🦄 A little bit of positivity for everyone :D
Much of this is subject to >opinions, take with a grain of salt. If you wish to see what kind of standard to expect from a manufacturer, then search for them on MFC and look at pictures of some of their most recent figures.
Standard statues and poseable toys
They primarily release anime and Vocaloid figures, but occasionally branch off into video games and some other esoteric copyrights (Yu-gi-oh dragons, Aniki Billy Herrington ;_;). Good quality. GSC itself makes mostly statues and Nendoroids. They are involved with the manufacture and distribution of several smaller companies under their umbrella, such as Max Factory (more below), Gift, >FREEing, Penguin Parade, Phat, Wing, and ThreeA that have their own specialty such as 1/4 or more erotic figures.
The most popular manufacturer of /a/’s figures currently. Great quality almost all of the time, though they don’t make as many things as GSC. Their Altair line contains male figures; robot and armored girls can be found in the AlMecha line. Prices have arguably gotten ridiculously high for relatively simple figures, such as their new Sinon scale.
One of the companies under GSC’s umbrella. Best known for their figmas, but they also make a few statues. Ero figures are released under the Native brand are normally made to order and exclusively sold on their online shop, so you may need to use a forwarder/proxy/re-seller if they do not ship to you. Very good quality.
Usually nice. The Excellent Model line is the highest quality. The G.E.M. line contains mostly male figures. Beware the days when they put Portrait of One Piece figures online. Sites will usually crash due to all the traffic. The Alpha x Omega brand is a collaboration between MegaHouse and Alter.
Figure quality is generally quite nice, although they’re not especially exciting. Shining World figures are on the large end of the 1/8 scale. Koto also makes anime-style figures of Western properties. They have a US branch, so if you don’t mind waiting a few months, buying Koto products from some US-based stores can be very cheap (see Figure Haven). This is because they localize the price to where the Yen-USD rate is essentially 100-1. This will then also save you on shipping.
Get your Gendums and Kamen Riders here. Lines include Figuarts, D-arts, MonsterArts, Robot Damashii, Soul of Chogokin, Chibi-arts, 12” Perfect Model, and various model kits. Their smaller figures (1/12 scale or smaller, trading) are pretty bad (glossy, pallid skin). Bluefin is the US importer for some of their products.
Primarily known for their dolls, but they also release top quality garage kits. Their Moekore line is decent. The prepainted versions of their garage kits, usually 1/4 are very nice but will rape your wallet. Volks USA
Mostly known for their Beach Queens swimsuit figure line, which are 1/10 scale and not super fancy, but they’re getting better (along with an increasing price tag). Larger statues are fine.
Touhous and now just about any series willing to sell out for cheap galore. Mostly sculpted by i-con and suffer from same face syndrome. The photos of the prototypes do not reflect the final result which is often flawed in details and paint, as well as a really irregular QC. The company is dead.
Lots of nice ero figures, but the time between prototype and release tends to be pretty long (2+ years).
Decent manufacturer that likes to make lewd figures.
Buyfags probably know Kaiyodo for their Revoltech line.
Manufacturer of video games and the Busou Shinki girls.
Mainly exclusives for Hobby Japan, ranges from Average to Awesome.
They haven't put out many figures yet, but some of those that are out are very good.
They mostly make girls in swimsuits or lingerie in a very wide variety of scales. A lot of their faces have a distinct style to them and they have made several figures with a wet look, which some people like and others do not.
Creates retail PVC versions of popular garage kits such as those from the hit sculptor @frenchdoll1. They're essentially the remains of Arcadia's pvc figure production with the same ownership as Alter. Almost all their sculpts come from very highly regarded garage kit circles.
Generally decent quality for the price. Have had major production issues in the past with their Yoshino scale and more recently the packaging of their Cocoa scale.
Popular for their production of plush characters. They make soft Touhou girls.
A manufacturer that uses GSC as a distributor. Makes 1/7 and 1/8 sculpts of characters from a wide variety of franchises. Filed for bankruptcy on August 5th 2020.
An offshoot of GSC, started by a couple of their sculptors who were initially contracted to do Aniplex-exclusive meguca. Since then they've started doing other exclusive for other production companies. You will likely have to use a forwarder or store that deals in exclusives to obtain their items.
A recent company with few released figures, which are currently rather low quality due to the poor paintjob and lackluster poses. Their figures are also very highly priced for their scale and quality. Wait until the figure is released to get a complete idea of what you will be buying.
- B'full (also known as Pulchra, FOTS Japan, Insight, Apricot Blossom, FigureX)
A merger of all the very worst figure manufacturers. Very poor quality figures that bow under their own weight, and in some cases, leak plasticizer from their feet. Terrible packaging. Overpriced. Should be avoided at all costs.
Generally low quality and overpriced.
Previously a maker of trading figures, began making more scales in 2019. Their output is generally of low quality and with poor paint jobs for the price you pay. Avoid.
For what they are, the companies that make these aren’t bad and the quality is going up these days. What else would you expect for figures that are roughly worth around 200 yen to 1800 yen?
Several lines in addition to their video games. The DX figures are usually the cheapest in price and quality. The Super Quality (SQ) figures are a big step up, in the 1/8 scale range, not many figures in this line yet though. Ichiban Kuji and Ichiban Kuji Premium are usually the best quality Banpresto offers and can only be won in Japan through lotteries. The premium figures can go for a lot on the secondary market, but they tend to be quite large, about 1/7-1/6 scale. A prizes are often the most sought after, though it varies between sets. The Double Chance prizes you may see sometimes are extremely expensive. The chance of winning an A prize is something like 2-4%. A prize ticket holders are allowed to draw again. From there, it’s another 2-4% chance of hitting the jackpot and winning the Double Chance prizes.
Most people probably know them for their video games, but they also make a few prize figures, their Super Premium (SPM) line are a step above their previous EX figure lines, though their larger prizes will skimp on QC and paint details.
Actually, they’re an arcade game company owned by Square Enix but they also make prize figures under their own name. Their Artist Masterpiece line uses hidden tricks to lower costs while still offering impressive figure designs, usually by overusing flowing or billowing dresses made out of a single continuous block of molded PVC, so they don't actually have to model the body underneath, and then splitting the figure at the waist to reduce the size of the final packaging.
Their figures can be hit or miss but they do a surprisingly decent job with trading figures, noodle stoppers and non-figure items like plush toys or keychains. Recently, they have expanded into the middle and high end of the figure market with 1/7 and 1/4 scales, with all the growing pains that come with it. They have a habit of asking unreasonable prices for mediocre, simple designs and in some cases, botching launches with figures damaged through inadequate packaging or fragile design elements being damaged by customers during assembly.
Obviously there are a ton more. Ask /a/ for opinions.