Tag Archives: collecting

Strange Conversations at Conventions about Non-Sport Cards

GPK_8a_adambombI ran into someone I knew from way, way back at Wondercon and  got to talk to him for a couple of minutes.  He’s a non-sports card dealer, although he didn’t have a booth this year, he was just attending the show.  Many, many, many years ago, both my wife and I collected non-sports cards, back in the day of dusty bubble gum stuck in the pack and a few printed cardboard rectangles came out of a pack for a dime or a quarter.  It was a lot of fun while it lasted, at least until the industry got taken over in the 90s by companies with holograms and other gimmicks who introduced artificial rarity as a means of upping sales, pushing the price-per-pack to a couple of bucks each and, in a lot of ways, ushering in the age of the Collectible Card Game (CCG).  We talked about how many people lost their shirt in the madness of the 90s, when they were spending tons of money on cards that would ultimately be worthless.  Today, full sets of cards issued in the 90s can be had for a couple of bucks.  He said he finds it interesting that companies are trying to recapture the classic nostalgia of old cards with the release of retro sets like Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packs.

Of course, that got me thinking.  While the new cards may not be worth much, I do have a complete set of the first 15 series, plus all variations, and those are worth a decent price, if I ever decided to sell.  The first set alone, which I have in perfect condition, all variations, in both glossy and matte backs, sells for almost $500.  The price for all 15 sets is around $1300.  Add in the UK 1st series and the Giant Size cards and it’s up to $1600.  Not bad for a bunch of cardboard.

star-wars-1Or heck, how about the original Star Wars cards.  I’ve got all of those too.  They put out five different series with differently colored borders in 1977.  Each set came with 66 cards and 11 stickers, it was always the stickers that were the biggest problem to get in mint condition because kids would… well, stick them on things.  A complete set of all five series goes for over $300 today.  Of course, Topps put out multiple sets for Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi as well and for all 10 sets, which I have, you’re looking at about $600.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long until the goofy gimmick cards came along.  I remember the first set of Star Wars Galaxy cards, where it seemed that the regular cards were almost an afterthought.  You had promos and foil cards and redemption cards and hologram cards and prism cards, all of which were ridiculously rare.  Getting a full set by buying packs was virtually impossible unless you were buying cases and cases of cards, a lot of them were packed 1 to a case.  In fact, it was this kind of thing that made collecting cards no fun.  You knew you were getting screwed without lube and the only rational way to collect cards was to go buy them as complete sets, which made the hobby little more than a credit card exercise.  There was no point in hunting for cards, you just shelled out a ton of money for a complete set all at once.

So I looked around the convention at the few booths that were selling cards and realized that most of them were either selling sets from the 70s and 80s or they were selling more recent sets for a couple of bucks each.  How much money did they lose when they realized that those overpriced cases of cards, with all the hours it took to open and sort them, essentially amounted to a few dollars?  I’d be pissed!

We no longer collect cards, it was fun while it lasted but once companies got greedy, or thought that they could get greedy on the backs of collectors, the market largely fell apart.  Whereas most popular movies had a set of cards come out with it, today, I doubt that more than a handful, if that, ever do.  I don’t know that I saw any new sets, or to be honest, any non-CCG cards sold in packs at the convention.  I guess this is just another reminder of another hobby that we once had that’s gone to hell because the people involved lost sight of what made it fun in the first place.

Being a Rational Skeptic: The Hobby Edition

Planet RationalI’ve spoken at length about being a skeptic, as opposed to just being skeptical about a few sundry subjects.  We even dedicated a segment to it on our podcast, The Bitchspot Report.  I made it very clear that you can differentiate between someone who is skeptical, that applies logic and reason to one or to several areas of their lives, and someone who is a skeptic, who applies those logical rules to every aspect of their life without exception.  I definitely fall into the latter.

However, I find that most people simply cannot manage it, they cannot maintain their skepticism full time.  Hell, for a lot of people, they cannot even maintain it a small percentage of the time.  Nowhere is this more plain to me than when it comes to hobbies.  I know I’ve talked about some of these things before, but not from this particular angle, so please bear with me.

