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Starting out on your figure collecting journey – A comprehensive guide

Hello everyone. It has been awhile since I last posted and this may be a tad late but I would still like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I wrote this article with the aim of providing a guide for those who wish to start collecting figures but do not know where to begin.


I will state upfront that Figure collecting can be an expensive hobby depending on the type and quality of the figures you would like to purchase. This guide will also contain my experience with figure collecting to help you avoid similar pitfalls that I made. I intend to do figure reviews in the future so keep a lookout for those. 

I had only started collecting figures since October of last year and am by no means a veteran figure collector. However, I currently own 34 Figures with 12 more pre-orders on the way. If you are still hesitant about buying figures, let me tell you that all your doubts will be alleviated when the figures of your favourite anime or game characters are in your hands. Without further ado, let’s move on to the guide. 


1.0 Figure Types

1.1 Nendoroids

Aoba and Hifumi from New Game!

Nendoroids are the “Chibi” or small version of figures, usually about 10cm tall. They are moderately priced in general with some being more expensive than others due to having more parts or better quality. Nendoroids are very cute and extremely versatile due to their removable parts. For example, you can use Nendoroid A’s head with B’s body resulting in many possible combinations to suit your liking.

Umaru from Himouto Umaru-Chan

Nendoroids usually come with different face plates, different body parts such as arms and a variety of items that are normally related to that specific character. Take a look at the Umaru Chan nendoroid from the anime Himouto Umaru-Chan above. The items that come along with the nendoroid provide an accurate representation of Umaru. An important thing to note is that some nendoroids come with pre-order bonuses, usually in the form of an additional item or part. You can always switch things up by changing the pose and face plates of your nendoroids. 


Besides being cute, versatile and reasonably priced, another advantage of nendoroids is their low maintenance due to their small size. You can remove dust from them easily when it starts to accumulate and saves a lot of your time. A disadvantage of nendoroids is that most of them cannot sit up or stand on their own and require a nendoroid base as seen in the Aoba and Hifumi Nendoroids above. I personally do not fancy nendoroid bases as they look clunky. There are exceptions to this rule such as the Umaru Nendoroid above because certain parts are designed to prop them up on their own. 


1.2 Prize Figures

Hanayo from Love Live!

Prize figures are the least expensive as compared to the rest but also usually of lower quality. They are normally obtainable through claw-machines at arcades; hence the name Prize figures, although some physical and online shops sell them. I personally only collect scale figures and nendoroids but I have seen prize figures in person many times. Prize figures generally have much lesser detail, poorer quality control such as shoddy paint jobs and occasional character designs that do not remotely resemble the character. I dislike the large bases that most prize figures come with as well. 

Kafuu Chino from Gochiusa

That being said, the prize figures are recently improving in terms of quality with some being almost comparable to the lower-end scale figures and therefore should not deter you from buying them if you are on a tight budget. The Chino prize figure above is one of the best prize figures I have seen so far. 


1.3 Scale Figures

Chino Flower Swing ver.

Scale figures are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They are the most expensive out of the four figure types and rightfully so. They usually have the most intricate details and the higher quality ones are like pieces of art. Take a look at the Chino figure above and compare it to the prize figure. You will likely be able to tell at first glance why there is such a huge disparity in price. I will be reviewing this figure in the future so stay tuned for that. Scale figures usually look even better in person than in photos and some high-quality ones have a jaw-dropping effect.

 Ryougi Shiki from Kara no Kyoukai


You might be wondering why they are called scale figures. They are called scale figures because they are scaled relative to the size of humans. Most scale figures made these days are 1/7 or 1/8 scales. Larger sized scale figures are usually 1/4 or 1/2.5 and there are even life-sized figures but those are ridiculously overpriced. Personally, the largest figures I own are 1/4 scale ones.  

One disadvantage of scale figures is that they come in fixed poses. Some scale figures do come with bonus items such as extra face plates or accessories but you are not able to change their pose unless in very rare instances when they come with bonus parts like arms. Therefore, the pose of a scale figure is something to take into consideration as well when buying them. The above pictures are a sneak preview of my Ryougi Shiki Figure from the anime Kara no Kyoukai which I highly recommend watching. I absolutely adore her striking pose, shiny gloss painted jacket and eyes that can pierce through your soul. 

Another disadvantage of scale figures is that they require a lot of your time and effort in maintaining them because of their sheer size. Dust which is your number one enemy will accumulate quickly if you do not display your figures in a display cabinet but on an open shelf for example.

