The Alpha and Omega of Anime Figures

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akiranyo

akiranyo

Astraea Kisaragi

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WHAT ARE ANIME FIGURES
They are the pride of any anime fan. They are not toys, but valuable art pieces, which should accumulate some real worth after some years.
You don't need to be a otaku or a avid collector to own a few figures. Everybody can be happy to share his room with a miniaturized version of his/her favorite character(s).
Lemme give you a friendly warning - this hobby can be expensive. If you find yourself short on cash most of the time, is not for you. A figure will not fill your belly or pay your rent.

HISTORY OF ANIME FIGURES
To say the truth, they don't really have any history for a very simple reason, they are actually a pretty new thing. And while some figures where produced already in the 90's, it was only in small numbers for dedicated fans and only a very few left Japan itself. But as anime started to be more recognized and leaving the image of being some simple "cartoon", the demand has grown tremendously and they started be available for other countries as well.

USED MATERIALS
The increasing quantity of produced figures didn't means that they would have lost in quality. Actually the exact opposite, newer figures are much better as the old ones in terms of quality. Before 2006 they used pure PVC for them. Although is durable, it wasn't a very lucky choice for the fact, that pure PVC has the tendency to permanently bend after some years. Now they use a combination of PVC and ABS, which has great characteristics and the figure should remain in it's original form for several decades, possibly even for a lifetime. More expensive figures sometimes use polyresin or resin, though except the higher price, they are also less durable and have the chance to being chipped. Pure resin can be bought in all bigger shops to fix those.

FAKE FIGURES
As production increased, so did the attempt to create fake copies of them - called bootlegs. As you can guess, especially China really likes to do that. Although their quality increased a bit, they still lack a lot, and you don't need be a professional collector to notice them in seconds.
The most obvious part is that bootlegs often shine, while real always stay matte. This means that low quality material - with a lot of plastic is used and they have the chance even to break eventually. Another obvious part is the paint job. If looks too noobish, it's a fake. Also by the real ones, the platform contains the name of the company and the anime series from which the character is. Fakes often have only a simple "Made in China". Generally fans should avoid too cheap offers and buying figures on eBay. Buy rather in dedicated figure shops, where not that they are 100% genuine, but often even offer better prices and cheaper shipping as eBay ever would. If you buy second hand figures, ask the seller for some photos about the figure and the box seperately. The box can be another hint for detecting fakes, more pricey figures have holographic stickers and have a prettier box (boxes of bootlegs have washed-out colors, blurred text and from inside they are simple carton). Nendoroids are the most popular targets for bootleggers. Remember, except the lower quality, fake provides less joy and has near to zero collection value.

GENUINE FIGURES
Just because a figure is cheap and/or has a "Made in China" on it's back it can be still genuine. Often even the most expensive figures are produced in China. This not due that the companies want to save costs, but mainly that Japan is a country which is very poor on raw materials and even if the paintjob will be done in Japan, the figure itself will be molded in China. Also not all genuine figures need to have holographic stickers. Figures under 50usd usually lack it, except Nendoroids, where is included on all.

STANDARD ANIME FIGURES (INTRODUCTION)
Figure sizes are divided by scales. The most common aspect is the 1/10, but we have also 1/8, 1/7,1/6 or even 1/4.
A 1/10 figure means that it will have 10% of the height if that character would exist as a person in real life. So logically they will come in variety of different heights, as long just as humans, some characters are taller and some are shorter. Average height for 1/10 is 15-17cm, but this can also depends on the positure of the figure - there might be some which are sitting or kneeling. Naturally then it will be smaller in height - 10 or less cm.

Altough is very hard to standardize figures, I try to divide now up a few main groups by quality level and price. (price can also vary according sold-outs)

STANDARD ANIME FIGURES (NOTABLE COLLECTIONS)
Prize figures (companies: SEGA, Furyuu, Banpresto, Taito - size: usually 1/10 - price range: 15-30usd)
Figures of the poor fans. The name "prize" comes from that in Japan those figures are often included in crane games. Cheap and manufactured in big numbers, machine painted and often a bit rough. But some of them can come out really pretty, escpecially the recent ones. Their advantage except the appealing price is that they cover a huge number of characters and series, often even mere side characters. Altough they don't have a standardized stand, multiple characters from the same series should have the same. Ironically exactly due the low initial cost, those figures are all genuine. Simply they are not worth the effort for bootleggers.

