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ACTION COMICS #242
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ACTION COMICS #252
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ACTION COMICS #334
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ACTION COMICS #419
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Adventure Comics 247 - for sale - mycomicshop
ADVENTURE COMICS #247
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ALL STAR COMICS #8
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ATOM #1
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BATMAN #9
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BATMAN #121
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BATMAN #179
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BATMAN #200
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Brave and the Bold 28 - for sale - mycomicshop
BRAVE AND THE BOLD #28
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Brave and the Bold 34 - for sale - mycomicshop
BRAVE AND THE BOLD #34
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Flash 105 - for sale - mycomicshop
FLASH #105
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GREEN LANTERN #1
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GREEN LANTERN #7
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GREEN LANTERN #16
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Green Lantern 76 - for sale - mycomicshop
GREEN LANTERN #76
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Justice League of America 1 - for sale - mycomicshop
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1
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NEW TEEN TITANS #1
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SHOWCASE #4
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SHOWCASE #22
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Superman 199 - for sale - mycomicshop
SUPERMAN #199
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Superman 233 - for sale - mycomicshop
SUPERMAN #233
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WONDER WOMAN #1
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HOW TO START COLLECTING ACTION FIGURES

Buy what you like
Collecting new or old action figures
Collecting opened/loose action figures
Collecting opened/loose action figures with packages
Collecting packaged action figures
Collecting both opened/loose figures and packaged figures
Size and Scale
Collecting theme
Where to Buy

On this page I will teach you how to start your action figure collection and build it up properly.

For those of you who already have a collection, I think you will still benefit from the information on this page as well as the other pages on my site.

Collecting figures is very straightforward.  Thereís really only a few ways to collect.

You can collect new or old figures or both.
You can collect opened/loose figures without their original packages.
You can collect opened/loose figures with the original packages on the side.
You can collect figures in their original packages - unopened/sealed.
You can collect a mixture of opened/loose figures and figures in their original unopened/sealed packages.

Buy what you like

The most important thing to remember when collecting is always collect items that you like. 

Always.  Always.  Always.   

You will see this noted in different parts on my site and referenced in different ways.

You should never buy and collect certain figures solely based on the fact that someone else collects it and therefore you should collect it. 

You should never buy and collect certain figures solely based on the fact that itís the hottest trend going on and you want to get in on the latest trend.

You may of course like items that are the latest trend and you may like items that others collect, but it should never be the factor in your decision to buy and collect.

After a period of time if you go after items that you donít like, you will look at your collection very soon and realize you have items that you never liked.  Theyíll just collect dust and never enjoyed and youíll need to get rid of them.

Itís no fun to collect something you donít like.

Itís avoidable that youíre going to collect something that others collect and also happen to be the latest trend.  Itís a law of numbers.

It should only be a result of a common thing as there are millions and millions of collectors who love Star Wars, Batman, Spider-Man, Superman for example and each has had its own time when they were the hottest thing going on.  They are all still around today. 

I personally love figures depicted of these characters and of course it just so happens that many others love them too, but I donít collect them since others do and I donít collect them since theyíre the hottest trend either. 

I collect them because I very much like them.

One of the greatest things about collecting is knowing someday you will be handing down your collection to your children or someone you know who would love to carry on your legacy.

Isnít it great to know youíre handing them something you cherish - something youíve worked so hard to build up for a long time - something that you truly love.

Collecting new or old action figures

Some collectors like to collect newer figures that have come out in recent years. 

Itís very easy to start and collect with so many offerings coming out on a monthly basis and with many resources to buy and choose from.

Some collectors like to collect old figures since they are scarcer and much harder to find and in most cases are valued more than their newer counterparts which adds to the collectability.

Remember older figures in most cases were not saved due to the fact that figures were intended to be toys and played with. 

No one really thought one day that they would become collectible and millions and millions were thrown away or damaged during its many hours of play by kids and adults all over.

I have collected both new and old figures, but presently focus in on the newer items since they are being produced with better sculpting and materials and with better paint jobs.

I also find it very satisfying to collect items that I can actually find at a more reasonable rate and at a fair price than older figures.  I used to enjoy hunting for the older items, but with so many new offerings coming out it is very hard to go back and collect older figures.

Thatís not to say I donít collect older figures and you shouldnít.

You can go either way or collect both.  There are no wrong answers here.

I have created many pages on my site on new and old figures so you can read about various toy lines so you can make your decision on which route to go.

Collecting opened/loose action figures

Deciding on whether to collect opened/loose figures or packaged figures has its advantages.

Collecting opened/loose figures tend to cost much less than packaged figures because most people believe that anything out of the original package is considered a used item even though there are many times when an item has never been used.

