Anime Figurines – Are They Worth It?

Prof-L

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know, I actually don’t have much of a collection of anime/video game stuff. My room isn’t nearly as impressive-looking as Yumeka’s. This basically comes down to two reasons: 1) I haven’t been collecting anime stuff for very long, and 2) I have a uni student’s budget. (Like, I buy my textbooks secondhand and I prepare my own lunch every day just to avoid spending money. I’m so hardcore, amirite?!) Mind you, whenever I have a spare cent, it does go straight towards my anime addiction, but even then, I can’t help but feel somewhat guilty about my consumer habits.

At the back of my mind, I ask myself: is this really worth it?

I mean, first of all, you can’t use figurines for anything. They just sit there and look pretty and break if you touch them the wrong way.

The other thing that rankles me (and this applies to most anime-related goods in general) is how crazy the markup is. When you’re paying $15 for a cheap plastic mug just because it has a cute anime girl’s face on it, I have to sit and seriously ponder my love for 2D girls. (Spoilers: Money > 2D girls.)

I’m not complaining about anything new here, of course. Niche markets have always worked this way. But lately, I’ve been questioning simple, basic things, like what makes you a hardcore fan?

Does buying anime figurines make you a “better” fan?

d9c

The obvious answer to that question is no, of course not. But from what I understand, it’s easy to get hooked on this stuff, especially when you approach it as a way of giving back to the industry.

Then there’s the whole collector’s aspect of it. Sites like The Anime Collectionary which attempt to catalogue every anime collectable ever appeal to the same base instinct that makes Pokemon such a popular game.

Some cynical part of me wonders if this isn’t a way of creating a social gap between the fans willing to invest their money and those who aren’t.

There are millions of different kinds of fans, though. I’d personally consider fanart, fanfics, role-playing, blogging and, yes, even fansubbing to an extent as forms of “giving back” to the industry. In fact, since they’re creative outlets, they’re productive in ways that simply collecting can never be.

So whenever I buy an anime figurine or make some other anime-related purchase, I’m careful to tell myself, “This doesn’t mean I’m more serious about my anime fandom than others.”

In all honesty, I feel more like a genuine anime fan just doing something simple like tweeting about how much I liked the latest episode of Kill la Kill. Anime fandom isn’t about how much anime you’ve watched or how much stuff you have: it’s about how much fun you have.

So why buy anime figurines?

Because they look cool. That’s it.

I'm ambivalent towards Kirito as a character, but this figurine of his is really cool

I have mixed feelings about Kirito as a character, but this figurine is really cool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is probably why I like scrolling through sites like AmiAmi and looking at cool pictures of figurines I will probably never own. Facebook pages like this are great for window shopping as well.

My brain tells me they’re not worth it, but, but… MY HEART!

Conclusion: I don’t know what to think about anime figurines, even though I buy them. Someone tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way.

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Posted on March 25, 2014, in Editorials and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. I don’t think that I’ll get a figurine, but sometimes I just can’t help but to feel owning a figurine and look at it when I’m feeling down.

    • They’re definitely really nice to look at. If you only have a few figurines of your absolute favourite characters, they feel really special. It’s just really easy to go overboard, you know? :’)

  2. Personally I prefer to buy artbooks when it come to anime merchandise, it just feels much more fun/useful to me in this era of HD streaming and because I find figures to be made of an odd looking plastic plus I the lack of space, but mainly I don’t know if I’m enough of a geek for that stuff. I feel like theres a special line you cross when you start collecting figures ahah. Though that also means that any show that doesnt have a strong enough sense of aesthetic won’t get my money no matter how much I liked it..

    • You know, about artbooks, I find I would definitely not buy them unless I’m really in love with the artwork from the series. (The only artbook I have is a CLAMP one.) With figurines, though, I only really need to have an affection for the character, not necessarily the design sense. I mean, I have One Piece figurines, but I never cared much for the art style in that anime.

      I agree with you that buying figurines feels a lot more “geeky” than the other things you can buy.

