If you are anything like me you probably play video games, read comic books, enjoy super hero movies and probably have an interest in collecting the cool action figures you see everyone showing off in their YouTube videos. Well this is a simple buyers guide to assist a newcomer to the action figure collectors scene get a good jump start on a collection without digging too deep into a single franchise. The purpose is to be more or less a guide to be used as a starting off point. For each slot on the list I will include a couple of alternates just for good measure. As with all of my lists this is not ranked, the numbers are sequential only for organization purposes.
- Wolverine- X-Men
Picking a good non-traditional super hero is tricky. For a new toy collector sometimes you want to mix things up with something out of the ordinary. On the other hand it can also be just as good picking someone that is easily recognizable. Wolverine fits the bill as he is one of the most iconic X-men but isn’t as popular or obvious as a Spider-Man or Avengers figure.
- Master Splinter- TMNT
This is a good figure to get started on a TMNT collection. One thing I like about having Splinter is he is an unconventional super hero figure while also being recognizable enough you don’t have to explain him to many people. Also, since my nickname is THE RAT I kind of have a soft spot for rat-themed characters.
- Starscream- Transformers
There are too many awesome Transformers action figures to choose from to narrow it down to just one or two. However if a person is just starting out getting into toy collecting this figure works well because it doubles as a robot soldier in the good versus evil battle and works well as a military fighter jet. Also, he’s one of the most iconic characters in the toy line while not being one of the super obvious ones like a Bumble Bee or an Optimus Prime. In additional to all that, he works well as a good “leader” type since he was always trying to over throw Megatron.
- Destro- G.I. Joe
For this toyline I think a new collector should start with someone that is iconic while also being slightly more interesting than just another bad guy. As an arms dealer Destro plays both sides. He is marketed as one of the villains but he can work well as just a capitalist trying to make ends meet.
- Mer-Man-Masters of the Universe
When selecting your first He-man figure most likely you are going to be tempted to pick up He-Man or Skeletor. Of course every collector is going to want to get those two into their collections first chance they get, but seriously it’s always more fun to pick a figure you can use as a good talking point while also being fluid enough to fit into any of your other lines for a good solid play session if you’re figures don’t just sit on a shelf. Mer-Man works as a great talking point because he wasn’t one of the mainstream figures but he is easily identifiable as a MOTU figure.
- Ripley- Aliens
No action figure collection would be worth it’s salt without a strong female character. While all the hipsters are going to be looking for a Buffy and the boring sheep will stick to Wonder Woman, why not stand out and pick up a character with some solid Sci-Fi chops and a history of ass-kicking in good old fashioned R-rated action flicks. Alright or you could just say she works because you can also pick up that awesome walker she drove in Aliens and make her seem even more bad ass.
- Han Solo- Star Wars
Much like Wolverine this entry is one of those obvious choices you kind of have to get first up. If you are setting out to build a good Star Wars collection you need a hero and while most will turn to Luke Skywalker why not give the anti-hero a pick instead? Han was always the more interesting character anyways and for a well-rounded action figure collection Han doesn’t look as out of place as farm boy Luke or religious monk Jedi Luke. Just make sure you keep your Greedo’s smoking guns drawn so Han gets the first shot.
- Joker- Batman
The great thing about a Joker action figure is he is a clown. Everyone knows the Joker so there is no point in going for a pretentious pick like Mad Hatter or Scarecrow when you know you want a Batman villain that stands out above the rest. Personally I prefer the Riddler and Penguin as characters because they are more interesting and less obvious but seriously any action figure collection that doesn’t feature a Joker figure is kind of pointless.
- Jack Sparrow- Pirates of the Caribbean
You got space pirate Han Solo, why not pick up his OG Disney counterpart? I always compared the Pirates series of films to Star Wars anyways and now that Disney owns both franchises it just makes even more sense to snag a Jack Sparrow to join your action figures on their quest to build up your collection. I like the design of the character because he can also blend in as a historical figure if you wanted to go that route. Also you can claim it’s a Captain Morgan figure for your booze loving friends if you need a way to save face.
- Mega Man
The Blue Bomber doesn’t exactly make for the best action figure. Most of his toys aren’t even posable really. But the guy is iconic, he is a robot and well he’s just about the easiest video game figure to pick up and place on a shelf with other non-video game figures if you are going the broad collector route layed out here.
- The Thing- Fantastic Four
The great thing about this guy is you can use him as a Marvel hero but he also works well in a match against those He-Man or Ninja Turtles figures as he is in the right scale and style. I like the Fantastic Four comics and characters so I think any action figure collector looking for a little variety in their super heroes should remember the classics too.
- Venom- Spider-Man
Basically cut and paste everything I just said about The Thing only replace hero with villain. Venom looks pretty bad ass as an action figure too so there is that as a bonus.
No science fiction action figure collection would mean spit if you didn’t have a robot from solid gold spoof series. I love Futurama and I could have filled this entire list with characters from that show. It would have been a boring list but Bender is the type of figure you can put on a shelf of misfit toys and he stands out above the rest as the top dog.
