Decor is Very Important: Action Figures

All right, nerds. I’mma have to be real with you.

You need to stop with the packaged action figures. It’s sending all the wrong signals.

I see a lot of “nerd” rooms that have action figures, still in their boxes, on display like they were cherished tchotchkes. It is my assumption that aside from declaring loudly and proudly that you like nerdy shit, the intention behind this is to convey a sense of fun and childlike whimsy to your visitors. Because who but a fun person would collect Legends of the WWF toys or obscure DC superhero action figures?

But “fun” is not what piles upon piles of toys you cannot play with suggests.

This is what packaged action figures in mint condition suggests about you:

The Collector, a villain alter-ego of Comic Book Guy from Treehouse of Horror X, episode 4 of season 11 of The Simpsons.

By contrast, let’s look at another giant fucking nerd whose massive collection of toys actually does hint at the fun to be had with him: director and chief creative officer at Pixar, John Lasseter.

John Lasseter, actually playing with his toys.

John Lasseter's office.

Note that he has removed the vast majority of his toys from the safety of their factory-sealed packages and is actually *gasp* playing with some of them. Yes, he may have negated their future collector’s value (although being owned by him probably restores most if not all of it), but look, he’s having fun! And I bet if you visit his office, you can have fun too.

(Also note that Toy Story 2 comments upon this very topic and that your action figures, if they are alive, aren’t truly living at all.)

Stinky Pete from Toy Story 2, living a half-life.

But I know. I know it’s hard to fight that feeling. The one saying that if you open the package, all the magic of owning this thing will evaporate and that you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Because I guess one day you’ll be on Antiques Roadshow with your still-sealed-in-its-bubble-packaged ~collector’s edition~ Jar Jar Binks action figure, being told that it’s not only worth millions of dollars, but is in so high a demand that you can actually get that money if only you could bear to part with it?

Look, you gotta be real with yourself here. Do you really, truly believe these items hold more value in their box than they do outside of them? And if so, why are you keeping them in plain sight, where they’re exposed to what limited light of day they can get, fading their minty paint jobs, while any thief might see them and abscond with them in the night? If they’re really that valuable, they should be hidden away from the dangers of shelf display, dust, and the unslakable lust of action figure envy. Lock them in a box, lock that box in a bigger box, lock those boxes in a fireproof safe, and bury that safe under the foundation of your home.

Otherwise, take them out of the packaging. They’re toys. Play with them. Let your friends play with them. Make that nerd room of yours a haven for the delights of your inner child, not some Museum of Fandom Antiquities where people are supposed to stare thoughtfully at your boxed Green Lantern doll and try to find the deep meaning in his being trapped in a construct of plastic and cardboard.

The lesson here is not that you can’t decorate with action figures, but that ignoring their function (when their function is what makes them worth displaying) in favor of their form does not go unnoticed and has the opposite effect that one might intend.

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October 2021