Collecting: Stamps – It really doesn’t matter what you collect, it seems, there are always complaints about how it’s produced, how much it costs, how hard it is to find, etc.  Take U.S. postage stamps for example.  Everyone always complains how many stamps are released each and every year, the USPS releases even more stamps than the year before.  In 2013, for example, they’ve already either released or announced for release in the first quarter, more than 100 face-different stamps, making 2013 almost certainly the history-leader in number of different stamps to be issued.  Why?  Certainly it isn’t for the envelope-mailing public, it is aimed specifically at the collector market and designed to bring in more revenue for the nearly bankrupt USPS.  Collectors everywhere complain long and loud about how expensive it is to collect U.S. stamps and condemn the USPS for their tactics,  yet they refuse to consider the obvious solution to the problem:  stop collecting new U.S. postage stamps!  In fact, not only do they refuse to consider it, they refuse, by and large, to even talk about the possibility.  The moment the idea even comes up, conversation virtually stops.  The very idea of not mindlessly buying everything that comes out, no matter how ugly, overpriced or overproduced it is, it’s like suggesting sawing the head off their cat.  The same person will scream about how terrible what the USPS is doing and then, in the next breath, say they’ll be in line Friday to buy a whole pile of these stamps, in every conceivable format, to stick them in an album.  Seriously?!?!?!?

Collecting: Action Figures – It’s not like  action figure collectors are any better.  The whole of the collector fanbase has been abuzz with the severe reduction in articulation in both Hasbro and Mattel figures.  Many lines are now coming with 5-points of articulation, which is utterly absurd considering at one point, some figures were coming with 30-35 points of articulation.  Lots of modern action figures are essentially lumps of poorly painted plastic that hardly do anything, they’re more like inaction figures.  The prices suck too.  The figure quality becomes cheaper, the prices become more expensive, the selection of figures becomes more limited as well as companies are taking fewer risks and over-producing the most popular characters again and again.  Add the fact that so many stores, after getting burned by the poor case packing schemes, are just not ordering much, if any, new product and the shelves are bare.  So what do action figure collectors do?  Do they rationally consider their purchases?  Of course not!  They whip out the credit card and buy everything, no matter how badly made or how expensive it happens to be.  In fact, some of them are convinced that if they only support the manufacturers who, according to them, are doing everything wrong, that maybe things will improve, so they’re buying even more things that they scream about!  How is this rational?

Pets –  Yes, I know pets really aren’t a hobby, but I see the same kind of fanatical nonsense here as well.  So many people act like their pets are really their children and treat them better than they treat themselves.  Of course, don’t dare suggest that people with a dozen parrots, who can hardly afford macaroni and cheese for themselves shouldn’t have that many birds, or that they should stop desperately looking around for more birds to adopt, or that they should stop treating their birds lavishly, they’ll scream at you and call you names.  In fact, if you don’t adopt their methods, they’ll call you names anyhow.  That’s not how rational people work, it’s how fanatics function.  If you remember, not too long ago I wrote about a bruhaha that happened on a forum where the bird crazies were criticizing the ASPCA for giving what they viewed as a bad impression of the costs of pet ownership.  While I agree there may be some bad numbers in there, they screamed because they viewed their absurd spoiling of their birds to be the norm that everyone ought to be doing.  I think it said that for a small bird, $25 a year in toys would suffice.  Oh hell no!  These people spend over $100 a month on toys!  they order raw materials online and spend all their time building toys!  They spend half their days arranging and re-arranging the toys in the cage!  They have tubs of toys that have never even been used and they’re still getting more!  They feed their birds the most expensive premium food money can buy and that’s not even good enough, they have to cook their own organic food, designed just for the birds, as a supplement.  In fact, I know of at least one person who planted a variety of fruit trees in their back yard because they didn’t trust any other source for fresh fruit without pesticides, etc.  Then, these people take their birds to the vet several times a year, just to have a battery of tests done, on the off chance that something might be wrong.  They spend thousands of dollars a year in preventative care and all they accomplish is keeping their vet in BMWs, while they drive around in beat up 20-year old cars.  And then, because that’s what they do, they expect that everyone else out there ought to do the same or they’re a bad pet owner.  It’s just ludicrous.

