I had a pleasant surprise at this past Free Comic Book Day. One of our readers recognized me from my column, and we chatted a bit about toys. As you know I love action figures, and G.I. Joe has been a big part of my life.
Our reader told me his son has a become a huge fan of G.I. Joe and he watches the series from the 80’s every day on Teletoon Retro. He also told me he would like to buy some G.I. Joe figures for his son, but noticed it is tough to find action figures at regular retail stores.
Then he asked the penultimate question, where can someone buy action figures?
This is a tough question indeed. If I was living in the United States, I could fire off a quick answer and say “go to Walmart/Target/Kohls/blah/blah/blah”. But living in Canada, we have to suffer with poorly stocked toy shelves, and action figure waves being released months after they have already hit American retail.
So being clever, resourceful Canadians, we have to find our toys someplace else.
If you are looking for action figures, your first (and easiest) step is to locate your local big box retailer. There are many times that Walmart or Toys R Us has a dismal display of toy offerings, but there is that odd chance you will head in and find a new treasure that has just wound up on a display peg. Don’t get yourself down. On most occasions you will walk away empty handed, but the victory is sweet when you find a hard to find toy when you weren’t expecting it.
Another great place to find toys are toys shows. I have written about toy shows before, and it is the best place to find everything you are looking for under one roof. In many cases you can dictate the price you want to pay too. Some of the retailers who show up at toy shows purchase their product direct from the manufacturer. This is a huge benefit to you because you can pick up new figures months before they hit the store shelves.
If you are interested in attending a future toy show (in Ontario) visit OntarioToyShows.com. They have a complete list of all the toy shows that are happening in Ontario.
Since this whole conversation got started at a comic book shop, you have to remember comic book shops sell action figures too. If your local comic book shop doesn’t carry action figures, they may be able to order them for you. All you have to do is ask.
Last but not least, you are not alone out there. There are thousands of other toy collector’s out there, and use other people’s knowledge. How can you tap into that knowledge? Forums!
Join an online forum. There are countless action figure forums out there and they will give you all the information you need. On the forum, you can meet other collector’s like yourself, and it is nice to be part of a community. My favourite part of a forum are the threads that involve “toy sightings”. That is your quickest heads up to find out what is being released at which store, in each region of the country. My favourite is actionfigurenews.ca. There are more out there, you can find one to suit your needs with a quick internet search.
I hope these tips help you find the action figures you are looking for.
I’ve made friends with employees at Walmart and ToysrUs. If they aren’t cherry pickin something for themselves, I can usually get something I’m looking for.
That is always a good tip. I like it when people who work at the toy aisles of your local big box store are toy fans. They can understand what you are going through, when you are trying to buy toys. There are many times we have been told by the staff that “there’s a case in the back, and if you happen to come in on this day, you might find it on the shelf”. Those tips are very valuable.
Now not every toy aisle stock person is a toy fan, and sometimes they don’t understand the adult collector. But the ones who do understand make it very easy to complete your collection.