The ‘Definitive’ Figure and How I Collect

You might have noticed that I have not been buying as many Completed PVC figures as I have been in the past. I myself have recently caught wind of this trend and have been wondering why. After some thought, I narrowed it down to a few reasons. In doing so, I managed to create a system explaining how I collect and decide which figure representation of a character I should buy.


Completed PVC figures used to be, for me, the ultimate ‘proof of an Otaku’. You aren’t an Otaku if you don’t have Completed PVC figures… or so I thought. To me, they also used to be the default and definitive representation of a character. To illustrate, here were my options:

2. Completed PVC
1. Trading Figure/Gashapon

At that time, it was pretty clear cut. For characters that I really liked, I’d get the Completed PVC representation of said character. I would allot more of my meager allowance and savings to the purchasing of them. If I liked a show, but only had a fleeting interest in the characters, a Trading Figure would suffice. Since Completed PVCs were the only way to go for characters I did like, my main purchases always consisted of those.

That was when I first started collecting which was before the advent of the far more affordable and high quality action figure. After the rise in the popularity and predominance of figmas and the increase of my knowledge and awareness of the collecting world, my range of choices began to expand.

And now, it’s something like this:

6. Large Scale Dolls (1/3 Scale Azone Dolls, Volks Dollfies Dreams)
5. 1/6 Scale Dolls
4. Completed PVCs
3. Action Figures (Figmas, Nendoroids, Revoltechs)
2. Prize Figures (Arcade Prizes, Banpresto Ichiban Kujis)
1. Trading Figures/Gashapon

So, for one single character, I had greater freedom to choose how I wanted the character to be represented in 3D. But that still doesn’t really explain why I haven’t bought a completed PVC figure in quite some time, my diminishing interest for them and how I collect.

That’s when I began to so some soul searching and brain storming.

As a collector who collects based on favorite characters, I’m always looking out for the definitive representation of that character. You always hear me say this word in my reviews and now I’m going to try to explain what I mean.

First, let me talk about ‘prestige’. How do I determine prestige? The numbered lists above also double up as my own little ‘prestige-o-meter’. The higher up on the list and the greater the number in front of it, the more prestige it has (to me). Prestige can also be related to and directly proportional to the level of detail, quality and price of the figure.

Previously, my criteria for determining the definitive figure of a character would be only accuracy, details, quality and prestige. Based on these few criteria with the top most list, Completed PVCs would win hands down.

Now, my criteria now consists of:

Accuracy (Compared to the source material, usually the Animated Counterpart)
Details (Subjective, but I tend to determine details via the intricacy of the paintjob and sculpting)
Quality (Subjective, but I tend to determine quality via the sloppiness of the paintjob and sturdiness of the build quality and joints)
Prestige Level/Points (This is determined by the aforementioned Prestige List, the numbers in front of it representing the level/points)
Affordability (Anything above 5000 yen is considered unaffordable and will not receive any points for this category)
Accessories (Does the figure come with excangable heads, exchangable hands, weapons, etc…?)
Articulation (How well does the figure pose? Is it able to recreate signature poses from the show?)

Interestingly enough, these criteria are exactly the same as the ones I use to review individual figures.

The more categories a certain type of figure is able to score in, the more definitive it is. One point per category. For affordability, negative points will be awarded as the price increases:

Above 10,000 yen (-0.5)
Above 20,000 yen (-1)
Above 30,000 yen (-2)
Above 40,000 yen (-3)
Above 50,000 yen (-4)
Above 60,000 yen (-5)
Above 70,000 yen (-6)

After some quick number crunching, here is my completed Definitive List/Priority Purchase Order List based on the the character of Fate Testarossa. How far I make it down the list for each character depends on how much disposable income I have and how much I like the character.

1. Figma:
Accuracy, Details, Quality, Affordability, Articulation, Accessories, Prestige Level 3 (Score: 9)

2. 1/6 Scale Azone Doll:
Affordability (-0.5 for being above 10,000 yen on average), Details, Quality, Articulation, Accessories, Prestige Level 5 (Score: 9 – 0.5 = 8.5)

3. Completed PVC by Alter:
Accuracy, Details, Quality, Prestige Level 4 (Score: 7)

5. Nendoroid:
Affordability, Quality, Accessories, Prestige Level 3 (Score: 6)

6. 1/3 Scale Azone Doll:
Affordability (-5 for being above 60,000 yen on average), Accuracy, Details, Quality, Options, Prestige Level 6 (Score 10 – 5 = 5)

7. Ichiban Kuji Prize Figure:
Accuracy, Affordability, Prestige Level 2 (Score: 4)

8. Trading Figures/Gashapon:
Affordability, Prestige Level 1 (Score: 2)

This list is a rough guide for me and might not work for you if our collecting styles differ.

Not to mention, the quality can also differ between similar figure lines like Actsas versus Figmas. These will be judged on a case by case basis or the list can be easily edited accordingly.

