Anime figure collecting has recently seen a surge in popularity with more and more people getting into the hobby. This has led to an increase in the number of companies producing anime figures and a corresponding increase in the variety and volume of figures being produced. The current state of the industry is exciting with new figures being released all the time. In fact, I almost can’t keep up with the amount of anime figure preorders that come out.
Anime Figures Look Better than Ever
If you’re a collector, there’s a lot to be enthusiastic about. There are a ton more figures to choose from these days and the quality, for the most part, has only gotten better. Several years ago, most figures that are announced are simple. Simple is not bad. Simple is good. But the problem with “simple” is that it is just simple. Now, anime figures have much more intricate designs. Many figures now come with plenty of interchangeable accessories and backdrops. They now have more dynamic poses. Though few, they are also some that have neat gimmicks like parts that light up with LED lights and some that have clothes made of actual fabric. Heck, every now and then we even get life-sized (1:1 scale) figures.
The Anime Figure Industry is on the Rise
Data from SemRush reveal that the anime figure database MyFigureCollection grew its traffic from around 30,000 in December 2017 to 309,000 on December 2022 which is a 930% increase.
Similarly, traffic for Amiami, one of the leading anime figure retailers grew from 48,000 in December 2017 to 111,000 in December 2022 which is a 131% increase. The traffic increase in Amiami is less in comparison as this can be attributed to a significant increase in the number of online figure retailers vying for the market share.
Similarly, Google Trends show a significant increase for the search term “anime figures.
Figure Prices are Going Up
Prices of anime scale figures have gone up significantly over the last 8 years. Back in 2015, you could preorder great-quality scale figures from ¥8,000 to ¥10,000. From there, prices just kept going up. And now, it is not surprising to see the same level of quality with a price tag of over ¥30,000. The last wave of price increases happened during the last quarter of 2022 when we saw companies like FuRyu, Kadokawa and FREEing push the boundaries of figure prices to absurd levels.
Global inflation is up. The Japanese Yen’s value is down. Add the increase in production costs in China and this is the end result. However, one can make a case that these companies are simply gouging their prices as some companies like Good Smile Company, Kotobukiya, and even Alter fought to keep their prices reasonable. I’ve always thought Alter’s pricing was ridiculously high but the good thing is that they produce superb quality.
The recent 200% to 300% increase in prices seems excessive. Even fuel prices didn’t go up that much and it’s hard to find any other commodity that has greater demand than oil. So, when you see a company like FuRyu that dishes out mediocre quality figures at a price point higher than Alter, you start to suspect it’s more than just economic factors in play. Greed is probably part of the equation. The sad part is that prices will not likely go back down even after global inflation rates go down and even when the Japanese Yen recovers.
So Many New Figure Companies Coming Out
Right now, there are so many figure companies coming out and creating new figures. I do regular figure preorder roundups and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of all these new figure companies. It is especially difficult to find information on Chinese companies that are not listed on the MyFigureCollection database.
You might ask why this is important. The anime figure industry is an industry where quality control is very important especially because anime figures are very expensive commodities. New companies coming out that deliver horrendous quality are not common but they do happen sometimes.
The Need to Police Anime Figure Quality
Back in the day, collectors despised Griffon Enterprises because they delivered figures that are of shoddy quality. Griffon Enterprises eventually went under. Notably, they did at least improve their quality before their eternal demise. Nowadays, collectors are wary of companies like FOTS Japan, Pulchra and their sister companies B’Full, Apricot Blossom, and Insight. These companies produce low-quality, 3D-printed, figures with god-awful packaging which meant the figures actually break during shipping.
Considering the popularity of anime and anime figures and the price at which they sell for, I would not be surprised if some fly-by-night companies decide to open up preorders for awesome-looking figures and charge a crapton of money for it only to disappear after making a quick buck by skimping on quality.
Anime Figure Collecting Predictions for 2023
What’s going to happen to the anime figure-collecting hobby in 2023? No one really knows for use but here are some of my predictions.
New Companies Will Keep Coming Out
I expect new companies that create anime figures will keep coming out. There will be more companies coming from China. Some of them will produce good quality similar to good Chinese figure manufacturers such as Hobby Max and APEX. Some will make crappy-quality figures so you’ll have to be on the lookout for these.
FuRyu, Kadokawa and FREEing Will Push Figure Prices Further Up
I expect FuRyu, Kadokawa and FREEing to stay on this track by upping the prices of their preorders. They will continue to earn the ire of the community and will lose sales. A few other companies will become greedy as well and might follow the same pricing model. Throughout human history, greed has always been a constant and I don’t see that changing. Ever.
The Growing Chinese Economy Will Aggravate the Prices Further
Some people might think that figure manufacturing happens in Japan. However, the truth is, only the planning stage which includes the figure prototyping happens in Japan. When it moves to the manufacturing phase, the process is outsourced to China. And Chinese economy is now growing at a rapid pace. Labor costs and working conditions have increased significantly and this is good for the people of China. For the rest of the world which is heavily reliant on Chinese labor, the effects can manifest in increased prices. What can figure companies do? It might be time to move labor away from China to other countries with cheaper labor like Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Some Collectors Will Get Burned Out by the High Prices
I expect ¥25k will become the standard price for 1/7, 1/6 and 1/8 scales while 1/4 scales will move up to ¥45k. Many companies are already testing the waters with these prices. I expect some collectors will get burned out by the extreme prices of new figures and will quit the hobby or resort to only buying cheap pre-owned figures. I do hope I’m wrong though.
Good Smile Company, Kotobukiya, and Alter Will Prevail
GSC, Kotobukiya, and Alter will continue to offer great quality figures at reasonable prices. This happens while other companies push their greed and try to gouge their prices.
FOTS Japan and Pulchra Will Continue to Thrive
Yes, FOTS Japan, Pulchra, and all its cohorts will continue to thrive. This is because they price figures exceptionally high while they keep their costs exceptionally low by compromising on quality and dishing out cheap 3D-printed figures. Even as many collectors shy away from them, they do not need to sell much to turn in a profit.
Azur Lane Fans Brace for More Azur Lane Figures
Just before the pandemic hit, we’ve been bombarded with so many FGO figures that we would usually refer to WonFes as FGO-fes. We still see a few FGO figures every now and then but that train has since left the station. For the coming year, I would expect more Azur Lane figures to be announced and come out for preorder. This means my wallet is not safe. I just wish they made more in 1/7 scales rather than 1/4 scales.
Expect Even More Atelier Ryza Figures
There are now a ton of Ryza figures to be had so you can drown yourself in her thighs. And you can expect even more Ryza figures to be announced this year.
Rem Figures Will Be a Constant
As if we don’t already have enough Rem figures. The Rem cult will still be thriving this year. Even though it has been 6 years since we last saw Rem (not counting Season 2 since she was out of commission for the entire season), you can expect more prize figures and scale figures of her.
Expect More Figures from Chinese IPs
This year, we can expect more figures from Chinese IPs and Chinese manufacturers. China has become a big consumer of anime and it will only continue to expand That is until it is gutted by the CCP. When that happens, the Chinese figure market could take a nosedive.
Shipping Costs Will Continue to Go Up
Experts predict gas prices will be lower for 2023 though I am very skeptical. Gas prices only go up and never really stay down for long. It might go down for a bit but it will always go back up. I’m not a pessimist. This is more of a realist view. Unless some global mandate is put in place, the demand for gas will only go up. And we all know that means prices go up. For figure collectors, this would mean even higher shipping costs.
If you are a figure collector, I would like to know what you think will happen to the figure-collecting industry in 2023. Let me know in the comments.
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.
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