Discover the Best Collectable Figures: A Guide for Serious Collectors

Discover the Best Collectable Figures: A Guide for Serious Collectors

The world of collectible figures is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon that seamlessly blends artistry, passion, and nostalgia. The best part? Anyone can be a part of this world, from a young child just discovering the wonders of pop culture to a seasoned collector who has dedicated years to this hobby.

And true, collecting collectible figures is a hobby (and a joyful and rewarding one at that). But it’s also a remarkable financial endeavor for many. Regardless of why you decide to dive into the world of collectible action figures, you must do it right. This guide will help you do just that.

It will walk you through the wide range of the best collectable figures, some of the most iconic characters you must own, as well as the ins and outs of the entire collecting process. Let’s begin!

History of Collectable Figures

Before diving into the fascinating world of collectible action figures, let’s first explore how that world came to be. Believe it or not, it was the iconic Barbie doll that inspired the birth of collectible action figures. How?

Well, as soon as it emerged, Barbie absolutely exploded in popularity. Soon enough, virtually every toymaker was trying to replicate the doll’s success. Stan Weston, a licensing agent, was the first to do it.

He created a 12-inch action figure of a military man called G.I. Joe. We use the phrase “military man” deliberately, as the word “doll” was never used when marketing G.I. Joe, as the belief that only girls play with dolls was still widely spread at the time.

Stan Weston sold the rights to his design to Hasbro, one of the most popular toymakers at the time, for $100,000, effectively paving the way for the birth of the collectible action figure industry. Since G.I. Joe’s launch in the 1960s, many wildly successful lines followed suit, including the World’s Greatest Super Heroes by Mego, Star Wars action figures by Kenner, and Masters of the Universe by Mattel.

In time, whichever comic books, movies, and TV shows became popular, they were likely to spawn their own line of collectible action figures, creating a strong bond between pop culture and the toy industry.

Popular Categories of Collectable Figures

When they hear the words “collectible figures,” most people immediately think of action figures. But the truth is that the world of collectible figures extends far beyond. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the most popular categories of these exciting figures.

Action Figures

Of course, we must start with everyone’s favorite – collectible action figures. Since the 1960s, countless characters from movies (e.g., the entire movie trilogy of “The Dark Knight”), comic books (e.g., Batman and Spider-Man action figures), and games (e.g., Mortal Kombat and Fortnite) have joined G.I. Joe in the realm of action figures.

These action figures are typically made from durable plastic and painted with acrylic paints.

Vinyl Figures

Like their action counterparts, vinyl figures are modeled after popular characters from movies, TV shows, games, and comic books. But while action figures keep the character design as close to the source material as possible, vinyl figures often take a more stylized and abstract approach. This involves unique details and exaggerated proportions.

So, a Blue Beetle action figure will look just like the movie version of this powerful superhero in the form of a 7-inch scale figure. However, a Blue Beetle vinyl figure from Funko Pop (the most popular vinyl figure manufacturer and the maker of some of the best figures to collect if you’re looking for show pieces) will have a massive head on a small body, making it almost cartoonish.

Statues and Busts

Collectible statues and busts differ from typical action figures in several regards. They’re usually significantly bigger (and thus more detailed). Since they’re primarily designed for displaying and not playing, they lack articulation. These pieces are highly sought-after in the world of collectibles due to the level of artistry and craftsmanship involved. And if they’re also limited-edition or one-of-a-kind, collectors will go crazy over them!

Designer Toys

Designer toys are highly popular among collectors and art lovers. They are often a result of a collaboration between fashion brands and artists who bring their unique vision into the design. Arguably, the most influential and well-known among these artists is KAWS, famous for his somewhat morbid Mickey Mouse-inspired toys called “Companions,” introduced as early as 1999.

Recommended Action Figures Based on Research

Now that you’re armed with some basic information about collecting figures, let’s explore the best collectable figures that should undoubtedly be a part of your collection.

