Being a Collector

Collectors are everywhere you go and everyone knows someone who collects, even if the collector is not public about it.  From Stamps, Baseball cards, DVDs, money to toy and statues, we’re surrounded in a world filled with so many collectable items that people just walk by daily not realizing how important it is to someone else in the world. Though, are collectors someone who should be pointed at for being different, obsessive, selfish or worse?  I don’t think anyone should be out casted by hobbies that do not hurt other people.

Everyone who knows me knows that I am and always have been a collector.  I collect toys, comics, coins, and so much more.  The collection I’m best known for is my Ninja Turtle collection. That was not the beginning for me, as my first collection goes all the way back to when I was a small child and collected Care Bears in the early 1980′s.  I still hold all of my collections from my childhood, as they mean more to me than items that sit in boxes or on a shelf.  My collections started as only toys and sticker albums.  A few trading card collections joined in as the TV series or movies I liked released them.  Though it wasn’t about keeping them in mint condition to sell or make money off of, but to enjoy and love the items that came into my life; and just one item can just bring a flood of memories that connects to that item.  Collecting, to me, is about the memories and knowledge that comes with the collection.

Other collectors I’ve met have different reasons behind their collections.  Some collectors are just looking for hobbies, others wanting to be the best in one thing, and even a few are collecting because they think it makes them a better fan than others.  But whatever the reason, it takes a lot of work to build up a collection.

While it’s an amazing sight to see what collectors go through to obtain their items, they also go through rough times from others. Overall, the general public looks down upon them and tries to make collectors look like freaks.  A big example of this is what VH1 did with the TV series “Totally Obsessed.”  They came to collectors across the United States and spent days filming them saying how this is going to be a serious interview. Instead, they tricked people with the way the questions were posed and editing of the videos, showing small clips where they get the collector to say or do stuff to make them look crazy.  VH1 isn’t the only ones who do this to collectors, but that is a strong and well known example.  When I saw the first episode, I was in shock at how these other collectors were being on screen. Then I saw what they did to my story and realized the editing that was done.

Ridicule is something collectors either face straight on or hide from as so many closet fans and collectors out there who feel they have to hide it.  Lately, more people are coming forward about their collections thanks to the internet. There are many areas that collectors can to meet up and share information about their collections.  If someone collects stamps and another person collects toys, they have away to connect just on the level of understanding each other in trying to find those rare items that would make their collections feel complete.  It’s great to see so many people coming together over things they enjoy.

The hard part about being a collector is other fans of the area in which you collect.  You can be judged you by the size of your collection as some people feel that if you have a small collection you’re not a big fan, others feel that if you have a huge collection you’re selfish and a hoarder.  I’ve even heard such things like “The only reason this fan wants new stuff is for more stuff to buy”.  When you have a large collection, rumors and jealousy come into play from others.  It’s hard to know who your friends are and who is talking behind your back.  You see a new light to the people around you, even if you’re not out there to brag or show off, people treat you like you are.

I’ve seen people disappear from the fandom online just because they were sick of how they were treated by fellow fans.  It’s sad that jealousy can win these fights. But really, is there a winner?  The people with the collections hide away and no one gets to see what they have, and the people who are jealous remain jealous of others because they still don’t have the collection those other people have.  It’s a totally loose-loose situation.  Though it’s what has happened throughout the years with so many of the different fandom that I know.

Most people know me for only being in the Ninja Turtle fandom, as it’s what I’m best known, though I have friends and family members who took part in other fandom.  I watched one person who’s a really big fan of something, a wonderful collection, and an inspiration to me with how I went about collecting. She’s a very kind and giving soul who fell out of a fandom because of people hurting her.  She originally joined all the mailing lists and chat rooms related to her fandom, though within 2 years she stopped going to any of those areas.  She was hurt because people just went around to try and hurt her.  She never did any harm, though the hate was seen in that fandom from the beginning.  This is not a fandom I took part in, though I am also a fan of what she likes. I saw how she was treated and knew as a collector I would not be welcomed in that fandom either.