Itís the mere fact that someone has touched them after the manufacturer has placed an item in its package that this interpretation is made.

This is a real advantage to opened/loose figure collectors. 

If you purchase items brand new and open them, they will cost the same.  However you may have more options since package condition would not be a concern to you and there are choices out there where damaged or less than pristine condition packages will cost less than the mint condition packages on the after market.

Collecting opened/loose figures are also more fun.  You actually get to touch the figures.  Now that theyíre in your collection, you can pose them and display them in any way you please.

You can even play with them.  Thatís not something you can do if theyíre in the package.

One of the things you need to be aware of is you need to be sure what youíre getting in an opened/loose figure. 

I will be as detailed as I can on other pages on my site describing and providing photos of various action figure lines that I like to collect and I believe are worth collecting. 

You should always want your items to be complete.  You want to ensure loose figures youíre contemplating on purchasing have all of the accessories that came with each particular figure. 

Most collectors strive to be complete with their collections in this regard.

Flash - DC Universe

Reviewing and studying here on my site and on some of the other reliable sources I have found on the internet over the years will help provide you a resource providing you a given figureís completeness.

Hereís some of my favorite sources for photos on figures on the internet - Cool Toy Review, Rebelscum, Yojoe and in magazine form - Tomart Action Figure Digest

I will cover different action figure lines on its own pages such as DC Universe Classics, Star Wars, Marvel Universe, Marvel Legends so you can read and see some of the various figures in those lines and their accessories.

Of course some collectors donít care about accessories and the long-term trading possibilities so their options are even greater and cheaper as most sellers will offer these items at much less since they are incomplete.

Collecting opened/loose action figures with packages

Letís say you decide to collect opened/loose figures and want to hang on to the packaging for the future.

Most collectors donít expect that you will retain the plastic bubble packaging as it is almost not worth saving and using for future trading along with the figure and the cardboard backing.

I have seen some sellers offer the figure in its plastic bubble and the inner plastic tray that the figure is situated to with the card back which has been detached from the bubble as a representation that the figure has not been touched.

I donít know of anyone who saves the bubble after having taking the figure out from the plastic.

If you save anything in addition to the figure and its accessories - save the card back.  It typically has photos of the figure and other figures in the line along with a profile or summary of the figure and or that line.

Most collectors almost always save the card back as it is a real collectorís item by itself. 

Flash - DC Universe

GI Joe and Star Wars figures almost always have some sort of profile and description on the character on the card backs.  These are worth your time and effort to hang onto.  Handle them with great care as you do your figures.

Some figures come in a box of some sort.  I would recommend saving this.  You can save any of the cardboard inserts and plastic ties and baggies that are within the box in case there comes a time when you need to trade out that figure. 

Most collectors want these as they may end up re-packaging up the figure for their collections.

The plastic bubble described above in almost all cases will have been torn open to the point that trying to reseal back on the card will look very unattractive, but I have seen some collectors do a masterful job of removing the plastic from the card.

Use your best judgment if you think having those bubbles hanging around will be of use for you in the future.

Collecting packaged action figures

If you decide to collect packaged figures, you will be in most cases paying more than buying opened/loose items.

They will be in most instances more valuable than opened/loose items purely on the facts that they are in their original package, unopened, untouched and there are less of them around.

Flash - DC Universe

Most people open their items than keep them in packages.  Itís a known fact. 

Action figures are purchased by kids than any other segment and theyíre usually opened more times than not.

Most collectors who collect packaged figures tend to be very strict on the condition of the packaged figures they buy.

A small ding in the corner, dents, creases, scratches or other marks on the package can sway collectors from buying that item and having to wait it out for another item to come along.

If itís newer items, then you have a better chance of it being replenished at your favorite store.

If itís an older item, then you risk the opportunity of not seeing that item again for months if not years.

Some collectors donít mind a minor imperfection on the package as long as itís not demolished.

Each person will have their own tolerance as to what they will accept and what they will not.

Remember if you ever decide that one day you will sell or trade your item then you will need to try and pick out the best possible package since most packaged collectors want them in the best condition they can find and will only accept one that has only small defects.

Displaying packaged figures look great as you have the benefit of the package art or photo that the figure came in.

Captain America - Famous Cover  Iron Man - Famous Cover  Hawkeye - Famous Cover

I know some collectors love to have their packaged figures hanging on a wall display or on a shelf with its fabulous graphics showing like a million bucks from far away or up close.

Collecting both opened/loose figures and packaged figures

There was one time that I collected both opened/loose and packaged figures, but after a period of time I found that this was very costly.

I have since thinned down my collection and focused strictly on opened/loose items.

