This has been a topic of contention for all toy collectors and not just anime figure collectors. Should you unbox your plastic waifu or husbando? It’s like asking if the chicken came first before the egg. In this case though, the correct answer would really depend on you. What’s correct for you may not be correct for someone else.
Yes, Unbox Your Figures
Unbox your figures because you can only ever appreciate their beauty and value if you display them. Some might argue to keep them boxed to keep the resale value high, but that’s a moot point if you won’t ever resell. Besides, even unboxed, anime figures don’t lose much value as long as you keep them in good condition.
My personal opinion is that you should always unbox them and that’s because I buy figures as an avid collector. When I choose to buy a figure, I never have any intention of selling it off to make a profit. That doesn’t mean I have never sold off a figure before. In fact, I’ve sold plenty. Similar to many anime figure collectors, I started the hobby buying cheap prize figures. One figure became three. Three became ten. Not long after, I started pre-ordering scale figures then ten became 50, 100 and now over it’s over 200.
I’ve now sold off most of the prize figures in my collection with only a handful remaining. I didn’t sell them for a profit. Rather, I sold them because I am running out of space to display all these new figures that are coming in. And when the new figures come in, I need to unbox them to display them.
Reasons to Unbox Figures
If you’re not sure whether you should unbox your figure or not, there are plenty of reasons why you should.
Have you ever bought an old figure sealed in its box only to find that it has gone all sticky? I’ve had this happen to me plenty of times. This happens when the plasticizer used when sculpting the figure leaks out. This happens naturally over time. When the plasticizer leaks out of the plastic material, there is nowhere for it to go to since the figure is sealed shut in its box, this becomes a sticky residue that can be difficult (but not impossible) to remove. Unboxing helps to let your figures “breathe” so they don’t retain the plasticizer and become sticky.
You Can Admire Your Figures
Anime figures look great especially when you take them out of their boxes. Sure, some boxes may have large windows that permit viewing the figure even when boxed. However, figures still look so much better out of their cardboard and plastic prisons. You can attach the accessories and put them in a display. You can even go the extra mile by creating a diorama for your treasured figure. Being able to admire your figures in your display — that’s what the hobby is all about.
Inspecting the Figure for Any Damage
If you pre-ordered a figure and it arrives, do you usually check it for issues? If you don’t unbox, you probably won’t be able to inspect your figure for any damages. While anime figure manufacturing does have stringent quality control, they can still mess up and send you something broken. Also, parts could get damaged during shipping. Opening the box and inspecting the figure would allow you check for damages and get a refund or replacement parts if necessary.
Sure some boxes will have some large windows but you can mostly only see the face of the character. Your view of the rest of the body will most likely be obscured by protective plastic and blister packaging. You cannot inspect accessories. You cannot see the back of the figure.
I recall the time that I bought Hitagi Senjougahara’s figure by Good Smile Company from Mandarake. I opened it right away and I was so glad I did. I wasn’t glad that the figure had issues but I was glad I found out right away so I can send it back and get a refund.
Just looking at the window of the box, it looked like it had no issues. It was listed as sealed and it arrived sealed. The tape was still there. However, upon opening, I got a nasty surprise. The figure is normally displayed with a view of her back. However, looking at the front reveals a deep gash on the uniform. We’re not talking about a minor scratch but a real deep gash like it was intentionally scratched with a pointed object. On top of that, one of the accessories was broken and about to fall off.
I had to send the figure back to Mandarake and they refunded me the full amount I paid plus the amount I spent to ship it back to them. If I had deferred opening it, getting a refund would have been close to impossible.
Dangers of Unboxing
While I am all for unboxing, it does carry some risk. Remember, whenever you unbox an anime figure, you always risk damaging it. Be extra careful when unboxing. I always make sure to trim and file my nails before unboxing. Your nails can actually damage the paint on figures especially when the figure requires a bit of assembly. If you don’t have a dust-proof display case, dust will accumulate on the figure. If you just display your figures on a shelf or desk and you have cats, every day carries a risk of your cats dropping the figure on the floor. What you’ll be left with is bits and pieces of PVC plastic.
Sure dogs can be a problem too but you don’t normally see them jumping on shelves.
When Should You Not Unbox?
Do Not Unbox if You Want to Resell the Figure for a Profit
I’m not a big fan of people who pre-order figures to sell for a big profit. Though you can’t deny that it does help some collectors who missed out on the pre-order, I still think the practice is predatory. If you are looking to resell a figure to make a profit, then it is important to keep it sealed. Though in most cases, a sealed figure isn’t much more valuable than an opened one with no issues. In pre-owned figure stores, you only see a ¥1,000 to ¥2,000 difference between opened and sealed figures.
If You Are Moving Houses
If you are moving houses anytime soon, I would defer going on an unboxing spree. You’re going to save yourself a lot of time and frustration if your figures are still in their boxes during the move.
Ultimately, whether you unbox or not is on you. If you are happy with viewing your figures in their boxes, who am I to say otherwise. We collect figures because it makes us happy or gives us satisfaction so as long as you are happy with what you are doing, then do what you will.
I started the NekoFigs blog in January 2021, 5 years after I’ve started collecting anime figures. It all started with one humble prize figure of Saber Lily which was bought on a whim. Now, I face the big problem of how to deal with over 200 empty boxes.