Public Service Announcement: Don’t Open Your Toys (Step Away From the Box)

Citizens, step away from the box: A free public service message to make you thousands of dollars, a better figure displayer, and to save you hundreds of hours in dusting!***

After I read Ryan Bradley’s thought provoking article, I had to write a viewpoint from the “Dark Side”. I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Bradley’s article. In fact, and I do not say this in jest, he about turned my view-point around. I am thankful, however, that I slept on this big decision because I would have awoken in a drunken, open boxed stupor that I would have been unable to recover from.

Indeed, cases can be made to and not to open your boxes. In fact I think Shakespeare put it best, and I quote “to open, or not to open, that is the question”. It took me almost 20 years to realize he was actually talking to me. About 98% of my figures are unopened. Opening new toys is addictive. It’s a brain pathway that was laid out very early in our lives. We would unwrap a gift, and we were rewarded to see what was inside. However, that was only half the fun. Then we got to open the box the gift was in. Opening this part of the gift was pure ecstasy. All of your senses were tantalized.

I can still remember the smell of the Secret Wars Tower of Doom play set from the 80’s. Wow! And the feel of the virgin plastic, unencumbered by finger prints. And holy cow, there were secret compartments to put the different shield scenes in. I still don’t think I found them all! And the site of it, my God, the site. Pristine. Immediately, my dopamine receptors in my brain were flooded. And just like any good drug, BOOM, I’d crash the next day. Sure, I would save the boxes, and put the toys back in the boxes, and re-open them. Indeed, there was a slight high with that. But never as good as the first.

Back in the 80s another toy line came out. My absolute favorite ever. The MASK collection, with their foes VENOM. Wow, talk about secret compartments, secret levers, etc. It was truly the bomb. Well, in the early 90s, I got myself into a pickle, and was forced to sell my figures. I got $60. Boo! So, when I became more financially stable, I decided to try to re-purchase all of my figures. But, doggone it, I wanted the boxes they came in, so I can once again experience that high. Then the reality came: If you want boxes, you are going to pay a premium. So, being my usual “intelligent” self, I decided from now on, whenever I buy a figure, I am going to leave them in the box. And this is what I have done.

Tis true that very rarely do many figures skyrocket to thousands of dollars. I picked up the animated superman cartoon Lex Luthor for 8 bucks (among about 50 other animated superman figures). He’s a 1996 figure, now worth a whopping 11 bucks! And unfortunately, that is the story for about 90% of my figures. However, I do have some gems.


Some examples are the Cyborg Superman, from the Reign of Superman, D/C direct. I bought this from our buddies at BBTS in 2003, for 15 bucks. It is now worth over $150 if it is in the box. Can I retire on it…?..Hmmmmm, I don’t think so. But, that’s a 1000% increase. In stocks and bonds terms, that’s huge.

My Hot Toys Two Face. I am unable to recall where I got him, but it was for $99. It is now worth between $450-$550 dollars. That’s like a 500% increase.

D/C Direct’s Zsasz from Arkham Asylum was about 10 bucks. I hate that figure! And I hated him in the video game. I love him now because he’s worth $100. I have maybe five other examples from my own personal collection. Definitely not enough to make me rich, but I do feel pride in displaying them knowing that they have gone up in value the way they have.


Now, I have about 45 Hot Toys. I have actually opened two. I did reviews on these toys. I must admit, for me, the anxiety was so high for opening them that my dopamine receptors weren’t flooded. They weren’t even touched. In fact, I think I lost some of those receptors that day!

Now, I know what many of you are saying: “I am never going to sell my figures”. And I couldn’t agree more with you. I am not either. So, why should you not open them? Well, your children should have some kind of a legacy. I personally do not have children (as I didn’t want them to inherit my neuroses), but my nephews will be getting them. And if they open them up after I die, I will be coming back from the ether to haunt them.

To the naysayers out there, allow me to suggest two more benefits: cleanliness and continuity (ease of display).

Cleanliness: By golly, it is so difficult to dust. Depending on your modus operandi, one can use a vacuum or a duster. That being said, none of those mechanical devices quite get all through the nooks and crannies. And if one is using a vacuum, and one has a Hot Toys figure, with 30+ accessories, just say goodbye to at least five of them. That’s right. They are drawn to the motor of a vacuum like Icarus to the sun. And one doesn’t quite get the “clean” as if the figure was just out of the box. Another option, of course, is to have them in glass displays. I have seen some quite impressive homemade glass displays from our fellow collectors on this site. But that can get pricey, and space once again becomes an issue.


Continuity: Mr. Bradley wrote another excellent article about displaying ones figures. Allow me to simplify his dilemma: Keep them in the box. All figures from the same genre (same Hot Toys figures from most movies, ie, all the Avenger’s figures are the same height, except Hulk, all the D/C collectables are the same height in the same series, etc. You catch my drift). When they are in the box, one doesn’t need to fret on how to pose them. Have a breezy house? No worries! Just line them all up. They are all the same height. It’s Feng Shui at its best! Makes life so much easier when one is dusting!