1.4 Figmas

 Miyamoto Musashi from Fate Grand Order (FGO)
Figmas are rather similar to nendoroids but larger and able to have multiple poses due to their joints. Like nendoroids, you are also able to exchange parts between different figmas. If you like to change the poses of your figures or play with them then figmas are for you. I personally dislike figmas because I do not like the look of their joints. From a cost standpoint, figmas are about or just slightly more expensive than nendoroids which make them cost effective from a price to size ratio. 

2.0 Important points to consider about Figures
2.1 Price

The prices listed here are just to give you a rough idea on what you can expect to pay. (Note currency listed here is in Singapore Dollars, SGD)
Do note that pre-owned products mean that they are second-hand products as such there might be issues such as colour transfers, paint chips, missing items and other damage to the figures. Pre-owned products can also be brand new and unopened. Always find out more about the condition of the pre-owned product before purchasing. Pre-owned products do not necessarily mean they will always be cheaper. If the figure is rare, no longer in production or has a high demand, the after-market value will always skyrocket. As such, I highly recommend pre-ordering products you want when you are able to do so to avoid paying exorbitant amounts in the future.

Nendoroids brand new: $60~$150+
Nendoroids pre-owned: $30~$100+ 

Prize Figures brand new and pre-owned: $15~$50+

Scale Figures brand new: $120~$1000+
When the price exceeds about $500 it is usually the after-market price when the figures have been sold out, hence always try to avoid them by pre-ordering the product).
In general, you can expect most scales to be around $120~$500, with $200+ being the most common.

Scale Figures pre-owned: $50~$1000+
The lowest price I have seen for a pre-owned scale figure was about $50 but that is because it was in poor condition.

Figmas brand new and pre-owned: $40~$200+


2.2 Quality Control and Design

 Ayanami Rei from Evangelion, Entry Plug Ver. Extremely expensive but of superior quality control

When buying a figure, it is crucial to look at the quality control and overall design of the figure. Quality control refers to how well the manufacturer maintains important features such as the painting and sculpt of the figure. Common defects include paint bleeds and fused parts such as the fingers being conjoined together. You may have ordered the same figure as another person but eventually receive one with a different quality, therefore it is always important to buy your figures from reputable brands which I will be mentioning later.

Melty from Shining Hearts
The design of the figure is an important aspect that is often overlooked by most figure collectors especially the newbies and even some veterans. What I mean by “design” is that some of these figures look fantastic at first glance but will eventually lean and possibly break overtime because of its impractical design. This is something you should definitely take into account when buying figures. To illustrate my point, let us take a look at the melty figure above. The figure looks amazing but I am sure you would have noticed that the weight of the figure and ice cream cone are being supported by the small transparent holder attached to the base. Judging by the reviews of this figure by people who own her, there is no problem with her leaning forward overtime due to her weight but it is just an example to depict my point.

2.3 Price to Quality Ratio

Shima Rin from Yuru Camp

Always do your research on the prices of figures and make a judgement on whether the quality of the figure is worth its asking price. In general, figures that are larger tend to be more expensive than smaller ones. For example, a 1/4 scale figure is going to be more expensive than a 1/7 scale figure 95% of the time. There are exceptions where the quality of a smaller scale figure is so high that the price-tag that comes along with it is high as well. 

The figure shown above is Shima Rin from the anime Yuru-camp by the manufacturer Alter, set to be released in August 2020. Alter is widely renowned for producing figures of the highest quality and their price to quality ratio had always been incredible. Let me emphasize the word “had”. Recently Alter has been overpricing their figures to a ridiculous extent. The figure of Rin above is a 1/10 scale figure and costs $260. The quality of this figure is nowhere near enough to justify its cost given that the figure is only 1/10 in scale. I will be showing another example of Alter’s overpriced figure later.


2.4 Bootlegs

Bootlegs are fake products. Bootlegs are getting harder to differentiate from originals and there might only be subtle differences. Always look at pictures of the original figures on trusted websites. When buying pre-owned products, always request for pictures unless the seller or online-shop is trustworthy. A sure way to tell if a figure is a bootleg is if it is unusually under-priced but figures that are priced normally may also be bootlegs. I will share my top websites for purchasing legit figures with you as you read on. 


2.5 Display


Ikea Detolf
You have spent a ton of money on your precious figures and holy grails. Now comes another part you have to rack your brains on. How are you going to display them? The most common display cabinet that figure collectors use is the detolf from IKEA as shown above. The detolf is cheap and you get the most bang for your buck with it. However, they are small and each panel can only support about 3.5kg of weight according to the website. This limits the number of figures you can display in them and you also need to spend time and energy arranging them to make the most out of the limited space. Furthermore, the detolf is not 100% dustproof and does not come with lights but the good news is that with a few modifications and tweaks, you can dustproof and light-up your detolf.