Gaming –  Yup, it happens here too and for a lot of the same reasons I noted above under collecting.  If you’ve ever hung out in a gaming forum, you’ll see all manner of bitching and whining about how horrible MMOs are today, how there isn’t a single game out there worth playing, that the  games are all stupid and dumbed down and the people are horrible, but these same people who complain about every aspect of gaming will advance purchase every damn new MMO that comes on the market!  Every single solitary one!  And then, they’ll sit there and complain how awful they are, while plunking down a monthly fee every month!  But don’t suggest that if they hate these games so much, they should go find something else to do.  Oh no!  They think they deserve to have the perfect game to play, even if it would be a massive financial failure in the real world.  Many of them are convinced that because they’ve been playing these games that they now hate for so many years, they are uniquely qualified and somehow deserving of being able to define what they games are and how they’re made and damn it, everyone ought to listen!

It’s not just the religious people who are fucking stupid, it’s EVERYBODY!  Is it any wonder I spend so much time looking at humanity and being frustrated?

Hobby Loyalty

Einstein InsanityEinstein InsanityI seriously don’t get the desire of hobbyists to have utter loyalty to the source of their hobbydom, even when that source is really screwing up.  I see this kind of fanatical devotion in a lot of hobbies, in fact, maybe in all hobbies, where people think they somehow owe it to companies or organizations to overlook their shortcomings, even when they have nothing but criticism for those shortcomings.

Case in point, as everyone knows, I collect stamps.  I have been highly critical of the number of stamps the United States Postal Service releases every year, it’s an absurd amount and increasing year after year, specifically to sell more stamps to collectors.  There was a time when you could buy an entire year’s output of stamps, adjusted for inflation, for a few bucks.  Today, it’s a few hundred dollars.  There’s no reason for it, other than to screw the collector.  So in 1993, I opted out.  I no longer collect new issues of U.S. stamps and have never regretted that decision.  However, holy shit, you tell most U.S. collectors that you’re not buying everything the USPS puts out and they are aghast.  How dare I not support them to my very last dollar!  In fact, when I tell people that I hardly send anything through the mails, I get criticized for sending the USPS spiraling down into bankruptcy.  Sorry, their mismanagement is not my problem and since I couldn’t care less what stamps they put out today, I really don’t care if they go out of business entirely.  In fact, I hope they do.

The same is true of action figures, which I pretty much gave up on this year.  I still keep a toe in the hobby so I know what’s going on, but likewise, there are people who think that no matter how expensive it gets, no matter how bad the quality gets, no matter how horrendous the distribution of action figures gets, we somehow owe it to Hasbro and Mattel to keep buying every crappy thing they put out, no matter how much we don’t want to.  It’s our responsibility to prop up an industry, no matter how bad it gets, because we’re fanatically devoted to getting our new plastic fix.

Another group that has this same problem are MMO gamers.  Over the years, many of them assert that the MMO industry has gone downhill, the games are simplified to the point of absurdity, they’re not fun, they’re stupid, yet the concept of not playing an MMO, even one they hate with a passion, is beyond considering.  They will pay money month after month for a game that they detest and spend all of their time sitting on a forum bitching and whining about because they cannot bring themselves to admit that they’ve outgrown the industry and they want something that so few people want, there’s no chance that a developer is ever going to make a game they’ll like.

To be honest, the more I think about it, a lot of hard-core comic book fans are the same.  They complain long and loud about how awful comics have become and how much they hate all the decisions made by comic companies.  When DC came out with their New 52, lots of people were up in arms, claiming it would ruin the industry.  However, suggest to those people that they stop buying the comics they detest and you hear cries of “heresy”!  They can’t possibly do that, how else will they get their comic fix?  They would rather pay for things they detest and then complain about it than to take a stand and vote with their wallets and just go find something different to do.

