Collector’s Spotlight: Action Figures

November 8, 2013


After a bit of a summer break, I’m delighted to continue the Collector’s Spotlight series, where I interview people about their interesting, unusual or unique collections. After Russell and his ‘brooch of the day’ collection and Jake’s amazing bones, please meet Sebastian – known to many online as ‘MuseumsHeld’ – and his incredible collection of action figures!

action figures he-man skeletor

Tell us a bit about yourself.

But of course! My name is Sebastian Hartmann, I’m 33 years old, and live and work in beautiful Hamburg in Germany, though I only moved here 6 months ago. Before that I was in Düsseldorf and Bochum. I’m a child of the “Ruhrpott” (Ed: a nickname for the Ruhr region). My work is an important part of my life. I’m a social media manager at an agency for digital communication, and beyond that also have a strong online presence. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs…the complete set. Much of what I do revolves around Street Art and the topic of museums and social media, but also around my passion for collecting.

action figures jaws

What do you collect?

One of my collection interests, which I have been following for over 15 years, is action figures. There is a strong focus on He-Man and Marshall Bravestarr, but also figures from films, Star Wars and robots.

action figures he-man warrior

Since when have you been collecting?

I think it started, when I was about 16 years old. In my childhood I had a few action figures – but never as many as I would have liked. That all changed, when I discovered some action figures at a flea market in the 90s.

action figures robots

How did your collection start?

At the aforementioned flea market, I discovered a couple of Star Wars figures, which I’d loved as a kid and really wanted to have (but never got). For a couple of Marks (Ed: former German currency), I of course bought them straight away. The same thing happened when, shortly after, I discovered some He-Man figures in almost perfect condition at a flea market, and for just a few Marks was able to take them home with me, together with all their weapons. The first Marshall Bravestarr figures came along a bit later, but I was delighted, as I’d never been able to get any figures from that series as a child (too expensive). Suddenly I could just buy them for very little money. Well, and that’s how my “dilemma” started :D

action figures he-man

Where do you keep your collection?

Collecting always requires space. Action figures especially require a lot of space, and the more you collect, the more difficult it becomes to display them adequately. For many years I had Ikea shelves, in which I lined them up. At the height of my collecting, I had three “Billy” shelves set up. After I sold a part of my collection, to concentrate on just a few series (as I warmed more and more to the subject , I’d started acquiring other figures and series at flea markets and on eBay), I bought myself a special cabinet with a glass door, where I could display the action figures to their best advantage. Recently, my Marshall Bravestarr figures have been on tour in the exhibition “Viel mehr als Plastik” (Much more than Plastic), but they’re looking forward to being back home soon ;)

action figures Lego minis

Do you use your collection?

No. Just now and then the figures need to get a good dusting.

action figures he-man enemies

What was the most recent addition to your collection?

There’s not really any specific figure. Every now and then I’ve acquired new figures, for example as birthday presents or a bargain at a flea market or on eBay, that I’ve been really pleased about. Particularly where there a certain characters missing from a series, you search for them more intensely. There are some Holy Grails, but their market value is a good few hundred Euros, which I don’t really want to spend.

action figures he-man monsters

How big is your collection and is it still growing?

Currently I have around 500 figures. Earlier on, I used to buy more, these days I’m a bit more reserved (partly due to the space issues). Sometimes I’ll buy something because it relates to something pertinent. For example, on the release of “300” I bought myself a King Leonidas figure, and some time after that “Machete”, after the film of the same name. The same goes for the figures from “Planet of the Apes”. Currently I’m on the lookout for a “LOST” figure set, and Stuntman Mike from “Death Proof”. I’m waiting for a bargain ;)

action figures planet apes machete

Do any of the pieces in your collection have interesting stories associated with them?

I still remember roughly where I got each figure from. My brother recently gave me Optimus Prime, from Transformers in the 80s, after he discovered it in the attic. In Maastricht, my girlfriend bought me a robot that I thought was totally brilliant. And one Christmas, my then girlfriend got me the complete set of figures from the first Fantastic Four film. These situations always transport you back a little to your childhood and you automatically connect them with fond memories.

action figures fantastic four

What is your favourite piece in your collection?

Probably the first two Star Wars figures from all that time ago that I still have – an Ewok, amongst other things. But I really don’t want to highlight any of them because each figure is special in its own way.

(All photographs by Sebastian Hartmann)


Thank you so much to Sebastian for sharing his collection! If you want to ask Sebastian more questions about his collection, you can find him on Twitter under @MuseumsHeld or connect with him via And if you have an interesting, unusual or unique collection you’d like featured on Museum Diary, please get in touch!


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    […] A friend of mine, Sebastian Hartmann (you may remember him from his action figure collection in Collector’s Spotlight), last month asked people to contribute stories towards his blog parade* ‘Daily […]

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