What's the point of collecting action figures

eBay Guide: Action Figures


The story of the action figure


The story of the action figure

In 1964 the Hassenfeld Brothers (later: Hasbro von Hassenfeld Brothers) came up with the idea of ​​creating a doll for boys. She should be flexible, able to change clothes and of course be powerful and cool. The result was the now legendary GI Joe and an immediate success. Not unlike the Barbie principle - children prefer to play with adult figures - GI Joe not only got a varied wardrobe, but also vehicles and all sorts of accessories at his free disposal.

1965–77:The action figures take off
The success of GI Joe saw many new action figures move into children's rooms over the next 12 years. Mass production started. From Presto came Captain Action, a chameleon-like figure who could transform himself into any TV or film action hero popular at the time by changing clothes.

The company Mego followed up with a series of the 20 cm tall World’s Greatest Super Hereos, which mainly consisted of Marvel and DC heroes.

1977: Star Wars changes the world of action
With the 9.5 cm (3.75 inch) Star Wars figures, the manufacturer Kenner made action figures accessible to a less numerous audience, because the relatively large action figures were not affordable for everyone. Although these figures were less detailed, there were more variations and the 9.5 cm soon became the standard size.

1980s: TV takes over
When the law was loosened in America, which until then forbade toy companies from creating TV programs, companies like Mattel rushed into the television market and at the same time brought out the comic TV heroes as action figures.

Mattel's He-Man and The Masters of The Universe were again slightly larger and even more posable, among other things with the help of mechanical joints and built-in weapons.

The Transformers followed closely. The characters in the TV series and the corresponding action figures are robots that transform into airplanes, cars, radios and other technical devices, that is, they can transform themselves.

However, these die-cast figures were twice as expensive as most other action figures. But the triumphant advance of the superheroes was unstoppable. Usually in co-production with television series, such as "Star Trek", the toy industry never tired of constantly inventing new heroes.

Present: Special collector's editions (Collector’s Edition)
There are now special collector's editions that were not even designed as toys, but are produced exclusively for collectors. The mobility is neglected here, because they are primarily intended for the shelf or the showcase.

In the meantime, most science fiction and fantasy films are co-produced with action figures - more or less as merchandising. Their sale is factored into production costs, so many film companies do not earn a large portion of their income from the box office, but from merchandising the film.


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Technical terms used by collectors


Technical terms used by collectors

If you want to collect action figures, you will find a large community of collectors. The collector colleagues can help you and give you tips for beginners. We also give you an overview of the most important collector terms, especially with regard to the state of preservation.

  • A / O (All Original): This symbol guarantees that both the action figure and its equipment are left in their original state.

  • COA (Certificate of Authenticity): Mattel provides a certificate of authenticity with collector's editions.

  • Balance sheet value / book value: That is the price of a particular character.

  • Exclusives: Exclusive action figures, were originally offered by certain retailers who ordered larger contingents of certain figures that only they were allowed to sell. Sometimes the exclusives are shared by several shops, which is then referred to as semi-exclusives.

  • Collector's editions: Action figures belonging to a collector's edition have been brought onto the market primarily for collectors.

  • HTF (Hard To Find): This abbreviation stands for very rare, hard-to-find action figures.

  • Limited edition (Limited Edition): A series of action figures is considered to be limited when very few of them have come onto the market. This was mostly the case when you expected to sell a few or when you wanted to purposely increase the value.

  • M.IB (Mint In Box): This abbreviation is used only for brand-new figures. MIB stands for the English expression and means that the figures are still in the original box.

  • MIP (Mint In Package): This abbreviation is only given to figures that are offered in the original packaging. In contrast to MIB, the abbreviation MIP also guarantees that all figure accessories are also in their original packaging.

  • Mint and complete (as good as new and complete): This term describes action figures that are in excellent condition and on top of that are equipped with all the figure accessories of their series.

  • MNB (Mint No Box): These are figures in very good condition, but they are no longer packaged.

  • NM (Near Mint): Action figures marked with this abbreviation are almost as good as new.

  • NRFB (Never Removed From Box): This abbreviation guarantees that the action figure has never been removed from the original box before.

  • Prototypes: Prototypes either never made it onto the market or from the outset they were only intended for designers and developers to try out. Boba Fett with his rocket backpack is perhaps the most famous prototype.

  • Semi-exclusive: Semi-exclusives are similar to exclusives, but are often offered to more than one store. However, the stores that receive semi-exclusives are often not in the same geographic area.

  • Shortpacks: So-called shortpacks are figures that were only produced in small numbers. This may have to do with increased production costs, in anticipation of low sales, or to deliberately add value to the action figure.

  • Variations / Variations: When a figure is withdrawn and exchanged due to a construction error, it is called a variation. Since the number of these figures is quite limited, they can become very valuable.