Hey, not to leave anyone out, what about music or movie fanatics?  I can’t tell you how many times I see people whining loud and long about how bad music is or how expensive it is or how horrible anything coming out of Hollywood is, but they’re the ones with terabytes of music on their MP3 players and they’re the ones standing in line all night to get into the first showing of the next movie.

Sorry, that’s not for me.  I have never been fanatical about, well, anything.  I collect because I want to collect.  I get what I want to get.  When I stop wanting to collect a particular thing, I stop.  I don’t get the jitters.  I don’t get upset.  I don’t have withdrawal symptoms.  I just stop.  It was fun while it lasted.  I will enjoy what I have and move on to something else.  I do not understand the kind of obsessive/compulsive personalities that have to get a particular thing, no matter how awful it gets.  I play games because they’re fun.  When they stop being fun, I stop playing them.  When books stop being good, I stop reading them.  When movies aren’t interesting, I stop watching them.  I don’t have any absurdly strong attachment to any particular thing, my life does not revolve around any specific action or event.  If I stop wanting to do something, I simply stop doing it.  I just don’t get people who cannot bring themselves to do the same.

Unfortunately, I see the same thing happening in the atheist community as well.  So many people bitch and whine about how much they hate Atheism+, how they wish it would just go away, yet they spend all their time following all the asshats around, following their every move and commenting on their every word, even though they know for a fact that it’s that very attention that keeps Atheism+ going.  It’s about as ridiculous as the people who hate religion, who say they wish religion would vanish, who adamantly want religion to stop impacting on their lives, then they follow the religious around like rabid lunatics, they constantly harass them on Twitter, post to religious hashtags specifically to cause an adverse reaction, then whine about how the religious are bothering them.  It really gets ridiculous.

People seem to be their own worst enemies, they don’t seem to be able to just walk away from things they hate, they don’t understand that nothing will change for the better if they keep up the status quo.  You don’t like how video games are?  Stop playing those video games.  Vote with your wallet.  You don’t like those toys or stamps or comics?  Don’t buy them!  You can’t stand being around a particular group?  Stop being around them!  I don’t think this is rocket science, it’s common sense, but unfortunately, as is all too painful these days, common sense isn’t terribly common.

End of an Era?

I’ve been collecting action figures for decades, in fact, for as long as I can remember.  I’ve never been a fanatic about anything I collect, I get what I like, I keep it pristine and I put it away.  I did that when I was 10, I do it today in my 40s.  There just has never been any other way for me.

A while back on a forum, someone started asking what people collected in 2012 and I was forced to admit nothing.  My reasons for this are twofold.  First, the one that I detailed on the forum, that the figures that are coming out today are simply not cost effective.  There’s not enough value for too much buck.  It’s not because I can’t afford it, I can afford pretty much anything, it’s just that I look at these figures and the prices they’re charging and shake my head.  It’s just not worth it.

But as I start to look at it, I realize that it’s not just the cost/benefit, but the lack of anything worthwhile.  The quality of figures has been going down for a while as the cost has been going up.  Instead of figures getting better and better, they get worse.  Worse sculpts, less articulation, worse paint jobs, etc.  The manufacturers are getting cheaper and cheaper while their products are getting more expensive all the time.

Finally, it’s hard to find anything to buy, even if I wanted to.  You get wave after wave of pretty much the same figures, peppered with a few new things, but rarely anything I’d ever want to own.  Looking at Marvel Universe, for example, they haven’t released a single new figure all year and when they finally get around to it, I want less than half of the wave.  Of those figures, yet another one is Spider-Man.  I lost count on how many Spider-Man figures I have already.  Or how many Iron Man figures.  Or how many Wolverine figures.  Every single wave seems to have one of them, or someone just as common.  It’s the same thing that eventually had me quit buying Justice League Unlimited figures from DC.  Every pack had Superman, Batman, Green Lantern or Wonder Woman.  The prices kept going up and seriously, how many of the same damn figure can you really have?  I’m even looking at the Halo line and finding the same thing.  Same characters over and over and over, very rarely anything entirely new.

