Where to Buy Your Action Figures From

There are numerous places where you can go to buy your action figures and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

 I usually have a short list of three places that I regularly buy from, depending on what I’m looking for.

Why three?

Simply because I use one for buying my “common” or standard figures, one for bulk purchases (i.e. cases) and one for the rarer or limited addition figures. 

This way I can generally get the best price possible from each supplier and by using a regular supplier you can build a better relationship and get more “perks”.

High Street Stores:

Your local high street store is often the best and cheapest place to buy your action figures, however your choice is often very limited as they tend to only stock a few of the most popular lines and then they generally will only stock them for a short period of time.

These types of stores include Wal-mart, Woolworths, K-mart, Tesco’s, The Entertainer, Target and Gamestop etc.

There are many advantages of buying from your local high street store.

Firstly because they AREN’T specialists and deal in volume rather than individual items they usually sell all the figures in a line for the same price no matter how rare or popular it is.

This makes them the ideal place to pick up “chase” figures at a low price when a new line is first released.

But you’ll have to be quick as there are many collectors and traders who scour the shelves of these stores regularly for this reason. 

Specialist Stores:

Most towns and cities have a local comic book shop or collectors shop selling action figures, trading cards, collectible card games and other such items.

If you’re not sure where yours is check out the local yellow pages or go to the comic shop locator on Diamond Distributors website to find the nearest to you (Sorry, for U.S residents only).

Your local comic book shop should have a wide variety of figures available, although often at a higher price, but they are also usually more open to negotiation.

The biggest advantages of using a local retailer are:

  •  Your figures will be in mint condition
  • No postage charges
  • No risk of damage due to mishandling
  • You can physically check your action figure before you buy it
  • More approachable
  • Easier to build a relationship

Your local comic book shop should have a wide variety of figures available, although often at a higher price, but they are also usually more open to negotiation.

The biggest advantages of using a local retailer are:

  • Your figures will be in mint condition
  • No postage charges
  • No risk of damage due to mishandling
  • You can physically check your action figure before you buy it
  • More approachable
  • Easier to build a relationship

Online Shops/Stores

The internet has opened the hobby up to multitudes of people who previously couldn’t buy their action figures locally but now, with the internet, you can get virtually anything you want.

But beware!

The biggest disadvantage of this has been the huge increase in fraud, scammers and conmen on the net.

But follow my basic guide for finding a reputable and genuine online retailer and you shouldn’t have any problems.

If you do, or have any cause to complain about any online store please let me know and I will investigate the matter for you and if need be blacklist them. 

So, how do you decide who to trust?

The following steps are how I usually find a new supplier when I’m looking for something:

• Google search the item

• Look at the top ten sites listed

• Check the prices, shipping + handling charges, delivery times, return policy and contact details on each site. If any of them are missing any of this information then I cross them off my list.

• Send an e-mail enquiry- I do this for two reasons, to see how good their response time and customer service is and to make sure that there is someone there!

• Google the site name- this is an excellent way of finding out if there are any complaints or bad press against the site. 

However bear in mind that most people are quick to complain but rarely write about how GOOD a site or company was. 

So if you find ONE complaint about a particular site this is unlikely to mean it is a BAD site. 

You also need to take into consideration how busy the site is and the number of complaints in proportion to the number of visitors it receives. You can check this at www.alexa.com .

• Short list the top three by comparing their prices, shipping charges, and returns policy. Then make a “trial” order from your top choice. 

Initially make this order small enough so if there is a problem it will be no great loss but at the same time is something you need. This will stand as a good test of their service and quality.  

Follow these simple steps and you should find a trustworthy and reputable dealer to order from without running the risk of losing your money.

Most importantly check their policy on returns or damaged stock as many Action Figures are fragile and if not packaged correctly are easily damaged in the post.

Having been both a retailer and buyer I know from hard experience that the post office will often throw your packages about without any thought of what might be inside and without any heed of the “FRAGILE” sticker on the outside. 

Car Boot & Garage Sales

Car boot and garage sales are big business in the UK and are usually held on a Sunday.

A garage sale is when you hold a sale out of your own garage. Maybe you’re moving house and selling of what you don’t want to take, or last year’s clothes and toys.

A garage sale is therefore usually a private sale making negotiating a deal much simpler, but it can also be very time consuming with little reward searching round all the local garage sales, although some excellent bargains can often be found.

A friend of mine used to make a living by going round the local garage sales to buy things he then took home and sold on eBay.

