There are many ways to collect minifigs:
You can buy the Collectable Minifigure packs each time Lego release a new series, which is currently at a rate of about 2 a year. There is no end in sight to these releases and the price has gone up over time, but these pack include some of the most unique and well-designed fun figures.
You can buy actual Lego sets, build the sets and then take the figures into your collection (to be displayed in a beautiful front opening Lego minifig display frame) this is arguably the most expensive way to collect figures, but also seems like a natural way. Most of us probably began this way, buying Lego sets that we love and then cherishing the figures as much if not more than the sets.
You can buy individual figures online from resellers, either on eBay (pricey) or Bricklink (best for price) this is slightly cheaper that buying sets as you are only paying for the figures, but it is also a very expensive way of collecting, especially if people know how difficult to find a certain figure can be.
The last (that I know of) and best way (in my opinion) is to buy a job lot of Lego off the internet (usually eBay although Facebook groups or gumtree (here in the UK) also sell them) and search through the pile of Lego you’ve bought for any minifigs. This is an expensive way as you are buying lots of unwanted Lego, and can be hit and miss because the sort of people who don’t know the true value of Lego per KG (so you get a good price) are the sort of the people that will mix up Mega blocks and other non-Lego building blocks in with the job lot.
However, I have spent many happy hours digging through a pile of Lego to find the head or torso of some oft overlooked minifig. My collection centres around the CMF and the specific licensed figs that I have bought, but I have a lot of basic old Figs. Some of the really old ones, not the Lego family figs that I don’t consider to be true Minifigs, but the old ones with no arms – just shoulder mouldings, and some of the plain city figs that were around in the early 1980’s
It was this technique that brought me two of my better figures. I had just bought a job lot of E-bay that included lots of Star Wars sets (the listing claimed it included a Millennium Falcon – it didn’t) but also, it turned out, some Ferrari sets. Lego began the Ferrari license back in 2004 with the release of some pretty choice figures and has consistently released sets based on this famous license.
As I was digging through the pile of Lego, I found a torso with a sticker on, I found a few in fact. All red, all with Ferrari stickers on the front and the back too. I found a whole bunch of them. As any AFOL will know stickers are a pain, they are difficult to put on straight and they can peel off over time. Whomever owned this Lego before me must have been a Ferrari fan. I continued looking and found some with heads, mainly faces with just the eyes showing as they are wearing racing balaclavas. Then I found a special head. A flesh coloured head. It seemed a bit odd with black hair that only covered part of the face and a lopsided smile. I turned to my trusty minifig catalogue and discovered, much to my amazement and joy, that this was a Michael Schumacher Minifig. I looked again at the torsos I had found and sure enough one of them had a name on next to a little German flag. I saw most of the stickered torsos were just the Ferrari emblem and some advertising for Shell and Vodaphone, but another one of them had a Brazil flag on and the name R.Barrichello, another unique fig! I picked up my catalogue again and discovered that Barrichello has a different head to Schumacher, a unique head too.
Now the hunt was one. I ploughed through the pile of Lego with renewed vigour. I knew (or I believed) that in this pile should be the head of Rubens, a wonderful addition to my fledgling collection.
After searching through what felt like hundreds of heads, mostly yellow in colour I spotted a touch of flesh colour. The technique when looking through a pile of Lego is a balance of care and speed, if I disturbed the pile, I would lose the head under an avalanche of pieces, but if I could get my fingers on it quickly enough, I could probably extract it successfully. I have had many years of practice at this and it paid off, I managed to pull it out. I wasn’t sure if the head was right, it looked a bit like the Schumacher one, but the hair was lighter and the smile straighter. I checked the catalogue and rejoiced. I had two unique figures.
Later I realised the figs have special helmets and I only found one with the correct pattern, but that is a small addition to purchase on bricklink, the bigger sticking point has always been the slightly skewed angle at which the stickers have been placed, something I will have to come to terms with. It was one of those moments that I really enjoyed as a collector and I still hope to find a reasonably priced job lot to pore through on the case to find another treasure (hopefully my wife reads this and gets the hint).
In that pile I also found some interesting red technic pieces. When I looked them up, I found they belonged to 8386-1 (Ferrari F1 racer 1:10) this was a find, a huge technic formula 1 race-car. I spent a while digging out all the pieces and then searched online the few that were missing so I could build the car. I may be a minifig collector, but I still love building the sets.