So, in summary, there is no right or wrong way to display one’s figures. The only right way, however, is to keep them in the box! They retain their value at the very least. They typically go up in value, some minimally, some a lot, and very few, a lot more. They are so much easier to display. And they are a dream to clean up. Will you become a millionaire? Probably not. A thousand-air? It’s unlikely. But the pride knowing you have a pristine figure that’s unboxed- well, that’s worth billions to me.


***I refuse to mention, however, how difficult it is to find the space to display boxed figures. One can fit at least three loose figures to one boxed figure, as displayed below. I refuse, however, to go into depth with that, as it completely contradicts my standpoint. Let’s just say: I was for it before I was against it! Please, share with me your thoughts.

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. So if you never plan on opening your figures, why even buy them? You aren’t ever going to look inside, so you should just buy the empty Hot Toys boxes on eBay.

    Just think about it. You save money AND you won’t be stressed out having to worry about your figures getting damaged in the box, even though it has never been opened.


    Seriously though if you are going to spend $250+ on the figure, why not open it up so you can actually enjoy it? The display cases with glass doors aren’t really that expensive. Slightly over $100 should get you a case that displays your entire Hot Toys collection. Pretty cheap investment considering that you have probably spent thousands on those 45 figures.

    I don’t know man. I just can’t get over not opening your figures. They are meant to be opened, even the Hot Toys.

    I can sort of see your points, but would you rather look at a cardboard box with ok artwork/graphics on the front, or would you rather look at a extremely realistic action figure in your favorite pose/scene from the movie? The latter seems far more enjoyable, at least for me.

    1. Thanks for the reply, Nick! You have an exceptionally valid point on the purchasing of the empty boxes!

      Interestingly, in 2013 I bought my buddy and I the Heath Ledger joker (the interrogation scene) and a Dark Knight Returns. He is unable to keep his figures in the box. He, sir, is worse than all of you! He about opened it up right there, and we weren’t even in his house yet (great way to lose accessories). After I stopped hyperventilating, I secretly admired his courage.
      That being said, I can;t get past the process of actually opening.

      Interesting that I could get a case that is glassed for my figures that cheap. That’s good to know. And I have no doubt I could probably get them all in one case if open. I am worried, however, if I was to do that, that would be me opening 45 hot toys, probably in one day, that I could spontaneously combust. This human spontaneous combustion is a myth? Think again, and I am not willing to bust that myth with my figures…..and body!

  2. For the most part (99%) I open and would advise most to open their figures, for maximum enjoyment. I do have a few that are in the package that I display just because it can be cool to display a few that way. But all the ones I have on display in package, I also own loose, so there is that. Keep in mind I don’t do Hot Toys, Sideshow, etc. because I can’t justify paying hundreds of dollars on a non-vintage figure on my budget. I just do 4″ and 6″. I sure do like drooling over the pics on AFF though. 🙂

    1. Hey Floyd! Thanks for the comment. I would recommend against giving potentially dangerous advice in a forum like this. There could be children reading it, and then what are we going to do? I can’t afford to send them all to the psychiatrist.

      As far as owning a carded figure and an open figure (dupes) I did that for a while. That was the only way I could open the very few opened figures I have (mostly the 1996 superman 4” action figures). I was going to do the same with the hot toys. Buy dupes, and then open/display one. Fortunately, my psychiatrist recommended against that (I think because he was concerned I wouldn’t be able to pay him anymore).

  3. We’ll have to agree to disagree. While it makes no logical sense (to me at least), if eBay is any indication, loose toy collectors outnumber boxed–and they pay as much if not more on recent toys. Only the truly vintage figures (70s-80s and of course Star Wars) tend to buck this odd trend. So while your theory is sound in premise, the reality doesn’t match up. I do however agree about the boxes being easier to clean (and store). But as space has become a bit of an issue of late, I’m starting to embrace this “odd trend” and plan to downsize my collection of “paper goods” considerably over the next few months–except for when the packaging makes the toy. Which means there will be a lot of new “loose” figures going up in my shop. We shall see if the test works….

    1. Hey Denny. Thanks for the response. I have never seen loose figures sell more than boxed ones, but I must admit, I haven’t searched that out too much. When I troll e-bay, I typically see the boxed figures worth more than the opened ones, but as they say “all appears yellow to the jaundiced eye”, so, perhaps I haven’t been to objective with my searches.

      LOL on the collection of paper goods. Indeed, space really does become a huge issue after just six months of collecting.

      Do you own any hot toys? If so, you can actually sell the boxes. It’s crazy, but I see empty boxes on e-bay all the time.

      I consider the boxes of most figures a work of art, as typically, they have more explanation on the back of the card, the “lore” if you will, and I hate losing that after I get rid of those paper goods.

      Lastly, DON’T DO IT DENNY. GO AWAY FROM THE LIGHT. Nothing good is going to come from what you are getting ready to do. I will get the government involved if I need to……what is your address again?

Leave a comment Cancel reply

Exit mobile version