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By C.J. Stunkard
Here at figures.com, I usually offer thoughts on the state of the toy nation or provide some musings on the nature of the hobby, but today I’m looking for answers. I need some feedback on a very important question, and I think anyone who frequents this site will have a good answer:
How do you display your stuff and why do you do it that way?
That’s it. How you make it happen and what’s the method to the madness. I feel as though this is an important topic, but I have not seen it discussed in many of the forums I’ve trolled (yeah, I admit it). Collectors tend to let one another display however we wish without a lot of criticism (we save that for the companies themselves), but I am guessing that folks have favorite styles and reasons for them.
From my experience, display possibilities are endless, though I tend to see a few basic types the most. If you use one of these with specific intent or have a different method altogether, please jump into the comment section and let us know—and if possible, take a picture.
Major Display Types:
1) The Museum Exhibit
I know a fair number of collectors, and I have not seen this choice in person, outside of comic stores, though I’m certain it happens (especially with Hot Toys Collectors). The Museum Exhibit is just that: it treats the collectibles as pieces of art, usually encasing them in glass with overheads casting a beam of light onto the prized items, which are usually in a relatively static yet possibly iconic pose. This is certainly the most “hands-off” form of displaying, but the attention shown to the collectible commands a moment’s pause. The visitor/viewer is forced to think, “Given that display area, surely the collectible warrants a second glance.” (a glance which usually turns into a conversation).
2) The Line-Up
The line-up is what I have seen most typically, and I can understand why: you cannot go wrong with a classic. In the line-up, figures pose side-by-side in full view, typically with a display base or “battle stand”. Typically, the only thing obscuring any item is if the owner is a using a tiered display, on which the figures at one level block the legs of the ones on next level. The line-up is popular because it maximizes visibility at a minimal loss of space. Whereas one might be able to fit 200 clumped together figures on a given fixture, a line-up may only include 50 figures; however, each of these is in a clear line of sight from head to base. The overall display looks clean, tidy, and open. Again, it is easy to understand why this is a classic.
3) The Cluster
The cluster is different from the line up in that the figures are not in full view individually but obscure one another, in part, by virtue of their being displayed as a unit. The cluster tends to be team driven or character oriented. In the former scenario, a group of figures from a given line are displayed together to show a “group shot” similar to a comic panel or trading card. In the latter example, a given character is the focus, with different figures or interpretations of said character posed or shown in a variety of scales and variations. As each version of the character or team member is not wholly visible, the method brings more attention to the grouping as a whole rather than any individual piece, which creates a slightly more jumbled look to the display than a line-up but still maintains some level of order and aesthetic coherence.
4) The Dio
This was always my favorite as a kid, and it’s still a top contender whenever I look at available display space (and it looks about the same as when I was a child, also). The dio seeks to do more than showcase characters, it seeks to capture them in a narrative moment—whether that moment is a battle, a mission, or simply taking a breather. The dio is usually a good fit because it provides for not only the display of figures but some environment also, giving the characters context. A cluster of G.I. Joes is cool. A display of G.I. Joes fighting a battle in front of Spawn Alley—well that’s just awesome. My dad is a railroad enthusiast, so the dio display is a big one for me, but as my wife has commented on numerous occasions, dios can create a visually messy look to a display space (or maybe those are just mine).
5) Anything Goes
This method tends to be the most common method for those who simply have far too much to organize, categorize, or segregate. The anything goes display will showcase whatever is available, usually in an order of height to maximize the visibility; but to the untrained eye, it’s essentially an undisciplined cluster without theme other than “toys!” I find it difficult to pinpoint features of this method—as they really could be anything—but I’ll just say that it makes one’s display area look like rented space in a consignment shop. I love the Anthying goes display because it allows for exploration. Fellow fans can look at the seeming mountain of incoherent plastic and find your Rufio figure or that Micro Machine Tantive IV hidden in the corner. Half the fun of this display is discovery, and who doesn’t enjoy that?
Now, I realize that these categories seem narrow, but of course, any of them can be combined (and they often are): the Dio Line-Up, the Cluster Museum Exhibit, the Cluster Dio, etc. Whatever variation one chooses, each of these methods serves as a conversation piece and can help provide insight into the mind of the collector him/herself.
So all that being said, my question to you is this: which method(s) do you employ for your collection and why?
By C.J. Stunkard