When it comes to collecting anime figures, I am by no means the biggest collector around, but I do have a sizable collection. Every now and then I will get someone asking me how and where I buy my figures, so I thought I’d write a short guide to buying anime figures based on my experiences. If you are relatively new to the world of anime figures, these tips should help you on the right track.
Buy From Reputable Shops
Many first-time figure buyers end up buying bootlegs simply because they can’t tell whether a store is legitimate or not. Sometimes buyers may not realize they’ve bought a bootleg until they see an authentic figure up close, and by then it’s too late to return it. Generally, stores that sell figures for less than MSRP are selling bootlegs unless they have a special promotion or the figure is on clearance. If you aren’t sure what the price should be, check the manufacturer’s website.
Stores to avoid are those based in China and Hong Kong. I shouldn’t have to mention this, but avoid Ebay like the plague. I have seen many figure collectors complain about bootlegs that they bought from Ebay sellers with ratings of 99-100%. In contrast, three highly recommended stores are: AmiAmi, HLJ, and Hobby Search. All three of them are based in Japan so they get new releases relatively quickly, and they have reasonable international shipping costs. Some American-based stores include: Big Bad Toy Store, Kid Nemo, Robert’s Anime Corner Store, and Toylet. For European-based stores, check out Nihonju and Archonia.
Preorder Your Figure
If there’s a figure that you really want, there’s probably a good chance that a lot of people really want it too. This is why, if the figure hasn’t been released, it’s a good idea to preorder it. Unlike toys, which are continually manufactured to meet demand, figures are released in limited quantities and when they sell out, you’re going to have a tough time getting your hands on one. Some stores also offer discounts for placing an order early.
Not all stores will sell the same figure for the same price, so it pays to take a look at some other stores before hitting that checkout button. Don’t forget to take the cost of shipping into account as well. Stores that aren’t based in Japan may have higher prices since they need to import the figures, but they may also save you a bit on shipping depending on where you live. The Japan-based stores also cater to Japanese customers so they’re more likely to be sold out of popular items.
Check The Bargain/Clearance Stock
If there is a figure that you want, but it doesn’t seem to be selling well (ie: it’s still in stock in every store several months after its release), then you might want to hold off buying and check the bargain/clearance stock to see if it ends up there. Be careful not to wait too long though, because the figure may just be selling slowly and end up out of stock before you know it.
Some people may not want to buy used figures, but sometimes it’s the only way to get a figure that has long been sold out. If you’re not sure where to look for used figures, I would recommend the sales section of myfigurecollection.net or the classifieds section of figure.fm. Both sites have communities of figure collectors so when they sell a figure, it’s not likely to be a bootleg. Once again, I would not recommend going to Ebay to buy figures unless the seller has actual photos of the figure and not just promo shots. If you have photos of the actual figure, it’s easier to tell if you’re getting a bootleg or not by comparing it to photos from figure blogs and myfigurecollection’s extensive gallery of bootleg figures.
This information should help anyone looking to buy their first anime figure online get started. If other collectors have more to add, feel free to leave a comment.