I became a collector out of enjoying certain media and feeling like I got part of it around me.  This started at a young age and kept going, though I didn’t realize I was a collector until the 1990′s, when my Turtle collection started to get more to it than toys.  Comics, posters, clothes, animation cels, original comic art, scripts, and props all started to be available to me and I am not one to turn down these wonderful offers when they’re within reach.  Of course I made sure that the choices I made would never break me; everything that I have paid for was carefully planned out as I always wanted to be good with my bills and living expenses.  Even when getting loans for stuff, I made sure the loans took care of more than just the things I was buying and made sure that the payments fit into my monthly plans for bills.  There has never been any time where my bills were late because of my collection.

My goal for my collection is simple, I want to share it.  Not share to where everyone can come over and borrow what I have, but share by having it up so people can see it.  I would love to open a full scale Ninja Turtle Museum at some point in the future with a little bit of everything for the fans to enjoy.  Since I got this goal, I have started to try and collect a little bit more than I originally did because I want to make sure there’s enough in this collection to fill a museum or two before I get the museum idea going.

Another part of my reasons behind collecting is that I want to support the Turtles as much as I can.  I’ve always felt that supply and demand is a big thing in every fandom out there.  Though if there’s no demand then supply will start to fall short.  A great example of this with Ninja Turtles is the DVD sales.  Here in the United States our sales were low, so we didn’t get box sets.  Though other countries where they bought the DVDs as they came out did get the box sets for the 4kids series.  I did my part in buying them, as I even bought doubles of some DVDs and gave them out to friends to try and help encourage the sales of these.  I personally would love to see the Turtles here for many more generations to come, as I feel they got so much to offer the fans young and old.  So if collecting the items as they come out will help out with sales, even a little bit, than I will keep collecting.

While collecting is fun and neat to think of all the cool things around you, it is also hard. It can cost lots of money; it puts you in spots where you have jealous people being angry with you when you never done anything to harm them; and it can open you up to being poked fun at by people.  You can even be chased out of the fandom because of your collection. Does having a collection make you a better fan?  No, it just means that you decided to do this with your money when other fans have different goals.  It does not make you any better or worse than anyone else.  It does make you a target for fans that are looking for stuff to be upset about.

To those out there who say cruel things like “They’re only doing this to get more stuff to buy” stop and think about what you’re saying for a moment.  Most collectors are going after things that have been out for YEARS, including myself.  Meaning for them to have every item already created for that fandom, they would have to have a lot of money, space, and resources to get the stuff.  When going over what came out of Ninja Turtles back in the 1990′s alone, I have 99% of the toys. Though I don’t have a lot of the other stuff made during that time.  So if someone like me, just wanted more stuff to buy, we would have to own everything we see go up on eBay.  While I do not, I still drool over items that came out in the 1980′s.

To those out there who say we’re selfish for buying so much of the collection up.  Do you feel guilty when you buy stuff for your collection?  Do you feel it’s wrong to buy a DVD if it’s the last one on the shelf, because someone else may want that same DVD? These items are made to be sold; they’re made to be enjoyed by fans; they’re made to be out there for everyone.  Selfish means the person is not willing to share and every collector I know enjoys sharing their collection.  Though, when they share it, people say that they’re bragging about their collection.  So if collectors do seem selfish, it’s because we don’t want to be frowned upon as bragging.  I personally try to be very sharing with my collection.  If I find things cheap I buy up a lot of that item so that I can give them out to people I know who would really enjoy them.  I put my collection on display so people can see it and dream of opening a museum some day so everyone can enjoy it.

If you’re looking for a hobby right now and looking up stuff about collecting to see if it’s something you want to get into, here’s my advice.  Don’t do it unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of money and have the space to put your collection.  Don’t do it unless it’s something you really want to do with all your heart, unless you’re strong enough to ignore the attacks and cruel sayings of the fans without going into hiding, unless you are totally caught up with your bills and never fell behind before, unless you have a lot of space you don’t know what to do with.  There is no glory to being a collector for with every bit of happiness you get there’s going to be just as much hardship.  Ask yourself, do you really want to go through it? If yes, than by all means I wish you the best in whatever you’re collecting!

For me, I fell into collecting without trying.  I was already an outcast in my school and home town, learned to ignore the attacks, learned to read people to see who true friends really are.  I still have a dream that I will be able share this collection with millions and bring smiles to thousands.

I am a collector and proud of it.   This does not make me a bigger or lesser fan than any other fan out there. My favorite part of my collection cannot be put on display in a display case or on a shelf. It’s the memories that I’ve collected over the years, which is something that every fan has.  That is the true collection that counts for the fandom.


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