Posted August 20, 2014 by Ryan Bradley in Blog

Call to Action (Figures) – Why We Collect


Why We Collect

I stopped collecting action figures in seventh grade because I thought it would help me get girls. The immediate result: I met my first girlfriend my junior year of high school. When I started collecting again my sophomore year of college, I met my next two girlfriends that year (one who I’m still seeing). Statistically, men who collect action figures are two times more successful with women than those who don’t. Convinced?

Maybe collecting is an evolutionary instinct. I wasn’t able to find any studies supporting this, but we were hunter-gatherers at one point. “Hunter” may come first, but “gatherer” was just as important to our ancestor’s survival. Maybe those of us who collect — whether it be stamps, baseball cards, or action figures — are satisfying that instinct our ancestors needed to survive?

I started collecting because I love the X-Men. The Animated Series debuted when I was two years old, and I woke my parents up every Saturday to watch it. I wasn’t old enough to understand what was happening, but the intro was so good I couldn’t help but love it. The Blackbird flew over the word “X-Men,” the guitars came in, and Cyclops lost control of his power on the top of a mountain. It didn’t even matter what happened next. They had me at hello. Saturday mornings melted into Saturday afternoons and with enough begging my father would take the three of us to Toys “R” Us and my older brother would pick which X-Men figures we’d spend our allowances on while our Dad took our sister to the Barbies.

Maybe I collect because my parents conditioned me to, a gift they gave unintentionally. After all, the message they sent was, “If you do all of your chores, you get an action figure.” It’s not a far leap to make from there that I’ve been conditioned to see action figures as a reward for good behavior. But, while my brother has an Optimus Prime figure on his desk and my sister has a pizza pillow, they don’t collect the way I do.

In the last five years, I’ve bought a couple of hundred figures. My mother had donated my old collection to Goodwill, which gave me the opportunity to start over. I decided to get as many figures as I could at 3 and ¾ inches. (I’ll discuss the decision for that particular size in September). This is a set of pictures I took of my collection two years ago. (Please excuse the quality and age. My collection is packed up for a move).

Pictures of Ryan's Collection for Points of ArticulationPicture of Ryan's Collection for Points of Articulation 2

I love some figures for the nostalgia. I remember the first time I got Strong Guy around middle left of the first picture and how excited I was to see him in the cartoon later that same day. I spent years unsuccessfully searching for the 90s Beast with backflip action in the center of the first picture (which, as an adult, I still can’t get to work with any kind of reliability) before I got him in a set off of eBay. The Marvel Universe Moon Knight in the back of the first picture was a birthday gift from my brother. I bought the Alien figure in the back of the second photo because I love those films, and believe that putting money into the things I love will lead to more things like them being made. I bought the Todd McFarlane monsters in the second photo simply ecause they look cool. I use them to decorate the bookshelf in my apartment.

Figures on the top of Ryan's Bookshelf for Points of Articulation 1


And maybe it’s simpler than all of that. I can’t remember the first figures I got, but I certainly remember the getting the last one from the Target in the mall by my parent’s house. I’m not even a huge fan of the figure (you can read my review of Jubilee here), but I had a great time digging through the Iron Man and Spiderman action figures until I found one that I didn’t have. Maybe it’s as simple as that. Maybe we collect because we love it.

Call to Action (Figures) is a weekly column published every Wednesday, chronicling my rants and raves about all things action figure. Come back next week and find out what my favorite figure is and show me yours.

Why do you collect? Let me know in the comments!

Ryan Bradley

I've been collecting action figures for as long as I can remember. In 2009, I shifted my focus from general collecting to 3 and 3/4 inch to try and get all of my figures to one scale. I'm a freelance writer who started working at Action Figure Fury in 2014. You can see more of my work here: https://ryancbradleyblog.wordpress.com.