How To Display Your Action Figures

One of the first questions you might have when you start collection action figures is, “How do I display them?”

This is the kind of question that will always have an answer which starts with, “It depends…”

It depends on what you want to do.

If you have a large quantity of figures, you may not be able to display all of them at once, so you might need both storage AND display. In fact, most toy hunters I know fall into this category. So I will give some advise on both.

But let’s immediately focus on display…

Some people buy the figures and just keep them in the boxes they shipped in. They display those boxes on the shelf and all is good. The problem with this is — those boxes are large and bulky, are not usually archival quality (meaning acid-free) and they prohibit you from enjoying the figures to their fullest. You cannot “play” with them if they are in the manufacturer’s original packaging.

Since my personal situation involves photographing my action figures, I have to remove them from the box. (This starts a whole new thread — do you keep the boxes or throw them away. Quick answer is — I throw them away unless the figure that they contained was rare and/or expensive, then I keep the boxes.)

I have hundreds of action figures and at the moment, can only display about 25 at a time — max. So I researched an affordable, effective solution and found (after many hours of searching) what I think is a bargain approach but which has a high-quality look and feel.

I use archival quality boxes from ClearBags. They ship flat, and then take only a few seconds to pop into place. Since I collect 6-inch action figures, I selected the Clear Bags Crystal Clear Boxes, which come in a perfect size of 4x4x8" — Clear Bags model FB57 — they ship in a 25 pack and cost only $36.43 per 25 pack. After shipping costs were factored in the total cost was roughly $47. (There are other sizes available. Contact Clear Bags at www.clearbags.com to find out if they have a size for the figures you collect.)

That works out to about $1.76 per box and is at least $4 cheaper than the next best solution I’ve found which is to use a thicker box, dedicated for toy storage, but shipped in a giant box since the hard plastic boxes do not fold. I have tried those boxes and don’t see that they are $4 better.

The box I buy from ClearBags is made from 12 mil thick PET material. It is acid free and archival safe. It is made of an anti-static plastic which reduces charge build-up.

I have used products from this company for 20 years and you can always count on them to do the job and do it well.

These boxes are absolutely perfect for my needs. I can quickly put them together, put a figure inside, close the top of the box and the figure is protected from the environment yet the box (being clear) allows me to enjoy looking at and displaying them for visitors to my home.

To save you some time — here is the URL for the boxes I use:
https://www.clearbags.com/4-x-4x-8-soft-fold-clear-box.html

Now on to the second part of the equation. You may not have enough space to display all your toys. In that case, how do you store them?

I have tried everything and researched the heck out of this. I have bought the wrong thing several times. I did all that so you don’t have to.

The best solution for me (and probably for you too) is to use Crystal Clear Zip Lock Bags. Once again, from Clearbags.com (item number ZC69.)

These work for me. They are 6x9" and are made of polypropylene (PP) and are 2 mil thick. You can still see your figures in crystal clear packaging. The material is acid-free/archival quality and that is really important. If you use traditional Zip Lock brand bags you buy at the grocery store, then you will eventually find your figures have a gooey slime on them that is generated by chemicals in the bag deteriorating over time. Acid-free bags don’t have this problem so you can rely on them for long-term storage.

I put each figure in a bag along with the figure’s accessories (i.e., extra hands, weapons, etc.) and then I put a label on the top of the bag containing identifying information such as brand, model, genre, character name, etc. You can skip this step or put together as much data as you like to keep with each character.

Then I create a spreadsheet with a loose inventory of 25 characters’ names, I print that out and I put the 25 bags and the inventory list in a small plastic storage tub. I number the tubs by writing on them using permanent markers (labels never seem to stick to these things) and put a reference number back to my master inventory so I know where they are.

When I want to rotate that group of toys onto the shelves for display, I grab that tub, open the bags, and place them into the acid free boxes described above. I leave all the empty bags in the tub for use later, grab the tub that holds the current display, re-insert those characters in their bags and repeat as needed. If you buy one lot of 100 bags the cost including shipping is about $20. In my opinion that is a bargain.

To save you some time — here is the URL for the bags I use:
https://www.clearbags.com/6-x-9-crystal-clear-zip-bags-100-pieces-zc69.html

These too come in a variety of sizes. Pick the size that is appropriate for your collection.

I know, I know. You may be thinking that is all too much trouble. And you’re probably right. But to me it’s part of the joy of collecting. Your mileage may vary.

CONCLUSION

There are lots of ways to approach this problem. I just wanted to share mine because I know it works for me and it’s way more affordable than buying the special display boxes sold at toy stores.

And just in case you are curious — I have no relationship with ClearBags, other than the fact I am a customer. These are not affiliate links and I am not sponsored by them in any way. I just like their products and think you will too.

Remember — toys are joy.

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TOYPHOTOGRAPHS

I'm a toy photographer. I love working w/ dioramas & sharing stories w/ others. I also help people get the most out of their Fuji X100 series cameras. (C) 2023