As many of you know, I collect and still play with action figures.
Short answer: I'm a geek who refuses to put his inner-child in a corner.
I've just always gotten a simple pleasure out of buying them and I always get a joy out of having various heroes and villains duking it out.
At one point in my life, believe it or not, I hardly focused on the play value.
As a child, I was never to picky about action figures. I loved the cheap discount/dollar store figures just as much as the major ones available at K-B, Toys R Us, Walmart, Target, etc. They were just fun.
Skip ahead a few years and I became a "collector". Therefore, I paid close attention to detail, articulation, accessories, dates of release for a certain series, etc. And toy shopping wasn't just "Hey, this guy looks super cool" like it was when I was younger. It was like I was looking for the right car. Oh sure, a car would be just fine but it needs to be the perfect car for me. I was buying particular figures for particular reasons.
When I'd go to any comic shop that sold old toys, I'd get a second chance to get a figure I missed out on when I was younger. Upon buying a few of them, I noticed the quality wasn't as great as a lot of stuff and sometimes the weapons or action features were pretty cheesy. But I realized something they had that was the reason I loved them when I was younger: they had a fun factor.
I'd been too busy treating action figures like works of art that I forgot the purpose of them. Now, some action figures I have are from collector oriented lines. That doesn't stop me from playing with them from time-to-time. Sure I spent about fifteen bucks on Captain Atom and all he's really meant for is to stand on my shelf and look stoic. But hey, he looks like the type who could fight a giant generic robot. Plus with one leg bent upward, he gets that cool hovering pose. And that look on his face just says "Yeah, I could've gone home with a collector who'd keep me in the box, but Tanner gives me the oppurunity to be the butt-kicking hero I was made to be. That Dollar General brand robot never stood a chance."
Now I split it up. Sometimes I'll hunt for specific figures to add to the collection when I got to a comic book store. But if I'm at Walmart, Target, or Toys R Us, I look for toys I think will just be fun and provide my inner-child with a good, action-packed playtime. 'Action Figure Collector Tanner' may want to get that epically posed Captain America that stands there, but 'Forever-Ten-Years-Old Tanner' thinks the CORPS! figures will make for a super cool military themed adventure in the sandbox.
But no matter what, I try to find the fun factor in any action figure I buy now. If it doesn't have a high play value, I think of cool ways to display it. Just so long as I find the fun in it.
After all, isn't that the point of toys?