Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Collector, Hoarder or Stuck in Childhood?

Today's guest post is from friend-of-the-podcast, Jeff Jobb.  Jeff lives in Canada and is an avid sci-fi and Champ car racing fan, and is passionate about collecting.  In his post below, Jeff shares what got him starting in the collecting world, the motivation behind it, the appeal it holds for him and others, his views on the collecting community, and why a man in his 40s would want so many toys.

When Jen asked me to be a guest blogger on the Anomaly blog, I was excited to say the least. But then it hit me, what do I write about? I have a passion for a lot of things in the genre and a long history being a fan of Star Wars and Star Trek, but what should I write about? I went back and forth on it for a few weeks, but in the end, I thought I would write about what keeps me drawn to the genre the most: Collecting.

I feel like a bit of an Anomaly in that I am a man in my early 40s that has a fascination with toys and action figures. I look at my nephew who is 12, still a kid, and he moved past toys a long time back. But here I am, years past my own childhood, still rooted in toys. So I thought it would make a good blog to talk about a few reasons why a person might collect toys and collectibles and the appeal of it.

My introduction to this whole genre was like a lot of others from my generation, and that was Star Wars. When it came out in 1977, it really did change my life. I recall seeing the movie for the first time and being blown away by it, never having seen anything like it before. All I could think of for quite some time was Star Wars. When I look back to my childhood, I really only have a few vague recollections of my life before Star Wars, but a lot after Star Wars. Star Wars led to Star Trek when I was a bit older, and into other spaceship sci-fi such as Battlestar Galactica. I am a fan of a lot of genre shows, but my strongest ties are always towards the spaceship/starship based shows and movies.

When I was a kid, I was immediately excited when I saw that they had come out with Star Wars toys. They monopolized many birthday and Christmas lists for years to come. But, my family was not wealthy - my parents were starting out with 3 kids, with only one parent working. So that meant that there was not a lot of money to go around. We were not poor, but definitely had to live on a budget; Some of the luxuries that others had, we did not. So for me, a lot of those wants and wishes on my lists were not possible to fill. I did get some Star Wars figures, and had quite a few over the years, but had to be content with a Landspeeder and the Creature Cantina for larger toys. My Han and Chewie had to make due with traveling around in a black Tonka van instead of the sweet ride in the Millennium Falcon.

I think that might be where my love affair with toys started. When I was a kid growing up in the 70s and early 80s, we did not have DVDs, Blu-Rays and streaming media that allowed us to see all the movies over and over. For years, my connection to the Star Wars movies was through the toys. I would reenact scenes from the movies with the figures, and also make up my own. Later on, things like VHS and Beta-Max came out, but still the Star Wars movies were not widely available on them for some time. So they toys and my imagination had to do. It has led me to speculate a bit if that might be the reason that toys do not seem as popular with kids these days - as the movies are much more accessible, and they can relive them practically whenever they want.

After going through my high school and college years and getting my first job, I started getting back into collecting. At the time, I figured that maybe I was making up for not having these toys as a child, and now that I had some money of my own, I could get the things I wanted as a child. My family and friends thought I was a bit strange to be wanting toys and, to be honest, I felt a bit awkward about it myself. But it has been nearly 20 years now, and even though my tastes have changed a bit, I am still at it.

I have thought about why people collect. I think maybe the main reason is that collectors have nostalgia for what they collect. It might bring them back to a time when they were kids, or even just a thoughts and feelings about the movie or series. Also, the thrill of the hunt is a reason to collect. I look back to when I started collecting and remember all the toy runs I would go on. They were a lot of fun, to travel around town to different stores, looking for that elusive, hard-to-find figure. I guess another thing is that some of the pieces are just really cool and look great, and everyone likes to have nice things around them.

At times I struggle with collecting, in how I view it. Am I really just a hoarder with nicer stuff? Why do I have some many nice things that are not necessities in life, but others in this world do not even have a roof over their head and a steady meal? I get feelings of guilt from time to time about collecting, or where I might be in life if I did not spend the money on these items.

But, I found that there are other fun elements of collecting that I never really thought would exist. Over the years, I have found that collecting is quite a social hobby. You would think that a person would be locked away down in their basement, in a solitary pursuit of the next find. But I have met a lot of people through the hobby that I might never have. In the past, I would bump into people on toy runs and then get to know others in the collecting community. The internet and forums bring people together, and they help each other out in finding some of the toys and collectibles. In the past I have acquired things through trading with others, and it turned out to be a lot of fun.

Also, as I have gotten older, my collecting tastes have changed, where I have sold off parts of my collection. I usually sell at a toy show each year, and I think I take as much pleasure selling some of the things I have collected over the years as I do in actually owning them. Maybe it is the thrill of the hunt in finding a piece that can excite, and then finding that person who might value it more than I do and selling it to them.

I will be back from time to time to talk about some different collectibles that I have or other thoughts about the genre. I would like to thank Jen and Angela for giving me a chance to be a guest blogger on the Anomaly Blog.

Jeff Jobb
Anomalous Guest Author
What's on Jeff's Mind? / @JediJeff
JediJeff's Basement
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1 comment:

Tiffany AKA Amazon626 said...

I was born in '87 and around that time the nintendo entertainment system had just been released. I don't remember ever living a life without video games or vhs. When nintendo 64 came out you can bet as tight as I know now that money really was for us (I had no idea we were poor) my mom splurged and bought us one, brand new with Super Mario 64. We were the envy of all our friends who hadn't gotten one that year.

I've always had a strange attachment to toys which I've wondered lately might have something to do with my Aspie tendencies. I've never been diagnosed as Aspie but I've wondered for several years if I am. When I was younger I would pick out a very specific toy and I would start to feel as though that toy was my toy and picked me just as much as I picked it and even though there were 3 other perfectly identical toys on the shelf, no, this one was mine. I didn't want a different one. I didn't care if this one had a crunched corner of the box or anything. This one was mine and I didn't want a different one. That continued for years, well into my teenage years and even to this day I find myself doing the same thing when I pick out things for my son. I don't think I've ever really said to anyone that I do that but I think that's why I have a hard time throwing away things, especially toys.

I keep hoping I have a little girl so I can justify keeping my certified dolls. I got very upset when my son threw Old Bear who had been my childhood friend. And it makes me endlessly happy when my son says "I love you" and hugs his stuffies for no obvious reason other than I think I did a job well done in picking the perfect one. But then I think he'd be just as happy with any old one. I'm a bit odd... :-)

Anyway, I enjoyed the post all the same.