Once upon a time when I was a wee little nerd nugget, I never owned a collector's case for any of my action figure lines. I was too cheap to spend allowance money, chore money or waste space on Christmas list to ask for one. I always thought they were awesome, but I had more pressing matters like getting that new Batmobile....because last years model didn't match the new movie version. I kept them in shoe boxes, tupperware or (my favorite) a tacklebox I got from my dad one year when he noticed I was having issues storing my figures. I put stickers on the outside of it and painted the whole thing black, but it wasn't the same.
Honestly I was a young adult before I owned a collector case from any line. At a convention I bought a beat up C3PO case in a junk bin for $5. After the first one I was hooked. I loved the fact I could store figures in their own separate cubby and all the artwork and detail. Soon after C3PO I had the Darth Vader case, then the lazer rifle, the bandoleer strap and then I set my sights on getting the ones from all the other line of toys I owned.
I give you the top 5 action figure cases of all time, in no particular order.
(epic box art)
(shockingly, one that's still in one piece)
Battle Bones goes down as my most favorite case I wish I still had. Bought at a collectibles store in the late 90's for what back then seemed like a small fortune ($20) considering most of my He-Man collection came out of .50 cent bins at the flea market and clearance racks at Lionel Playworld. For the longest time it sat on a very prestigious spot atop the highest shelf in my room until one day I decided to bring it down for a closer inspection. As I brought it down from Mt Olympus, the whole body snapped in half. I think it was the first time I swore aloud in my mother's house while she was home.
(the kid in the commercial does Skeletor's voice pretty well)
It was this great bone color which made it seem like it was more than a figure carrier but some sort of museum piece. Battle Bones had places among the ribs to snap figures into place (12) and the mouth of the mighty beast opened so you could place all of your figure accessories there for safe keeping. The whole thing was topped off with a handle so a child could triumphantly tote along his small army of Masters of the Universe figures. Needless to say it was only plastic and I have older toy collector friends who had the pleasure of owning one shortly after it was made and they said it was the most brittle thing they'd even seen made for a toy line.
Star Wars Lazer Rifle case
Now this was an amazing figure case. It was both a role play toy and a place to stash your figures in between play. Kenner had a way of making some really nice cases that were just as much fun to display on their own as they were useful in cleaning up and storing my collection. The figural bust cases of Darth and C-3PO were just as much fun to hang up as decoration like the vinyl cases were There was such amazing artwork on each case that I couldn't just stow them away under my bed. On a side note, there was always talk of a third case (Storm Trooper or Snow Trooper) but I cannot find the artwork I once saw to confirm or deny it's existence, even in prototype form.
(most of the vinyl cases had two releases, one with movie clips and one like this with mostly artist drawings)
(loved the JCP catalog)
The rifle case was sturdy like the Darth and C-3PO cases and big enough that a child could have used it to pretend they were fighting the Empire along side the other rebel troopers. It held over a dozen figures with the basic cubby system and black plastic bar across the middle from the previous cases listed. Also it had a storage compartment to place any weapons you were afraid of loosing. The rifle had a scope on the top of it that actually had a cross hairs in it and it doubled as a handle to carry the case.
Super Powers Comic Book case
(if you didn't know Superman's origin by this point, you should probably stick with the Star Wars figures)
(if you look closely you can see Batman's parents die everytime you play with your toys)
The Super Powers case was misleading at first glance. Just about every figure line in the 80's and early 90's had its own vinyl carrying cases but this was more than that. The outside of the case looked like a book and looked totally wicked awesome on a shelf with the spine reading "VOL 1". Inside the case was rigid plastic and nothing like the competition's cases where they gave you flimsy plastic trays to fit your figures into. On the inside front and back flaps were single column origin stories of your favorite DC Super Heroes. The case fit about 10 figures and had two storage drawers for accessories.
GI JOE APC
GI JOE gave kids of the 1980's an army they could easily store under their bed. Now, you could just buy a basic vinyl case from Hasbro or you could buy the APC. The APC was a troop transport vehicle that doubled as a carrying case. This six wheeled behemoth could carry up to 20 Joes under it's camouflage canopy to raid the Terrordrome or you could secure the figures in their restraints and pull out the handle (concealed as the back bumper) and carry the troops into battle next door.
M.U.S.C.L.E. Battlin' Belt
(M.U.S.C.L.E. men garbage can grab bag)
(there ain't enough room for the two of us)
When Mattel brought the Kinnikuman line to America and renamed it M.U.S.C.L.E., the only thing they kept about the line of these kinkeshi figurines was that they were wrestlers. Mattel decided that the original figure case, a Ramen Man figurine with a huge "Mardi Gras" head, was just a little impractical and wouldn't have the selling power on American shelves. So Mattel created a wearable championship title belt complete with compartments for you figures (only 10 out of the over 200 figures) and a ring (albeit very small) in the center of the belt. Also the belt was the M.U.S.C.L.E. championship belt, which means to wear it you had to have defeated humanoid walruses, giants hands and living buildings.