Ikea Billy modified with morliden doors and glass shelves

The billy bookcase from IKEA modified with morliden glass doors and glass shelves is another popular choice by figure collectors as shown above. You can see that it is about twice the size of a detolf and also able to support more weight. The billy costs about 2.5x the detolf and modifications must also be made if you would like to have lighting but is generally dust proof to a much larger extent than the detolf. The above image was taken from Pinterest and credits to the owner. On an unrelated note, I really love the owner’s bakemonogatari figures on the second shelf from the top.  


2.6 Figure Care/Maintenance

Figure care and maintenance are essential to ensure the longevity of your figures. You would not want your figures to deteriorate overtime especially since you dropped a ton of money on them.

The main enemies of your figures which you have to watch out for are dust, UV-rays (sunlight), and heat or extreme temperature changes. Dust will accumulate on your figures even if you have them displayed in a display cabinet like the detolf or billy albeit not as frequently as compared to displaying them in an open shelf or table. In general, you want to dust your figures every 2 to 3 months if you have them in a display cabinet and every few days to a week if you have them displayed openly. Dust is the number one enemy of figures. It does not do much damage but just results in the figure looking unsightly. Some figure collectors suggest using special cloths or dusters to clean them but most collectors just use a plain white cloth and gently rub off the dust. Be sure not to apply too much pressure as it can affect the paintwork of your figure.

UV-rays and heat or extreme temperature changes can damage your figures permanently although only overtime. It can cause your figures to fade or in worse case scenarios cause your figures to lean forward or melt. Always avoid direct sunlight by placing your display cabinets away from windows and use curtains or blinds to minimize figure damage. 

Paint Transfer on skirt

Paint transfer is also another very common problem encountered by Figure collectors. When there are removable parts, always be gentle when removing them and try to avoid contact with other parts because the paint can get transferred from one part to the other. For some figures, paint transfers are inevitable but the majority of figures with removable parts like nendoroids can avoid paint transfers provided you take adequate care when handling them. Paint transfers can be tricky to solve. Personally, I have not encountered any paint transfers with my figures because I handle them very delicately but if you do get paint transfers, a solution suggested by figure collectors is to use a magic eraser. The magic eraser method is not guaranteed to remove paint transfers and according to some, might even exacerbate the problem.  


Broken pegs from figure bases or removable parts is another common problem. Unfortunately, broken pegs are much harder to solve because you will need to first remove the peg from the figure. As the broken pegs are usually snuggly fitted into the figure, the only way to remove it according to others is to use a precision drill which could ultimately lead to figure damage as well. Should you successfully remove the peg, you will then need to glue it back and there is a high possibility it might snap again. In short, always handle your figures with care! 

2.7 Shipping Methods and Fees

This is only applicable to ordering from an online seller or shop. There are usually a few methods of shipping including SAL, EMS and DHL. SAL costs the least but can take up to a month or more to reach you. EMS and DHL are more expensive but quick, usually arriving in 3-4 days. 


3.0 Brands that I recommend

3.1 Alter 

Prinz Eugen from Azur Lane

Alter is reputable for the excellent quality control of their figures. The sculpt and paintwork are usually on another level as well. Alter used to price their figures reasonably but have recently started to increase their prices to unreasonable levels and as a result caused outrage in the figure collecting community. Take a look at Alter’s beautiful 1/7 scale figure of Prinz Eugen from the mobile game Azure lane above. She is set for release in 2021 and costs a whopping $470 while only being 1/7 scale. The quality is high as expected from Alter but the price is more than double of their usual 1/7 scales. I highly suggest getting Alter’s figures for their superior quality but always take the time to assess whether the quality is worth its price.  


3.2 Good Smile Company 

Fate/Grand Order - Saber Alter - 1/8 - & Cuirassier Noir

You can never go wrong with Good Smile Company (GSC). GSC has been around for many years and their reputation has always been stellar. GSC is famous for their nendoroids and scales with quality being one of their highest priorities. The prices of their figures are reasonable as well. The Saber figure shown above was just released last week and back when I first saw her pictures, I just knew that I had to immediately pre-order her. The details of this figure are out of this world. I love everything about this figure, from the pose, facial expression, detailing on the bike and the superb base. Most importantly, she was very decently priced for her quality. The price to quality ratio is very worthwhile for this figure. 

Personally, I feel that Alter’s scales are higher in quality than GSC but if you are looking to purchase nendoroids go with GSC since Alter does not produce them. GSC’s nendoroids are usually higher in quality than Max Factory who is another popular nendoroid manufacturer.   