Condition assessments
There are two types of health assessments made by collectors:

The C scale
This scale ranges from C-1 to C-10. The letter C stands for the English word condition and the numbers 1-10 indicate the degree of wear, with C-1 denoting an extremely worn condition, while C-10 means that the doll is in a like new condition .

  • C10: The action figure is absolutely new.

  • C9: C9 still means excellent condition with minimal errors.

  • C8.5: It's still in very good condition, but for some collectors that's not enough.

  • C8: Action figures with a C8 are just about acceptable for collectors. The figure is used, but without any signs of wear.

  • C6 / 7: C6 and C7 denote figures that already have major defects and signs of wear.

  • C5 and less: These figures are in very poor condition. They have strong signs of use and parts may be missing.

Action Figure Authority classifications (AFA) The AFA is an official action figure authority. The classification is made in percentages. 100 to 70% corresponds roughly to levels C10 to C8, i.e. the classifications that are only relevant for the collector:

  • AFA 100: The action figures are practically perfect.

  • AFA 95: These action figures in seldom good quality have glossy cards and no staining.

  • AFA 90: Only 1% of all action figures have AFA 90. These high-quality figures have at most defects from production.

  • AFA 85: These may be slightly frayed or have obvious discoloration.

  • AFA 80: AFA 80 is the lowest top-level collector level.

  • AFA 75: Good quality, but not exactly excellent.

  • AFA 70: They only have average collector quality. Picky collectors find 70% AFA no longer acceptable.

Lower ratings are no longer considered worth collecting, these action figures have at best an ideal or sentimental value.


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Protection for your action figures


Protection for your action figures

Even the strongest action figures are defenseless against wear and tear. Even if you don't keep your figures in the box or in the display case, but play with them, it makes sense to protect them so that you or your children can have fun with them for longer.

  • Avoid direct sunlight: The sunlight not only damages the figure and makes the colors fade, the packaging cannot take it in the long run either.

  • Protect against moisture: Action figures and especially the packaging must be kept dry. Moisture destroys the superheroes even faster and more sustainably.

  • Carefully remove price tags: You can carefully remove annoying price tags with your fingertips or, even better, with tweezers.

Touch your action figure as little as possible, the fat on the skin will also leave its mark in the long run. If you want to be extra careful, only attack the figure or packaging with a cloth. Action figure cards can be stored in comic book sleeves.

Figures without packaging that are particularly worth protecting are best kept in special plastic boxes made especially for action figures. In fact, the figures are better stored this way than in the original packaging, as it usually does not last very long.

For some action figures, such as Darth Vader, such boxes were even made specially. You can of course also store all other action figures in these boxes, up to a size of 10 cm.


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How do I find action figures on eBay?


How do I find action figures on eBay?

  • Categories: "Current action and play figures" can be found on the overview page "Toys". "Action Figures" for collectors but under "Collect & Rare". The categories are each subdivided according to the character, such as Spiderman, or the topic, e.g. "Star Trek".

  • Search: Let eBay search for you. If you have selected one of the action figure categories, you have the option on the left to refine the displayed item list. You can of course also start searching on eBay right away. In both cases, restrictions or expansions allow you to enlarge or reduce the item list.

  • The seller can also help: A good item description already contains all the important information, such as condition, size, classification, special features or possible damage and of course a picture. If something is ambiguous, don't be afraid to contact the seller. On the article page below the information about the seller you will find the function "Ask the seller". Better to use it once too much than once too little.

If you still can't find exactly what you're looking for, please visit the eBay stores or ask the eBay community by posting a search ad. You can also save a search in My eBay and even be notified as soon as the desired item is offered.


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Safe shopping on eBay


Safe shopping on eBay

As in everyday life, you should trust your common sense on eBay. If an offer immediately seems strange or dubious to you, it is best to check whether the same item is not also being offered by other sellers on eBay.

  • Read the item description
    Take a close look at the description of the item, the shipping and payment conditions. If anything is unclear to you, you should contact the seller before you bid or buy the item. Click the "Ask Seller a Question" link on the item page. Figure delivery costs into your final price. If you spend a lot of money, make sure the seller will insure the item when it ships.

  • Find out more about the seller
    Each member has a rating profile in which all positive and negative comments from trading partners about this member are recorded. In this way you can quickly find out what experiences other members have had with the seller.

  • Use the escrow service
    It couldn't be more secure: The buyer pays the purchase amount to an account held in trust. The money is only forwarded to the seller when he receives the goods in perfect condition. This is particularly useful for amounts of 200 euros or more. Occasionally, sellers will suggest using a dubious escrow service. Be careful if the seller suggests using an escrow service other than the eBay escrow service (presented by iloxx).

  • Report problems
    Please let us know if you have any problems with fraudulent emails or with other members. Or if you think other members are not following eBay Policy. If the allegations are confirmed, we take appropriate measures. Here you can report problems.


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