So You Want to Collect Figurines—but How the Heck Do You Get Started?!

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Before we begin, let’s get one thing straight: the figure-collecting rabbit hole is deep and it is wide. It’s easy to fall into but difficult to dig out of, and your wallet may not thank you much for your new passion.

That being said…if you have extra cash to burn plus a fiery love for physical collectibles (bonus points for some empty shelves too), this might be the hobby for you. It’s a casual hobby for me, but you can run with it as far as you’re able, and that’s one of the attractions.

If you like anime or video games (and really, any popular licensed brand), buckle up. From First 4 Figures to Funko, it’s a wild and wonderful journey.

But Aren’t Figurines for Kids?!

Luigi's Mansion Statue
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For simplicity’s sake, let’s focus on collectible figurines for video games and anime, and let’s quickly address the burning question, “But aren’t these just toys for kids?”

Much like how LEGO sets are “for kids”…until you drop a couple hundo on a Star Wars spaceship…figurines can be bought for children, but they scale up in complexity and price until plenty of them are really just for adults. (Especially some of the anime ones. Cough, cough.)

Figurines can be modest in size and MSRP, making for excellent desktop decorations–or they can be enormous monstrosities weighing more than a big dog. I have…more than once…incorrectly parsed the measurements on a website and pulled the trigger on a statue that was not modest in size and MSRP. I regret nothing. Mostly.

If you love a popular anime series (think Cowboy Bebop and My Hero Academia), there’s a good chance you have a variety of options for statues and figurines. The same goes for iconic game franchises like Dark Souls, Castlevania, and even indie darlings like Shovel Knight.

The nice thing about buying this kind of memorabilia for these kinds of properties is that you’re often getting limited-edition goods, and as long as you take care of those goods, it’s both a fun purchase and a decent investment.

I can’t recommend going into this hobby expecting to make a buck a decade from now, but having that be a possibility is just the cherry on top. Much like holding on to that ancient console or card until it’s finally super rare and everyone suddenly wants one.

Deciding How and What to Buy

Link Legend of Zelda
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The first and most obvious question is…how much do you want to spend? But before we even get there, you need to ask yourself, is what I’m looking at (or for) properly licensed and pedigreed?

Unlicensed reproductions and fan-art originals do exist, and sometimes they are cheaper, but going the licensed route guarantees higher quality and a safer purchase. The brands discussed later are all official with the legal eagles, as they partner with the trademarks they’re producing for.

Back to the first question. How much do you want to spend? No, seriously. It’s important. Because you could spend a modest amount, or you could spend your life savings. Okay, maybe you won’t spend that much, but we’re talking about a dozen dollars versus several thousands when it comes to a figurine.

Typically the bigger it is (or the more “to scale” it is), the more expensive it’ll be. But the brand and the quality of the figurine are factors as well. Something from a company notable for being budget-conscious (lookin’ at you, Funko) could be big but also affordable. Whereas something from a company notable for quality (lookin’ at you, First 4 Figures) might charge you upward of $800 for a 32” Gravelord Nito.

What you want may also not be readily available, and you may need to either sign up for a wait list or buy secondhand. Alternatively, what you want might just…not exist yet! And crossing your fingers that your fave character makes it into the collectibles pantheon is part of the fun.

Big Brands to Browse

Zelda Legend of Zelda
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Sometimes the brand you love is producing the collectibles themselves. For instance, Square Enix announced on April 23 a new 1/6 scale Final Fantasy VI statue in its Masterline collection. (They’re asking over $11,000 for this figurine, in case you thought I was joking about “several thousands” earlier.)

But you’re probably going to be buying from a secondary source that has a licensing deal. There are lots of legitimate marketplaces and skilled manufacturers out there, but I’m just going to hit three big ones to keep you from (rightfully) falling asleep over this article.

Let’s talk about First 4 Figures, Good Smile Company, and…yes, I know, I know…Funko.

First 4 Figures

Majora's Mask
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First 4 Figures is my personal favorite (of all figurine companies, not just these three). They were established in 2003 and are known for making “high-end collectible figures.” I’ve seen them at every PAX West I’ve been to, and I’m consistently blown away by their latest and greatest.

With First 4 Figures, you’re looking at limited-edition goods that are highly sought after. They’ll be expensive, and they’ll be in short supply. Products are typically numbered, and how early you order factors into which number you get.

Signing up for a preorder can be chaos, and you may be waiting a very long time until you see your purchase on your doorstep, but the sweet satisfaction of having a low number on a wicked statue is totally worth it. They also sell absolutely enormous figurines (alongside smaller, more reasonable ones). Ask me how I know.

Good Smile Company

Good Smile Isabelle
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Good Smile Company’s tagline is “Wonderful hobby life for you!!” and that should tell anime enthusiasts a lot already. Good Smile Company was founded in 2001 (older than First 4 Figures!) in Japan, and has since gone on to produce all kinds of figures from Japanese pop culture and other IP.

Good Smile is known for their Nendoroid and figma lines, as well as figurines sorted by scale. If you love a popular anime like Demon Slayer, you’re probably going to find your fave character in the adorable chibi Nendoroid form (I want this Tengen Uzui one so bad).

You’re possibly looking at preorders and limited stock with this company as well, and prices can range significantly depending on the size and detail of the figure. For instance, this Tanjiro Kamado statue will retail for roughly $580 when it launches, while the Tengen Uzui Nendoroid will be around $50.

Funko

Funko Zenyatta
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Funko is easily the most divisive figurine company…on this list, at least. Funko, based in ole Everett, Washington, is a popular budget-conscious brand. They were founded in 1998 (older than Good Smile!) and have proceeded to produce figurines for basically every IP and pop-culture reference under the sun.

Their flagship Funko Pop! products feature faces from TV shows like Schitt’s Creek, game franchises like Pokémon, sports teams like the Dodgers…and so on and so forth. They’re small, cutesy chibis, and they’re incredibly affordable, usually only setting you back 12 bucks.

Funko is a safe place to start if you just want to dip your toes into the collectible waters. You’ll definitely find something that represents your interests or hobbies, and it won’t damage your wallet much. But you may get crap from collectibles purists, who deem the Funko brand to be…”unworthy” due to the extremely broad appeal and the cheaper quality. (I love my Funko stuff, okay.)

Follow Your Heart Song

Mario & Yoshi
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Whether you’re buying from Funko or First 4 Figures, what’s important is that you’re buying what’s going to make you feel good.

What do you really want staring back at you from your shelves? Is it a chibi Zenyatta? A ridiculously massive Conker? An even more ridiculously massive Mario?

It’s up to you. And how you display your collectibles is up to you too. Some people can’t stand packaged figures, and some can’t stand unpackaging them. Whatever you like is what’s right, so grab and show off the figurine that tickles your fancy, and your fancy alone. Good luck and godspeed.

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