A Call to Action (Figures): Displaying My Figures

One of my writing professors started each semester by telling his class that he reserved the right to be wrong. Without acknowledging his fallibility, he couldn’t honestly and openly offer students feedback. (Spoiler: we were all bad.) This week, I’m talking about how I display my action figures, and I feel that now is a good time to reserve the right to be wrong.

There are a lot of collectors in the world who do awesome and innovative things with their collections. Some of these things, like buying glass/plastic cases that keep the dust out are awesome but expensive. Some other things like building a fire escape on the side of a bookshelf to display Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or equally awesome custom displays) are awesome but require an artistic talent. I don’t have either of those, but I have a lot of action figures and flat surfaces. This is what I do with them.

Here’s a picture of my writing desk. (If you think it’s messy now, you should see how terrible it looked before I cleaned it up.)

On the bookshelf my mom got me for Christmas, I’ve got a WWE Championship Belt hanging above the different print journals who have published my work. To the left I’ve got editor extraordinaire J. Jonah Jameson giving me a stern look and telling me to get back to work. To the right, I’ve got I Am Elemental Persistence telling me to keep writing. It’s a profession where even a good story will be rejected ten times before a journal will take it most times. She grounds me for the first nine rejections.

I tend to go for things like that, that have emotional resonance with me rather than cool poses. I’m an okay poser, but find that the really cool poses fall over sooner rather than later without stands, and believe stands are cheating.

I also keep piles of figures that I particularly like or are particularly goofy on my desk. When the writing isn’t coming or I’m on the phone, I fool around with them. Daniel Bryan and Batista (Drax the Destroyer technically) have been wrasslin’ for the last month or two.

On top of my bookshelf

I’ve got a few more on my bookshelf. These are actually only out because I’m not sure how to store them. Falcon and Wasp both have wings that are hard to put on and fall off easily. Since I keep most of my figures laid flat in shoes boxes, I prefer to keep them out.

Top shelf
Middle shelf

My roommate keeps her Carol Walking Dead Pop Vinyl on top of our Amazon Echo, and I’ve got a little Batman that we use for Nerf target practice on top of the TV.

We keep a Hannibal Lecter Pop Vinyl behind the glasses because he’s a classy dude. Creeps me the hell out.

I’ve got different villains displaying my other roommates Desert Storm conflict cards. Why those exist and why we own them is a rabbit hole I’ll leave to your imagination. They get laughs at party.

This is how I display my action figures. I think there are a lot of people who do it in different (read: cooler) ways. The important thing is to display them in a way that makes you happy.

A Call to Action (Figures) is a weekly column published on Wednesdays, chronicling my rants and raves about all things action figure. Next week I’ll be talking about the theory that Marvel doesn’t merchandise the X-Men movies because they’re trying to get the franchise rights back.

How do you display your figures? Send me pictures in the comments!

By Bryan Stewart

Bryan first discovered an appreciation for action figures at an early age, setting up elaborate GI Joe ant hill attacks, complete with firework pyrotechnics. Due to the high injury rate for the Joes, replacements were a constant necessity.


  1. Great article! I have a medium sized office and I too display them however it works for me. There is no set way or rule. It would be great to have everything dust free and in glass but it’s pricey and not always and option. I do keep a lot of more valuable ones boxed however. All I know is I’m running out out of room!!

    1. That looks awesome! I really like the Hot Toys on the side. Out of curiosity, how do you choose which Pop Vinyls to open and while to leave in box?

  2. Joker holding the Dick Cheney card is hilarious! I usually display with some sort of theme in mind as well. Right now I have Batman and all the various Robins on the top shelf of my bookshelf. Sorry for the crappy picture. Photographer I am not…

  3. I bought 5 inexpensive Ikea bookcases for the majority of them, and others are on 4inch shelves. The basement (where they are located), has a few walls that weren’t good for much else, so I put those small shelves on them, then used the bookcases to line another wall. My husband found articulating spotlights that I could aim at the collection. The only one not displayed with the rest of the collection is the Nancy Pearl Librarian figure, which is (weirdly enough) in our home library. The vast majority of the figures are female; of the over 480, only 12 are dudes.

    For the bookcases, in the pre-drilled holes for the adjustable shelves, I used dowels cut to length and a pencil sharpener to taper the ends to make a “gate” across the front of the shelf to help prevent the inevitable action figure dominoes. It works quite well. The others that don’t stand as well and don’t have that barrier sometimes have to lean casually on the walls.

    1. That’s an incredible collection! Is that the android from Metropolis on the throne at the bottom of the second photo?

      Are you familiar with I Am Elemental? It seems like they’d go well with your collection.

      1. Thanks! That IS Maria from Metropolis, good eye – she’s one of my faves. And yes, I have the I Am Elemental set, I enthusiastically backed the Kickstarter, and think they’re wonderful. I just haven’t had a chance to display them yet. Those photos are from last September; there’s a bunch I haven’t had a chance to unbox yet.

      1. It’s either that… or risk them shelf-diving and becoming dog toys. I’ve considered wax paste, too, but I have no idea what that would do to the plastic over time, and don’t want to risk it.

        1. Thanks as well! Got lucky and found that squAre display here in Texas here at a local store called Ross. Been looking for another one ever since. Batwoman should be a definite pick up for you. She is flying a little under the radar with collectors but she is totally worth it and very classy looking.

      1. Thanks! Next big project will be to build 2-tiered risers. The figs are three deep; risers will better display the second and third rows. I think if I paint them matte grey to match the back of the bookcases, they’ll mostly disappear.

  4. Here is also my current obsession with the walking dead, amongst other things. I am a Game of Thrones fan as well, but I seem to gravitate more towards the Walking Dead as a collector.

      1. Not all of them. The busts are Gentle Giant, The Large Rick Grimes is McFarlane, who can be hit or miss with his line, and the middle one with Daryl was scooped at The first Walker Stalker Con.

        1. Nice. McFarlane does a great job with just about everything it touches in terms of sculpt. Do they move well though? I’ve found that McFarlanes tend to be more statues than action figures because they move so little.

          1. You are right. His stuff works great unopened, especially his spawn figures, but some are just too nice not to display. They tend to have a lot of moving parts and can be a little fragile.I had a nightmare spawn of his that I loved so much that I just had to display it but my wife made me sell it cause it terrified her! Go figure! No pun intended! Lol!

          2. Yeah, I told her that is a100.00 dollar figure, one does not simply sell a 100.00 figure because it frightens you! She would not have any of it. I think that wing span and those legs bent back awkwardly did it for her!

          3. Damn. That’s amazing! I wouldn’t blame anyone for getting creeped out by it though. The legs are really gnarly. I want one haha.

          4. It its, and it was my favorite figure. It tore me up to sell him. You can snatch one if its an open figure on ebay probably for about 68, boxed and mint, tends to go from 85 and above. He is totally worth it. He is a bit tricky to put together if you decide to unbox him, but once he is displayed he is pretty majestic. The best figure I ever displayed hands down.

          5. Lol. It sounds like you got to keep the wife though, so you should be happy about that.

            Now I’m going to see if I can save up enough to get me one of those haha.

          6. I did indeed! no complaints there! You should. He is a great conversation piece or terrific for freaking out guests!

  5. Mr. Bradley, great article! In re-reading your title, I think I may have accidentally plagiarized you. I am sorry about that!

    I must say I like the way you have displayed your goods. Allow me to save you some time, however. Keep them in the BOX!

    1. Haha. No worries. We’re working at the same place.

      I think we’ll have to agree to disagree haha. I have too much fun setting them up!

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