be out of pocket expenses for a handful at any given time.

For example, even if you are conservative collector and cap out at 6 figures a year (1 every 2 months) you might be unfortunate to have them all overlap release within 30-60 days of each other. With simple arithmetics you are looking at just under $1,000 USD with basic ⅛ scale releases in that time frame. The sticker shock is what puts many people off. Especially since you have to commit with the order before the shipping is tallied.

These numbers jump depending on the level of detail the figure is, the scale, the size of the boxes they come in which can affect shipping rates, the currency conversion to JPY and whether you live in a country where they tax you for importing these figures and lastly any brokerage/handling fees involved at the local level at the point of delivery acceptance.

What Goes On Every Day Leading Up To Purchases And Curating Process

It’s a fairly methodical process which I routinely follow.

It starts with what you already have and you take it from there.

What makes your inner collector instincts tick? Are you into a particular series? Or perhaps a character? Do you crave for sophistically detailed figures? This list can go on.

To answer that question, what makes my inner collector tick is the allure of a combination of:

  1. Rarity of the given figure
    1. When was it released? How long ago? How available is it on the open market? Is it easily obtainable?
  2. The detail in the given figure
    1. How much attention has been put into the design of the figure? The pose/facial features? How faithful it is to the original artwork? The engineering marvel involved in its final presentation?

  3. The price tag of the given figure
    1. This one is an interesting topic… I’m particularly attracted to pricey figures. It really allows me to put my collecting skills into play. Is it worth spending $300/$400+ for this figure? If I got this figure, who will appreciate it? Will it have value down the road?
  4. The scale of the given figure
    1. Most recently, I have embarked down the path of ¼ scale figures which are twice the size of ⅛ standard size figures. I personally just enjoy the sheer size/heft and exclusive bracket these figures position themselves in the anime figure market. It’s remarkably unique.

  5. The subject of the figure
    1. Are you attracted to the seriousness represented in the figure? Perhaps you appreciate the borderline hentai/ecchi genre? And the jury is out on this one – I love collecting ecchi and borderline hentai anime figures!

Once you figure out what makes you “tick” – the raison d’etre for collecting anime figures you are ready for the next step.

Scouting out what’s available. Unless you have immediate access to local stores to buy anime figures, most of the time you may resort to going online to fulfill your purchasing requirements.

The general rule of thumb is obviously purchase from reputable online stores. Your best bets would be online stores that operate from a physical address in Japan.

“Why?” you ask? Simply put – the chances of getting a counterfeit bootleg from China is much drastically lower. Especially when purchasing from a main distributor store out of Japan. I don’t bother going to Ebay or sketchy shops (whether online or at brick and mortar locations).

Once you scouted out what you are looking for such as determining the price and shipping, you’ll need to weigh out what is really in your comfortable spending limits.

After that – its a matter of ordering and the wait begins.

I’m not all too sure if collectors go through the pains of keeping track of what you own and having a wishlist but if you plan on making taking this hobby more seriously, it’ll pay in the long run to keep track of your collecting career. When it comes time to catalogue your collection, it may have amassed to a point where starting then can be a arduous task. You might even decide one day to sell your figures and having a ledger of some sort will help keep track at a moment’s glance profits and losses.

More to come in Part 2!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *