A Call to Action (Figures): Open Your Toys

Here’s some advice, and it’s free so you ought to take it: open your toys/action figures. I’ve talked about this in the past, and I’m going to go more in-depth on this divisive issue, splitting the action figure collecting community into the warring camps of people who keep figures in the package and people who have fun.

It’s true, some action figures do go up in value, and that all figures are worth more financially if they’re in the package. Mental Floss has this great article, “11 Toys Worth More Than My Car” showing us just how much a figure can be worth. It’s funny and well written, but the author’s car is only worth $2000, and of the five action figures on that list, only one tops $20,000, and two of those don’t crack $10,000. I’m not one to scoff at that much money (in fact, I’m more likely to swoon if someone uses a number that big), but these are some of the most valuable action figures in the world and other than the original G.I. Joe, which is worth a staggering $200,000 in package none of these figures alone could cover the student loans of the average college graduate.

The amount of figures that skyrocket in price is just too small. Most action figures go down in price, not up. There is an outside chance that my Wonderman and Valkyrie from Marvel Infinite will increase in value, but more likely they’ll go the way of Toy Biz’s Marvel figures of the 90s, which as I noted in my article about used toys a few weeks ago are incredibly cheap in package now.

But let’s pretend for a minute that as the result of some apocalyptic event Wonderman and Valkyrie (the only way this could happen) are worth $400 million dollars. I have no guarantee that I can get the money until I find and negotiate with a buyer, who will have the leverage. I could auction them off on eBay, but I’m running the risk of them going for well below their appraised value, and once the auction starts it can’t be stopped.

That’s right…

The other argument I’ve read for keeping action figures in packages is that they are more aesthetically pleasing in the package. I certainly don’t agree. I think there’re some great looking cards, and some amazing artwork on some boxes, but I hate the idea of a having sit in its original pose forever. I can accept aesthetic preferences as an explanation, and if that’s your bag, go on your merry way.

I really think these backs…
…from NECA Reel Toys are awesome.

But those of you who’re hoping to get rich, switch to the lotto. It’s a more apt comparison than stocks, because there’re no such thing as blue chip action figures and I would argue that the figures that are worth the most are many times worth so much arbitrarily. If you happen to stumble upon a factory defect, I can see where you’re coming from, but for the average figure I can’t in good conscience tell you to keep it in the box.

Even if the figures were worth $200,000…

And think of the immeasurable benefits that opening your figures offer. You can play with an unopened box, but I doubt anyone could find it more pleasurable than playing with the figure itself. I don’t know how anyone else values their things, but I judge products—books, movies, action figures, etc.—by the hours of enjoyment they give me, and in that way my opened action figures are more valuable than any money. And yours can be too with the soft rip of plastic from blister cards.

Even if the figures were worth $200,000

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 most anticipated toys coming out with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Did I get it right? Should we be opening our toys? Let me know 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. Where do I start with the many many problems with this article? First of all the grammar is all off, several spelling errors, and I’m not even going to go into detail about the punctuation.

    OK, none of that is true. Despite the subject matter, I thoroughly enjoyed this article! Very very well written, and it almost pursuaded me to reconsider my stance on my mental illness of refusing to open my figures. ALMOST! I’d like to write an opposing view point if I can remember how to post an article!

    Thank you for the excellent read!

    1. All I hear in this comment is blah blah blah.


      You should really write an opposing view point. Email me if you really forgot how to write a post.

  2. I’ll start by saying I’m for the content of the article and not to critique anyones grammar. Right and wrong grammar does not help me with the information I’m interested in. The figures I have in pack I keep them in pack because 1) I paid package price when I could have paid half the price for a loose one. I would sell it back and use that money to buy 2 loose figures. 2) I have some old childhood figures in pack, I won’t open these because I have no desire to pose them or display them. The fact that I simply own it and when I look at it I remember the days I got each one so many many years ago is the satisfaction I need.

    Currently, I only buy loose figures. I agree alot with the points made so I simply don’t buy a packaged figure. The money I’d pay for that I can get at least 2 loose figures. More for me.

    1. Even though I open most of my figures, I still prefer to buy most of them in the packaging. I don’t know why I do that, but I think I really enjoy actually opening the packaging.

      It’s awesome.

      Does anyone else buy loose figures, so in theory you can buy 2x as many?

      1. I buy all my new figures in the package as well. There is a definitely a certain JOY to opening a new figure! Not unlike the joy of opening a birthday or X-Mas present even if you bought it for yourself. Most older/vintage figures I buy loose, but most of the time it’s through the mail, so there’s still the joy of un-boxing.

        1. That’s really good point on the joy of un-boxing not necessarily being an unboxing from the packaging, but really getting your figure out of any box.

      2. I’ve been buying a ton of loose figures lately. A lot of older G.I. Joes, and it’s been saving me a lot of money.

        I do agree that there’s something psychologically pleasing about opening figures. I bet it has something to do with endorphins being released at the moment you first get the figure out.

  3. I too am an “opener”. I’ve never been able to resist it really. Also, I can’t imagine the sheer SPACE it must take to keep everything in package!

    1. You present an excellent argument about the space. I’ve completely run out of space. I’ll post some pictures when I get time, but space is a huge issue.

    2. Steven knows everything about keeping his figures in the package. He buys them without even peeking at the figure inside!

      I open just about everything. The only ones that have a chance at staying in the packaging are ultra limited exclusives. Why would I want to destroy the figure’s value by 50%+ in just a few seconds?

      I also keep all of the boxes for my sixth scale figures, and the space needed for just that is insane.

      1. Wow! You really keep the boxes, nick? I’m very impressed!!!! And I’m impressed you admitted to it! I even keep the brown boxes they come in (hot toys) which is simply ridiculous. It’s getting to the point, however, that I’m running out of display room, and am keeping the figures in the brown boxes, stored away! I’ll send some your way!

        1. Haha. Yeah, I keep the boxes, as well as the brown shipping box. If I’m keeping one box, there’s no reason not to keep the other one if it’s not taking up any more space.

          If you need more space you are more than welcome to send some my way!

  4. Indeed, I agree. I have a lot in packaging, but not because I want to get rich in the future. I like them in it, keeps them from getting damaged, dust, etc. I have recently started to collect some loose cause of price. I loved to see them standing on my shelf, take pics of them in different poses with certain backgrounds. So I started to open a few I had in packages cause of that. But some I cant bring myself to open them. Probably if I get a good shelf/case/space to keep them in I might open all. But for now I will open just a few. Keep my prized ones, my babies (lol) in there packages. Good read, makes sense. I agree with you.

    1. Thanks! What you’re saying makes an awful lot of sense too. I keep mine in shoe boxes to protect from dust, but they’re all in their in a pile so they’re definitely not going to be in as good shape as yours. That’s the compromise.

      Just curious, what separates one that you’re willing to open from one that you aren’t?

  5. I have never actually opened an English book for reasons similar to those eloquently laid out in this article. I still have my first grammar book encased in three-thousand dollar heat and light sensitive glass case with a finger print reader and retinal scanner because I know that bad boy is going to reach at least two hundo (million) dollars by the time I retire. Has my grammar suffered? Certainly, I have never read a single page of any grammar book I have ever collected but the real question is do you want to retire to a dumpster behind the local Subway restaurant and get molested by disgruntled employees or retire to a mansion in the Carribean with a butler named Alfred who wipes your ass with hundred dollar bills? If you answer the latter, you better start hitting up local K-12 students to begin your collection of elementary and advanced grammatical textbooks. Most collectors unfortunately cannot resist the incredible urge to crack them open, especially when confronted with unruly and uneducated trolls from the internet. That is why I have invested thousands of dollars in the aforementioned cases and an industrial-grade security level bank vault that would make Tom Cruise renounce Scientolgy in a thriller called “Mission Impossible: It was Actually Impossible.”

  6. Haven’t read many of your articles but knowing a few toy collectors who leave their toys unopened this one caught my eye. Good read. Looking forward to the next one.

  7. Another great article and on point. What i choose to keep boxed or in packaging is for the pleasure of display, or something i paid a little higher for on the back market for then I wanted to or had to have. Shelf space or space period is also an issue for many, as boxes can take up a lot of room. Sometimes i like the mix of boxed and open display for aesthetic purposes to mix it up a little. As far as getting market value for some rare item, many times you are still at the mercy of the person who wants to buy it from you and will nickel and dime you to get it off your hands and make you feel like you are wasting their time, particularly pawn shops or collectibles shops that specialize in getting their hands on valuable items at a low price from desperate unsuspecting collectors. They pull the old, I don’t care, walk away trick on them, to make you wonder why its ok if you walk out with what you perceived is a valuable item. They know it is but also know you want the money and they want the item as cheaply as possible. Its the old Indian Jones, “Throw me the idol and I’ll give you the whip” scenario. No one is fooling me and saying “Adios senor” with my item.
    If you really know you have something super rare, giving a call to an auction house is your best bet, where people can bid fairly on the value if you happen to be lucky enough to stumble on an original GI Joe or Action Comics No. 1.
    The picture attached has my Buffy action figures, which I know from studying the market used to be at the height of the show, bout 60 to 100 bucks a piece on the back market. Once the show faded, you can now find many of these, in the packaging for ten to 15 dollars on EBAY, with some worth a little more. But for me it is sentimental and i have always loved the show, so taking them out of the packing was a no no for me. I also have some authentic signed ones, and I would not sell them to anyone.

    1. Thanks!

      Aw man. That’s amazing. I think they look great in the packages hung on a wall like that too. I prefer opening them, but it’s so subjective.

    2. Wow, fantastic collection and display! I agree with everything you said. And as far as your figures going down in value, the sentimental value can never have a price placed on it.

      Indeed, keeping the super rare ones in the box is a good call. My concern is I will not figure out which ones are super rare until years later. And if I opened it, I’m screwed! So, I just keep it all boxed. Like my emotions.

      1. Thanks for the awesome reply! As far as determing value, some collections are more maddening then others value wise. Beanie babies are a perfect example of that. My wife has large collection and I have given up trying to search for prices based on defects and which duck beak is pink instead of yellow! Lol!!

        1. Wow. I think Beanie Babies are the absolute perfect example! Back in the mid – late 90s, I remember some of those were going for like 5,000 if I’m not mistaken. I remember one day, the receptionist at the office I worked mentioned how expensive her collection was. She was planning on selling it all in 1-2 years, and retire. And she could have retired on that. Then, about 2 weeks later, literally overnight, the bottom fell out of the Beanie Babies line. It was crazy! And lol, I agree, checking the variants/blue eyes VS. Pink can get maddening! Like coin collecting. I don’t care where they were minted!

          1. Exactly! I don’t doubt that for the discerning collector, whether coin collector, beanie baby fanatic, or Buffy love slave like me, we know which of our items are truly valuable market wise. But when someone tries to come late to the game and start collecting on the back market it is almost impossible to know a first edition from a second edition or why a slight discoloration can demand an extra five hundred vs the one you can get for 20.00. And yes any collector can tell you that stumbling on or having preserved that rare treasure which can send you to retirement early is pretty much impossible. But hey, who is to say you and I might not stumble on the last two copies of action comics no.1☺️ Stranger things have happened.

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