Figure Collecting 101 – The Stigma of Toy Collecting

The first couple of articles I’ve written in this series focused on why figure collecting is fun and maybe different than what someone new to the hobby might expect.  I’m going to tackle another preconception and that is one of the negative stereotypes people often have about figure collectors.  While this series of articles is especially for people new to the hobby, I think any level of collector or even a random person passing by on the internet can learn something from this article and be entertained along the way.

While I usually call the hobby figure collecting on here (since the word figures is in the website name and all of that), it is just commonly called toy collecting.  One of the biggest stigmas of collecting toys is that most people believe toys are designed for kids and cannot or should not be enjoyed by adults.  This is obviously not the case and there are quite a few figures that are designed strictly for adults.  Hot Toys, Sideshow Collectibles, and even series like Play Arts Kai (none of which get covered on this site since they don’t make any official Nintendo figures) are perfect examples of this.  These figures cost around $100 at minimum and are highly detailed, articulated figures designed to be displayed.  Only the richest child could afford a figure like that and very few would be able to appreciate what they have.  The point I’m really driving at is that the idea that figures are just simply toys and adults cannot or should not appreciate them is nonsense.  As I have mentioned once or twice on the site, I didn’t collect or play with figures very much as a child unless you count Legos and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate them more and more.  My experience highlights that figure collectors are not immature, weird, or anything else negative that is commonly associated with being a toy collector.

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Fortunately, figure collecting seems to be more popular than ever before and it is common within the video game community to buy and collect figures right now.  That does not mean there aren’t times where you might feel odd buying a figure in a retail store.  I tend to shop for figures in two places.  A local grocery chain called Meijer’s and Toys R Us.  These two places have the best selection near me and are easy to get to.  However, I like shopping at Meijer’s much more than Toys R Us for one simple reason.  I can pop into the toy aisle, check out their World of Nintendo figures (and sometimes Star Wars just to see what is coming out) and then can go about my business.  In Toys R Us, I’m going to a store that predominantly caters towards children and it is not uncommon to see more kids than adults in the store which can feel odd, especially if you’re new to the hobby.  While it might surprise you to hear it, I actually have a lot of nostalgia for Toys R Us, because I used to buy Game Boy and Nintendo 64 games there so when I say that I feel weird at times shopping for myself there, you will hopefully believe me.  Perhaps I am too self-aware, but I imagine anybody who collects figures feels a bit embarrassed or out of place when shopping for them at times.  For me, I always find what I want quickly at Toys R Us and then have to steel myself so that I can go through the checkout line knowing that the employee might assume I’m not buying the figure for myself or that I might possibly feel a little judged for this hobby.  For the most part, it has not been bad, but I have had moments like when I was asked if I wanted a gift receipt when buying a figure which were a bit awkward (the assumption being: there was no way I was buying Nintendo Micro Land for myself!).

World of Nintendo at Toys R Us
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This is probably one of the hardest parts of figure collecting for me personally and I’m slowly becoming more used to buying figures and not caring what other people think.  I encourage anyone interested in this hobby to do the same.  If you enjoy any figure that you buy then there is never any reason to feel guilty or ashamed.  This is a great hobby and more and more people are discovering that.  Perhaps as an acknowledgement of this fact, Toys R Us has a small section that is dedicated to figures made primarily for adults.  So they know that adults make up part of their market and are catering to us which is nice.  There will always be people who are negative towards us or towards the hobby sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, but if we brush them off, enjoy what we enjoy, and remind ourselves why we love this hobby and how many of us are out there, these moments will be few and far between.

This article is perhaps a bit more personal than usual, but I imagine many people can relate to it whether you buy Amiibo, World of Nintendo, or other figures not even Nintendo related.  In the future, I will cover some other common problems and fun things about this hobby to help you better understand and appreciate it.  Thanks as always for reading and I look forward to writing the next entry in this series!


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