A car boot sale is usually held in a large field often on the outskirts of a town or city. Each person pays a nominal fee for their pitch which is general a cars length.

Traditionally car boot sales were exactly that, people would pull up and sell directly from the back of their cars. This has now progressed to people usually using a pasting table or such like to display their wares on.

Car boot sales are extremely popular and some have hundreds of cars in attendance each week. These are brilliant for finding bargains and even if you don’t find the action figure you want I guarantee you won’t go home empty handed!

The best place for checking out your local car boot sales or garage sales is your local newspaper of Trader magazine.

Collectors Fairs and Comic Cons

These are very popular in the USA and UK but I can’t vouch for the rest of Europe, or other countries.

The most popular of these will often have thousands of dealers or traders in one or two large exhibition halls, whereas the smaller more local Comic Cons or fairs are often held in hotel function rooms.

These events have everything from Lego to Hornsby Trains, Star Wars to Pumpkin Head, Autographs to stickers.

The variety and prices can often be eye opening and you’ll always find something of interest.

Most of the bigger shows usually have stars in attendance signing autographs for a small fee.

These are excellent places to fill those gaps in your collection and great opportunity to find some fantastic bargains.

 Many dealers at these shows “dump” there old stock, much in the same as the local high street fashion shops have their end of season sales, to make room for new stock coming in.

You can find information on these by googling Comic Cons, in your local paper or in collector’s magazines such as Toyfare.

Alternatively you can check on the AFR website where I will be listing the most popular of these that are held weekly, monthly and annually.

If you know of any Comic-cons in your area or country please let me know.

Or if you are an organizer or promoter of a Comic Con or Collectors Fair then please add yours to the list.

Magazines and Newspapers:

The classified section of your local newspaper is another good source of cheap action figures, or the classified sections of national magazines.

Instead of looking in the collectors magazines try looking in magazines or fanzines related to the subject, e.g.

If you’re looking for a New York Yankees McFarlane figure checkout the New York Yankee’s fan site, magazine or fanzine.

When looking for your figures it is also important to remember that not everyone has a computer, so try and think about where those who don’t might go to sell their action figures.

Government Auctions/Local Auctions:

Have you ever wondered what happens to a shops stock when it goes bankrupt or out of business?

Many times its stock ends up in a government auction and is sold off to recover any taxes that maybe owed by the business, on other occasions a local auction house may be requested to auction the stock on behalf of the auditors in order that the proceeds can be given to any creditors.

In both of these circumstances you can get items for a fraction of their usual retail price, but the times and locations of these auctions are often a closely guarded secret

Online Auctions

I’ve saved this one till last because it is a HUGE subject and I will be covering it in depth in a separate issue/episode.

EBay is probably the biggest and most popular of the online auction sites is with approx 56 million users!

EBay is definitely a buyers’ market with just about everything you could imagine being sold. 

One of eBay’s biggest ever sale was an old WWII Warship, NOT a replica or toy ship, but the real McCoy!

But over the years as its popularity has grown, so has the number of crooks and conmen who will very quickly take your money and run. 

It is therefore very important to know what you are doing when buying or selling on eBay and to know the scams to look out for and how best to protect yourself against them.

It is because of this that I will look at some of the most successful online auctions separately and in detail from signing up to buying your first action figure and completing your first transaction.

If you are already a buyer or seller on eBay then you’ve probable already experienced what I’m talking about, if not I hope it stays that way for you.

In summary there are many places to buy your action figures from. My recommendation to you is that you find a reputable local dealer and strike a relationship with them for your basic requirements.

Find a good online source for your harder to find action figures and a good source for your bulk purchases.

Find out about any good car boot sales that are held regularly in your area and any Comic Con or Collectors fairs.

Lastly, use the online auctions only when necessary for those harder to find items.


A Few Tips and Hints

• The biggest scam on the internet currently is phishing or identity theft. NEVER EVER EVER give out any passwords, ids, bank details etc by email.

• Always go to the companies or banks website through your browser, i.e. Explorer, Safari, Firefox or Opera etc.

• Google Alert- this is an excellent tool and highly recommended. Let’s say you are looking for a Rock WWF(E) wrestling figure. All you need to do is add an alert for The Rock or The Rock WWF and whenever this is used on a forum or website (or eBay listing) Google will email you with a link to the site or auction concerned!

• Register on any relevant forums or newsgroups, these are great sources for finding figures either for trade or sale, often in mint condition.


Entertainment Earth

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