Beach Queens Series (company: Wave - size: 1/10 - price range 40-70usd)
Probably the most popular standard figure series ever. Always 1/10, always in swimwear, always the same standardized stand and always only females.
Although are more expensive as Prize, they have a much higher quality level and still cover a huge number of series and characters, especially focusing on the new series. They often have included items like swimming rings or beach balls. Bespectacled characters have removable glasses with real glass. Also they have a neck-joint which enables to horizontally move the characters head.

Staind Series (company: Media Factory - size: 1/10 - price range 40-60usd)
Tries to unsuccesfully rival Beach Queens, but characters are usually in school uniform or casual clothes. Only the most popular characters. They come with transparent
stand and their face can be changed into a different expression. Future of this series is questionable due many mediocre or even negative reviews.

SkyTube Series (company: Alphamax, size: 1/7, price range 80-120usd)
Beach Queens for the rich guys, with bigger size and breathtaking paint job. Focusing often only on the most sexiest anime characters and some figures come with cast-off, means their bikini top can be removed where you can find uncensored female breasts. You get what you pay for.

Note:
Certain companies might hold license for certain series. This happened by Ben-To, where the characters where produced only as Prize figures by SEGA.


STANDARD ANIME FIGURES (MENTIONABLE COMPANIES)

Alter - In very high regard by the most collectors. While the quality rivals to the luxury ones, the prices mostly stay bellow 100usd. Always 1/8, but too bad that they didn't standardized their stands.

Bandai - produces Gundam mechas for Sunrise. While a appealing price, more hardcore collectors consider those only as toys.

Griffon Enterprises - got popular especially by Ikki Tousen releases. Size 1/6 and figures have even name metal plates on their stands. Despite this the price rarely exceeds 80usd.

FREEing - The company producing really sexy figures from 1/8 up to 1/4. And while the "smaller" ones are somehow affordable, the 1/4 can cost over 200usd. Those often wear even real clothing.

Kotobukiya - This company produces some very pretty figures at affordable prices. Usual height is 1/8. The only company which has offices also outside of Japan.

MegaHouse - Their 1/7 and 1/8 scales figures are great. Also producing non-scaled mainstream figures like DBZ or Digimon.

Orchid Seed - Almost exclusively 1/7 and only females, often girls with some connection to combat.

Phat! - a relavitely new company making cute figures at reasonable prices. Recently they also produced some nedoroids for Good Smile.

Q-Six - produces hentai figures. From 18+ only.

Revoltech - produces exlusively mecha figures, mainly from Muv-Luv or Armored Trooper Votoms. Really good quality/price ration.

NON-STANDARD FIGURES - NENDOROID & NENDOROID PETITE
Produced by Good Smile Company in price range from 40usd. Nendoroids are extremly popular (if not the most) chibi-styled figures due their cuteness. They are basically parodized versions of the characters with oversized heads and small bodies. Unlike others figures, they aren't made by scale, but each of them is arround 10cm height regardless the height of the anime character. This is natural due nendoroids are meant to be deformed. Nendoroids are in numbered boxes, in order to track how many different ones where produced until now. They come with a variety of items, interchangeable faces and hands. But unlike Figmas, here the whole hand is changed, as long they dont have a elbow or wrist joint.
Petite nendoroids are the same, but smaller - in average 6,5cm in height. Due this they often come in a box where multiple of them are included.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, they are the most frequent target for bootlegs.

Note:
They are also nendoroid-looking figures which aren't really nendoroids. This happens sometimes when Good Smile doesn't gets the license for a certain series. A good example would be Sora no Otoshimono, which has been produced exclusively by AmiAmi with a special stand featuring the logo of the series.

NON-STANDARD FIGURES - FIGMA
Produced by Max Factory in price range from 40usd. Have the same characteristics as nendoroids, but with real life proportions. They always come in 1/12 and with a standardized multi-purprose stand. Is not even uncommon that a figure has even 2 stands, in order to simulate more advanced action. Figmas have also several more joints as nendoroids (knees, elbows, wrists), to simulate real poses or moves from the anime. Their faces and hands are removable and exchangeable. Due the same size, included items are compatible with any other Figma figure.
In Japan they are even companies which produce exclusive items for them, like bicycles, mopeds, sport bikes and even chairs & tables into class or club rooms. Just as their rival does, boxes are marked with a numbers, showing how many different Figma's has been produced. Currently this number should be arround 180.

