Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why do adults collect toys? Also a BIG thank you for the 15,000,000 (15 million) page views so far

A BIG Thank You to everyone who has visited and contributed in one way or another to my toy blog TOY HAVEN :) It has officially crossed the 15,000,000 (15 million) page views mark and with all your continued support, I hope to see the numbers continue to grow. It's even more bizarre when my Google+ profile says I've had 372,165,702 views (as at the time of this posting) since I don't quite know how the numbers come about! When I started out in July 2007, I never imagined that this toy blog would ever reach this milestone and now that it has, I only have everyone to thank for it. Guess it's the appropriate time to do some soul searching and ask the question "Why do we still collect toys?" (especially the adults among us haha)

Well, according to wiki: It has been speculated that the widespread appeal of collecting (in general) is connected to the hunting and gathering that was once necessary for human survival. For some people, collecting things may be a symbolic way of asserting power over them.

The hobby of collecting includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloging, displaying, storing, and maintaining whatever items are of interest to the individual collector. The scope of collecting is unlimited: "If something exists, somebody somewhere collects them." That is true even for toys as they come in all forms, shapes and sizes.

Some collectors are generalists with very broad criteria for inclusion, while others focus on a subtopic within their area of interest. Some collectors accumulate arbitrarily many objects that meet the thematic and quality requirements of their collection, others — called completists — aim to acquire all items in a well-defined set that can in principle be completed, and others seek a limited number of items per category (e.g. one representative item per year of manufacture or place of purchase). The monetary value of objects is important to some collectors but irrelevant to others. Some collectors maintain objects in pristine condition, while others use the items they collect, and still others collect items that once belonged to famous people.

Scroll down to see the rest of the pictures.
Click on them for bigger and better views.

Collecting is for some people a childhood hobby, but for others a lifelong pursuit or one that begins in adulthood. Collectors who begin early in life often modify their aims when they get older. Some novice collectors start purchasing items that appeal to them then slowly work at learning how to build a collection, while others prefer to develop some background in the field before starting to buy items.

In his June 18 post titled "Why Adults Are Into Toy Collecting? by Steve Grayson" (full article HERE), Steve did a very comprehensive coverage on why adults (both males and females) collect toys. It makes for a most interesting read, so much so that I decided to share some of Steve's points here on my toy blog as well.

In the post, he lists down nine possible reasons why adults collect toys based on people he talked to:
1. They did not have too much toys when they were growing up.
2. They miss their childhood.
3. They are huge fans of a movie, comics, cartoon or video game.
4. A way to avoid bad habits or spending money on useless things.
5. They feel younger.
6. They admire arts particularly sculptures.
7. They enjoy articulation.
8. They enjoy taking pictures of toys.
9. For fun.

I can certainly identify with a lot of the reasons listed. As to why I myself collect toys, you can read my answers posted HERE

Steve also goes on to promote the benefits of toy collecting:
1. It develops your resourcefulness.
2. You learn to be patient when it comes to budgeting.
3. An easier way to reward yourself.
4. It brings life to your movie or game imaginations.
5. It develops your judgment when it comes to sculpting and articulations.
6. You meet new friends of the same passion.
7. You can relate well with younger people like your children.
8. Not bad for your health unless you chew them.
9. It can boost your mood level when you look at your toy shelves.
10. You develop your sense of organizing and how to utilize small room spaces.
11. You can teach your children to cherish their toys at early age.

According to wiki: Maintaining a collection can be a relaxing activity that counteracts the stress of life, while providing a purposeful pursuit which prevents boredom. The hobby can lead to social connections between people with similar interests.

Steve reminds us that Toy collecting has also its weak points and it’s important that we keep this in mind to balance our hobbies with our relationship and priorities in life. While the hobby can lead to social interactions, on the other hand, collecting can also be a means of withdrawing from the world and avoiding human contact. Collecting for most people is a choice, but for some it can be a compulsion, sharing characteristics with obsessive hoarding. When collecting is passed between generations, it might sometimes be that children have inherited symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I believe one should always remember to have FUN and ENJOY collecting. Once it's no longer fun but a chore, then perhaps it's time to move on. What to do with the toys collected? Pass them on to someone who can appreciate them - me! I've been collecting since 1994 and although I have slowed down quite a bit, I certainly haven't stopped. Space is a BIG constraint for me because I've run out of space to display my toys and I am one of those who want to open the toy from its plastic prison cage and display the figure, as you can see from the pictures I've posted here: just a small sampling of the toys that I've amassed over the 20 years of collecting.

Over the years, I've moved from basic carded toys and smaller sized action figures to 1:6 scale collectible figures, also known as 12-inch figures. When I first started collecting toys, the term "collectible figure" was non-existent. Collectibles were basically toys from times past that became rare and demanded by adults who wanted another chance to own a toy they had during their childhood e.g. G.I. Joe and Action Man. A collectible was originally a toy.

