I’ve been collecting action figures for decades, in fact, for as long as I can remember. I’ve never been a fanatic about anything I collect, I get what I like, I keep it pristine and I put it away. I did that when I was 10, I do it today in my 40s. There just has never been any other way for me.
A while back on a forum, someone started asking what people collected in 2012 and I was forced to admit nothing. My reasons for this are twofold. First, the one that I detailed on the forum, that the figures that are coming out today are simply not cost effective. There’s not enough value for too much buck. It’s not because I can’t afford it, I can afford pretty much anything, it’s just that I look at these figures and the prices they’re charging and shake my head. It’s just not worth it.
But as I start to look at it, I realize that it’s not just the cost/benefit, but the lack of anything worthwhile. The quality of figures has been going down for a while as the cost has been going up. Instead of figures getting better and better, they get worse. Worse sculpts, less articulation, worse paint jobs, etc. The manufacturers are getting cheaper and cheaper while their products are getting more expensive all the time.
Finally, it’s hard to find anything to buy, even if I wanted to. You get wave after wave of pretty much the same figures, peppered with a few new things, but rarely anything I’d ever want to own. Looking at Marvel Universe, for example, they haven’t released a single new figure all year and when they finally get around to it, I want less than half of the wave. Of those figures, yet another one is Spider-Man. I lost count on how many Spider-Man figures I have already. Or how many Iron Man figures. Or how many Wolverine figures. Every single wave seems to have one of them, or someone just as common. It’s the same thing that eventually had me quit buying Justice League Unlimited figures from DC. Every pack had Superman, Batman, Green Lantern or Wonder Woman. The prices kept going up and seriously, how many of the same damn figure can you really have? I’m even looking at the Halo line and finding the same thing. Same characters over and over and over, very rarely anything entirely new.
As I look back at it, I realize I haven’t bought a single action figure in over to 6 months. There just hasn’t been anything worth buying, or anything on the shelves if I want to buy. Oh sure, I occasionally walk through a toy department and see what they have and invariably, most stores haven’t stocked a thing since Christmas. The aisles are full of empty pegs and what they do have, I don’t want.
So I made a decision. I actually made this decision a while back but I’ve wrestled with it for a couple of weeks now. I’m no longer collecting action figures. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s not that I can’t afford it, it’s that the joy I used to get finding that hard-to-find figure in a store is just gone. It’s not exciting. I just don’t care.
Maybe a vacation is what I need. Ignore the action figure market for a couple of years and hopefully the situation will improve. Hopefully the companies will start to take pride in what they produce. Hopefully it won’t be “let’s stick this head on that body and paint it badly and hope nobody notices”. I notice. I expect quality. I expect value for my collecting dollar. So long as I’m not getting it, they’re not getting my dollars.
It’s sad but that’s the way it’s got to be.