In the case of Actstas versus Figmas, one could award more points to a line that does better in a particular section or compare the two in the same categories and see which comes out on top in more. So, since Actstas have greater details, higher quality, better accuracy, better options but are not as affordable, they become more ‘definitive’ than figmas, their pros outweighing their cons at 4:1, and are thus higher on my to-get list. Of course, this is where the individual perks and quirks of a particular figure should also be taken into account, like how figma Fate testarossa wasn’t all that accurate. As I said, the list is a rough guide, but it should be generally applicable most of the time.

To demonstrate the flexibility and effictiveness of this system, let’s talk about a couple of other figure lines of other characters. For the Evangelion girls, we have:

1. Figma:
Accuracy, Details, Quality, Affordability, Articulation, Accessories, Prestige Level 3 (Score: 9)

2. Real Action Heroes:
Affordability (-0.5 for being above 10,000 yen on average), Details, Quality, Articulation, Accessories, Prestige Level 5 (Score: 9 – 0.5 = 8.5)

3. Completed PVC:
Accuracy, Details, Quality, Prestige Level 4 (Score: 7)

…explaining why I don’t have any completed PVC figures of the Evangelion girls but own all of their figmas and Real Action Heroes. Note that the Real Action Heroes figures don’t do so well in terms of accessories with the only ones included being a pair of exchangable hands, but make up for it in the accuracy and articulation department with their plastic hair and realistic Plug Suit.

Another case would be the cast of K-On!. Years ago, I would have usually sprung for the Completed PVC figures (by Alter) and deemed them the definitive figures of everyone’s favorite girl band. In reality, I never did buy any of the completed PVC figures. Instead, I bought all of the dolls and all of the figmas. Why?

1. Figmas:
Accuracy, Details, Quality, Affordability, Articulation, Accessories, Prestige Level 3 (Score: 9)

2. 1/6 Scale Azone Dolls:
Affordability (-0.5 for being above 10,000 yen on average), Details, Quality, Articulation, Accessories, Prestige Level 5 (Score: 9 – 0.5 = 8.5)

3. Completed PVCs by Alter:
Accuracy, Details, Quality, Prestige Level 4 (Score: 7)

…and there we have it. My system works. This again perfectly explains why I got the dolls and Figmas before the completed PVC figures.

(Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that a definitive figure should replicate the character with his/her signature clothes on. Barrier Jacket for Fate, Plug Suit for the Evangelion Girls and Winter School Uniform for the K-On! Girls.)

———

Lastly, I must reiterate that I’m not completely restricted by the list when it comes to Completed PVCs. In fact, I still love them quite a bit and I’ll still shell out the cash for Completed PVCs in two instances.

1. If they do a bang up job in recreating my favorite characters in phenomenal poses (As illustrated by my recent purchase of Alter’s Fate).

2. If that’s the only way for me to get a figure of said character. Seriously, you’d be surprised by the number of awesome characters out there that do not have a 3D counterpart aside from Completed PVCs. Yomi from Ga-Rei Zero was one of them uptil the completely mind-blowing figma release. Tenshi from Angel Beats, the girls from Baka Test and Saten and Uiharu from Railgun are perfect examples.

———

I do hope you found this trek into my collecting psyche somewhat informative or at least entertaining to some extent. I do apologize if it is too bizarre to comprehend as my mind is quite picky and methodological when it comes to things like these. It might also seem pretty obvious to you, but it didn’t really occur to me until I really gave it some thought.

Do feel free to point out anything odd or to comment on my system.

5 Responses to The ‘Definitive’ Figure and How I Collect

  1. Alexeon says:

    Very interesting. I should to some thinking on how I choose figures and merchandise as well. Ill be looking at yours for inspiration and ideas, though since it seems we “gel” pretty well in that regard.

  2. Actar says:

    @ Alexeon: Thank you so much! It really did take sometime to come up with one that works. (^.^:) Also, the system is flexible enough that you can create your own judging criteria based on your own collection style and come up with your own Purchase Priority list.

  3. Wow, you’ve certainly got this down to a science. My way is more of a ‘net benefit’ kind of thing, i.e. “Do I want this enough to pay that much for it?” If desire outweighs price, I buy; and vice versa. I don’t give as much thought to what sort of item it is, per se, so long as I like/want it. Still, I would have never imagined a numerical system like yours. Did this just come to you, or did you actively work it out?

  4. Actar says:

    @ Archangel Shear: Thanks! It did indeed take some time to actively work it out. From early on, I tried my best to collect based on certain criteria as I found it very, very hard to manage my funds and decide which figure I would get if I just bought whatever I fancied. After all, I fancy everything. (^.^;)

  5. envedges says:

    It’s a very nice chart that you have going. I think you should add in scarcity, it can demand the like-ability of you buying the items. For me, I do follow this anime reviewer grading system http://bit.ly/nmjCjk and combine your critias. For example, I would probably give RAH Kamen Rider figure an A in the category for details like “every single detail to look exactly like the show” and as S.H. Figuarts I give around somewhere a B for “having a satisfying amount and but not all such symbols or logo is present”. As for A is something I give rarely unless I absolutely certain about like a PG Gundam would fall in the category of articulation for overall having “great degrees in articulation like 180 degree bend in both elbow and knee, and points in articulation like posable fully fingers”.

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