G.I. Joe

G.I. Joe

Given the history of this iconic action figure, it shouldn’t be surprising that G.I. Joe tops the list of the best action figures to collect. Having the world’s first action figure in your collection is an absolute must! Best of all? Now, you get to choose from a whole squad of one cool action figure after the other.

Star Wars

Star Wars

Star Wars is one of the most popular and enduring franchises in the history of entertainment. So, it’s no wonder Star Wars collectibles hold a special place in every collector’s heart. Among the many characters from this legendary franchise, Chewbacca and Darth Vader stand as the most beloved, sought-after, and, let’s face it, coolest action figures. However, these figures typically come with a hefty price tag, so make sure to consult a Star Wars price guide before getting your hopes up.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) have been incredibly popular for almost 40 years, and there’s seemingly no indication that this will change any time soon. So, adding one of the iconic TMNT action figures to your collection can only make it more valuable.



DC Comics and action figures have a long and deeply intertwined history. Though many legendary DC Comics characters have been immortalized as action figures, few (if any!) are more iconic than Batman. With the source material spanning over 60 years, there are almost too many Batman figure versions to count.

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime

Like all Transformer toys, Optimus Prime has remained ever-so-popular. And how could it not? After all, in a matter of seconds, it transforms from a semi-truck to a formidable robot leader. If you like the franchise (or just high-quality action figures), this addition is a must!

Buzz Lightyear 1st Generation

Buzz Lightyear 1st Generation

Coming from the smash-hit franchise “Toy Story” right onto your shelf, it’s the first generation of Buzz Lightyear. This highly accurate depiction of the beloved character can easily be the star of your collection.

Babe Ruth McFarlane

Babe Ruth McFarlane

Babe Ruth and McFarlane Toys have one thing in common – they will both go down in history as legends in their respective fields. Grab their unique crossover in the form of a Babe Ruth action figure and secure a piece of that history.

Elastic Batman

Elastic Batman

As already mentioned, Batman action figures come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. However, none is more unique than the Elastic Batman. This rare and valuable figure, modeled after the original Stretch Armstrong toy, is truly a one-of-a-kind addition to any Batman enthusiast’s collection.

How to Determine Value and Authenticity

Before starting your action figure collection, you must understand how the true value of a collectible figure is determined. Otherwise, you might invest in figures that don’t appreciate over time or, even worse, get scammed by counterfeit items.

The calculation is simple – the more rare, in-demand, and well-preserved a collectible is, the more valuable it gets. It’s important to note that when judging the condition of a collectible, everything is looked at – the figure itself, the accompanying art card, and the original packaging.

With this in mind, let’s discuss how you can preserve your collectibles when planning to sell and spot counterfeits when buying.

Spotting Counterfeits

As time goes on, it becomes relatively easy to spot counterfeit collectibles. But in the beginning, you’ll probably need some guidance. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Only shop from a reliable action figure marketplace or store.
  • Avoid items that have suspiciously low prices.
  • Research the level of detail your desired figure has and ensure there’s a match.
  • Look for signs of official packaging, such as holograms, authenticity seals, and included documentation.

Preservation and Care

To ensure your action figures stay as close to mint condition as possible, you must store, clean, and display them properly. Here’s what this entails:

  • If possible, avoid opening the original packaging, as these sell for significantly more money.
  • If you intend to keep your figures, store them away from direct sunlight, LED light, and excessive moisture.
  • Keep your figures in a temperature-controlled space.
  • When cleaning your figures, only use gentle soap, warm water, and a soft-bristled brush.
  • Keep the figures that aren’t displayed in large acrylic boxes with sealable lids.

Investing in Collectable Figures

Believe it or not, toys make an excellent investment. This has to do primarily with nostalgia and the emotional connection they offer to the person’s childhood. Collectible figures are virtually the same. So, it’s no wonder these figures are gaining popularity as alternative assets, perfect for diversifying portfolios with independent yet tangible assets. If you want to join the collector craze for its financial benefits, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Market Trends and Analysis

If you want to turn action figure collecting into a profitable endeavor, you must stay on top of all the relevant market trends. In this specific industry, that means keeping up with major pop culture moments, such as movie releases, TV show premiers, and video game launches.

