Anime Figures: Why So Expensive?

Here’s why anime figures are so expensive and whether they are worth it:

Anime figures can get pricey because they usually have limited production runs, very high spikes in demand, and considerable production costs—especially for high-quality figures.

In terms of monetary value, they usually are not worth the price as most figures will depreciate over time.

So if you want to learn all about what exactly makes anime figures expensive and if they are worth the money, then this article is for you.

Let’s get right into it!

Anime Figures: Why So Expensive? (Everything to Know)

Why Are Anime Figures So Expensive? (4 Things)

We’ll talk about whether or not the figures are worth it in a little while.

First, let’s get into the cost.

Why are they so expensive?

#1 The Cost of Anime Figures

Hang on. There’s an elephant in the room.

Are anime figures actually all that expensive?

It really depends on what kinds of figures you want and how much money you consider to be a lot.

For someone who has absolutely no interest in anime, $10 is probably too much to spend on a figure.

For someone who loves anime and maybe even makes a living off of it, it might make sense to spend hundreds of dollars on a figure.

On top of that, you can Google anime figures, and you’ll see a wide range of prices off the bat.

Right now, I’m looking at four different Demon Slayer figures that popped up on the first page of my search.

The cheapest is priced at $15.90 (all prices are going to be in USD for simplicity).

The most expensive on the page is $914.99. That’s a pretty big range.

So, the first thing I’ll say is that anime figures aren’t always expensive.

If you want to get something simple that you like, you can find a lot of affordable options.

But, anime figures easily get very expensive. Unless you’re a billionaire, $900 for a single anime figure is probably a large price tag.

With that said, let’s get into the why of it all.

When it comes to figures that are expensive, there are some identifiable reasons behind the price.

#2 Limited Production

One of the biggest reasons for anime figure prices is limited production runs.

The majority of figures that you might find out in the ether are not currently in production.

This is because figure production cycles are usually intended to coincide with anime studio production runs.

Using Demon Slayer as an example, the anime isn’t currently releasing episodes, so you see a lot fewer people currently making Demon Slayer figures.

This holds true across the industry (with some very notable exceptions). 

If we remember introductory economics, limited supplies often correlate with higher prices. 

The primary reason that production cycles are so limited for anime figures is that the manufacturers want to try to match demand (and we’ll talk about those cycles next).

Ultimately, this strategy reduces the total number of figures available.

Additionally, it’s very likely that you could want a figure that is not in production.

That means that you’re going to have to buy from someone other than an original supplier, and there are often markups when you go that route. 

Just for comparison, you can still buy Yugioh cards directly from Konami.

They usually cost less than buying individual cards from the local card shop.

The same kind of thing is happening with anime figures that are out of production.

#3 Rapid Spikes in Demand

On top of the limited supply, anime figures often see very rapid spikes and declines in demand.

Do you remember how just a few years ago everyone was talking about Demon Slayer all the time?

When was the last time it came up in conversation?

That’s normal for even the most popular anime these days.

It’s partially because the perpetual anime release schedule is largely a thing of the past.

Only a handful of intellectual properties are still doing that.

For most shows, a season comes out, and then there’s a long period of downtime while the studio works on the next season.

Anime that isn’t currently being released tends to lose popularity, and that is reflected in figure prices.

But, a lot of anime come back for another season.

The Demon Slayer train and entertainment district season fully reignited interest in the anime, and figure prices shot up during the release schedule.

Here’s the long story short.

If an anime figure is on your mind, it’s likely that it’s because the anime is currently very popular.

It’s on everyone else’s mind too, and that means that demand is high.

So, you have low supply and high demand. Prices go up.

If you shop for figures when demand is low, you might find better prices.

#4 Craftsmanship

The last major contributor to figure prices is craftsmanship.

Now, you can absolutely find fairly cheap, mass-produced figures that don’t cost very much.

I’ve already established that.