As I look back at it, I realize I haven’t bought a single action figure in over to 6 months.  There just hasn’t been anything worth buying, or anything on the shelves if I want to buy.  Oh sure, I occasionally walk through a toy department and see what they have and invariably, most stores haven’t stocked a thing since Christmas.  The aisles are full of empty pegs and what they do have, I don’t want.

So I made a decision.  I actually made this decision a while back but I’ve wrestled with it for a couple of weeks now.  I’m no longer collecting action figures.  It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s not that I can’t afford it, it’s that the joy I used to get finding that hard-to-find figure in a store is just gone.  It’s not exciting.  I just don’t care.

Maybe a vacation is what I need.  Ignore the action figure market for a couple of years and hopefully the situation will improve.  Hopefully the companies will start to take pride in what they produce.  Hopefully it won’t be “let’s stick this head on that body and paint it badly and hope nobody notices”.  I notice.  I expect quality.  I expect value for my collecting dollar.  So long as I’m not getting it, they’re not getting my dollars.

It’s sad but that’s the way it’s got to be.

What A Good Idea!

Saw this floating around some of the toy forums and blogs and though it was a really good idea.  I ought to make some of these up!  It might convince some of the local retailers to actually put some product on the shelves instead of leaving the pegs bare.

Nah, that might mean they’d make some money and they can’t have that, can they?

We Don’t Owe You Jack

This happens all the time and frankly I’m sick of it.  Today, on a stamp forum, someone popped up and demanded to know how much he could sell a stamp collection that his grandfather left him.  All he wanted was a value.  He didn’t want to go research it, he wanted everyone on the forum to do all the work.  When we told him that the stamps he put up just weren’t worth much, he got pissed and stomped off.

I wish I could say this was a rare occurrence but it’s not.  It happens all the time.  People inherit a pile of old stamps and think it’s going to make them rich.  They don’t care about the stamps, they just have dollar signs in their eyes.  I’ve written about this kind of thing before and I stand by what I said before, but these people are just entitlement-happy.  They think everyone owes it to them to do all their research for them and if they get an answer they don’t like, screw you all!

What’s worse, you get some people, I suppose the accommodationists of the stamp world, who figure we ought to go along with them and put up with their abuse just because they’re new.  We should relish getting abused, just so we can get a new member, even if this member has made it clear they just don’t care about the topic, the forum or the people.  That’s like expecting someone walking into a brand new McDonalds and demanding they make him a steak, medium rare.  The restaurant can say sorry, that’s not what we do here and he’ll declare “fuck you all then!”  Should McDonalds have told him sure, we’ll go out and buy all the fixings just for you!  Of course not.  That’s a stupid idea.

The fact is, these people walk into an established community based around collecting stamps, say “hi, I don’t give a shit about anything you care about, I just want to pick your brains so I can sell this crap and make money!  Indulge me!”  Somehow, they expect this singular act of social incompetence to be embraced with open arms.  are people that stupid?  Seriously?  Unfortunately, people are that stupid, we see it every day.  It would be one thing if they’d come in, act interested, then slowly start asking questions about value.  Become part of the community, then get more information.  But that’s not how it goes, it’s a demand for immediate satisfaction and a pissed off reaction when you don’t get what you want.

The planet really needs to grow the hell up.  I, for one, am not playing along.  If you have nothing, I’m going to tell you that you have nothing.  I’m going to be honest.  If honesty hurts your feelings or destroys your illusions, too bad.  Cry me a river.  Reality is what it is.  Deal with it.

