When I was a child, I used to collect coins and put them in my Superman coin bank. It was primarily state quarters, which I never found all 50, and some interesting coin findings including the sacagawea coin. Along the way, like many other kids in the 90’s, I also tried to collect as many shiny or rare Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards that I could find. Some of those cards would go on to be lost in the wind, and collecting became an afterthought.
Years passed, and some things I have could be considered a collection: movies, books and video games. But none of these are specific to a franchise or genre. All of my books are varied, and not just mystery or adventure. Every movie owned comes from different times and include indie flicks. Video games stored away in boxes as I got older, and newer gen systems came out. I don’t showcase them in any fancy way. If you forced me to think of something that could be considered a “current collection”, I’d probably have to say my Harry Potter items.
What started in my childhood, chasing down newly released HP books, evolved into seeing the movies in the theaters. That turned into owning all the movies to join my books. Little trinkets that were connected to the franchise, like a golden snitch and figures, were found and added. Over a year ago, I finally had the opportunity to go to Orlando to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As much as I wanted to go totally crazy and buy everything, I simply couldn’t because of money and space. I did buy two wands, a Triwizard Cup, and candy but that’s it. I don’t have a room full of memorabilia of anything like the great Potter Collector here. . .
And that’s just his books! There’s still the clothes, the jewelry (like Ravenclaw’s diadem), statues and more in his collection. That’s true dedication and true collecting right there. And many of us know other people who are avid collector’s of something, whether it’s someone famous (like Jay Leno’s car collection) or a person we personally know. And that’s is what leads to the genesis of this post.
For as long as I’ve known my closest friends, whether 5-14+ years, some of them have become synonymous with the things they collect. One collects Star Wars merchandise, another collects Hot Wheels, and another owns numerous statues from famous video game franchises. They either showcase them on the wall or inside glass cases. This past weekend, a friend and I spent the day browsing different stores and seeing what we found. When we had lunch, we discussed life after COVID-19 and he mentioned the thought of owning his own store. It would either be a store to purchase memorabilia pertaining to sports and gaming, or a cafe-type lounge pertaining to the same themes.
Along with the talk, he showed me plenty of videos on YouTube of people showcasing their collections of giant statues. I’ve seen plenty of collections, but some of these people had huge statues that could reach the ceiling. While some may have been free to review, and then later returned, others were paid for that costed a fortune to possess. Yet in many of these videos, including the Potter Collector’s, you can see the overall happiness with their little world they created. And it got me thinking back to when I was collecting things, and whether or not I should reconsider starting it up again.
As I mentioned, I don’t really have any huge collections aside from some Harry Potter stuff. In trying to reflect on everything that I love, I can think of a few specific things that I could see myself building a collection for. It can range from anything including Batman and the Rocketeer merchandise, iconic movie props like Back to the Future‘s hoverboard or the Jumanji boardgame, or gaming franchises like Bioshock and Legend of Zelda. However, I also think about whether I should start a collection. Like many of you, 2020 has been an odd year where we spent most of our time at home. That has led lots of people to pick up new hobbies, or resume old ones, that gave them a passion to pursue during these times. This has included collecting, as some started to get into things like vintage games, cards, books and more.
As the world slowly re-opens, and more jobs and events become available, people are going to have a decision to make: should they start/resume collecting things or focus on other opportunities? Here are some ways that can help shed light on whether you, and me, should go down this venture. . .
Do Not Pass Go
The first one is an obvious one, and that has to do with finances. Let’s just assume most people reading this aren’t millionaires yet, and are making the average amount people make where you live. Even if it’s something on the cheaper side, like cards, it can quickly accrue a huge receipt as you spend more and more to build your collection. Don’t get me started on the custom made pieces some collectors go for. The statues or autographed pieces can be an entire paycheck; if a paycheck currently goes your way. I can’t stress enough that doing a collection, while not having a job, may not be the best thing to do at this time. Focus on yourself first, and if you have finances coming your way, it’s important to properly allocate it to where it best belongs.
