What the Number of Action Figures You Own Says About You

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by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck on March 27, 2019

in Nerd Culture, toys

[You should know going in, that this is a much nerdier version of this NSFW Maxim article]

Everyone has a number. And in this age of ebay and online retail, when getting toys is easier than ever, my guess is that number is larger than ever. Between ebay, social website trading groups, and online retailers, action figures are literally at our fingertips. You may even have mint-in-the-box action figures tucked away in a closet that you’ve entirely forgotten about, and that’s ok. No judgement here.

Whether you land on the Toy Hunter side of the spectrum, acquiring action figures as an investment, or if you fancy yourself a Leo DiCaprio type, passionately collecting all of a single line, there’s no right or wrong answer to how many action figures you should own—no matter what your significant other says. Below, we examine the numbers and what they say about you.

If you own less than five action figures, you’re most likely A) a typical adult, B) not the “collect things” type, or C) childless. The first two are self-explanatory, but the third is a safe bet for some in this range because we all seem to go through that phase in which the things we were into as kids become repulsive and childish, until we have kids of our own and suddenly find ourselves agonizing for weeks over Big Boa’s lost boxing gloves. The stir of nostalgia is strong when you look in your child’s eyes and see a little you looking back your way.

A few years ago I found myself in the 1-5 action figure range. Though an avid collector of multiple lines as a kid, of the hundreds of action figures I owned, I only held on to a select few through the college and pre-parenting years. If you’re in the the 1-5 range, perhaps you too are in that life stage. Or maybe you just aren’t into action figures. Or maybe you love them deeply but had to sell them all to pay bills. If so, I say f*ck bills, get toys.

This is the murkiest number we’ll try to decipher. If you own 5-15 action figures, you’re hard to read. To get a proper gauge on what this number says about you, we’ll need to know a little bit about the number.

Are the 5-15 action figures you own in a box in your attic? Are they in your 6 year-old’s toy box? Perhaps they’re displayed proudly on your desk at work. All of these possibilities say very different things about you. However, one thing can be said with some degree of certainty: you’re a rational, kind person.

Collectors, by nature, are an odd and surly bunch. Much of collecting as a hobby is irrational. It’s crazy to think that just because you have one of something, you have to have all of that something, including the super-rare one that was only released in Brazil two years after the line was discontinued.

Those who own 5-15 action figures know what they like, but have self control and lack that obsessive quality that serious collectors typically exhibit. Those with 5-15 figures are likely good-natured, as they enjoy the fun, child-like aspects of life but don’t resent being a grown up and the responsibilities that come with it. If their 5-15 are now full-time employees of their children’s action figure workforce, we salute their clear vision of the big picture – toys are meant to be played with by kids. Except Masters of the Universe Classics. Those are for grown ups. And any vintage Transformer. The kids will lose Optimus Prime’s fists in like 7 minutes! Ok, MOST toys are meant to be played with by kids.

Congratulations, you’re above average. Right? I have no idea what the average number of action figures the typical person owns is. Actually, it’s probably .0001, if you factor in the millions of people who own no action figures, like your grandmother and your English professor. In that case, if you own ONE action figure you’re above average. If you own 15-30, you’re officially a collector, and you’re either just starting off or you’ve paired your collection down to what you consider “the bare essentials” and what your significant other considers “that huge embarrassing self of toys in the spare room”.

Either way, if your number is between 15 and 30, you’re officially an action figure collector. Your level of current participation in the hobby is not that of the people in the next bracket, but at some point in your life you’ve likely attended a convention of some kind, and at least casually glanced at a toy vendor’s table at a local flea market. You’re not combing your city’s Goodwills for USS Flagg parts, but you have friends who do. I salute your self control, Mr. or Mrs. 15-30 action figures. That’s a hard line to toe.

More than 100
If you’ve got more than 100 action figures, go high-five your 12 year-old self who would be mega-jealous of your collection. What does “more than 100” say about you? Well, for one- your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband is either super cool or has no idea what they’ve gotten themself into. More than 100 action figures (assuming they aren’t all part of your childhood collection sitting in a basement) means you’re an avid collector.

You spend weekends scouring garage sales, flea markets and local collectibles shows. You’ve likely spent money on airfare or a road trip in pursuit of action figures. Also, owning more than 100 action figures means you probably like to share your hobby with others, and likely talk about it online or in person with a small community of like-minded collectors. Big-game collectors like to show off their scores, either via Instagram, Facebook, or by reviewing their new figures on YouTube.

If you’ve got more than 100 action figures, you probably also have at least a handful of great stories detailing how you’ve saved, scored and found some of your favorites.

This is a category reserved for Mark Bellomo. Yes, sixty thousand action figures. He’s the Wilt Chamberlain of toys. Bellomo has written books chronicling every single action figure in the entire line OF MULTIPLE LINES, and he (correctly) feels it necessary to own every figure he’s writing about.

So what does your number of action figures say about you?


Top image courtesy of collectingwarehouse.com

cody mix May 14, 2015 at 11:41 am

Well I am certainly in the higher tier. I think I had less than 15 toys…well never.

Batfan May 14, 2015 at 7:20 pm

Definitely in the “More than 100” tier. And yes … my wife is super cool.

Hail Mary May 14, 2015 at 10:52 pm

I’m in the top category for people not named Mark Bellomo. But almost all of my figures are GI Joes and MOTU. I was all about He-Man until they ended the line and I went all-in on GI Joe. There were a few years there in the late 80s when they were almost all I wanted for Christmas. Being an only child and youngest grandchild, I was spoiled and received pretty much every figure released from 1988-1991 or so. The rest came in smaller quantities before that and more recently as I slowly fill in the gaps in my collection. I couldn’t imagine having 1,000 figures, let alone 60,000. He could put together an amazing museum.

Yelinna June 16, 2016 at 7:59 pm

I must be in the “around 50” range, because adults not only collect action figures: toys are more than “action figures”: building blocks, dolls, dinosaurs, ponies, plushies, vehicles, playsets…
But quantity is a good factor to measure if a adult is a toy collector or not.

I must correct myself: counting action figures, dolls, dinosaurs, ponies, figurines and plastic animals, I must be in the 100 range.

Frost June 27, 2019 at 5:29 pm

I have 9 large figurines and 2 small ones, you’re right on that, I do really know what I like 🙂 I only purchased my favourites, while the other characters didn’t get me to look twice at all.

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