I recommend that you stick with only one style with an occasional packaged item or opened/loose item of a figure that you want and need two of.  This way you have the best of both worlds without spending too much to keep up your collection.

It also looks better when your collection is comprised mainly of one or the other for display.

Size and Scale

Action figures come in many different sizes such as 3-3/4 inches tall - 4 inches tall - 5 inches tall - 6 to 7 inches tall - 8 inches tall - 9 inches tall - 10 inches tall - 12 inches tall - 18 inches tall and even taller than that.

Find the size that fits best for your living environment.  Remember with larger figures if you decide to keep them in their original packages will take up more room than smaller figures.

Zero in on one or two sizes that you like and stay with it. 

It will look uniformed and display great if you stick with one or two particular sizes. 

Of course maybe you like every size of a character or theme like Batman for example which has been produced in just about every size imaginable.  Or maybe you like every scale of Lord of the Rings figures. 

Thatís fine too, but my point is not to go after every scale for every action figure toy line that you want to collect.

You will soon have an accumulation rather than a collection. 

Just donít go overboard.  We all donít have infinite space to house every figure out there and whatís the fun if you have most of your items in storage boxes never to be seen.

By sticking with a couple of sizes for your collection, you will build up a nice looking collection that you will be very happy with.

Collecting theme

Once youíve nailed down the above ways of collecting now the decision is to narrow your collecting theme and focus on what action figures or action figure lines to go after.

Using Captain America as an example - there is a line of figures based on Captain Americaís world.  It is initiated by the movie Captain America the First Avenger.  Some are comic book inspired - some are movie inspired and some are concept inspired which means the manufacturer hasnít taken creative license to make different versions of Captain America that the public has never seen before.

You need to decide if youíre going to collect a particular figureís line of figures or collect a specific sub-theme (ie comic book inspired - movie inspired or concept inspired figures from that line) or collect a specific character or characters.

Again using Captain America as an example, I would collect the most recognizable figures from the comics and movie and avoid the concept series and other variations.  I would pick up the more recognizable characters in his world like Red Skull, Bucky, Crossbones and Winter Soldier as long as they are in their classic or as closed to classic uniforms.

My recommendation is to collect the more well-known figures since they usually get the most attention by the manufacturer throughout the development process to finished product.  That is the face of their given brand and they are going to make sure that those figures are the best made.  They want to impress and catch the buyersí and collectorsí eyes so we buy them and tell others about them so they will buy them too.

Occasionally thereís going to be a figure that is lesser known and gets completely ignored by buyers and collectors and then they become either returned and destroyed or discounted and end up to who knows where and suddenly they are a collecting sensation since theyíre impossible to find.

Iíve seen so many of those examples and even ones that you wouldnít expect like Penguin from the original Batman the Animated Series line in the early 1990s.  I used to see droves of those sit on store pegs hanging there for months and then they all disappeared and overnight everyone wanted them.

Penguin is a recognizable character that most collectors shouldíve picked up, but didnít.  Donít spend time chasing down obscure figures unless itís a character that makes your collection look right.

Most manufacturers love to create multiple variations of a given figure so they can sell more of them.  They anticipate that kids and adults will want to purchase the more well-known characters in all sorts of colors with different sets of accessories.  Collecting 20 versions of Captain America from any product line doesnít make a lot of sense as does collecting 1000 versions of Batman.

Mostly manufacturers will only create a handful of key characters in recognizable classic outfits.  Stick with those and occasionally pick up a variation if it really interests you.

You will always have a good feeling about the more well-known figures since that is what more than likely attracted you to a particular line of figures, but the lesser known figures may interest you too just donít get carried away with buying every single one.

You need to keep your focus and not allow it to become overwhelming and collect every possible figure in each and every line.

You can get very creative with your collecting.  Maybe you want to focus in on collecting only female action figures or Marvel action figures.  Maybe you want to collect Green Lantern figures.  Maybe you want to collect science fiction/space fantasy figures like Star Wars or Star Trek or fantasy figures like Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia.

Just try and stay in a given theme which will compliment each toy line.  I think Star Wars figures in the 3-3/4 scale look very nice next to Marvel Universe figures in the same scale as does GI Joe figures of the same size.  Some actually cross right over into each otherís world.

Itís really up to you how you want to concentrate on a given theme for your collection. 

I just want to provide you some guidance in some of the temptations and pitfalls to watch for in theme collecting as they are not advertised by any manufacturer.  They want you to buy every thing they produce and thatís not feasible for most of us.

As always collect what you like.

Where to Buy

As noted above there are many sources to find action figures.  I will get into more detailed specifics on my Where to Buy page, but there are essentially three places to acquire them from.