NON-ANIME ANIME FIGURES
Produced figures aren't really focused only on anime. There are several figures made from visual novels. For example figures from Little Busters! where available years before the anime started. And certain series got popular exactly due the figures, the best example would be To Heart 2. Tamaki from this series is probably the most popular character in the history of anime figures.

MECHA FIGURES
Although very cool, I don't recommend them to keep on the same shelf as human figures. Those are often 1/100 on scale which means true height will be 10x lower.
They have though more appealing price, 25-40usd and exchangeable weapons. By same series produced by same company weapons are always compatible.

TAKING CARE OF YOUR COLLECTION
Quality here on there, figures doesn't like sunshine, so never put them towards windows. Also by cleaning them use lukewarm water without chemicals. They are waterproof, but some chemicals might create a reaction with the paint. Also try to not drop them. While figures theyselves are very durable, their stands might break. On a sidenote, certain sellers offer universal stands.

USEFUL LINKS
http://myfigurecollection.net/ - the HQ for all collectors. It has a huge database, what you cannot find there, that doesn't exist. You will there find also links to several figure shops, which will be the best choice if you decide to collect them.

IMPORTANT
Please don't quote, since I'm always adding new things into this article. If you have questions, ask them directly. If you want to add something, PM me or comment bellow.

PICTURES
All those photos are taken by me from my own collection.

http://imageshack.us/scaled/thumb/541/tn48.jpg http://imageshack.us/scaled/thumb/31/oyns.jpg http://imageshack.us/scaled/thumb/849/09p9.jpg http://imageshack.us/scaled/thumb/833/otni.jpg http://imageshack.us/scaled/thumb/196/l1kf.jpg http://imageshack.us/scaled/thumb/849/zzw8.jpg http://imageshack.us/scaled/thumb/841/oilq.jpg http://imageshack.us/scaled/thumb/30/mv8t.jpg http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/150x100q90/c/163/pch5.jpg

1 - Two Prize figures by SEGA and Banpresto. Just as awaited in this price range, the details aren't a match for the higher class ones.
2 - A great example that even cheap figures sometimes turn out really nice. Real good job on Cecilia, SEGA!
3 - Although SEGA is the main producer of the cheap ones, there are also smaller companies like by this, namely Furyuu.
4 - Two Beach Queens in their boxes. The boxes have the name of the characters and the series displayed.
5 - A Figma with included items and interchangeable body parts. Also by Strike Witches you could select between ground and air combat version. Note the number on the box.
6 - A luxury and expensive figure made by Alphamax. The holographic logo is very visible. Due it's pose, she was bootlegged a lot (and they are very ugly) I found like 20 on eBay
7 - Looks like Nendo, but it isn't one. Instead Good Smile, it was produced by AmiAmi as can be read from the box.
8- A Staind figure & box. It has also a equippable face with a different expression.
9 - A hentai figure made by Q-Six. Her breasts are naked, therefore the box is designed to hide them.

PICTURES CONTRIBUTED BY OTHER MEMBERS
As title says, I'm not the only member who likes and collects them
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/150x100q90/203/oh62.jpg http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/280x200q90/856/ju1n.jpg

PROFESSIONAL PICTURES
Photos contributed by the photographer Alain Rafer http://alainbrian.deviantart.com/
Since those are purchasable prints, I cannot share the full size images.
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/150x100q90/594/qpl7.jpg http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/150x100q90/809/tpjo.jpg http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/150x100q90/811/1sva.jpg http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/150x100q90/22/z8a3.jpg http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/150x100q90/829/4u7b.jpg http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/150x100q90/163/npcf.jpg http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/150x100q90/18/fv7k.jpg


The constant bashing of my ecchi art and my haters formed me to what I am now - a full fledged hentai artist.
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pandemonium91

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Thank you for posting it, it was a very interesting read! It finally cleared up my misunderstandings about how their height is determined. And I had no idea most mecha figures are so small, they always look even bigger than character figures in photos.

I have some questions, though:

1. I've heard you can buy the figure and paint supplies separately and paint the figure yourself. Would you recommend that, as opposed to buying an already painted figure?
2. Does the price of a figure also depend on its pose e.g. a standing figure might cost less, while a figure in a twirling pose might cost more?
3. I'd love to hear more about "non-Nendoroid Nendoroids" (possibly some pics too). Do they mimic the Nendoroid look, as in looking chibi but not actually being chibi (think Lucky Star characters)?

