OPINION: You Might Have A Problem Collecting Toys If...
Six Warning Signs To Help Get Your Hobby Under Control...
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By C.J. Stunkard
Hobbies can get out of control. Don’t believe me? Visit the internet; it’ll prove it. Collecting can turn to hoarding before we can wrap our minds around it, but I think that some tell-tale signs will warn us in advance.
And just so we’re clear, I’m not judging. I have been guilty of letting my hobby get troublesome (my wife will attest to this). You, too, might have a problem collecting toys if...
1) Your collection has outgrown your home.
Most of us simply buy more than we can use, enjoy, or appreciate. You can own 50,000 LEGO bricks and have a 10’ by 10’ layout of the Battle of Hoth, and people will love it - it’s true. However, if people come to your house, and they are literally uncomfortable in it because of the sheer volume of your toy hobby, you may have lost control over it (or you need to get new friends and family, but that’s harder to do and never as rewarding). Signs of this issue may include:
• Folks compare your collection to a store inventory.
• You rent a storage unit for nothing but toys and possibly exercise equipment (as well as old National Geographic magazines).
• You refer to your Mixed Media Statues and Sideshow Premium Format figures as your “kids”, and you have more “kids” than the Duggars.
2) You’re buying irresponsibly.
Most of us have a budget, and those who don’t have at least a sense of their general financial situation (ie – If I make X, and my bills are Y, then my spending cash is X-Y). Sometimes, however, we lose sight of what’s important. If you are married or living with someone with whom you share funds, collecting can get you into trouble, esp. if you have not allocated hobby-money or set some boundaries. I knew this guy who had the same name and social security number as me who went buck wild one year at BBTS’ clearance because “The prices were just too good”, but he didn’t tell his wife because he was sure she wouldn’t approve, despite his contention that he NEEDED more figures from the 30th anniversary Star Wars line. Look, if you are buying so much that you have to hide it, it’s an issue; frankly, if you are buying at all and you have to hide it, it’s an issue—and a telltale sign that something, either in your hobby OR your relationship needs to be addressed. Need some examples:
• You never have money to cover tip at restaurants, but you always have money for a blind-boxed Walking Dead or Street Fighter vinyl figure.
• You finally received your HOT TOYS, LIMITED EDITION THE DARK KNIGHT FIGURE of WHOMEVER, but you did not pay your electric bill.
• You spent more money on yourself than your significant other at Christmas.
3) You tend to buy multiples... of everything.
Now, I’m not referring to buying dupes for re-sale; that doesn’t mean you’re out of control, just a scalper. And I’m not attacking the idea of army-building (that’s part of the hobby), but when you find that new figure on the peg, and you are just buying without asking yourself if you have it or need it... well, that might be a sign of an unhealthy impulse. Want to see if you've gone hoarding:
• You own more than 25 of any single figure (and yes, that includes Vader’s 501st, Saruman’s Uruk-Hai’s, or The Chitauri).
• You don’t collect “Cobra troopers”, you collect “Cobra legions”.
• You have more Iron Man figures than Shane Black has armors.
4) You are buying stuff on clearance, just because it’s on clearance.
There is a reason every retailer seemed to have the re-launched Thundercats on clearance—the market didn’t exist for it in the produced quantities. Just because it’s 70% should not bring you into its market. Trust me on this: you will buy a metric ton of plastic crap you never really wanted, don’t know why you have it, and will never miss once you sell it. And you’ll find yourself guilty of 1, 2, and 3, on this list with nothing to show for it but regret. So just don’t…and if you already do, stop.
• You own the entire 2013 run of Star Wars Angry Bird collectibles, even though you’ve never played Angry Birds.
• You really didn’t care about the Mattel Man of Steel toy launch, until it was 50% off, then you had to have Kal-El in Kryptonian Armor, solar suit, super suit, deep space suit, and warrior suit. (and what was up with the complete LACK of Clark in civilian garb in the Man of Steel line….he was a bearded civilian for like 20 minutes of the movie!)
• You don’t know who Max Steel is, but you have two versions of him plus his motorcycle.
5) You NEED stuff in a series, even if you don’t want it.
This is a fun one. If you become frustrated every time you try to find something, organize your boxes, or even clean your current displays—chances are you have an inventory issue. There is no point having so much stuff that it confounds and frustrates you. That’s a good sign that maybe you can get rid of some of it. As someone who “purges” their collection regularly, I can honestly say that it’s much better not having a collectible, than having so many you cannot enjoy them.
• Every time you sort your Trek merchandise, the inevitable outcome is THIS.
• You hated The New Adventures of He-man with a passion... yet Mattel convinced you to buy all the characters once they appeared in MOTU Classics
• You constantly complain about the money you waste on repaint double-dip releases of characters you don’t want, but of whom you own 6 versions.
6) You’re a jerk.
When people become specialists, they tend to also become arrogant. It happens to the best of folks, but if you are starting to correct others about the names of the robots that make Devastator or how to pronounce "Neon Genesis Evangelion", you’ve lost it. Really.
• You swear when anyone calls one of your figures by the wrong title, like calling Jango Fett, “Blue Boba Fett” (which, let’s be honest, he is).
• You refer to anyone with a single Master Chief figure as a ”noob” since you have an entire rainbow coalition of spartan soldiers on your shelf (also, you say the word, “noob”)
• You tell people that liked the Watchmen movie that they are stupid, because we all know that the book is better (true, it is; but the movie is a tolerable Cliff’s Notes version of it).
Let’s face it: the last thing you want is to be one of THOSE people, about whom everyone is always whispering (unless, of course, they are talking about how awesome your vintage Voltron collection is; if so, then carry on). "
By C.J. Stunkard