Collecting Common Sense: avoiding classic collector setbacks

November 29, 2017

Collecting Common Sense: avoiding classic collector setbacks

Because collecting brings us hours and hours of happiness, we naturally aim to keep our biggest hobby free from as much frustration as possible. A while back, we discussed what measures to take to avoid inadvertently buying a fake figurine, which obviously classifies as a major collectors’ setback. But there are other things too, that can cause us collectors frustration and negative feels, from plain disappointment to boiling anger – we assure you, we’ve been there too. Like that time we finally found the figure online that we had wanted for ages, and eagerly unpacked it upon delivery only to find out it wasn’t the in the condition we had hoped for.

Through some thorough self-reflection (we’re deep guys), we came to realize that these classic collector setbacks typically happen when we, well… don’t really think a certain purchase through. In our enthusiasm over a rare find or good deal, we simply forget to pay attention to crucial specs and practicalities, like if we have apt and sufficient space for display and whether the price is really worth paying for what we get. To keep collecting fun and avoid disappointment, we hereby share what we’ve learned to assess thoroughly before deciding to buy a collectible.


  1. Price & Budget Management

Definitely one of the most important factors affecting your buying decision is price. Or at least, it should be. One of us once splurged a little too much and ‘accidentally’ bought a figure that was way above budget, enforcing a poverty-stricken diet of instant ramen only for the rest of the month. Only buying things within your means is pretty straightforward, a type of common sense that applies to each and every hobby. In real life however, it proves to be hard rule to stick to for a lot of us.

From a friend and fellow collector we learned to keep a good track record of our purchases in a simple excel sheet.  A system like this provides a clear overview of what you’ve spent so far, including items you pre-ordered (costs you easily forget), and costs to expect for releases to come. This works especially well when you set a certain budget (which is difficult, we know). You can work with a monthly budget, but a yearly budget is more realistic as costs typically vary largely per month.

Make it a habit to add each purchase to your sheet right after you bought it, or update your sheet at a regular interval, like every first day of month; this automatically forces you to check your credit card bills regularly, which is always a good idea when you wish to maintain a healthy financial situation. Last but not least, be careful with installment plans that companies offer. Don’t make it a habit to spend money you don’t have and be strict on yourself;  we’ve only used this option when we wanted to get a big ticket item that we couldn’t afford to buy any other way.


  1. The Right Material

Another thing to consider is the type of material that has been used to create the collectible. The most commonly used materials are ABS plastic, PVC plastic, vinyl, resin and polystone. ABS for example, is a hard, smooth and durable plastic that’s very unlikely to break. On the downside, it doesn’t allow the most delicate details. PVC is softer than ABS, so figurines with much greater detail can be realized.

PVC might also be too light for some collectables, like statues. Recently, the issue with Sideshow’s Wolf Predator Legendary Scale Bust wound up the collector community, with many collectors complaining about the PVC that is thought to be too light weight and not worth the money. Intuitively, weight equals quality (unless minimal weight is a desired key feature, like in ultra-light weight suitcases or sports equipment) and with a statue like this, one expects some weight, mass and sturdiness.

When you import goods from another country yourself or through a third party, beware that some collectables might contain prohibited materials, like ivory or animal skin. This won’t easily be the case with action figures and such, but always double check. Apart from just causing some problems at customs, importing forbidden materials means breaking the law, with all the consequences that this entails in your country of residence. 


  1. Appropriate Weight & Size

This applies especially to those who collect bigger items like statues, but also to the collectors among us who live in smaller places. Before you commit to buying an item, ensure that you have sufficient and fitting space for display. Make sure to have a rough idea of where you want to display your treasure and take note of the dimensions of this space, as well as the measurements of the collectible.

Besides the dimensions, it’s worthwhile to check the weight of your collectable before purchasing it, especially if it concerns a larger statue – many can weigh up to 10-30kg! You won’t be the first to see a shelf come down only shortly after you proudly displayed your figure, typically along with several other treasures that were on display, causing serious damage. Check beforehand whether your shelves will be strong enough to carry the weight and take the necessary shelf support precautions.


  1. Condition & Rating

When you consider buying a used collectable, one of the most important things to consider is its overall condition. Is it complete? Are there any broken parts? Any other damage? The condition not only impacts the appearance of the figure, but also helps you deciding whether or not the asking price is fair. To describe the condition of the figure, several different acronyms are used – make sure know what they mean so you can manage your expectations properly:

HTF = Hard To Find; this particular figure is sought after

MIB = Mint In Box; The figure has never been removed from its original packaging and there is not a single defect of any kind in the product.

MISB = Mint in Sealed Box; the original packaging is still sealed. Variations include ‘MOSC’, Mint On Sealed Card

NM = Near Mint; the figure and/or its box shows some minor, barely noticeable damage 

MIP = Mint in Package; similar to MIB

NRFB = Never Removed From Box; similar to MIB

MNB = Mint, No Box: although the toy is in excellent condition, it’s not in the original packaging

A/O = All Original; the figure has all its original accessories and has never been repainted or repaired



  1. Counterfeit

One of the biggest disappointments a collector    can have is to find out that the collectible you bought is a fake. Not only did you waste your money, but what’s often worse is the feeling of being cheated upon. We dedicated an entire article to this topic earlier this year, which you can read here.


As a final word, remember that when in doubt about a purchasing decision, it’s always good to ask around for advice. Over the years, we’ve encountered so many friendly “veteran” collectors that were of great help. Most people are more than willing to share their experience and help you out, so never be afraid to just ask!