Portrait of an Action Figure Collector
By Avelino C. Tuason

When I was a kid, I dreamed that someday I would make lots of money so I could purchase all the toys my parents refused to get me.

Well, I’m buying them anyway.

I consider myself a serious toy collector. I realize that sounds as silly a term as a jovial mortician. But judging by the numerous so-called grownups I see in toy stores, comic shops and collectors conventions, handling Princess Leia’s like they were Mona Lisa’s, I know that I am not alone.

My toy of choice is the action figure, a category I’m convinced was made up by some guy caught playing with his sister's dollies. I eloquently refer to them as small symbols of things that have brought joy and inspiration to my life. For the past six years, I’ve recruited an army of over 100 of the world’s mightiest comic book superheroes and movie, television and sports stars, all lined up on my dresser and ready for battle.

I first bought Toy Biz Spider-Man and Kenner Batman action figures, just to decorate my desk. Then McFarlane Toys blew me away with its exquisitely crafted The X-Files and Movie Maniacs lines in 1998. Since then, I’ve noticed a steady rise in the quality and variety of the merchandise and a rapid decline of desk space.

When it comes to deciding what to collect, looks are everything. Forget the kung-fu grip, just give me the details. Oddly, my best-looking figures are my most grotesque: Sideshow Toy Universal Studios Monsters, McFarlane Toys Movie Maniacs and Jakks Pacific World Wrestling Federation superstars.

Many enthusiasts get action figures out of nostalgia. My middle-aged buddy Joe has been on eBay rounding up a posse of vintage Marx cowboy figures. Not one to neglect recent technological advances in toymaking, he also pre-ordered a Sideshow Toy James Bond, his childhood idol, from an online toy store.

Others see action figures as an investment. My friend Marina has been collecting the original Kenner (and now Hasbro) Star Wars figures since Luke was in Jedi grade school. She recently sold a set to another toy collector for a cool $300.

I’ve even heard rumors that parents get action figures for their children. Naaah.

Hopefully, the industry is getting the message that there’s a diverse, passionate, sophisticated crowd of consumers out there ready to spend lots of money on high quality products. If so, we should look forward to seeing an increase in the most wonderful figures of all. Sales figures.

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