But as a collector and possibly avid fan of anime, you might be after the good stuff.

You might want the one-of-a-kind, handcrafted figure commissioned by a beloved artist.

That’s an extreme version, but it paints the picture.

As the quality of a figure goes up, the price goes up with it.

Some of this has to do with material costs.

A lot of it has to do with labor.

It costs a lot more money to handcraft an anime figure than it does to run a mass production run on some simple plastic chibi dolls.

So, when you go after craftsmanship, you pay for it.

Are Anime Figures Worth It? (3 Parts)

Now that we’ve established why figures are so expensive (at least some of the time), we can get to the secondary question.

Are they worth it?

There are a couple of ways to look at that question, so I’m going to break the answer up into a few parts.

First, we’ll look at the monetary value of the figures.

Are they sound investments that retain value or even appreciate?

In short, they usually are not.

But, I’ll get more into the details to explain that.

There’s also a question of whether or not specific circumstances can change the monetary value of a figure, and as it turns out, that can and does happen.

If you’re deeply connected to the anime community, especially in a professional capacity, then that might make a difference.

Lastly, we have to consider personal value.

Is it worth it to you to pay those extra dollars for a special piece that reminds you of one of your favorite moments in all of anime?

That’s a more interesting question, so we’ll explore it too.

#1 Pure Monetary Value

Let’s talk money.

If you buy an anime figure, will it appreciate?

In most cases, no.

More often than not, anime figures lose value over time as the anime becomes less popular.

There are very few anime that have become more popular over long periods of time (yes One Piece, you’re a major exception).

Because of that, demand for figures usually falls in the long run, and that lowers the value.

Some anime become all-time classics.

Naruto has been over for a long time, but you can find plenty of quality Naruto figures that have been appreciated.

You can try to contribute some of that to the Boruto run, but in my opinion, it has more to do with the classic status of the original Naruto series (and Shippuden, if you want to consider them separately).

A similar thing can be said for the combined Dragonball series.

But outside of these exceptions, anime figures are a losing prospect in terms of dollar values.

Go ahead and look up the value of your Eren Yeager figure.

It’s probably worth less than when you bought it, and we can repeat this for a lot of different intellectual properties.

You went ahead and bought a special edition two-sword Kirito figure? Yeah, you lost money on that one.

Let me try to make this perfectly clear.

There are exceptions to the rule, but in general, you lose money on anime figures.

#2 Professional Connection to Anime

All of that said, it’s entirely possible that you, the figure owner, are actively adding value to your figure.

Now, for most of us, this won’t prove true, but I want to take a minute to talk about this powerful exception.

Are you one of the biggest YouTubers in the anime world?

Are you a famous cosplayer?

Do you work tirelessly to translate everyone’s favorite series into the language they love?

There are a lot of ways that people can be professionally attached to anime, even if they aren’t on the original production crew.

If that’s true for you, then it’s possible that your anime figures actually do gain value, almost regardless of what kind of figure it is.

Let’s look at an extreme example.

Imagine you have a pair of Jordans that are worth $300.

Now, imagine that you have a pair of shoes that were actually worn by Michael Jordan while he played in the NBA.

Those shoes are worth a lot more.

The same idea is in effect with anime professionals (although very few of them are going to be able to reasonably compare themselves to Michael Jordan).

Still, if you’ve had enough of an impact on the fanbase or community, it can make your personal figures worth more.

#3 Personal Value

Lastly, we come to personal value.

This is based on what the figure means to you, and we can’t put a price on it.

I could launch into an endless lecture about doing what you love.

Or, I could go the other way and talk about being responsible with your money.

Let’s keep it simple instead.

When it comes to how much the figure is really worth, that’s up to you.

Most of us who buy the figures do it because we connected very strongly with the character, the anime, or a special moment in the anime.

It means something personal, and the figure is a way to stop and remember that connection from time to time.

In that case, as long as you really can afford the figure, then of course it’s worth it.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.