5 Tips for collectors

March 11, 2012

Some of these might seem like no-brainers, but I’ve actually had a few people ask about this stuff. I’d personally like to know more of how other hard core collectors do these things, but I find that when it comes to collecting people don’t seem to be all that interested in sharing what they know. I am of the mind that all knowledge should be shared for everyone’s benefit so I’m here to share with anyone interested how I handle my own collection.

If you happen to have tips or other ideas along these lines, if I’ve left out something or if you have a better idea, I’d love to hear it. I’m sure we all would. In the meantime, if you’re looking to connect with more collectors, check out the Horror Collectors group on Facebook. I kicked it off for just what I said here… to share knowledge between people who love collecting horror stuff.



When you first get that amazing toy home (if you even make it that long) you want to tear into the clam shell and pull that figure out of the packaging. Almost everyone who collects this stuff knows what I’m talking about. I’ve even had people say those words I know we all have at some point – “Can’t even wait ’till we get home huh.” No. I can’t. But if you can wait or if you have to wait for lack of having something to open the package with, then you might be interested in this tip.

Toys break. They can break when you pull them right out of the packaging. I’ve even had one just fall apart when I opened it. I never even touched the toy! But sometimes it’s how we open the things that makes all the difference. Companies keep getting new ideas on how to package something so there’s less breakage which means more difficult to open which ironically leads to breakage. This include the awful idea where they put the arms and legs through the plastic part of the inner shell. I hate that! But I get it, safe and secure.

Well, to have the best chance at not damaging your toys before you get them out, I suggest not using scissors or a knife but a box cutter of some kind. The razor ones are okay, but you need one that will let you have some control in your hands for safety. They also make some cutters that are specifically made to open things like CD’s, DVD’s, and I’ve used those to open the plastic clam shell cases just as easily and they are way safer than any razor. The CD/DVD cutters are best because the point of the cutter won’t cut you and it won’t cut into your toy if you slip. Kids, get an adult to do it for you!!


You can cut around the outer edges of the clam shell and then just flip the back off — or– take the “X” cut approach where you cut across the back in an x shape and pull the toy out that way. Just be careful of the plastic edges at that point because they can be sharp as well.

Then to get it out of the plastic mold it’s in… undo all the wires and tape and carefully push the stuff inside out from the back until it pops out. Don’t pull things out unless you’re sure you can pull without snapping something. You can also cut through the parts of the plastic that are holding the toy in so that the toy lifts out with no problem. It’s a bit more tedious than just ripping it out, but what’s it worth to you to not break your new prize before it’s out of the box?


Standing our figures up is another thing that has become more difficult as the companies make more and more detailed sculpts. Now days any human figure even has tread on the bottoms of their shoes. I like to try to pose the toys the way I see them on the ads or on the box. A lot of times that’s hard to do because some molds are just not perfect or they are created to mimic a specific stance that makes no sense when you try to put it on a shelf without a stand under it.

For any figure, especially the ones with lots of points of articulation, I always go from toe to top holding close to the joints firmly and trying to place the feet flat on a flat surface like a table or something. Start with the feet, make them flat and keep the figure upright. Move up to the legs and press down a but to get them to match where the feet are so they are still flat on the surface.

From there move up to the middle then to the top and adjust by “feeling” out where the joints want to move to keep the figure in place. It might take a few tries, but after a couple minutes of “playing” you should be able to get any figure to stand solidly balanced on your shelf.

If this doesn’t work, you can always find some kind of support to stick under the part of the foot that is causing the problem. I have a Tall Man figure from NECA and even with the stand it is crooked and will fall over. To fix this I found a small piece of cardboard to put under his one foot to keep him from leaning. Another figure… David from Lost Boys, his feet don’t exactly keep him up so I stand him with the front of his feet on the edge of a thin cardboard coaster. The coaster is horror related, so it doesn’t look horrible.