Now however, there's a market of manufactured collectables. A "manufactured" collectable (often referred to as a contemporary collectable) is an item made specifically for people to collect. The terms special edition, limited edition and variants such as deluxe edition, collector's edition and others, fall under the category of manufactured collectable. Another important field of collecting that is also big business is memorabilia and movie-related merchandise! That is how Hot Toys has become the company it is today, from movie merchandising.

Collectables are items of limited supply that are sought for a variety of reasons including a possible increase in value. In a financial sense, collectables can be viewed as a hedge against inflation. Over time, their value can also increase as they become more rare due to loss, damage or destruction. One drawback to investing in collectables is the potential lack of liquidity, particularly for very obscure items.

I haven't sold any of my stuff yet but I think over time I will. The new place I'll be moving to is smaller and that means even less space to display all the figures. As it is, there are already figures still in boxes because I haven't found the time to open them all. There are figures that date back to 1994 when I started my toy collecting journey and even earlier (like the 1970s and 1980s), and there are the current figures that are constantly being released these days. The market for toys and collectables certainly has grown in a huge way. There were fewer toy stores back then compared to the ones sprouting up in the malls here. These are the specialty toy stores, not Toys R Us which most adult collectors don't go to these days as it doesn't stock the "collectible" figures.

We used to go to the Sunday Flea Market to look for old vintage toys. Now, all you see most of the time are the new and improved toys which can also be found in the toy shops. "Old and Gold" is no longer true for most people as they hunt down the latest toys and figures which they might have missed out on because they failed to pre-order earlier. Pre-ordering is a new thing as well where collectors "tell" the manufacturers by pre-ordering which figures they want and the company goes and produce the quantities pre-ordered so that the numbers are limited to the orders made so as not to flood the market with unwanted toys and de-value the figure. Part of the fun in the past was impulse buying where we buy what we like when we see it but nowadays, if you don't pre-order first, you probably can't buy that toy / figure because it's already been reserved. Plus you usually end up paying more for figures that you failed to pre-order earlier.

Japanese movie and TV-related figures were a big part of my childhood and I'm one of those who enjoy collecting these as a way of recapturing and remembering my growing up years. Ultraman and the Kamen Riders / Masked Riders were some of my favorites, so were the TV heroes like The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet (and Kato), and Batman (and Robin).

I'm a big fan of Batman, be it Batman from the comics, the animated series or the movie versions. Love them all (except for the George Clooney version). So Batman action figures is a MUST!

Let's not forget the many different versions of the Batmobiles as well. Certainly looking forward to see the toy version of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Batmobile (pictures posted HERE)

click on the pic for a BIGGER and BETTER view :)

Besides the anime and manga heroes, there are also the Marvel superheroes, all part of my childhood when I was growing up, digesting all the beautiful visuals and contents found in the comic books that I bought and read and read over again.

As the toy industry grew, manufacturers were more daring to venture and we get such figures as Dam Toys' Gangsters Kingdom series, Original Effects' gals with their own background stories and Foxbox Studios God Complex series of figures.

Last but not least: Keep on collecting and remember to share pictures of your collection!

Related posts:
February 21, 2011 – Why I collect toys posted in my toy blog HERE

April 22, 2011 – I collect Action Figures! And here are some of them (posted HERE)

March 15, 2013 – Humble Beginnings: We all have to start somewhere :) and this is my early start (pictures HERE)

July 28, 2013 – Happy to report that my Batman Collection photo got published in Discovery Channel Magazine (check out my post HERE)

An ode to collectors posted on November 26, 2010.

My interview with MS magazine - A sight to behold posted on October 9, 2009.

November 27, 2010 – Just some things @ my work station posted HERE


humanbeingill said...

It dawned on me recently that I pretty much have been a collector of something or another my entire life. First with a common childhood interests in small toys like G.I. Joe, Transformers, Thunder Cats and TNMTs to name a few, then in my teens I was crazy about comic books, venturing out to my first Conventions...The experience blew my mind not only in scale but by the entire universe of FANDOM I had yet to discover!

As years passed my interests wained from comics to Anime and again to 1:18 Diecast Car Models to NOW my passion for 1/6th Collectible Figures. 12" Action Figures such as Marvel's Icons from 2007 started my love for the scale and as the quality, variety, popularity, technology, talent and price points grew so did my collection, interest and willingness to pay for them..and almost EXACTLY 7 years Later I'm still going strong.

I'd like to Thank you once again for sharing so much of your passion with the world, I visit your site DAILY and its my Head Quarters and first stop for what's going on in the industry. Your collection is second to none and even makes my enormous assembling of pieces look feeble by comparison.

One day because of your inspiration I hope to share my interests and photos also. Here's to 20 years!

Combo said...

Congratulations! ...and that's a really awesome and great amount of collection you got right there!

Unknown said...

humanbeingill said it well. "Thanks Alex To!"

I look at your sight daily for upcomming 1/6th scale figures, and reviews.

alex teo said...

