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Action Figures

Action Figures have been one of the most collectible items in the past 100 years, with many people continuing the hobby since they are kids. Whether you collect superhero action figures or GI Joe items, there is enough depth to this hobby to keep you entertained for years to come.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Action Figures resources. We have a Action Figures forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Action Figures how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Action Figures books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

Introduction To Action Figures

Do you remember the epic battles you won and the wild adventures you took with your first G.I. Joe? Does the memory of your Ninja Turtle collection bring a smile to your face? If so, action figures might be right for you. An action figure collection lets you relive those childhood memories every time you open your display case or add a new action figure.

Not are action figures fun and rewarding, they are a great investment. Many action figures are valuable collectors items. A properly maintained, mint condition collection full of rare action figures can easily sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Keep in mind that your new collection will probably be worth a few hundred dollars at best. A valuable action figure collection takes years of research, collecting, and maintenance to build.

Your collection might focus on a favorite movie, book, comic, television show, or cartoon. Don`t collect something because of its value. Your action figure collection is an opportunity for you to celebrate a theme that is important to you. The more pleasure you take in finding each addition, the better your collection.

Keep an eye out wherever you go. Who knows what you will find tucked away in a dusty box in a dark corner. Not every action figure is for everyone. If another collector beats you to a store, don`t be discouraged. A Superman fanatic might pass right over that vintage pre-oil crisis Action Man you`ve been dreaming about for years.

What Is An Action Figure?

The introduction of G.I. Joe to the toy market resulted in the term “action figures” rather than attempting to market dolls for boys. It is important, then, that an action figure is not confused with a figurine or a doll. While there is some overlap between all three, each category has specific characteristics that are not present in either of the other types of figures.

Action figures are defined by the following characteristics:

- A minimum of 3 posable points. Moveable arms, legs, knees, feet, hands, necks, and waists are all considered posable parts.

- No less than 3” and no more than 11” tall.

- Accessories are plastic with attached cloth or plastic clothing. The action figure cannot be fully undressed.

Action figures stand out from the crowd through their action and accessory innovations as well as their ability to move. They are particularly suited to collectors as action figures are typically part of a themed series.

History Of Action Figures

In a short fifty years, action figures have come a long way. In the mid-sixties, action figures were just military-themed toys. As time passed, action figures evolved to include millions of extremely popular, innovative toys. Action figures today are almost as popular with the adult collector market as they are with the under-12 market.

The well-developed themes and associated accessories of action figures attract more retail attention every year. Name an action movie or a comic book and you will no doubt find an action figure or two designed just for fans. Action figures are so popular that one of America`s top grossing movies of all time, Transformers, was based on the Transformer action figures.

Action Figure Conditions

As you scour flea markets and online auctions for the perfect additions to your action figure collection, you can use the following condition scale to determine the quality of your finds. There are ten levels of condition. Many are grouped in pairs. The lower number is the bottom of the condition level and the upper number is the better condition within each level. If you are particularly handy, you might choose some action figures in lower levels as restoration projects.

There is some confusion about terminology. Many argue that a mint or near mint action figure must include the original packaging. Always check an item for packaging before you buy it. If specified a “loose” action figure comes without the original packaging.

C10: Mint Condition These action figures are om excellent condition with no dirt, discoloration, or damage. Many collectors agree that mint condition action figures will have their accessories and their original packaging.

C8-9: Near Mint Condition Near mint condition action figures are clean and undamaged. However, they might not be in their packages or accessories may be missing.

C6-7: Fine Condition Action figures in fine condition have wear and tear consistent with a used toy. Damage is minor and reparable. All of the accessories might be lost.

C4-5: Good Condition These action figures have definite wear and tear. They rarely include their accessories. However, they are reparable and still have value.

C2-3: Poor Condition A collector who keeps a poor condition item will likely leave it in that condition. These figures are often in pretty bad shape with significant breaks. However, all limbs should be present.

C1: Very Poor Condition Action figures in very poor condition are considered trash. These figures may have missing parts, severe breaks, major discoloration, and significant wear.

Getting Started

Beginning your action figure collection is easy and reasonably affordable. If you start off on the right foot and stick with a plan, you will never find yourself buried under piles of useless plastic junk. Instead, you will cultivate an action figure collection that you love.



Before you begin, figure out which action figures interest you. Do you only care for Superman or do you prefer the complexity of transforming action figures?

