Simple rules for getting back into action figure collecting

Many years ago I was easily identifiable by my toy collection. I had a large number of Transformers, Star Wars, TMNT and related toys. This wasn’t early childhood this was well into my 20s. I got out of the hobby more or less around age 24. In the decade plus since I have maintained a strong desire to revisit the hobby in some form or another. I tried to live vicariously through my sisters who each had kids. I would buy them cool toys for birthdays, Christmas, etc., and watch them enjoy the toys. Due to a series of moves the majority of those toys ended up no longer in the possession of said kid. Therefore I decided that I will remove myself from buying things for kids who will not maintain them.

One of the reasons I exited the hobby was how disorganized it was. There were too many toy lines, to many figures and too many parts, vehicles, accessories and playsets to keep up with. Then I realized I could do my toy collecting the same way I do video game collecting, in that I don’t need to buy every little thing. Instead what I will do is focus on grabbing a few new toys from local toy store shelves as I find the time. I will concentrate on figures that area appealing to me that I don’t have an issue with taking home, opening up and displaying loose. What I will focus on is establishing a few rules that work for my budget.

Rule number 1: local only

I won’t be buying anything online. This means my focus will be walking into a Target, Walmart or Dollar General and buying what I find on their stores shelves. I live in a fairly small market with few choices. That being said I do have some near local options. The main reason for local only is to eliminate the temptation to go after original and retro or highly collectible pieces. In other words I want to put my attention on modern toys and pick up the older stuff down the road.

Rule number 2: no duplicates

This is easy. If I buy a figure, such as a Batman or a Megatron, I have one in my collection. This will not hold forever but I am setting milestones that I must achieve before I can purchase multiples of the same character. That will keep me focused. It means I have to be selective. If I buy a 12 inch Star Wars Darth Vader that means I can’t buy a 3 inch Darth Vader or an 8 inch one either until those specific milestones have been met.

Rule number 3: mandatory rotation of lines

This is slightly more complicated but similar to rule 2. Basically I will rotate my purchases from toylines. Since my intention is to collect from a wide range of areas I will mandate that if I buy a figure, item, accessory pack, vehicle or playset from one toy line, example Star Wars, this pay period then I have to refrain from purchasing an item from that same line next pay period. This will push me into broadening my scope allowing me to grow a decent selection with some nice variety rather than buying a ton of toys in the same line. I had contemplated a rule that would require balance, as in buying a good guy and a bad guy from each line as I went a long. I determined that rule was too restrictive and would severely limit my ability to make purchases on the fly.

Rule number 4: anything is fair game.

Okay this is a bit open ended but basically nothing is off limits. I am not making a list of items I wish to obtain. I will only be picking up what I physically come across. This will naturally limit what is available to me at first. However I will make some exceptions to the other rules. The idea is not to limit myself to one or two toylines. I don’t want to go for everything in a line just the stuff I come across I find interesting. By spreading it around I think it will give me a stronger collection that will span a wide range of interests.

Rule number 5: road trip pickups okay

I won’t be seeking things out online. Instead what I will do is keep an eye open as I visit retail stores. As for collectible or retro stuff I will check out thrift stores, flea  markets as well as be on the lookout when I attend conventions. I figured this is the best way to seek out the older stuff or even the out of stock locally items. This will be about the only way I obtain older or harder to find items.

Rule number 6: have fun

The reason for toy collecting, as with any hobby, is to enjoy the hobby. This is the easiest part for me to lose track of. I don’t want it to become a chore that is why I set the rules above. If I don’t have lists or goals of building massive collections of toy sets I will enjoy the collecting even more. In the process my goal is to pick up things that will bring me some joy, relieve stress and enrich my life. That is basically the reason for getting into any activity.

Recent pickups include 5 Dollar General legacy Transformers. I bought G1-G2 style small scale figures of Starscream, Megatron, Grimlock, Bumble Bee and Optimus Prime. I have also added 2 Nickelodeon TMNT figures, a Leonardo and Michelangelo.

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Stephanie Bri

A transgender writer who also does podcasts and videos. If you like my writing please consider helping me survive. You can support me directly by giving money to my paypal: If you prefer CashApp my handle is @Stephaniebri22. Also feel free to donate to my Patreon. I know it's largely podcast-centric but every little bit helps. Find it by going to, Thank you.