"Figurines" does not seem an inherently negative description, so unless it was being said with a specifically negative connotation, I'd not take issue with it. I wouldn't use it myself, as for some reason in my mind "figurines" aren't poseable (or, for that matter, transformable), but I would not take issue with someone else using the term.
I had an interesting experience myself not long ago, I suppose, concerning a reaction not to the individual figures in it, but to my collection as a whole.
About a month ago, my girlfriend of a few years and I finally started living together in a shiny new apartment. When, once we were all mostly unpacked and settled, her folks came to visit, they seemed somewhat impressed by some of the things I had on display. In reference to my collection, one of them commented that it looks like a museum. My girlfriend's mother also practically squeed in delight when she saw all of my Doctor Who DVDs... Many of which I had loaned her in the past, but I suppose it is different seeing them all together like that.
Anyway, I shall admit I had been a tiny bit worried what they might think when they saw all of my Transformers... They had to know it was a bit of a hobby of mine, as I'd occasionally brought the odd one with me to fiddle with when visiting their daughter at their house. (Heck, I brought Masterpiece Megatron with me the weekend of their other daughter's wedding, as I couldn't resist the thought of getting a photo of me holding him while wearing a tux, ha ha.) But much like the Doctor Who DVD's, seeing everything on display is much different then seeing one or two odd pieces. So, while I didn't expect anything mean spirited as they are rather nice people, I was pleased by the "museum" description, and they generally seemed to like the apartment overall.
If you're interested in seeing how I have some of my stuff displayed, I shared some of it over here on my website
. And also, how could I mention it above without sharing these pics?
Bowties are cool.