When you have the money, and you’re debating whether to make that purchase for your set, first think about what you need in life. By that I mean things you need to survive: food, shelter, transportation and such. Is it more important to afford food for the week, or get that item that’s on sale that’d look great on your display? You might assume it’s an easy choice, but when it comes to collecting it can be hard to say no on an opportunity. How often will that item be available before another collector gets a hold of it? Will it ever be that low of a price? Think of your needs, in this context, first before investing on the collection. Of course, if there’s a family or significant other involved, then their needs also must be taken into consideration. Spending time and money on that item is not as meaningful or important as being with your child or loved one. Even if it’s something that can be passed on to them, their needs come first and they may not even be into your collection as much as you.
Understand the Implications
With collecting, it’s a sign of true appreciation and care for that certain franchise or genre. Lovers of horror films may have classic monster movie memorabilia, or a fan of historical battles might have sets of samurai swords. But that love can be blinding, and lead some to not take things into consideration. For example, a common thing forgotten is space. Collections can take up space that can quickly fill up, and lead to moving aside other stuff that perhaps shouldn’t be moved. It can also make others feel surrounded, and not in a good way when they visit. I remember one old episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, where Ray sees his brother Robert’s date eat a fly. Turns out she loves frogs, and has a huge collection of it. When Robert goes into her room, and turns on the light, he is surrounded by glass cases stacked up high and filled with croaking frogs. Instant turn-off.
Now not everyone is like that, as some may know how to stop themselves and properly set up their collections to be presentable. But for others, it can go from passion to obsession quickly. My friend who has Hot Wheels, he’s been doing that since he was much younger and it started with his dad collecting them. Think about that; generation after generation. When he went through the collection to try and document what they had, all I heard was the number of bins they had. Bins, not even boxes, but container bins. Is it hoarding? Depends on who you ask, but his house definitely still looks like a house and isn’t buried among little cars. However, we’ve seen hoarding at some point in our lives and know how it can change people as they become too attached to it.
Not only can collecting take up space, time, money and become an obsession but it may not lead to full satisfaction. Some collect, not only because they love it, but are hoping that their investment will pay off one day in the future. The issue is not every collection will increase in value as time passes; just ask beanie babies and furbies. Another common thing forgotten is that collections typically get forgotten. Sure, we pay attention and look at it or touch it at times, but more often than not the collection will just sit there. And as it grows and grows, you may find yourself going through it one day and saying “Oh yeah, I forgot I had this!”. Collections involve all of the above mentioned, and it’s important to keep that in mind and be on the lookout for it as you begin collecting or already are. For if whatever you’re collecting is not truly one of your top passions, you may feel that it’s actually weighing you down from doing other things.
Unlike life goals, dream goals pertain to things you love doing or aspire to do. You could say it’s a “bucket list” of sorts, but it doesn’t have to be just that as it can include your everyday passions. Maybe you love going to concerts, and it’s your goal to go to that big music festival in a couple of months. Or perhaps you’re a part of a sports league that plays every season, and you workout to stay in shape for it. Those examples take time, money and dedication to accomplish; just like collecting. There’s only enough space in your life to balance it all.
Another big one, for me at least, is traveling. If you’re striving to make traveling/road tripping a huge priority, then one must understand the necessary things that go into it. The planning, the purchasing of tickets or resources, taking time off to do it and more. It will be difficult to build a collection and be able to travel often. Before starting a collection, first think of all of your other passions. Think long and hard about it, and then try to prioritize them in order of importance to you. Is it more important to you to have that historical letter from 1834, or to be able to go scuba diving in the Maldives this winter? Should you order the last custom made movie statue or go to that unique week-long museum experience? Whatever your passion may be, if it’s more important to you than collecting, then pursue that instead. Otherwise, you may initially be happy you bought that piece until later when you wished you invested in what you truly loved more.
We all have a love for something, whether it’s food or music or sports, and we try to show our love in some way. Collecting isn’t for everyone, but it’s a way to show our passion for something and feel happy/proud for it. But before diving in, or going any deeper, do be aware of what it means to collect something and what it will cost beyond just finances. Time and people also play part in this, as this venture will affect both of them. It can either unite people over a common interest (which is the goal), or alienate one as they get swallowed up in their obsession (not the goal). Perhaps most importantly, keep in mind your passions and if there’s something else you’d prefer to do instead of collecting things then do that. Because the last thing you want to do is miss an opportunity to do what you really love over something you weren’t 100% committed to in the first place. Let me know your thoughts about collecting, and if you have a collection going or a passion you’re pursuing I’d love to hear how that is going as well!