Hope to see your collection soon, humangeingill :)

Thanks for the support, guys.

alex teo said...

Thanks Alephx for the encouraging words and compliments :) Yes, I agree with you that we need a lot of money for this passion haha keep the collection growing & enjoy the hobby. Cheers!

alex teo said...

The following comment was shared by a good friend Ted Menten via email:


BRAVO for reaching such fantastic numbers!

Your post about collecting is also a great read -- and a familiar story. I'm from a family of collectors so I guess it is in my DNA.

One interesting historical note. During the 60s and 70s there was an unprecedented boom in doll house building. Suddenly it seemed as if the whole country was building doll houses. Stores sprung up, events and conventions took place every weekend and some serious-minded shrinks wondered WHY.

The results were interesting if not exactly conclusive. Times were difficult, the stock market, the war, the basic moral structure all seemed to be in decline and disarray. And the assassinations -- all seemed to contribute to a general feeling that the world was out of control.

So the shrinks put forth the idea that people (especially men) were building miniature worlds that they could control in a lifesize world that seemed out of control. It was an interesting theory and probably had an element of fact since the doll house craze died out in the following decades.

The down side of "popular collecting" is the loss of money people suffer when the craze is over. The comic book companies were almost destroyed by it and the Cabbage Patch and Beanie Baby crazes both cost many people their savings when they "invested" in them.

When I was involved in the whole Teddy Bear revival a few years ago I was often asked which bears one should "invest" in. I always told people to simply buy what they liked and could cherish over time. There are no "sure things" in investing no matter what it is -- stocks or toys.

My great uncle was a multi-millionaire many times over. He actually made money during the Great Depression. His advice to me was to put a third of my money in stocks, a third in tangible goods, and keep a third in cash. Good advice and it has saved my butt in hard times. My best investments are my first "editions" of all the early comic books. Thankfully I was a careful kid who kept them in pristine condition. They are the best inheritance I can leave my kids. That, and my great uncle's advice. My son-in-law is a Wall Street broker and he took that advice and has never regretted it.

I know the difficulty and heartache of down sizing your space. When I moved here I gave away thousands of dollars worth of books and figures to my family and friends. Now I just buy figures to use in my various projects -- like my current zombie project which is coming along nicely.

BRAVO again for your achievement and I'm glad that my daily visits to your blog have added to the numbers.


alex teo said...

Thanks Ted for all your support and encouragement :)

Always love your take on things. It comes with a wealth of experience!

Unknown said...

Big props and congratulations Alex. Your blog was one of my first sources when getting deeper into 1/6 collecting, and still to date I enjoy your news and reviews on our passion. Definately saw some mirror images reading through the different reasons why we collect. :) For me it's all about admiration of an art piece, these figures are so well done in their scale and its just relaxing to discover all the features and facets! Keep on posting buddy! Cheers Andre

alex teo said...

Thanks Andre :)

alex teo said...

Here's another wonderful contribution from Ted Menten :) He has such wonderful stories to share. The man is a treasure!


I have been thinking more about the whole "why we collect" dynamic. I grew up around avid collectors and it made a lasting impression on me. However, I did not start collecting anything until I was in my thirties and then quite by accident.

My best friend was a talented and successful stained-glass designer and on weekends we often drove into the country to seek out flea markets where he bought old Victorian oak cabinets with glass doors. He refinished them and installed beautiful stained glass panels instead. I went along "just for the ride" as a break from the city.
One afternoon we found a huge outdoor flea market filled with all sorts of vendors. My friend headed straight for the furniture section while I just wandered around. At one point I stopped to look at a table filled with old silver spoons and knives and folks. They were just a mish-mash of odd pieces and probably of little value. I looked down and there among the spoons was a Pinocchio spoon exactly like the one I had as a kid. I was overcome with a wave of memories and magically transported back to that happy time. And, in that moment, I knew that I would pay anything for that spoon -- way more than the asking price of 50 cents.

After that I began to look for other objects from my childhood including lead soldiers and various puppets. Over the next few months I found all sorts of things from my childhood and my friends reminded me that I was suffering from the "Rosebud effect" -- referring to the sled in the film, "Citizen Kane."

As time went on I began to collect things that delighted and amused me but they never had the same effect that spoon did -- and still does.

I was reminded of this the other night during an episode of "Castle" -- a TV series. One of the characters, a grumpy old sourpuss female detective, is given a doll she has always dreamed of owning. And a similar scene was once used on the "NCIS" series.

I guess these tiny mementoes of childhood can have a powerful and magical effect. I once restored a worn and tattered Teddy Bear for a friend's husband. His reaction to the bear was exactly like mine was to that little silver spoon.

We might not be able to return to childhood but sometimes we can recapture some of the magic.


Chris Pin said...

Great post! As described in your article I am one of the "late collectors". I've since moved to customizing 12" figures and wanted to know why it was that collecting is so satisfying. Your blog hit it right on the head. Thank you for taking the time to articulate why it is we collectors love collecting :).