Locally - Mail Order - Internet.

Each has its advantages for both new and old figures.

As you browse the dedicated action figure toy line pages on my site, I will provide references to find those toy lines which makes the most sense.

I find buying new items locally to be best however if youíve missed some items that have since passed its shelf life (example Iron Man figures that came out the previous year and you just started to look for them this year), the odds of them coming back into stores are remote. 

A case of those figures may be hanging around in a merchant or manufacturer warehouse needing that stock to be uncovered and sent out to stores in order to make room for incoming newer product.  Those will be gone in minutes of reaching shelves as there are extreme collectors out there who frequent shops daily looking for items and will not pass up the opportunity to pick those up for future selling/trading. 

Your odds of beating them are not favorable.

I will say that if a figure line just came out and you missed the first initial shipments, you can be patient as they will be coming back into the stores again soon as most toy manufacturers will be alert to sales information and will always work with their re-sellers to restock those items.

Donít fall prey to high priced sellers who claim that the figures will never come back out at retail.  Iíve seen too many items in the last 30 years that immediately sold out, but after a few months came back in droves.

Local comic book stores typically carry new figures as they are easily tied to the comic book world.  That would be another source for you to check out.  They will be a little higher priced since they arenít a large chain store like Target or Walmart and donít order nearly as much and cannot pass on discounts to you that the larger stores get.

You can also try swap meets and comic book and toy shows.  Most swap meets run on weekends with comic book and toy shows operating quarterly/bi-annually or annually in most areas.

Hitting the internet may the best option for items that have passed their shelf life.

Typically for mail order you need catalogs from those sellers or see their ads in magazines and newspapers.  I used to get a catalog from one of the major merchants Entertainment Earth that produces a catalog as well as has ads in magazines and have their own web site offering newer figures.  I find it much easier though to find items on their web site.

The internet is a great source for both new and old figures.  There are a plethora of choices, but with newer figures sometimes the cost of shipping makes it cost prohibitive.

You will have to weigh your options of time/effort and money.  Thereís always something else to collect to bide your time between so only use the internet when youíre pretty sure locally itís not going to happen for you for new figures.

For older figures using comic book conventions and the internet makes the most sense.

Local comic stores tend not to be able to keep those in stock due to size and space.  They carry newer figures and have to sell through those to make space for more newer figures.

Occasionally there are some antique stores that have sellers who have a small booth where they offer older figures.  I have found a couple locally, but again due to space limitations their offerings are not great.

Itís those conventions where you have private sellers/dealers who have been hunting and collecting older pieces that bring them out specifically for these shows.

Thatís the time to try and acquire them or they wonít resurface again for months and sometimes years.

The internet plays a part in that mentality too.  Private sellers/dealers know theyíre going to get the best dollar for their items by selling them to collectors and not to other sellers.

Using the internet at places like Ebay or Amazon or even their own web sites will provide that venue for those sellers to market older figures.

You will find expanded information on the subject of where to buy on my dedicated Where to Buy Action Figure page.

Happy Collecting!!!

Johnson's Collectibles

Predator Jungle Hunter Predator Maquette

Alien Warrior Aliens Statue


Wolverine Marvel Sixth Scale Figure

Amazing Fantasy 15 - for sale - mycomicshop
AMAZING FANTASY #15
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Amazing Spider-Man 1 - for sale - mycomicshop
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1
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Amazing Spider-Man 129 - for sale - mycomicshop
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #129
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Avengers 1 - for sale - mycomicshop
AVENGERS #1
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Daredevil 1 - for sale - mycomicshop
DAREDEVIL #1
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Fantastic Four 1 - for sale - mycomicshop
FANTASTIC FOUR #1
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GHOST RIDER #1
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Giant-Size X-Men 1 - for sale - mycomicshop
GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1
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Hulk 1 - for sale - mycomicshop
HULK #1
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Hulk 181 - for sale - mycomicshop
HULK #181
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Iron Man 1 - for sale - mycomicshop
IRON MAN #1
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Journey into Mystery 83 - for sale - mycomicshop
JOURNEY into MYSTERY #83
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Journey into Mystery 112 - for sale - mycomicshop
JOURNEY into MYSTERY #112
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MARVEL PREMIERE #1
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MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #5
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NEW MUTANTS #98
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Tales of Suspense 39 - for sale - mycomicshop
TALES OF SUSPENSE #39
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Thor 126 - for sale - mycomicshop
THOR #126
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WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #32
for sale - mycomishop


WOLVERINE #1
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X-FACTOR #1
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X-MEN #94
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X-MEN #130
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X-MEN #201
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X-MEN #205
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X-MEN #266
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