I Don’t Get Obsession

I’ve been thinking, over the past couple of days, and reading threads on obsession in hobbies and to be honest, I just can’t relate to it.  I don’t understand the feeling.  Sure, I can wrap my head around the concept, understand how and why it happens but I can’t relate to it in any way, shape or form.

I am not an addict.  Yes, I know that’s not a comfortable word for a lot of people to use, but that’s really what a lot of people who claim they simply cannot stop are.  Honestly, I don’t get obsession. I collect what I collect because I have fun doing it, not because I’ve got some strange addiction. I’ve had various collections in my life and the vast majority of which I just walked away from when they stopped being enjoyable. I sold them, gave them away, some of them I just threw away, I never got the cold sweats, I very rarely ever went back to most of them, I made a decision that some things were just not fun anymore and I just had no interest in them.

Stamps are one of the few things that I have come back to a couple of times in my life. They never really got “not fun”, I just had times where I just didn’t have the time for them so I put the albums on the shelf for a couple of years and picked them up again down the road. I never got “withdrawals” or anything like that from not collecting, I just lost interest and when I got interested again, I picked it up. I could get bored with it again sometime later and it will go back up on the shelf for a while.

I guess I just don’t understand people who claim to be obsessed with something, to the point that they seemingly have no self control. Yes, I know that most people are just exaggerating, but I’ve seen people who collect other things who have bankrupted their families in the pursuit of a “complete collection”. I just don’t get it.

Here’s how I got into collecting stamps, as I recall it.  It has, after all, been several decades.  I can’t say I remember exactly why I started doing it, but I started soaking stamps off of the mail my parents received relatively young.  It wasn’t long before they were pulling old letters from the 40s and 50s and I added those stamps to my “collection”.  They bought me two cheap stamp albums for my birthday, one for U.S. stamps and the other for worldwide.  I collected both for quite a while, but it was clear that I spent more time and effort on the U.S. stamps.  The reason wasn’t national loyalty or anything like that, it was simple availability.  I could get U.S. stamps plentifully, they came in the mail every day and most of the local stamp shops had tons of them.  Add to the fact that my U.S. album had a spot for every stamp and the worldwide album had, at best, 4-5 pages for the largest stamp-issuing countries, with very few specific spots, just lots of blank space to stick in a handful of stamps and very quickly, you had no more room to add more.  It’s therefore no surprise where I specialized and I still have many of the U.S. stamps that I collected back then in my current collection.  I haven’t got a clue what happened to my foreign collection, I’m sure it’s packed away somewhere at my parent’s house.  My original U.S. album went the way of the dodo when I upgraded to a new, much improved album more than 20 years ago.

I never had any kind of fanatical devotion to U.S. stamps, they were convenient and available and I had an album that told me what I was missing and I could fill in holes as I came across the stamps.  As I’ve come back to stamp collecting over the years, the fact that I had a ready-made collection, still with empty spots that directed me where I needed to go to finish pages, I continued that trend.  Had things been different and other stamps been more readily available, I likely would have focused on another country.

Now, however, I’ve completed a lot of my chosen country.  Between 1920 and 1993, I am essentially done, with a few exceptions here and there.  Mostly, that amounts to differing formats in the album, individual stamps vs. a block of 4 and I have one or the other but not both.  There are a couple that elude me, I have the complete Transportation definitive series, with the exception of the 10.1 cent 1880’s Oil Wagon overprint, Scott #2130a, issued in 1988.  I can’t find anyone who actually has one to sell!  I’m missing 3 airmail stamps, anyone who knows anything about U.S. airmail stamps ought to know which ones those are, they’re the expensive trio pictured to the left.  I’ll get them, they’re certainly not out of my range but they haven’t been a priority.  Another one that sort of bugs me, and it’s all my fault, is a single official stamp in the 1983-1988 series.  I have all the rest, but for some reason, I never remember to order that last one and when I do remember, I’m not doing an order and it’s pointless to buy a $1 stamp and pay shipping on it.  Someday I’ll make sure it gets ordered and finish the page.

