Hello Mr/Ms. Filipino otaku! So…anime figures. It’s a popular culture within the culture of anime. Maybe you’ve seen some on the internet. Maybe you’ve seen some of your friends share photos of these figures on Facebook or Twitter or maybe you’ve seen these figures on display at hobby shops or even conventions! You want to get into figure collecting? Need some help? Well let this post be a guide to getting into figure collecting in the Philippines. By the way, this isn’t a sponsored post! No one’s paying me to write all this. I’m just a figure collector/blogger who wants to help budding figure collectors the best way he can!
First of all…Do your research!
When it comes to figure collecting, you have to know what you want to buy. Go check out figure reviews (Like the ones I have here! Ohohohohohohoho!) like Tentacle Armada and Tomopop. It’s all a matter of Googling really. It’s dangerous to go impulse buying without any previous knowledge of the item you’re looking at. First of all, you may never know what kind of common factory defects or outright design flaws a figure may have. For example! Would you have guessed that Luka’s microphone in the image below would fit in her hand loosely? Or that her skirt is removable? You would have known if you read my review about it!
Also! It’s important to know which figures have bootleg (fake) versions because the Philippines is plagued with bootleg merchandise. This brings me to my next point…
Know your bootleg!
I’ve been a figure collector since October 2011. That’s about 16 months since this post was made. That’s not really a lot of time in terms of figure collecting years. It’s not like we figure collectors, especially unemployed figure collectors, buy figures every day. Despite being a fledgling figure collector myself, I think I’ve gained enough experience to identify bootlegs. I find that there are 2 factors when it comes to identifying bootleg figures.
First, there’s the price tag. If a figure seems way too cheap, it’s probably a bootleg. Here’s a tip, and this is where doing research applies, check out the manufacturers’ website for retail prices. There are some companies like Good Smile Company and Kotobukiya that have their site available in English and with easily accessible catalogues. If not, there’s always My Figure Collection which has an info page for every known manufactured figure. Consider it the Wikipedia of figure collection. If the price of the figure you’re looking at is much less than the retail price you find on the sites, then I’m 99.9% sure that you’re looking at a bootleg. Think about it. The price you should be looking at should cover the retail price, the shipping tax the seller has to pay for, and a little something-something added so he can make a profit. You’d think selling an original for half its retail price is a terrible business idea.
Here’s a rule of thumb. Nendoroids, Figmas and other similarly sized figures go for around Php 2000 and unless they’re second hand or on sale, they usually never go below Php 1500. Larger scale figures average on Php 4000 to Php 6000. The cheapest original scale figure I found cost Php 3500, and that was discounted. Of course, there are intentionally cheap scale figures like Sega Prize Hatsune Miku and Red Saber. Those cost less than Php 2000 but they’re original. Just low quality. Speaking of low quality…
Second, there’s the quality. From afar, bootlegs might look just like their original counterparts but pay attention to the little details. I find that a lot of bootlegs have no protective plastic wrapped on the figure. That’s something to look out for, especially in Figmas. Also, sometimes the figures would be loose and falling apart in their own boxes. Actual manufacturers keep their figures tightly sealed not just with the plastic wrap but by also sealing the box with tape and/or plastic wire. Then there’s the plastic used for the skin. Bootleg figures always have glossier skin plastic than their original counterparts. This becomes a lot more obvious in well-lit places and in photographs. Then there’s the paint job. Look for things like obvious brush strokes. Real figure manufacturers don’t use paint brushes to color their figures. They use spray paints much like the ones used for cars. Also, they use high quality paint that is quite difficult to smudge or remove. Bootleg manufacturers use cheaper alternatives like lead paint which even gives off a different texture from the paint real manufacturers use. Finally, pay attention to the sculpt. Bootleg figures are “blunter” than their original counterparts. I remember one time, I went to a toy shop in Greenhills. They were selling an original Shining Hearts figure and beside it, a bootleg. This gave me a good opportunity to play Spot the Differences with them. Of course, there was the price tag. The original cost around Php 4600. The bootleg was around Php 2000. The bootleg also had yellower skin than the original. The face of the bootleg was longer and looked deformed. The hair of the original looked sharp and edges were well-defined. The bootleg’s hair was blunter, less defined and actually looked melted.
One last thing, pay attention to how the person trying to sell you the figure acts. People from a certain COMIC merchandise store are very persistent and talkative. They’ll insist that what they’re selling is original. When I asked them why the stuff they were selling is much cheaper, one of their employees nervously answered “Kasi po, sir. Yung binibenta namin dito ay mass-produced, gawa sa mga factory. Siguro yung binibili ng mga kaibigan mo ay gawa ng sculptor mismo at imported pa, pero original pa naman ang binibenta namin. ” (You see, sir. The ones we’re selling here are mass-produced, factory made. The ones your friends buy are probably hand crafted by the sculptor themselves, plus they’re imported, but I assure you that what we sell here are still original!). On the other hand, the employees of hobby shops selling original figures are more laid back, lazy even…They know what they’re selling is original and they know that their customers know that as well. They’ll also give you an option to view the product out of the box so you can inspect it for its details and whatever flaws it may have. The certain COMIC merchandise store employees probably won’t do that since the bootleg-ness of their figures will be made more obvious when you get to see the figure in the flesh. Always ask to have the product checked before you purchase it!
Personally, I know three good stores that sell original anime figures. I’m just gonna name drop them here:
Great Toys Online – A hobby shop with multiple branches. They have two stores in the Greenhills area just about ten minutes away from each other.
Wasabi Toys – Another shop in Greenhills located in Shoppesville right next to the Great Toys branch there. Really big on Gundam kits.
Wakuwaku – Located in Katipunan, right across Ateneo. They sell all sorts of merchandise including anime figures.
I also know a couple stores that operate online but are based locally. There’s Onegai Oniichan and My Japanese Hobby. They both have their own websites and they’re both active on Facebook so it wouldn’t hurt to subscribe to them.
So, that’s it for my guide to buying dem animu figures. Figure collecting is a fun, albeit expensive hobby. It’s important to get your money’s worth. It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this guide with you. Alright! Now go out there and enjoy (or suffer) the life of a figure collector! Have some NSFW pics:
Hey! If ya got any questions, you can go check out this Facebook page and leave a message!