3.3 Aniplex

Aniplex’s figures are all limited and exclusive. This means that they are produced in limited quantities and not sold on any other online shop except Aniplex’s website. Being limited and exclusive, their after-market value will definitely rise, especially if the figure is high in demand. My Ryougi Shiki figure which I mentioned earlier is from Aniplex and it is really hard to find nowadays with the market price being double that of it's release price. Aniplex’s figures are usually of high quality but some of the sculpt of their figures are not as good as the rest. 

Allen Walker from D.Gray-Man

Besides Shiki, I also have Allen Walker’s figure made by Aniplex that was released in June 2019. If you are a fan of D.Gray-man you definitely have to get this figure because the quality of this figure is one of the highest I have seen. The sculpt of his hand, sword and mantle is amazing. The paintwork was well executed. I really love the colour scheme and it is a true representation of Allen in the Anime. Having Timcanpy, Allen’s trusted golem companion, along with the figure is just icing on the cake. The dice base is very unique as well. Overall, I can say with certainty that this figure of Allen is one of Aniplex’s best releases.  


3.4 Myethos

Raiden Mei Artwork

Raiden Mei from Honkai Impact 3rd

Myethos is not a Japanese Company but a Chinese one. However, their figures are tremendously gorgeous and I highly recommend buying from them. Their quality control is high as well. Shown above is their figure of Raiden Mei from the mobile game Honkai Impact 3rd which I own and will be reviewing soon.

Stardust Vocaloid 

I am still hunting for this highly sought after and rare stardust figure from Myethos that was released in 2017. 

 Another Little Mermaid

Onmyoji Jr. Ootengu

New figures from Myethos, Little Mermaid and Ootengu. Little Mermaid has been released while Ootengu is still up for pre-orders.


4.0 Trusted websites to order from:

4.1 Amiami

Amiami has been around for years and they are widely used by the figure community. All products sold on Amiami are legit and there are no bootlegs. Prices are reasonable and you can buy pre-owned products too. They have a rating system for pre-owned products. Rank A is basically brand new while B has minor signs of usage. Please check the site directly for their pre-owned condition rating definitions. From my personal experience, I have ordered 3 B-ranked products from them that look new just that there was a small bit of dust on them. Do avoid rank C though because rank C means the figure has significant damage to it or missing parts.


4.2 Mandarake

Mandarake is a really greatwebsite for ordering figures and my personal favourite. Mandarake specialises in selling pre-owned products, sometimes brand new and sometimes used but are all legit. They will list the condition of the product on the website and please do not be alarmed when they label it as package damaged. In fact, all their products are either labelled as package damaged or package heavily damaged. By package they are referring to the figure box and not the actual figure itself. 99% of the time package damage is nothing at all. Maybe just a really small bump or chip in the figure box.


The Japanese are really very particular about the conditions of figures and boxes and are upfront about it. If there is any damage to the figure or box, pictures are guaranteed to be shown on the website. Some combinations of the figures on Mandarake include “unopened, package damaged” and “opened, package damaged”. I usually order opened figures on Mandarake because they usually just mean an otaku had opened the box, took one look at the figure and kept it back in the box. The opened figures I had ordered on Mandarake are always cheaper than unopened ones and are still in pristine condition. Even the slightest box damage can result in a price drop on Mandarake. If you do not care for the condition of the box then Mandarake is a gift from heaven.

The only downside about ordering from Mandarake is that they have many different outlets which are shown on their website when you order the figures. Their figures can come from various outlets in different regions of Japan. If you would like to order two or more figures from different regions, you will have to pay the shipping fee for each outlet respectively. Mandarake also needs to check the stock of the item you ordered because they are shop front items and can be sold out while waiting for them to process your order. I have always gotten my order confirmation from them within one to three days though and the items I ordered were always instock.


4.3 Solaris Japan

Try to avoid using this site unless you are hunting for really rare figures that have been sold out or are no longer in production. They carry many old figures that are highly sought after but all their products are grossly overpriced. An item on solaris can cost two times or more compared to Amiami and Mandarake. The items carried by Solaris are legit and they also sell both brand new and pre-owned but is important to note that their pre-owned products have always been opened and used. They provide pictures for pre-owned products if you request it from them. Speaking from personal experience and reviews from members of the figure community, do not buy pre-owned figures from Solaris unless you really want a figure and cannot find it elsewhere. The pre-owned figure condition ratings are generally inaccurate and I had a bad experience with them although the problem could be fixed easily. I will share a little more about it in the later sections.


