I’ve been collecting figures for one year and a half, and I currently own almost 60 of them. I have some words of experience to share.
Maybe because I realized now that I have been maintaining this hobby for quite a while, and I have a tendency of giving up things after some months. Having kept it, my collection has grown and has taken money, patience and space.
Although small comparing to some people over MFC – there are some people who own around 600 figures -, my collection means a considerable accomplishment. That is because I decided to buy each and every figure I own according to a series of requirements I established for figures, based on other’s collector accounts, pictures on the Internet and on buyfag faqs. And of course, my anime experience counts a lot. So, albeit small, it took me a lot of effort, will and money to get here.
I have passed through the stages of the collector: the discovery stage, the anxious stage, the lavish stage, the behaved and controlled stage.
When I de facto started my figure collection, I felt as if I had crossed a very important boundary. I’ve been watching anime series since I was a kid, and I have been admiring figures since 2006. I had never, however, bought anything and the only anime goods I previously owned were a Inu Yasha mini plush toy and a Cowboy Bebop 2004 calendar. Real figures for me, not bootlegs sold here in my country, were something I could never buy, because I would never have money for that.
When I finally started importing stuff from other countries – electronics, games, clothes – I started thinking that, maybe, I could afford one single figure, that it wouldn’t hurt. That is when I saw that Elsie scale figure was going to be released by Max Factory, in September 2011. I had just watched the whole The World God Only Knows series and read the manga, I preordered it. And that figure initiated my collection.
The discovery stage basically meant that I started really researching about figures, and trying to understand the difference in brands, types, manufactures. That is when I decided I would never guy a GK. I wanted then to have one scale figure (which I had already owned), a Nendoroid and a figma and that – silly me – would suffice. However, the more I researched, the more I saw that there were figures from characters I liked, and that I NEEDED them.
In the anxious stage I bought figures almost by impulse. I was anxious that they were already released, and that it would be impossible to have them if I didn’t buy at that moment. That is when I bought some figures from Plamoya: Sengoku Nadeko scale and Hachikuiji Mayoi scale, both by GSC. I also bought two figmas: Sengoku Nadeko Figma and Madoka Figma.
I found many stores in the process, and I kept up to date with the opened preorders. That initiated the lavish state, in which I decided to preorder anything I found interesting. Those were two ugly months, because I spent way too much money. And it was depressing, because although I bought figures and payed for them almost immediately after they were released, I had to wait for 3-4 months to actually have them. The customs office holds import products for that long, be it to be taxed or not.
This fact, ironically, generated a wave of happiness when all the figures arrived at once. However, right after those months the government here sanctioned an operation called “Red Wave Operation” in which they would increase taxation over almost all the import products. That is when I stated paying taxes over and over again. That is why I complain, because I pay tax after tax to get my figures home. And the taxes are heavy: 60% over the product’s price + shipping. Which leads to EMS -> death. Even when I chose the EMS method, I have to wait a month and a half to have my stuff.
This lead me to the behaved and controlled stage, which is, for me, reaching maturity as a collector. You already have figures, you have hands-on material to analyse. And I have reached some valuable conclusions towards this collecting business, some of them are really personal, for example:
- Saving a fixed amount of money to be spent monthly on figures, and saving a reasonable amount to be spent on taxes is my method. If there are more figures than my budget, I have to think carefully about the characters. Maybe one of them is not THAT precious to my collection. There is always the issue that the figures will be delayed, and your only option in most cases you be cry and take the blow. That happened with Godoka. Many of my preorders were pushed back to December, and some of them were, for me, more important than Godoka (Milla Maxwell). I could afford it, but I would be in a pinch. Canceling it was the only way. Today I am happy I don’t have her, somehow.
- I should be extra careful with GSC figures, because the proportions implied by some sculptors don’t please me.
- It is totally fine to collect male figures. I like the characters, the manufactures are good, so why not?
- It is important to establish goals for the collection, so you can prioritize some figures over the others and don’t fall to temptation: I have a thing for Tales series, so I probably should keep an eye for everything that comes from it; even if the character is not my favorite, the series is so much win, that I need everything. Given that, I am not going to preorder figures from the same month of a Tales figure.
- Keeping track of the second-hand market pays off. You can add important items to the collection for a reasonable price. I had two good experiences in buying second-hand figures: both of them were in perfect state, the sellers were kind and everything went smoothly.
- Some of the other things I learned during my collecting spree were related to space for displaying, temperature issues, leaning, fixing, keeping/not keeping the boxes. So far I still have space for future figures and their respective boxes, but I must say I am a bit worried about my Nendoroid collection. Dusting is always going to be an important issue, and for that I dust my figures every week, religiously. Although me and my husband don’t smoke and take showers everyday, Purita and Mel hang around here everyday.
And about the showers, yes, we have to keep the environment clean and ourselves clean when collecting figures. No one wants to leave a smudge on the arm or leg of your Misaka Maid outfit ver. I know that for some countries everyday might be a bit too much, but here we shower everyday, sometimes more than once.
I had many changes done in my study to display the figures. I changed the furniture positions, installed new shelves and started keeping track of the temperature daily in order to turn in/off the air conditioner. I live in a hot country, in which the sun strikes with all its remaining might. Not rarely do we have temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius. I also bought a new camera, with +Michael Huttner‘s help.
I had this furniture arrangement:
Now it is like this:
Collecting figures is something that needs more dedication than just money. Keeping this hobby requires patience, space, time, proper cleaning tools, a proper camera (if you want to share the love), a decent, controlled and manageable environment, a gift for foreseeing the delays, more patience, research, self-control and self acceptance. That last factor is of extreme importance because, we know, we collect anime figures, not famous statues. It is a collection generated by a specific kind of entertainment that most people don’t like, and that some people may misunderstand. It is a hobby like any other, but there is always the “otaku/fujoushi thingy”. And when you extend you hobby, by buying a dakimakura or hanging many posters or calendar to the walls, you get in the “forever doomed” zone (as stated by some buyfag faqs).
All in all, it is a life full of traps and weird smells coming from the plastic blisters. By being a figure collector you will learn that:
- you have to dust and clean your stuff, really
- some colors don’t match, and you rant
- some other colors seem to fade, and you lament
- if you let a box fall to the ground you may have this
- and consequently your boxes are dismantling
- some pieces may be broken and you don’t even noticed
- sometimes an arm doesn’t connect to a shoulder
- some paintings will leave you depressed, because they “absorb” dust
- you’ll have to adapt your surroundings to your figures and boxes
But you will learn that:
- scale figures are awesome
- Nendoroids are adorable
- Figmas are funny
And that is enough for me to keep going.