The other thing is, you can use the sticky tack stuff I mentioned in a previous blog post.

I’ve done the adjustment process for every figure I’ve gotten since my McFarlane Terminator Endoskeleton (see picture below) kept falling over and breaking. I’ve rarely had a figure fall over, even during semi rough shaking of the shelves. Even for figures whose feet are not meant to be flat, it still works. Just look for the balancing that will help the parts of the feet that do touch the surface support the figure.



Tight joints is probably the #2 killer of toy limbs. You pop open your figure, pull it out, try to pose it and suddenly you’re holding a leg or arm in one hand and the rest of your figure in the other hand. Sucks!! I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself ‘I should invest in Super Glue stock’. Through breaking my share of arms and legs and even heads, I’ve learned how to move a joint that seems like it was just made to not move even though we know better.

This has more to do with pressure than it does with strength or direct force. You need to be gentile but firm. Grab the toy on either side at the joint your trying to move. If it’s a hand or foot then you’ll have to be super careful because you could twist it off without knowing since most of those are peg type connections and not ball joints or even the male/female type.

When you have a good grip on either side of the joint, one is the part on the body and the other is the part on the limb, then apply gentle pressure all along the entire part but focusing on that joint as the main thing you want to make move. If you work at it, it might eventually pop loose and no problems. If it only moves slightly, then you need to be real careful and finesse it, DON’T FORCE IT! Even, gentle, pressure. Still, if it won’t cooperate you can use rubbing alcohol as a temporary lubricant to help the joint move.

Now, you might ask about damage from the rubbing alcohol, but I can tell you I’ve never had color come off and the alcohol dries up really fast on it’s own so no wet damage either. You try this stuff at your own risk of course, but I have yet to mess up anything of mine doing this. If it won’t move directly, try working the alcohol into the joint by wiggling it gently a bit and let it sit for a moment (not long) and then try again with the grip thing I said before.


I actually learned this from a friend. I bought a 12″ Jason Voorhees whose arm would not stay up in the air and that was no good because he was supposed to be holding UP his machetti.

Take a small piece of paper (and I mean really small, like maybe slightly bigger than a thumbnail) and fold it up a few times to build up some thickness to it. Squish the paper tight and push it into the joint while posing the appendage the way you want. Trim the paper so you can’t see it much and then if you want color the paper with a marker to help hide it. Joint fixed!

If it’s still loose, try more paper or replace what’s in there with something thicker.


Dust. Spills. Sometimes our figures need cleaned up. Once ever 6 months I’ll go through and use a small soft paint brush to clean them up. You can use canned air, but the compressed air can blow your accessories away or even break your toy if it’s already jacked up somehow.


If you had a spill, get a soft small cloth and put some rubbing alcohol on it. Wipe the mess gently with the cloth, don’t scrub, don’t rub it back and forth, just wipe one direction gently and it will pick up all the sticky or whatever.

For detailing, just use your finger nail (if you have them) in the cloth to get into the small parts. If no finger nails, use something small like tweezers or the tip of a mechanical pencil IN THE CLOTH.

I spilled coffee on one of my figures once and this solution did a great job and didn’t take off any paint or anything. If you’re worried you can make a small solution of 2pt Alcohol and 1pt water. The point of using alcohol is that it will dry really fast so no water damage.

The best way to avoid all of this is to keep your stuff in its packaging or even in a shelf with a door on it. You could even put up some kind of curtains on your book shelves if you are so inclined. But if you’re like me, you want to enjoy them out of the box, so this is the best way I’ve found to take care of my figures. And trust me, in my home these things are treated with a lot of respect.

The other thing is handling the figures. If you have a lot of them it can be kinda risky, plus you don’t really want to handle them much if at all anyway for any amount of figures. Wear gloves or wash your hands really well before touching anything. This way you’re less likely to cause any kind of undesired happenings to your collectibles.


Enjoy the horror my friends!


— Mr. Frights



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