How to start an anime figure collection — types of figures, pre-ordering, avoiding bootlegs, AmiAmi and more

Crunchyroll is one of the reputable sites selling genuine figures

With collecting anime figures being such a popular hobby nowadays, more and more people are buying their first anime figure.

One thing many anime figure collectors say months or even years after they start collecting, however, is they wish they had done it in a more organized way right from the start.

Especially when they end up buying bootleg figures they didn’t know were bootleg when they ordered them, or when they suddenly realize they own a bunch of figures they do not really like.

As getting into anime figure collecting can be hella expensive, here are a few tips on how to start an anime figure collection in the best way possible — meaning, ending up with figures you will love for years and not being stuck with dodgy bootlegs you wish you hadn’t bought.

Set an amount you can afford to spend on figures

There are tens of thousands of anime figures that have been released over the last couple of decades, and you will probably want half of them. Anime figure collecting can get very expensive very fast.

That’s why you should always set a budget for your new collection before you even start.

A monthly budget is the best or, an annual budget if you want to be strict with how much of your annual income you spend but, once you have figured out how much you can reasonably afford — stick to it.

The easiest way to stick to a budget is to narrow down what you want to collect —  and then focus.

Whether that means you only buy bunny girls, characters from a specific anime series or characters made by a particular company. When just starting out, think narrow as you can always expand what you buy larger your figure collection grows.

Decide what you like

One of the first things I did when I started my own anime figure collection was decide on the anime characters I liked, and then look for those characters in figure form.

I didn’t give a damn about what was popular, what other collectors said you should buy, or what others said was ‘trash’. If I liked the character and the figure I found, I bought it.

In other words, ignore what other people ‘recommend’ you buy, and buy the stuff you love yourself. After all, you are the one that will be looking at them day after day after day.

Understand the different types of figures available

When I first decided to start an anime figure collection, I didn’t really understand just how many different types of figures were out there.

That’s why I bought an expensive scale figure of Konosuba‘s Darkness early on in my collection, only to discover a much cheaper Pop Up Parade figure was on pre-order a couple of months later that I liked much more.

Learn about the different types of anime figures you can buy first, and you may just find yourself not spending crazy amounts of money on expensive scale figures when a far cheaper prize figure might suffice.

To learn about the types of anime figures, Australian anime figure fanatic and YouTuber Daijoububu has an excellent video all about things you should know before collecting anime figures.

At the beginning of the video she goes into detail about Prize Figures, Nendoroids, Figmas, and Scale Figures, the pros and cons of each, and an average price for each type of figure.

She even shows you how many figures you could buy of each specific type for the same money.

Daijoububu’s video is one of the best on YouTube for those getting ready to start an anime figure collection. Watch it below.

 

Remember to pre-order your anime figures

One thing that irked me when I started my anime figure collection was how I had to pre-order most of the figures I wanted. Come on, if I’m spending 50 bucks on a figure, I want it now and not six months down the road!

Unfortunately, that is how the world of anime figure collecting goes, with most anime figures having to be pre-ordered months before they are actually manufactured and ready to be shipped.

That means you may pre-order a figure you want in February, but not actually receive it until September or later. Yep, annoying, but it is what it is.

Some of the current Pop Up Parade figures available for pre-order on Good Smile

Anime figure companies run pre-orders so they don’t end up manufacturing way more figures than will ever sell. That way, they can manufacture the number of figures that are actually ordered, plus extras for sale at a later date.

This also means you always have to keep an eye out for pre-order information for the figures you like.

Most companies give you around a month to pre-order before the pre-order period closes. If you miss it, and don’t order the figure you want, you will have far less chance of getting it once it releases. And, if it is available — new or pre-owned — it can be more expensive.

I pre-order some of my figures on Good Smile, Crunchyroll, and Tokyo Otaku Mode (TOM), and AmiAmi or Mandarake if I’m ordering from Japan.

New pre-orders go up almost daily so, once you do decide you want to pre-order figures, keep checking back so you never miss your waifu.

Having said that though, I recommend starting your anime collection by buying figures that are already available and that you can hold in your hands within days of buying them.

That way, you aren’t waiting months for the first figure to add to your collection, and you can figure out quickly if this is a hobby you will enjoy.

 

Some of this month’s releases listed on My Figure Collection

How to find figures of anime characters you love

My Figure Collection is pretty much where every serious collector goes to find everything from figures released years ago to those coming up for pre-order soon.

The website’s data base is massive, and you will find most of the figures ever made listed on it.

Start with the Latest Additions and This Month’s Releases, so you don’t miss any of the new figures, then hit the Items on Fire to see what other people currently love.

Each listing will usually have photographs of the figure from different angles, information about which company manufactures it, the material it was made from, who sculpted it, the size of the figure and on and on.

Open an account on the site, and start a wish list of all the figures you want. Then start searching for them on one of the more reputable websites. Be sure to compare prices on several sites before you actually purchase one.

How to avoid buying bootleg anime figures

I don’t ever buy figures on Amazon or eBay as many of the figures sold on both sites are bootleg.

I also usually don’t buy figures from individuals, as too many of them are selling bootleg figures as genuine and charging crazy prices for them as well.

With a site like Amazon, it is easy to return a figure if it does turn out to be a bootleg (although I still don’t buy from them), but much more difficult to get your money back from a sole seller.

The best way to avoid bootleg figures is to stick to official sites or official partner sites, as you know they only sell the genuine product. Look for an official sticker somewhere on the box when you receive a new figure, and make sure you know how much a figure is selling for before you buy one.

If you find a figure selling for much less than the current going price, it’s pretty much a guarantee it’s a bootleg.

You can also check My Figure Collection for a shop review of any shop you are considering shopping at.

And, if you really want to be sure a figure isn’t bootleg, and cannot buy it from an official site, buy from AmiAmi.

I have never had a problem with anything I have ever bought from AmiAmi, and I don’t know anyone else that has either as they seem to be very strict about what they choose to sell.

 

Enjoy the figures you own

And finally, don’t get so caught up in buying as many anime figures you can afford that you don’t have time to enjoy the figures you already own.

Take them out of their boxes, display them nicely, re-do their displays often so they always look fresh, dust them regularly, keep them out of direct sunlight and excessive heat but — most importantly — love every figure you own, and look at them often.

Because, if all you are going to do is buy figure after figure after figure without paying any attention to the ones already in your collection, to me that’s not a hobby you love. It’s just an obsession. And obsessions rarely turn out to be a healthy thing.

Michelle Topham