4.4 MyFigureCollection (MFC)

MFC is a site for figure collectors to get to know each other, make friends and sell or buy figures. I highly recommend creating a MFC account to keep track of the figures you own and to find out more about figures you are interested in. When buying on MFC, always check the ratings of the seller. I would personally avoid sellers who do not have any reviews or have negative reviews. Always pay using a secured payment method such as paypal goods and services so that you can file a dispute if the seller sold you a bootleg or did not ship your figure. MFC also gives you the links to websites which may sell the figure you are looking up on, which can help to shorten your searching time.


4.5 Bonus Section

Always avoid buying from eBay or amazon as the figures listed there are usually bootlegs especially if the seller is based in China. If you have the opportunity to travel to Japan, definitely do check out Akihabara which is a famous spot known for their Anime, Manga and Gaming goods including figures. There are many rare figures which you can find over there. Sadly, I was not into figure collecting a few years back when I went to Japan as you can find many awesome deals there.


Starting your figure collecting journey

Figure collecting is not as easy as you think. You will have to do your research on figures, their prices, set your budget and make the final judgement of whether to buy them or not. If you are just starting out or at a beginner stage, here are some of my recommendations for you. 

Jeanne d’Arc from Alter

As mentioned at the start, figure collecting is expensive so I suggest that you start by deciding on the type of figure you wish to collect. Nedoroids? Scales? Figmas? A combination of them? Next, write down some of your favourite anime or games and research whether there are any figures of them to your liking. Do not simply order any figure from your favourite anime but also consider the points I made in section 2 above such as the price to quality ratio and design. Always keep your cool and do not rush into buying a figure only to regret it afterwards. Some of the more popular anime figures in the Figure collecting community include Love-live, IdolM@ster and the Fate Series. Mobile game characters such as Jeanne d’Arc from Fate Grand Order and Prinz Eugen from Azur Lane are also immensely popular.

The other way of beginning your figure collecting journey is to simply order what you like and follow what your heart tells you. If you see a figure that is attractive to you and within your budget, go ahead and purchase it. Just in case you did not know, many figure collectors have no knowledge about the characters of the figures they purchased. Figures are works of art to these collectors and you can still appreciate the beauty of figures even without knowing the context of their origins.

Besides budgeting, you also have to plan and allocate space for your display cabinets or how you intend to display your figures because figures take up a lot of space. Ideally, figures should be displayed together based on their scales and or size. For example, a 1/7 scale figure should go with another 1/7 scale one but you can always display them with another 1/8 scale. How you want to display your figures is completely up to your creativity and imagination. You can even buy or make your own dioramas which are simply put, figure backgrounds to display your figures.

My personal figure collecting journey and mistakes that I made

Rabbit Doll Chino

I started my figure collecting journey in October of last year and the first figure I purchased was my holy grail Chino figure as shown above from my favourite anime Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? or Gochiusa in short. This figure and the other Chino Figure I mentioned earlier are my favourites and also the most expensive. I purchased it off Mandarake for a decent price. 

Cocoa - Cafe Style, from Gochiusa

Thereafter, I continued to build my collection by buying scales and nendoroids of the other Gochiusa girls. I made my first mistake here. I bought a pre-owned Cocoa Figure that is hard to find as shown shown above, from Solaris Japan. It came with a broken bread basket handle when it arrived but I could repair it easily with a drip of super glue. I did request for pictures from Solaris which they provided and the pictures showed Cocoa in an excellent condition. The bread basket of the cocoa figure is really thin and fragile which may explain why it broke off during shipping but the figure was listed as 4.5/5 stars on Solaris website. Furthermore, reviews about Solaris on the condition ratings of their pre-owned figures have been mixed by many people. My advice is to always avoid using Solaris due to high mark up prices and wait patiently for the old figure in a pre-owned condition to pop up on Amiami or Mandarake. The downside to this is that you have to be fast and purchase it before someone else does.

Eventually I had gotten all the selected figures that I wanted from Gochiusa and decided it was time to move on to other figures that are visually appealing to me which leads to the point where I am currently at. I have bought a fair number of other figures already and the most common rookie mistake I made in the past was ordering figures without first comparing prices and also not evaluating the price to quality ratio more thoroughly. After learning from my mistakes, I got myself many sweet deals and netted many rare figures which are of very high quality. There are many figures on my wish list that I am still hunting for and my journey is far from over.


Closing comments



I hope that this guide has helped you out in one way or another if you are just beginning your figure collecting journey or considering starting it. Do lookout for my figure reviews which will be coming in the near future and I hope you all have an awesome day. Peace!


Written by Kou

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