  3. Thanks for the mention =)

    I can understand thinking that figures are kind of a waste since you can’t do anything with them and they just sit around and look pretty. But for me, the idea of having an actual, accurate-looking model of a character you like that you can hold and look at everyday is just…nice XD Since pretty much all our other ways of dealing with our favorite characters is through digital, 2D means, having a physical 3D figure of the character is something special =) Which is why I only buy figures of characters that I have a special affinity for (hence why I have so many Haruhi figures :3) I personally can’t understand people who spend tons of money on figures of characters/series they don’t particularly like. But to each their own with that XD

    • You know, I admit I have some figurines of characters I don’t like, but that’s because I got them cheap. Like you, I can’t imagine how you’d spend tons of money on anime you don’t care for. And it definitely is special when you own a figurine of a character you really like! You can usually tell so much about a person’s taste just from what kind of merchandise they choose to collect :)

  4. I have fallen too far down the figure collecting slope to look back now, but I feel the same. I get them because I think they look cool/cute/etc., not because I think it makes me a “better” fan. Of course, the downside is that I never have any extra spending money. Ever. (It has taught me a lot about budgeting and controlling my impulse shopping though!)

  5. Why buy figurines when you can buy 40k figures? Anime figurines come predesigned. You need to paint and build your own army of angry Space Marines. Much more rewarding.

    Seriously though, wouldn’t it be nice to use all those figures on tabletop stuff? Granted I don’t think having Saber riding a motorcycle would make much sense when I’m playing a decker/rigger elf in Shadowrun but it’s something.

    Here’s another question, why not action figures? I would love to own the whole cast of Fate/Zero if I can childishly make them fight with my imagination.

    • Some of those newfangled anime figurines you can change their outfits and poses, so I guess they’re like action figures in a way? lol

      I’ve always been TERRIBLE at assembling figures or doing anything with my hands in general, which is probably the main reason why I never got into Gundam kits or anything that actually required building. I can imagine how it would be much more rewarding, though.

  6. Pennypincher anime fan here. I usually get anime stuff as gifts rather than buying stuff myself, though I occasionally cave in to buy the occasional toy or two. Back in the day, I used to collect YGO cards (figurines were way out of my budget)…I mean, they were just fancy bits of paper but you really get attached to your favorite cards. Never mind the fact that everyone else also had Blue Eyes White Dragons and Dark Magicians by the handful (Mine were HOLOGRAPHIC. Therefore they are cool!)
    I agree that it’s not how much you spend, it’s much much fun you have. So many hours wasted on YGO Cardmaker…and not a penny wasted.

    • Wait, did you make your own YGO cards or did you buy them? Because the latter was a HUGE money sink back in the day. I’m afraid my brother and I might have cost our parents a small fortune in YGO booster packs :’)

      • Both actually! I made them when I couldn’t afford them as a wee little one and later got them when I was a bit older and started saving up. Now you can get a boatload of randoms off of eBay for a fraction of the cost, which is pretty sweet for casual players like me. I did give up YGO card collecting after Synchros were released since the game has changed so much and most of my cards were obsolete.
        Still fun to play though.

  7. To me, while it’s nice to own a figurine, they are too expensive and there are better uses I can use with the money. In my opinion, buying music cds such as the opening/ending themes of a show, a soundtrack, the actual DVDs or source material such as video games and such. Of course, they still have a collection value even if you can experience them as many time you want.

    • Good point. I dip into other collectibles like DVDs and CDs and in my opinion they have more long-term worth. Assuming you actually take them out of the packet and use them, of course.

  8. As someone who owns a fair few of them I can honestly say no they are not worth it. If you can get a good discount, then maybe. But the normal retail prices of these things these days aren’t worth it in my opinion.

  9. I’ve fallen pretty far down the slippery slope and I started writing a comment here explaining why but it ended up getting really long so I decided I’m going to think a little harder about it and try to roll out a full post on the subject.

    Here’s a condensed version. Ultimately, I think what it boils down to is a type of immersion in the things you enjoy – figures provide a way to tangibly, physically interact with the anime you love in a way you otherwise couldn’t. Like how writing fanfiction allows you to control the characters’ actions through your words, playing with/posing figures can serve as its own form of expression (see your Professor Layton picture). And like anime itself, high-quality figurines are their own art form to be admired in a similar fashion even if they’re just being put on display.

  10. I like memories. For every series that i’ve really enjoyed, I try my best to find something that will make me remember it and the feelings it gave me in the years after I watched it. For most series that just means I pick out a wallpaper picture or two to put the folder my desktop cycles through, so that I can enjoy thinking of whichever one is only display each day. For others that means listening to the music I associate with them. And for the series I like best, that means merchandise. Not much though…i’m on a student’s budget too (and I know exactly what you mean about packing your own lunch >.>)!