I’ve got more holes pre-1920, getting larger as you go back, but those tend to be the more difficult, more expensive stamps.  I made the decision long, long ago that I’d collect only MNH stamps post-1900 and postally used stamps pre-1900, mostly because they’re more much more expensive pre-1900 and I didn’t have a lot of money to spend at the time.  I could replace them, but I’ve got so many used stamps pre-1900, it would be a major undertaking so I’m not going to bother, at least not at the moment.  As it stands, my collection has slowed to a crawl because there isn’t that much left to add.  That’s why I wanted to start another collection, as I mentioned in a previous post.  I decided against Australia and went instead with China, which I had been previously considering.  The reason was simple, I had come up with some criteria for selecting a country and while Australia met most of them, it failed on availability.  There were more modern used stamps than mint and virtually all of the dealers I found were located in Australia.  China, on the other hand, was exactly the opposite.  Most dealers I saw were in the U.S. and the availability was reversed, therefore I went with the one that best fit my criteria.  I may go back and pick up Australia later, it’s still a country that interests me.

I can imagine some of my fanatical collector compadres asking “why pick those if you have no personal attachment to the countries?”  Again, like the U.S., I am not emotionally dedicated to the stamps, they are something to collect and while I certainly can look at them and appreciate them artistically, where they come from really doesn’t matter to me.  My wife collects Japan because she specifically likes Japan.  I wouldn’t care if they came from Outer Mongolia so long as they met my criteria.  It’s just not why I’m collecting.

To be honest, I’m sure other collectors just don’t understand me either.  I had one person who got very rude when I said I don’t open my action figures, I collect them, catalog them and store them.  How could I possibly consider myself a collector when I don’t open them and play with them and pose them all over the house?  I’ve addressed this previously and won’t go into it again, except to say that I have a logical argument for why one form of collecting is more “valid” than the other, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.  After all, we’re all collecting to have a good time, whatever floats your boat is entirely up to you and I stand behind your particular methodology no matter what it is.  It’s your money, your property, do with it what you wish.  Just don’t pretend that you get to dictate how others act with their own property.

In the end, I suppose that everyone is different, I just see what I think is a disturbing trend toward fanaticism and obsession among some collectors and a call for such views to be considered normal.  Fanatics and the obsessed are never normal, they are never healthy in any way, shape or form.  It isn’t healthy to be addicted to anything.  We must temper our interests with reason and logic, we must be able to turn these interests off when they start to interfere with the rest of our lives.  Sure, having hobbies are fun, they’ve added a lot to my life and I plan on continuing for as long as I live when and where I can, but they can’t be the end-all-be-all of someone’s life.  If they are, they’ve stopped being hobbies and started being the focal point and that, like it or not, is unhealthy.

Let’s all try to be healthy, okay?

Collectors Getting Butthurt

It really bothers me that when people start asking the “hard questions”, so many people freak out.  As most know, we’ve been having a discussion over on an action figure forum regarding how collectors act and what makes one a collector.  I think I’ve made some very good points and I’ve had a lot of people agree with me, but there are some hard-core people who simply cannot handle having to define their terms, instead trying to make them as vague and generic and all-inclusive as possible in order to keep from hurting anyone’s feelings.  It feels a lot like the accomodationist nonsense we’ve talked about so much here, where anyone, no matter how absurd or demonstrably wrong, has to be coddled so they don’t feel bad.

We’ve pussyfooted around the question, but eventually, I had to ask outright, “What are the defining characteristics of a collector?”  That’s when all hell broke loose.  I was immediately declared boring by the people who simply didn’t want to deal with the implications of the question, probably for fear that they wouldn’t fall under the definition.  “You’re probably one of those people who has to have all the terms in their life defined!  How dull!”  However, it is an important question though, one that does need to be discussed. Continue reading Collectors Getting Butthurt

The Good Old Days

After posting that article on collecting, I got to thinking about how things used to be.  This isn’t necessarily going to be a “good old days” article no matter what the title says, so much as an article on why I do things the way I do them and my formational years as a collector.

