The Forgotten Toys
When storage becomes a problem we tend to grab every spare inch of space in the house. Toys get pushed to the back of cupboards. Boxed toys get stacked on top of each other while on display. Others suffer an even worse fate and are relegated to the attic for long term storage. As our collections grow over the years its not unheard of for us to forget what toys we actually own. When I was downsizing collections of my own I found Transformers I forgot I had even purchased. Toys that went straight into a cupboard after I had bought them. There they remained in mint condition before being moved on to a new owner!
I said before that being ruthless and realistic is something that we all need to be with our collections. Regardless of what it is, the question many of us need to ask ourselves is why do we own something? Is it because we have some personal attachment to it? Do we get any entertainment value from it, which is usually the case with games and DVDs? Does it add anything to our displays or collections? How does it make us feel? Or does it bring back any special memories…?
Reliving Our Childhood
And that brings me onto something that’s quite important to many. Certainly when it comes to Transformers and other toy franchises, in many cases we started collecting as children. Continuing as adults a lot of us are either re-connecting with our childhood or simply refuse to let go. It’s something that we still enjoy and love. Letting go of something that we’re so passionate about isn’t easy. For those who came to Transformers later in life or through the later incarnations it’s easier when downsizing collections. There simply aren’t childhood memories to draw upon.
However, for those who have been with Transformers since the days of G1, it’s a different matter. Reducing the size of your collection isn’t easy but it’s far less painful to sell more contemporary toys than anything from the 1980s.
For some parts of our collections, we’re fortunate in these modern times that we can make the change to a digital format for some of them. Books, comics, soundtracks, audio novels and DVDs all have digital counterparts available quite easily. While there’s no substitute for the “real thing”, it’s far easier to stream movies and episodes than have dozens of box sets sitting on shelves. A comic library accessible on a tablet through sites such as Comixology is far more portable than a a room full of comics. It’s not ideal purchasing our collections for a second time, but if we don’t have space for them it can be a must.
In some cases, it can even work out cheaper as some physical items are more valuable now than their digital counterparts. For those who don’t mind about owning “physical” items and are more interested in enjoying the content, it’s certainly something worth considering.
One factor above all else that many have to contend with is that we’re all getting older. Real life is taking its toll on all of us. When we were younger we had fewer worries and more disposable income. Now, many of us have families and children of our own and our priorities have changed. We certainly don’t have the spare funds that we used to for collecting. More importantly we don’t have the space for hundreds of toys (and for those of us with younger children we don’t feel safe letting the toys out around them!).
More importantly though, adult life places a greater pressure on us practically. Sacrifices have to be made and often we have to consider downsizing collections to make space for additions to our growing families or to fund changing life plans. It affects all collectors equally, but the decisions can be very tough ones to make. It’s not too hard to go back and pick up a lot of things again when time and money allows. But for those rarer things in our collections we may be faced with a lot of soul searching…
A Shrinking Fandom?
This doesn’t mean that the fan base is shrinking for any franchise. Not by a long shot. We’re just changing our approach to collecting and being more mature and practical about it. There are more self-confessed geeks around than ever and more money being spent across all franchises than ever before. But we’re being more cautious about how we spend it and what we spend it on. Enjoying our favourite franchises no longer means that we have to own everything and many are choosing to be more selective in what they buy. If that means companies have to compete for our money and make better products to convince us to shop with them, then hopefully we’ll all be better off in the long run.