There seems to be no end to how much anime merchandise is available out there. Pins, file folders, figurines, t-shirts, plush toys, and phone cases are just a few of the most popular things that otaku love to buy and collect from all their favourite shows. In Japan especially, there has been an increasing trend in a relatively new type of merchandise - acrylic figures. Have you ever seen them before?
If you’re wondering what an acrylic figure is exactly, or just wondering why they’ve become so popular, you’ve come to the right place. We are going to talk about the rise in acrylic figures as a popular purchase for otaku, and how the merchandising world is rising to the challenge of catering to this new trend. By the end, you may be convinced you want to start collecting acrylic figures yourself!
What’s an “Acrylic” Figure?
So what exactly is an acrylic figure? Basically, it’s a miniature standee of an anime character. They’re 2D and printed on plastic and usually come with a stand that allows the figure to be displayed. The colours and art style vary, but usually look like they’re taken right from a screenshot of that character in the anime. There’s a lot of variation available, too, with different poses, outfits, and more being produced for the most popular characters. Lately, acrylic figures have been available for just about any recent anime and can be purchased in Japan anywhere that anime merchandise is available for sale.
Acrylic figures vary in size, but usually are about 15cm (6in) or less in height, and very thin. The outline around the art itself is usually clear, especially when the figure comes with a 2D background to complete the display. They’re very lightweight, and difficult to break - though you should avoid scratching the back of them, which is often unfinished, so it’s easy to remove the image if you’re not careful.
But while that may explain exactly what an acrylic figure is, it doesn’t explain why they’ve become so popular in the past few years in Japan. Keep reading to find out more!
What Are the Benefits?
3D figures have always held a special place in the otaku merchandise world, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. But acrylic figures have been gaining popularity all the same for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they’re a lot more affordable for a figure that still looks great. Full-size anime figures can easily cost over $100USD, even in Japan. And if you settle for a smaller 3D figure, there’s a high chance it will be in a cuter, “chibi” art style that may not be what you’re looking for. Meanwhile, most acrylic figures cost less than $20USD, with many closer to $10USD. They come in both chibi and normal art styles, too! So they’re a lot more budget-friendly.
Another selling point for acrylic figures is that they take up significantly less storage space compared to 3D figures. They can be stored laying flat, so it’s easy to have a lot of them kept in a box or a drawer when you don’t need them. When you do display them, they only take up a few centimetres of shelf space for their stand. Between being more compact and more affordable, acrylic figures give otaku a chance to own more characters than ever before! Do you want the entire cast of your favourite anime? No problem. Just want your favourite character in a number of poses or special outfits? Acrylic figures have you covered!
While not everyone may be convinced that acrylic figures are the way to go, you still have to admit that they look good. Many come with backgrounds as well to add something more to your display, and there’s plenty of limited edition ones that are for sale at collaboration events like art shows and cafes. Plus, this summer Japan found an all new way to make owning an acrylic figure fun. There’s now a mobile phone attachment for sale that has a clip meant for hold an acrylic figure on the end in front of your mobile’s camera. That way, you can take photos of your favourite anime character anywhere that you travel, or even as part of a selfie! And with how easy it is to put an acrylic figure flat in your bag, they make great travel companions. Let’s see your 3D figure do that!
Whether or not acrylic figures will be a lasting part of otaku merchandise or will prove to be nothing but a trend is yet to be seen. For now, though, it looks like they’re here to stay. And if you’re a fan of newer anime, you’re likely to run into acrylic figures as a common piece of available merchandise. Now that you know more about what they are and the positive things about owning them, we hope at least you can understand them a bit better. It’s only a matter of time before you encounter them if you haven’t already!
Well, how do you feel about acrylic figures? Do you already have any? Are you interested in getting them now, or are you the complete opposite and going to avoid them? Would you be interested in getting the selfie stick attachment to make better use of them? Let us know how you feel in the comments!