Toy Collecting 101: A Beginner’s Guide To Toy Collection

One of the most exciting hobbies people have ever listed is collecting action figures. In fact, collecting toys can be a tremendously enjoyable and satisfying hobby. It can transport you back to your childhood.

It can help you celebrate your passion for your favorite film, comic book, or television show. If handled properly, it can grow into a shockingly profitable investment. Collectibles cost a great deal on the market, and if you manage to accumulate entire collections of whatever figures you’re into, these might become worth a substantial amount of money!

But be warned: once you start, you won’t be able to stop! As has been the case with many “collectors,” once they purchase their first piece, it’s pretty hard to resist hunting for the entire collection. We’ve compiled this guide on what you need to know before growing as a toy collector!

What Are Your Reasons For Starting An Action Figure Collection?

What’s your motivation behind trying to get your hands on the specific collection? Action figures are awesome, but, for most collectors, the fascination runs deeper than mere aesthetics. There’s a certain motivation for collecting them. When you can answer this, you’ll be a step closer to making more informed purchases and building a better collection.

Do you have a favorite movie? Then you might want to focus your collection on movie-based action figures (e.g., Star Wars or Marvel hero figures). Are you a fan of comic books? Then you might want to narrow down your collection to a specific character, story, movie, or TV show.

Limiting your search to a few specific themes helps keep you from overspending on random pieces. The inability to focus can have serious consequences. Without a focus, you may have a messy collection of figures that you may later consider impulse purchases and, essentially, a waste of your money.

Say you’re looking for all of your favorite action figures from your childhood; you can stick to this in searching for specific pieces to invest in as a rewarding and sentimental collection method. If you’re a new fan, you may want to concentrate your collection on figures with excellent structures and detailed jobs. With each new figure added, it could quickly grow into an amazing collection.

Where Should You Start Your Collection?

Once you’ve determined your “why,” you can proceed to grow your collection with a few wise initial purchases. Begin by doing some preliminary research by checking out online action figure platforms like and fan forums. They’ll tell you what’s in or out.

Purchasing Alternatives

1. Local Stores

Depending on your local stores, you might find a few exceptional pieces you could add to your collection, so don’t skip out on checking stores out. For example, if your focus is Captain America, only get a few exceptional pieces; you don’t have to get every piece you lay your eyes on.

2. Flea Markets, Thrift Shop, Garage Clearance Sales

You’d be surprised at the gems you could find at garage sales or other unconventional places. So if you hear of any garage sales, or thrift shops in your area, be sure to check them out. And when sold there, they’re often auctioned at a fraction of their true value, making it an exciting deal! Be careful, though, as some may be damaged (cracked, faded, missing parts).

Where To Display

You’ll likely spend a small fortune investing in your collection, so it only makes sense to ensure you have an ideal display spot for them. Most proud collectors go for glass displays that you can keep in your chosen room. These are perfect as they allow you to admire them without the risk of them breaking or getting scattered all over.

Mint or Loose?

This is a major point of contention among action figure collectors. The term “loose” refers to collections purchased removed from their packaging for immediate display, while “mint” is used for well-packaged units as seen in stores.

Some collectors believe that displaying a collectible loose reduces its value, while others are less concerned with the resale value, opt to show off their pieces loosely as you can enjoy seeing them “in action.”

For “mint” collections, you may see terms like “MIB” (mint in box), “MIP” (mint in package), or “NM” near mint. (meaning the figure is kept in the box but has minor weathering) on collectible and auction sites.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it! Now what remains is for you to make your first purchase! Toy collecting could be the hobby you need to find a new community that appreciates and reminisces about the same things as you do. Remember to pick your purchases wisely, so it doesn’t turn into hogging!


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