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akiranyo

akiranyo

Astraea Kisaragi

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Quote by pandemonium91I have some questions, though:

1. Garage Kits. The used material is resin and the price is often half of a figure of the same quality level. Except painting they also need to be assembled, on average from 20-30 parts. Go for it, if you can paint well. If you can paint really well, then I would straight recommend it, as long you can add shadings which premade ones rarely have. But note, that such process can take several dozens of hours. And the first invenstion might be expesnive as long you need the tools.

2. Pose rarely effects the price. Exceptions are some lying down figures where you need a longer stand. Interesting solution was made by the Beach Queen version of Kuroyuki Hime, where as we know, a standard stand is used. So they solved it easily, she got 2. Price is more affected by the character itself, certain characters have very long hair. Best example was Neito, by her the usual price got almost doubled. http://myfigurecollection.net/item/100331

3. Lucky Star is included in the "true nendoroids", though the most popular are Miku and other Vocaloid characters. But for a coincidence I own a figure in question myself so I added a picture.

The constant bashing of my ecchi art and my haters formed me to what I am now - a full fledged hentai artist.
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Cirru

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Very interesting article, Aki. An enjoyable and insightful read. Never knew there was this much to figures before. Appreciate the time you took to type it all up. : )

Great follow up questions, Pande!

Angi

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There are some little figures that come in a box where you can't see them, usually they are chibis (there are some that are hmm normal tho), those are nendos or prize figures?
Nice article Aki :3

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akiranyo

akiranyo

Astraea Kisaragi

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Quote by xangel0There are some little figures that come in a box where you can't see them, usually they are chibis (there are some that are hmm normal tho), those are nendos or prize figures?
Nice article Aki :3

Those originate from the Gachapons - Capsule Toys, with the difference that they come in boxes, and cover a smaller collection of characters from a certain series. The number is arround 6-8, while gachapons sometimes several dozens and even multiple series. The used term for them is Trading Figures. On the box are displayed the possible characters to get, but the figure inside is random. The quality of this figures vary, some can out rather nice, but often they come with pretty lame stands.

The constant bashing of my ecchi art and my haters formed me to what I am now - a full fledged hentai artist.
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Angi

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Ah thanks :3
Also I have another question, places like amazon or ebay are not recommended to buy this figures, but then, some people only buy from this places because they don't like to register in more stores and such, are there good stores where you can avoid fakes in both places? or you have to go for trial and error? o.o'

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akiranyo

akiranyo

Astraea Kisaragi

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Quote by xangel0Ah thanks :3
Also I have another question, places like amazon or ebay are not recommended to buy this figures, but then, some people only buy from this places because they don't like to register in more stores and such, are there good stores where you can avoid fakes in both places? or you have to go for trial and error? o.o'

With such high prices, we need completly exclude the trial and error option. Thats why I recommend to everyone join up My Figure Collection, except the database also has a list of shops where members also write review about those. There isn't a more valuable information as the experience of true collectors.

SHOP LIST
http://myfigurecollection.net/shop/

Of course just cause I don't recommend eBay or Amazon, it doesn't means they are full of fakes. I can ensure that 75-80% of the sellers will put up only originals, however... and thats the biggest denial factor by me, is why to pay 70 dollars for a 40 dollar figure?
Ironically I found one of my favorite stores on eBay, though they also have their own online shop and now the funny part, in average by 4-6 dollars they are cheaper if you buy directly from them instead of their eBay account. And is the same shop and same figures. I'm not really familar with selling on eBay, but guess they need pay them some bucks for selling there.
But recommending shops are hard due different locations of collectors. I can put up a list what I recommend, but that would work only for europeans probably. Shipping fees can be totally different for other continents and sometimes they even refuse to ship into certain countries.

The constant bashing of my ecchi art and my haters formed me to what I am now - a full fledged hentai artist.
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pandemonium91

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Sorry for not replying sooner, and thanks for answering my questions ^^ Are you ready for more?

1. Have you ever had problems with any figures? Maybe missing pieces or them being chipped/broken. If so, what did you do?

2. Can you buy separate accessories and clothes? Or are you stuck with what they send you? There was an interesting time in the '90s when you could buy separate clothing for Barbie dolls. Unfortunately, you don't see that much anymore since each doll comes with ~3 outfits (depending on how expensive it is) and you'd have to buy the doll as well if you want the outfits of another doll.

3. (Got the idea from Xan on this one) How can you tell a seller is "sketchy" if you want to buy a second-hand figure? You've already mentioned the characteristics of bootleg figures (being shiny and/or poorly painted), but what about shady people who may sell original ones? I imagine there's not much you can do if they rip you off, maybe just not pay the entire price before getting the figure.