- Wingnut and Screw loose- TMNT
This is one of those figures that not many will have so it makes for a good entry level for a newbie. The characters were barely featured in the cartoon but work great as a duo plus look pretty intimidating despite not really being actually bad.
I prefer having a good mix of comic book characters, video game characters and science fiction characters. Since I love robots and space mutants the most I also like having figures that fit into either of those molds. Robocop works great because he spearheads his own film and video game series while also basically being the only toy you need from that franchise unless you want to be a hard core collector.
- Morpheus- The Matrix
Basically as far as figures go Morpheus, Agent Smith and Neo are about the only ones that actually look cool enough to put into a collection as far as I am concerned. Unless you are a die hard fan of the movies stick to the man that made the series worth enduring and save the rest for when you are needing filler.
17 & 18 Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees
These two need to be bought as close together as possible to re-create those Freddy Vs. Jason moments that everyone dreamt about growing up. You can re-create scenes from the movie or pretend it never happened and make your own scenarios. Or just place the two most bad ass looking movie monsters ever on your shelf for the hell of it.
I could pick any random 3rd party or indie comic super hero but Spawn just jumps out at me as a great pick for a new collector starting out. One thing I like about Spawn is he has ties to Spider-Man and Batman so you can kind of use him as a place holder for either of those lines. Another criteria of mine for these sorts of lists is to have as much variety as I can come up with without being too similar to what you would expect. I think Spawn looks cool as a figure even if the character himself might not be for everyone.
If you already have Wolvey, The Thing, and Venom then you kind of have everything you need to have some great Marvel team up action, that is once you get the world-famous wall crawler added to the mix. I am fairly certain I shouldn’t need to tell any toy collector they might want to get a Spider-Man into their collection, I just felt that he is one you want early enough but maybe not in the first five or so figures just so your collection doesn’t end up looking like everyone else’s right away. Variety is the spice of life as they say.
- Mr. Spock- Star Trek
There are some figures you might think are obvious choices and others you might over look due to them being obvious choices. While I do encourage getting some out of the box picks when you are starting out, don’t lose sight of why you are collecting in the first place, to connect with the franchises you love. A Spock is a type of figure that might get over looked as you buy more and more toys telling your self, yeah I need a Spock but not yet, not right now. Why put it off?
- Princess Leia- Empire Strikes Back
Skip the damsel in distress and the sexy slave in the gold bikini and get the version of Leia that deserves to stand on your toy shelf proudly next to that Han Solo figure I know you bought when nobody was looking. No one is going to judge you for getting a Leia figure but they might question your motives if you get the wrong Leia figure.
I wouldn’t really expect any action figure collector to go too long without picking up any version of the Dark Knight. In this case it doesn’t really matter which incarnation you get, it doesn’t even have to match the Joker you bought earlier. I would shy away from movie specific ones unless you really want to draw attention to your collection. Put a George Clooney Batman & Robin figure in your collection, complete with Bat Nipples, and you might lose some nerd cred.
- Hound- Transformers
If you got Starscream earlier for the fighter jet alt mode then now is a good time to grab his ground based counterpart for the same reason, a solid military vehicle to put into your collection and a great looking robot soldier with rocket launchers for the sci-fi robot fanatic inside of you.
- Bart Simpson- The Simpsons
I guess he isn’t really an action figure but then again who cares. This guy makes for a great alternate reality companion for that Futurama Bender plus it’s one of the more iconic 80’s characters that some how manages to live on to this day. Like I said before I like variety. Of course feel free to mix this up however you want this is really just a guideline anyways.
There you go a solid list of action figures from a good variety of sources to give a new collector a collection that feels more complete than it really is. I never recommend specializing in one toy line unless you really truly want to limit yourself. I used to be a straight Transformers only collector and while I did have fun building a massive collection over the years, I found I enjoyed myself more picking up random toys from different shows, movies, comics and games than I ever did specializing. The point is to get the toys you want to connect with while not worrying about going for complete collections or comparing yourself to other collectors.
Here are 5 alternates for the hell of it.
Alt 1. Grimlock- Transformers
He’s a T-rex, ’nuff said.
Alt 2. Man-At-Arms- Masters of the Universe
This is a little more known than Mer-Man so take your pick but he has one of those funky names and well I just think starting with the main guys from any toy line is kind of boring. But this guy could get your collection started just as easily.
Alt. 3. Cloud- FF7
I guess if you wanted to substitute Mega Man for a sword wielding emo anime dude that could work too. Actually I am tempted to swap these two on the list so feel free to do so too.
Alt. 4. Scooby Doo
Maybe you don’t want a nerd like Bart Simpson in your collection. Fair enough a talking dog that solves crimes might be more up your speed. I just threw a random generic Saturday morning type cartoon anyways but come to think of it Scooby Doo might make a better fit than Bart anyways. I actually enjoy Scooby comic books way more than anything Simpsons anyways myself.
Alt. 5. Goku- Dragon Ball Z
I purposefully shied away from anime characters because there are too many and they tend to actually be specialty toys. However, Goku is iconic enough while also being the sort that could blend into an eclectic collection easy enough.
I hope you enjoyed this list. Feel free to share your changes in the comments and please share this article with all your friends who you think will appreciate it.