See, back in the olden days,  before the Internet, the only way to get a lot of collectables, be it toys or comics, was to find a local store, find someone who did mail order or wait for an annual convention.  The conventions were the big deal in those days, especially if you had a massive regional convention nearby.  In my case, it was always San Diego Comicon, back in the days when it was good.  You saved up your money, you made checklists of what you wanted and you waited all year to be able to get into the dealer’s room. Continue reading The Good Old Days

Collector or Accumulator

I know it’s a matter of definition, but I consider myself a collector of various things.  I’ve collected a lot of different things over the years, starting with stamps when I was much younger, moving to action figures, gashapon, comic books, regular books, DVDs, coins, etc. over the years.  I even got involved with collecting stickers for a very short time back in the late 70s/early 80s because I knew a lot of people who did and I guess I went along with the crowd.  I’ve been very open that I have the “collector gene” and I enjoy getting a variety of objects. Continue reading Collector or Accumulator

Freaking Out the Stamp World

I just love watching people freak out over nothing.  In a recent story, Sweden announced that it’s going to stop producing stamps.  Immediately, the stamp collecting world donned sack cloth and is lamenting the end of the world.  Oh no!  The whole world is going to stop making stamps and we’ll all have nothing to collect!  The horror!  The horror!

I’ll be honest.  Who cares.  First off, from a personal standpoint, I couldn’t care less about Sweden or their stamps, so whether or not they keep putting them out is entirely irrelevant to me.  From a larger perspective though, modern stamps worldwide have been largely pointless for many years anyhow.  Many countries are doing little more than photoshopping photographs and sticking them on stamps, there’s little artistic merit to what’s come out and, as I’ve said before, lots of countries, the United States included, have been milking the collector market by producing hundreds of new stamps every year.  In 2006, for instance, the U.S. released 161 commemorative stamps for the year.  Buying that set would cost you about $200.  That’s a lot of money for a bunch of colored pieces of paper.  Jumping back 40 years to 1966, they released a grand total of 17 commemorative stamps and it costs less than $10 to buy today.

Add to that the fact that many modern stamps are just stupid and simplistic compared to the intricate engraving work on classic stamps and you shouldn’t be surprised that I’m not really all that interested in them.  Stamps used to require artistry, now they just require Photoshop.  The stamp to the left, part of the 1898 Trans-Mississippi series, painted by noted artist James McWhirter, is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful and detailed stamps in all of U.S. history.

Compare that to the stamp on the right, which could easily have been done by a 5-year old with a set of crayons and a pad of paper.  This kind of thing is commonplace, I suppose because they crank out so many stamps per year, they just don’t have much time to spend on making them look decent.

 

So beyond the fact that stamps are released in far too great quantities and they’re ugly, there’s another reason I don’t really care if stamps are going away.  The reality is, the world is changing.  Mail service just isn’t needed as much as it once was.  We’ve moved almost entirely to electronic communication and bill paying.  Sure, you’ll still need someone to move packages from one place to another, but it’s much cheaper and easier to print mailing labels and affix them to your packages than it is to try to get the right combination of denominations of stamps.  Like it or not, the world marches on and we all have to accept that.  While stamps may be fun and interesting, the reality is that they may very soon serve no useful purpose in the modern world.  So be it.  That doesn’t stop 175 years of existing postal history and millions of worldwide stamp issues already in existence, most of them more attractive and interesting than anything the USPS or most other modern post offices have put out in years.

Let them die.  I’ll be working on my collection of classics, which are wholly unaffected by the modern world.  They look better and really, that’s one of the things that keeps me interested in the hobby, not modern self-stick labels with the artistic quality of a 4-year old’s scribbles.

What Is It About Money?

I’ve noticed this for a while, but since I went back to collecting stamps, it’s become much more pronounced.  For a large segment of the collecting population, collecting is all about making money.  They want their collections not only to be worth something, but to make a profit.

Why? Continue reading What Is It About Money?