Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Archive - PSA: How to Store Action Figures Like a Boss


(Edit: This needed to be re-posted.  You can never be too informed!)

I received a shipment from one of my favorite companies today.  No, not BBTS (but they're one of my favorite places to get shipments from, too).  It's the company I order action figure storage supplies from.  So I figured this would be a good opportunity to drop some knowledge and do a PSA.  Ready?  I'm going to teach you how to not ruin your action figures by storing them.  I'm going to teach you how to store action figures like a pro.  Like a boss.




If you're like me, you have a lot of action figures.  I mean a LOT of action figures.  It would be awesome if we could just have them all displayed on shelves at home all the time, but that's rarely practical.  Especially for those of us who value also having girlfriends/wives/significant others and/or kids.  When you've been in the action figure collecting game for as long as some of us, there comes a time where you have to start thinking about storage.

Believe it or not, there IS a wrong way to store our plastic men.  I learned this first hand a few years ago.  Many people, including myself, may assume that storing action figures in plastic ziploc-type bags is a good idea.  And it is.  As long as you don't use the vast majority of bags out there.

The vast majority of plastic zip-bags, especially those purchased in the grocery store, Target, Walmart, whatever, are not meant for long term storage.  The plastic these bags are made from is acidic.  For storing a sandwich in your fridge, this isn't a problem.  For storing an action figure and it's accessories for short periods of time, it's also not a problem.  But when you use these bags to store figures for years, like many do (and I used to), the acid in the plastic will eventually damage and destroy the paint and eventually the plastic of the figure itself.

About three years ago, I was going through bins of older Star Wars figures (POTF2 - POTJ era), deciding what I wanted to part with to thin out my collection.  I started un-bagging the figures to take photos, and discovered that many of them felt sticky.  The plastic had started to decompose thanks to the acid in the bags.  I had a couple hundred figures that were effectively destroyed thanks to this.  This event sent me on a quest, to discover a safer way to store plastic.



I found a company called GTZip, a wholesaler of storage bags in various shapes, sizes and materials. One of their lines of bags, the Ultra Clear line, are made of a material called polypropylene.  Polypropylene is an acid-free, archival-quality plastic, used by museums and other institutions to protect and store materials that should not be allowed to wear and tear.

GTZip offers their Ultra Clear bags in a variety of sizes, at affordable wholesale pricing (though the smallest quantity you can order of any size is 1,000 pieces).  I find that for the vast majority of my 3 3/4" figures, the 3" x 5" bags fit nicely, and allow plenty of room for accessories to be stored in the bag as well.  For some beefier figures, like Marvel Universe Thor, a 4" x 6" bad works better.  And for really beefy figures, like Hulk, you'll want to use a 5" x 7".  For Marvel Legends, or other 6" scale figure lines, you'll want to go with at least a 5" x 8".


I've been using these bags for a few years now, and have not had a single figure start to decompose on me.  These acid-free bags will protect your figures for years and years.  I've ordered from GTZip a few times now, and their service is always great.  Since they're here in California with me, I usually get my bags the day after I order them.


The 3" x 5" will hold a Zombie Viper and his accessories.
Or Renegades Storm Shadow...
...and his many, many weapons.

Once you've got your individual figure storage needs sorted out, what do you do with all those bagged figures?  I like to keep mine in 15-18 quart sized bins, which are easily found at Target or other department stores.  I organize my figures by line, series, etc, but organization is entirely up to you.  The surface that touches the figures directly (the bags) is the most important, but a few other points to remember:  Don't store your figures in extreme heat or cold, or extreme humidity.  I prefer to store mine in my home, but if you must store them in a garage, keep them out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.  Heat, cold, humidity, and ultra-violet light will all damage plastic over time (this is why so many white plastic figures turn yellow over time).


So there you go.   You now know how to store your toys properly.  The relatively small cost of buying a thousand (or several) polypropylene bags is nothing compared to the potential cost of replacing an entire collection when it degrades over time.

You're welcome.

-Zak.  I'm a real doctor.  From America.









5 comments:

  1. Excellent advice. The only thing that I would add would be to put the figure's accessories in a separate smaller bag [then place] inside the larger bag with this figure. This will prevent any potential paint rub transfer from weapons/accessories to figure.

    I was not aware of the GTZip bags though, so now I have to replace all my old bags with these!

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    1. Placing the accessorries in a separate bag isn't bad advice either. Though personally I haven't had an issue with paint rub with them in the same bags as the figures. With these being acid-free bags, the decomposition process should be significantly stifled, so I would expect that paint rub would only occur if significant force were applied to the accessorries and figures in the bag. But one can never be too careful, so I fully support it.

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  2. Are polyethylene bags ok to use? A lot of the same size 2 mil bags on Amazon are made of polyethylene and I was curious. I'm currently using sandwich bags and found this article through a random Google search about figure bags, so thanks for the advice!

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    1. As long as the polythylene is acid-free, you should be good. That's the key thing to look for when bag shopping. Any material that's acid-free will be much gentler on your plastic than acidic plastic.

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  3. I found some acid free bags at Hobby Lobby for keeping photos "museum quality". They are not ziplock, just a resealable tape type stuff. But they are cheap and do work!

    And as a side note, I hope to find a wife that will put up with or like my collection. I hate the thought of storing it all when I get married, glass displays (for the good stuff) look so nice! And if she collects shoes, purses, etc. then we would be even. ;)

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