As you begin your collection, choose one or two themes. You can find lists of the action figures associated with each theme, including their availability, features, and value.

If you stray too far from these themes, your collection will become directionless and disorganized.


Research & Collect

Search online and in magazines to find the pieces you seek. Don`t buy every action figure you find. For example, in a store dedicated to action figures you might find a hundred transformers. Rather than spend your life savings to buy the store`s inventory, pick one or two of your favorite items to add to your collection. Not only will your collection stay true to your theme, you will only have action figures that you really like in your display case.


Great Places To Find Action Figures

Some action figures are only sold by certain stores. Others are no longer in production and have to be hunted down. There are lots of great places to search for the next gem in your collection. If you don`t have any success, keep trying. Action figures will show up in a thrift store or flea market booth when you least expect it.

- Comic Book Stores

- Comic Book Conventions

- Online Auctions

- Garage Sales

- Thrift Stores

- Flea Markets

- Antique Shops

Regardless of which approach you take to finding your action figures, remember to have fun and take pleasure in your action figure collection.

Display and Maintain Your Collection

As you build your action figure collection, protect your investment. Failure to properly store your action figures can result in significant damage. Even if you don`t plan to sell any of your action figures, they will no longer have their appeal if they turn into melted gray blobs.

Follow these tips to ensure a long life for your action figures:

1. Keep all action figures out of the sun. Many plastics shrink and warp when exposed to direct sunlight. Action figures are know to turn into hunchbacks and pancakes in sunlit display cases. Paints and dyes also fade when exposed to sunlight. Action figure packaging is particularly susceptible to damage in sunlight.

2. Avoid heat and humidity. Heat will have the same effect as sunlight. Humidity can result in mold, mildew, condensation, and package bleeding. If your collection is stored in a basement, a dehumidifier might be all you need to prevent moisture damage to your collection.

3. Protect action figures from dust and dirt. Action figures have moving parts and fine details. Dust and dirt will build up in joints and textures of any sort. Not only does this look bad, it can both age and irreversibly damage your action figure.


Action Figure Storage And Display

As you build your collection, you will no doubt want to display some of your prized pieces. You can purchase several different display systems. Glass front display cases are an excellent option as they protect your action figures from dirt, dust, and humidity. If you do not have display cases, you can also use bookshelves or any other shelving unit. Some collectors like to build display walls that mimic those found in comic book stores. Each boxed action figure would hang from a hook on this wall.


Cleaning Action Figures

Simple dusting might suffice for your collection. However, if you acquire a new piece or your collection needs some spring cleaning, follow these instructions to avoid causing unnecessary damage to any of your action figures.

- Fill a bowl with slightly warm water. Do not, under any circumstances, use hot water. Your action figure will become soft and could get damaged during cleaning.

- For at least five minutes, soak your action figure in the warm water. This will allow any built up debris to soften and loosen.

- Using a small, soft-bristled brush (a bottle brush or toothbrush will work well) and a tiny amount of moisturizer-free soap, scrub your action figure gently.

- Allow the action figure to rest, covered in soap, for at least a minute.

- After the action figure soaks, scrub thoroughly to remove the tough dirt and debris from joints and grooves.

- Rinse well, rotating the action figure under the water to remove soap from joint sockets.

- Pat dry and allow to air dry in a cool, dry place for 12 hours. Do not dry your action figure in the sun or with a blow dryer. You will destroy your action figure.

Action Figure Value: Appraisals and Insurance

Whether you plan to sell your collection or not, knowing the value of your action figures can be important. Without an accurate appraisal, your collection has no value in the eyes of an insurance company.


Do not have your action figures appraised by a dealer. Dealers buy and sell with the goal of turning a profit. Dealer appraisals almost always result in a value less than the actual action figure`s value.

Online appraisals will have a similar outcome. A good appraisal cannot be conducted if the appraiser is unable to look at the action figure closely.

Independent appraisers who are certified by the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) are your best option if you choose to have your action figure collection appraised.


Your homeowners or renters insurance will not cover the full value of an action figure collection, if anything at all. Many insurance companies will require that you purchase an individual policy for any collectible items. However, the coverage offered by these policies is low if you manage to get any compensation at all.

If your policy is worth more than a few thousand dollars, you can purchase collectibles insurance. Unlike personal property policies, collectibles insurance covers items as they are shipped or transported around the world.

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