I have a confession to make. Last week, I took most of my carded figures out of their packaging and you know what? It was liberating.
It’s a decision that’s been building in the back of my mind for a while now. I started collecting all things Star Wars when I still lived in a one-bedroom flat. Obviously, space was an issue and so only my very favourite pieces could sit along the mantle and side table. Moving to a three-bedroom house provided more space, and while I was able to get almost everything out on display, carded figures presented a problem.
I’d watch room tours on YouTube as inspiration. Not necessarily for which pieces to buy, but how best to display them. The general thinking for carded figures is to put pins in the wall and hang them individually. That’s all well and good for your own home, but in rented accommodation, spiking the walls is usually a no-go. Another solution is to buy a rack the kind of which the figures would have originally hung from in the shop. Yet even with three bedrooms, there wasn’t room for this.
So sadly my carded figures were put into a drawer never to see the light of day, which surely defeats the point of collecting. Having moved again, I now have an entire room for my Star Wars collection. After every piece was put in its new place, there still remained a pyramid of carded figures on the floor. That’s where they’ve stayed for the last month until I finally decided that the time was right.
I went through each figure one by one and removed four that would stay forever sealed in their plastic and paper prisons. My favourite is an unpunched Kenner figure which speaks for itself. Another is a 1999 Darth Maul that looks stunning on card. Like my boxed Black Series pieces, my carded Rex looks too damn good to take out and, lastly, my Clone Wars-era Obi-Wan was a present from my wife, and I haven’t the heart to open it.
After the sorting was taken care of, the rest were ripped open with wild abandon. It was a fun experience which at first made me feel like a kid at Christmas and then as I was organising the freed figures into groupings, the obsessive collector came out in me.
This became more than just a space saving solution – although transforming a mound of carded figures into a display on one shelf was definitely a plus – but a way of connecting with the inner kid in me. There’s a lot of high-end collectables and figurines that are, undoubtedly, aimed at the adult market. But these 3.75 figures have always been intended for kids. Loosing sight of that spark turns what should be a fun hobby into, well, something that looks like the father’s basement in The Lego Movie.
I can understand the temptation to keep your figures carded, especially when you’ve only just bought them. And I’m not for a moment suggesting that collectors everywhere break out all of their figures. Kenner figures just look better carded, there’s no denying that. Sometimes the graphic design of the card itself is so iconic and impactful, it’s better to leave it in tact. But some of them should be set free. It isn’t only toys that should be played with – your inner child needs the attention too.