    My current collection amounts to: Chocobo Plushie, 1/2 Scale Buster Sword, Scale Wooden Keyblade, Soul Eater Pillow (not one of my favorite series…it was just cheap), Companion Cube Plushie, Scale Portal Gun, Triumphant Excalibur Saber Figurine (http://myfigurecollection.net/item/13777) and a Muv-Luv Shiranui Storm Vanguard/Strike Vanguard Model (http://myfigurecollection.net/item/155042).

    I’d really love to get a display case at some point later in life ^_^

    • Heyyy, I’m pretty much the same as you! I try to hold onto something that helps me remember the anime I like, rather than enjoying them and then forgetting them soon afterwards. Collecting things is a great way to keep those memories alive, but as you pointed out, there are lots of ways you can do this without having to zip open your wallet.

      Your Saber figurine looks AMAZING, by the way! Am madly jealous :)

  11. I used to collect anime figures as well (nendoroids) but after buying around 6 or 7 of them I just one day thought that maybe it isn’t exactly worth it… so I decided to drop it.. but somehow there’s this part of me who wants to actually support the anime fandom so I’m starting to buy manga (and maybe soon enough DVDs).. in a senses I kind of think it’s more worth it than anime figures (just my opinion though)..

    • Yeah, I think there is more value in buying manga, especially if it’s a title you like to reread. Unfortunately, a lot of my favourite manga series are so long it’s a pain to collect the whole set! I never have enough room for manga :(

  12. I honestly don’t even remember why I started buying figures in the first place, lol. When I was making a trip to Singapore, and bought a few nendoroids as my very first figures, it seemed to ignite an odd switch within me, and since then, I had been hunting for figures day and night (embarrassingly, my collection is still nothing to be proud of). I also have an odd policy to only buy figures from anime/games/VNs that I had already watched/played and genuinely likes them, and doesn’t mind supporting them by buying their respective figures^^ Ironically, and especially for games/VNs, some of their figures will probably be extinct by the time I finished them.

  13. I started with the pose-able figurines (nendoroid, figma) because I thought it would go well with my interest in photography. I’m a little shy with instructing and posing an actual model so 2D girls was a viable solution. One thing led to another and now I have more than enough figurines but not really bothered to photograph them.

    I also used to think it was a good conversation starter to “display” my interest in anime / otaku culture to people around me (I stayed in a dorm in college). But the only questions I kept getting are don’t you think these things are not worth the money? Why are your figurines just girls? Why don’t you collect the cool stuff like robots or monsters?

    • I know your feels, man.

      I always feel really impressed when I meet someone who collects a lot of anime stuff, but it’s hard to open up a conversation with that with most anime fans. English-speaking anime fandom doesn’t really have that kind of culture. Probably the only good conversation starter I know of is “What do you think of X mainstream anime?”

      Like you, I prefer bishojo figurines over robots and monsters. I think the former is simply more aesthetically pleasing, and I’m usually more emotionally attached to the character through my exposure to anime. I think it’s great that you found a practical use for your figurines, at least at first. I’d probably be madly jealous of your collection in any case :)

  14. *shrugs* I don’t buy anime figurines because I just don’t care for them. But I buy anime posters sometime because I like living in a house that I genuinely enjoy being in (and because they look cool), so I think it makes sense that some people buy figurines for exactly the same reasons.

  15. It’s a slippery slope. Easy to blow hundreds of dollars before you even notice.

  16. Oh well, the first thing I did when I got my job was to buy a fafner model. I love it, really, but I really can make this happen again. Now the money has other meaning and my love can survive without that precious and delicate figurine.

  17. Figures interest me mostly as sculpture. The Japanese figure makers really are the descendants of the Greek and Roman masters, who would be floored if they knew what we could do with modern plastic technology. A real shame they’ll never see it. The leap in quality a few years back has me eagerly anticipating the future.

    I have like ten anime figurines. I started buying them cheap, because of character love, but lately I’m saving up for a few months at a time to buy premium ones like this:

    I dropped a few hundred bucks though. In hindsight I might have enjoyed PC parts more, but these figures remain interesting longer than most videogames. If you ever get bored looking at a great figure, just rotate it slightly and start staring again.

  18. I like the Kirito figurine too :)

  19. You don’t even have to like an anime to like figurines. They’re are art.

    I actually sometimes buy figurines from anime I have never/will never see or anime I didn’t like, just because I love the design, pose, coloring, or something.

    Of course, I’m much more likely to buy a pricey figure of a character who is both attractive AND from an anime I like… XD

    There was a time where I thought about buying every bishounen figure available, because of how rare they are… though it seems lately there’s been more and well, that plan would make me go broke even if they only released one per season.

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