Cameragrrl's Collection Showcase
Aug. 2011
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I started collecting female action figures in June 1995, after reading an article in Action Figure News & Toy Review (#32, "Deadliest of the Species"). The first one I bought was the gold carded DC Comics Super Heroes Wonder Woman with "Power Arm!" Compared to the larger scale figures today, she's clunky; the articulation is poor, the paint is not great and she's just nothing spectacular. But for me in that moment of epiphany, she was Everything. My plastic heroine obsession started with her ...
I started collecting female action figures in June 1995, after reading an article in Action Figure News & Toy Review (#32, "Deadliest of the Species"). The first one I bought was the gold carded DC Comics Super Heroes Wonder Woman with "Power Arm!" Compared to the larger scale figures today, she's clunky; the articulation is poor, the paint is not great and she's just nothing spectacular. But for me in that moment of epiphany, she was Everything. My plastic heroine obsession started with her. And though my focus is on the female figures, there are some guys in there, too, particularly if he's the only male in a line or if I like him for one reason or another. A couple of my most treasured figures are customs a good friend made for me of Harry Dresden and Karrin Murphy (from The Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher). At last count, there were 13 displayed (more still boxed) male figures.

A lot of my collecting was done from '95 to around 2000, the year my daughter was diagnosed with autism. There was suddenly a lot more to worry about than the new line of figures due out that week. They sat boxed up in a leaky garage for years, until we moved to a new place. I have finally been able to take most of them out of the boxes, and out of their packaging for display. There's just something a little magical about standing in front of all those women, all those incredibly amazing characters (some good, some bad, some... well...) that makes me feel like I can conquer the world. Or at least my small corner of it.

I love them, and it makes me incredibly happy to see them out of the packages at last. I'm a little disappointed with the way some action figures have shrunk in size and raised in price, and the only ones worth having it seems are the high-end collector versions. It's still disappointing that the female characters seem to get the short end of the stick on screen and in plastic, but maybe things are beginning to change at last. I've been focusing on some of the old lines, obscure knockoffs, and some of the ones I missed when I put my hobby on hold. I also hope to do some customs of my own, and do some figures that would never have enough demand to be made commercially; I'd love to make the Femizons. (When I'm in a particularly bad mood after reading the comments -- don't do that, never read the comments -- my favorite thing to say to people is "Superia wasn't wrong" and watch them scratch their heads in befuddlement, since so few people seem to know or care about that villain.)

For current figures, I haunt local comic shops and toy stores, and attend a huge semi-annual toy show at a local fairground for the older ones. I check ebay once in a while, too, and completed my Golden Girls set that way. It's kind of nice that it's not quite the rabid market that it was in the 90s, with dealers showing up at TRU when the doors opened and snatching up all the rare one-to-a-case figures off the pegs, then marking them up 400% on their tables at shows. (Ah, the bad old days...)

Beyond collecting the figures, I also read several comics, and yes they are usually female-led titles. I'm a huge fan of Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel, Red Sonja, The Lumberjanes and because I have a bit of a sweet tooth, Jem and the Holograms. I have the full run of Sensational She-Hulk, missing only a couple from Savage, nearly all of Dazzler and many of the Amethyst comics. My LCS has a weekly discussion group on Saturday mornings that I really hate to miss. We all go; The Kid takes her Gameboy and plays more or less patiently while my husband and I take a couple hours to be geeky adults with other geeky adults. (Our combined comics collection is well over 3k books.)

I don't belong to any collector's groups (other than this one), and haven't met in person any other woman who collects figures. I know I'm not the only one, I've "met" them online, but I'm often greeted with astonishment when I bring a haul to the counter in stores, and the cashier assumes they're for the tall guy standing next to me, who assures them with amusement, "No, those are hers." And I was really annoyed when some kid behind the counter tried to tell me how to manage my hobby, when I've probably been collecting longer than he's been alive. *sigh* I suppose I could have made it a "teachable moment" and schooled him that not only do I know what I'm doing, but that women collect these things, too, but I just wanted to get away from him at that point. It's... frustrating... sometimes, when this is such a guy-centric industry. I balance all that with a modest collection of Hallowe'en and witchy-themed dolls. The coven lives in the guest bedroom, where they occasionally weird-out visitors.

Outside Links
My collecting story in comic form, done for an online class about gender in comics: Class assignment, "Where are the girls?"
Blog post explaining in detail how I did the "fence" on the book cases to prevent action figure dominos: D'fence
More about the Hallowe'eny collection: Doing some rearranging / Hallowe'en comes early
I'm cameragrrl on Twitter, too. (Language is usually PG-13, unless DC has done something exceptionally stupid.)
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