The pros and cons of collecting custom figures.
Fan-made custom figures are some of the coolest collectibles ever made.
Major companies like Funko and Mattel cover a lot of ground with their figures. Heck, I don’t have the money to collect all the Funko Pop! figures of characters I like, let alone fill out an entire collection! Yet as exhaustive as these figure catalogs are, there’s plenty of beloved characters who are waiting for their turn to enter the plastic spotlight.
That’s where custom figures come in.
Fans all over the world are working day and night to fill in the gaps left by major figure manufacturers. Whether it’s Watchmen Legos or an Amiibo of Pikachu cosplaying as Deadpool, there’s really no way of telling what custom figures you’ll see next. That said, despite how awesome custom figures can look, are they worth collecting and investing in the way collectors do with, say, Star Wars merch?
In truth, it’s kind of difficult to say.
There’s two parts in analyzing the “value” of custom figures. The first is how much they’re worth if you get them straight from the designer. For example, even if a Funko Pop! figure is usually $13 retail, a custom Funko Pop figure can easily run for $50 or more. That’s a huge price hike, but you have to consider what you’re getting with a custom figure.
A single custom figure is painstakingly crafted by its creator. Normal figures are mass produced, so it’s easy to drive the prices down when machines are doing all the work. Meanwhile, a single custom figure can represent hours upon hours of time spent by its creator, and that’s before you factor in the cost of the materials used. Viewed from this perspective, quality custom figures absolutely are worth the price. And if you’re commissioning an artist for a specific custom figure, then that’s doubly true. You’re getting a one of a kind product, and no mass market figure can compare to that.
The second part of a custom figure’s value is whether they’ll continue to be valuable in the future. This one’s a little bit trickier to answer. See, the value of most collectibles is determined by how collectors see the item in question. In most cases, an item’s value is influenced by its historical or emotional significance in pop culture. Because custom figures are generally unofficial and niche products, they usually don’t qualify for either criteria. Even if it’s a custom figure of an iconic character, collectors would have little nostalgia for the figure itself. After all, it’d probably be the first time they’ve ever seen it.
That’s not to say a custom figure can’t become super rare and valuable. Some of the most valuable Star Wars figures are bootlegs, after all. The easiest way for a custom figure to become valuable is if its creator somehow became super famous. For instance, if you bought a custom figure from someone who went on to become the next Stan Lee, your figure could easily sell for thousands of dollars to an avid comic book fan. That said, even in this very specific scenario, you’d have to go to great lengths to prove its authenticity. We could entertain other esoteric scenarios like this, but either way, you’re betting pretty heavily against the odds from the strict perspective of “investment.”
Even if custom figures don’t become million dollar investments, you shouldn’t be deterred from getting ones you like. After all, collecting is about way more than cashing in on a mint condition collection. If you want to adorn your space with a cool looking custom figure, then by all means do so! Besides, the creator of the figure probably worked really hard on it, and it’s great to see fans supported by other fans.
In short, are custom figures valuable? Maybe. Are custom figures worth the cash? Totally.