A character suddenly gaining popularity can skyrocket the value of the action figures modeled after it. As for future figure releases, always keep a watchful eye on limited editions and exclusives related to timeless characters, as these are bound to only increase in value over time.

Buying and Selling Platforms

In the digital age, the world of collectible figures has mostly moved online. But be careful – not every online toy shop is as reputable as ToyShnip.

You can easily find collectibles on platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Facebook Market Place, but you should only do business with verified sellers. Otherwise, you risk being scammed. Turning to specialty online shops might be a better choice, as these offer a more authentic experience.

Whenever in doubt, ask for additional pictures of your desired items. If you’re still unsure afterward, it’s better to give up than waste your money on a counterfeit or poorly kept item.

If you prefer shopping in person, you can do so at auction houses, collectibles conventions, and specialized toy stores. Regardless of your choice, make sure to thoroughly research your desired items beforehand, and no one should be able to trick you into buying invaluable collectibles or selling them for less than what they’re worth.

Building and Displaying Your Collection

A carefully thought-out collection is the joy and pride of any collector. Here’s how to accomplish such a collection and how to display it once you do.

Thematic Collections

Let’s get one thing straight right away – no one can forbid you to buy the most diverse collectible figures. However, following a theme or a niche leads to a significantly more cohesive collection. So, before starting, define your interests and try to build a collection around them. The interests in question can be a specific franchise or even a specific era.

For instance, you might be a fan of the Naruto manga series. If so, start by acquiring the titular character (Naruto Uzumaki) and slowly but surely expand your collection with characters like Sasuke Uchiha, Kakashi Hatake, and Sakura Haruno.

Display and Storage Solutions

Once you got the best collectable figures, it’s time to display them proudly. Here are a few tips on creating an impactful display:

  • Use a wall-mounted glass display that’s equally impressive and protective.
  • Arrange your figures thematically.
  • Pose all your articulated figures in a visually interesting stance that comes naturally to their character.
  • Use a monochromatic background to make the figures pop.
  • Add a range of accessories around the figures, replicating your favorite scenes.
  • Use focus lighting to make the entire display pop.

Of course, it goes without mentioning that you must handle all your collectibles carefully to avoid damaging them in the process.

Engaging With the Collecting Community

Though you can always collect action figures in isolation, let us tell you why you shouldn’t. By immersing yourself in a community of like-minded individuals, you get the chance to share your passion, expand your knowledge, and foster a sense of camaraderie that enhances the joy of collecting.

Conventions and Events

If you choose to share the joy of collecting with others, you can look for online forums or join local clubs. You can also attend conventions and events to discover rare finds, exclusive releases, and event-specific figures and, more importantly, potentially build lasting friendships within this vibrant community.

Major conventions like Comic-Con are an excellent place to meet industry professionals and connect with fellow collectors. To maximize your experience at these conventions, always plan ahead and thoroughly research the program, ensuring you make the most of your time there.

Dive Deeper into Collecting!

Now that you know what to look for, the best action figure collection is just a few right moves away. One of the first moves should be to explore ToyShnip and the impressive action figures this shop offers. Regardless of your interests, you’ll be able to start off your collection with a bang.


What toys are a good investment?

Limited-edition, rare, and one-of-a-kind toys in good condition are a good investment., provided they’re modeled after timeless characters.

What action figures sell the most?

G.I. Joe, the world’s first action figure, remains one of the best action figures of all time in terms of sales.

How can I verify the authenticity of a collectible figure?

You can verify the authenticity of a collectible figure by requesting official documentation and looking for hallmarks of authenticity, such as unique serial numbers and holograms.

How do I maintain the value of my collection over time?

You can maintain the value of your collection over time by keeping your figures in their original packaging, storing them in proper conditions, and handling them with care.

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