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akiranyo

akiranyo

Astraea Kisaragi

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1. I have usually problems to connect some Figma figures onto their stand. The hole seems often too tiny, and you need to use some force. I alway fear that they brake, though so far they didn't. Chipping happens by some resin figures, though I don't own any. Apparently is natural there and many of those get even raw resin packed in the box.

2. By non-scale figures like nendoroids or Figmas accessories are natural. There are companies specialised on this - a good example is Hasegawa.
Examples: http://myfigurecollection.net/item/88675 http://myfigurecollection.net/item/96390
But clothes, nope. The only exception would be that some of the expensive figures also have a limited edition, which comes with multiple additional outfits. Though clothing is characteristic only on the highest class of figures.

3. The risk is yours to take by a second hand piece. A good thing is to check out the person before. If he is a eBay seller and has a good reputation, it should be okay. You would wonder how much they care to not get any negative reviews there. Some shops also may offer second hands. Those will be 100% genuine.

The constant bashing of my ecchi art and my haters formed me to what I am now - a full fledged hentai artist.
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pandemonium91

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Quote: Apparently is natural there and many of those get even raw resin packed in the box.

Oh, that's very thoughtful of them. Good to know you don't have to rummage through your house and get creative with materials when trying to fix it ^^"

Quote: But clothes, nope. The only exception would be that some of the expensive figures also have a limited edition, which comes with multiple additional outfits. Though clothing is characteristic only on the highest class of figures.

Aw, that's too bad. Some characters would look lovely dressed differently (gown, swimsuit, school uniform etc.). I suppose anyone who wants to dress their cheaper figures differently has to knit/sew their own clothes ^^"

Quote: The risk is yours to take by a second hand piece. A good thing is to check out the person before. If he is a eBay seller and has a good reputation, it should be okay. You would wonder how much they care to not get any negative reviews there. Some shops also may offer second hands. Those will be 100% genuine.

I've read some stories about people sending the money before and never getting their products; not much you can do there, I think, unless you want to sue :/ Dunno how eBay handles those cases. Indeed, the risk is higher since they are normal people and can sometimes be difficult/impossible to track down. Are there signs to watch out for? Refusing to take photos of certain angles or the figure's box, for example. I imagine someone experienced in buying figures knows what to look for, but first-time buyers are more naive when it comes to that.

Another question (lol, sorry if I'm assaulting you, I find this all very interesting!): how do limited editions work? I know only a limited (small) number of figures are made and that they're usually more expensive, but are there auctions for them or is there a set price? And do people rush to buy them and later sell them again at higher prices when they're still in demand?

Also, how can you go about reselling the figure after you're bored of it? Is that legal if you're a private person (as opposed to a store)? I'm guessing none of the profit of the resell goes to the manufacturing company, which might be a problem since some may sell with a higher price than they paid to buy the figure.

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akiranyo

akiranyo

Astraea Kisaragi

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That happens by everything, not only figures. If you are buying on eBay, is good to check if it has the buyers protection, where you get at least the worth of the item back.
Asking photos by figures is always a good thing, cause the flash of a camera will show the used material and the quality of panting. Also is important to ask some of the boxes. If he really wants to sell, he cannot refuse those basic things.

Limited editions are figures which have a additional content. Is not uncommon that they are sold only to customers who pre-order it. The price difference is about 10%, so is worth to get as long the benefits are much better. And yes, there are collectors who buy them only to sell them for much more. See bellow.

I don't buy figures which I would get bored of, I'm not enough rich for that :3 And if you want to sell, all money is yours, cause the manufacturer has nothing do with it anymore. If you manage to sell for a lot more, that simple business.

merged: 02-10-2014 ~ 12:09pm
I asked a good friend to contribute a few shots about his new figure. Yes, he is a member here too, but let's not reveal his identity for now.
It's our beloved Rias Gremory in a 1/4,5 scale ration, mean she is huge and is also the special edition, in which she comes with multiple of exchangeable outfits. I'm so jelly!

The constant bashing of my ecchi art and my haters formed me to what I am now - a full fledged hentai artist.
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Thanks for this reading. I have learnt a lot about figures.

I have got few of them but most of them are probably second-hand ones bought in Japan.

I have got two figma figures but still haven't opened their boxes. Is it easy to change parts, especially the faces ? Or do I have to be really careful. I suppose I can try with my cheapest figma figure.

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  • Sep 28, 2014

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