In true Lucasian fashion, I am telling the first part of my story second. Which is fitting, since I saw Empire before I saw Star Wars. I also saw American Ninja 2 before American Ninja, so clearly this “Part Two first” thing is a running theme of sorts in my life. Anywho, a bit about me, other than what you can read on my bio.
My brother took me to see The Empire Strikes Back, and it changed my life. I started laughing at “Laugh It Up, Fuzzball” and laughed for so long that my brother eventually told me to knock it off, it wasn’t THAT funny. But I knew better. After seeing the movie, I got my first action figure: C3PO on an Empire card. I have one on the card that I bought a few years ago as a reminder of where it all began. As a result of seeing Empire first, it is my favorite of the Star Wars films, as is the case with many people. I love all the action on Hoth, and I love Bespin as a location. I also love Han Solo’s jacket that he wears after they leave Hoth. I can’t explain it, I just think it’s awesome, and I want one of my own. My favorite toy of all time is the Bespin Han Solo action figure. I have one on-card, unpunched, in terrific shape. It’s the only Star Wars figure I was ever allowed to buy twice, after I broke the arm off of my first one. My brother glued it back on for me, but having it always stuck out (so he could fly the Falcon, of course) became a problem, since I was the weird kid who liked playing with my toys by having them do the mundane tasks we never saw them do in the movies, like buying groceries. Yeah. Weird kid. Told you.
My mother was an enabler. In the best possible way. When I realized I was 4 figures shy of having the entire collection in 1986, she took it upon herself to call Kenner and see if we could purchase them directly. The lady on the other end of the line lied about Yak Face, saying he was never produced (I suppose it was true, from a certain point of view, since he was never released in the U.S.), but we were able to get the other 3: Death Star Droid, Snaggletooth (the short, red one), and Walrus Man. She helped me complete my set. To this day, I carry a Walrus Man figure around with me at all times to remind me of her. Ever notice that the figure looks like Sugar Bear from the Super Golden Crisps cereal box? He totally does.
Being the completist that I was as a child has proved to be a problem as an adult. See, it wasn’t a big deal as a kid, because my dad got toys at cost through his employer at Christmas. I don’t have such a hookup, so a large portion of my disposable income goes to plastic recreations of things from the Star Wars movies. And M.A.S.K toys. And occasionally G.I. Joe toys that I have misplaced as an adult. When I see a toy that I “need” (meaning “really really REALLY want”), I have a hard time passing it up. And when I go for too long without acquiring anything, I get antsy. It’s not entirely unlike a junkie looking for his/her next hit. The mind of a collector is VERY much like the mind of an addict, albeit on a much smaller scale, and typically with less dramatic conclusions. The recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman brought this into stark relief in my mind. As a serious collector, I’m basically an addict with no vices, at least no illicit vices. I get the same momentary high when I find and acquire a new item that someone might get from huffing an aerosol can or snorting a line, it’s the same chemical reaction, and the law of diminishing returns sometimes DOES come into effect. I’ve even been guilty of buying things I didn’t really WANT simply because I “needed” them to complete a run.
I bring all of this to mind because there are many people in my life who are NOT collectors, and who do not understand the mindset of collectors like me. It’s my hope that by explaining it in this way, those on the outside looking in might have a better idea of what it is that drives us. It is ALSO my hope that we, as collectors, can start to look at the way we operate and notice the way it affects those around us. Do we REALLY need 2 of everything, one to open and one to keep? Do we REALLY need EVERY single figure in a wave, even though we already have 12 of that very same Battle Droid on a different card? Do we actually HAVE a place to display (or even store) that Republic Gunship that was on sale? These are the battles I fight daily within myself, and I know that more than a few of you can relate.
Next month’s blog will be more involved with the Galaxy Far, Far Away that we all know and love, so I appreciate you allowing me to deviate a bit this month. I just wanted to give you all an idea of who I am, and where I’m coming from.
I said my favorite toy was my Bespin Han Solo, so it may surprise you to know that my favorite vehicle is NOT the Millenium Falcon, although I DO think it’s the coolest ship in the galaxy. No, my favorite vehicle is actually the Twin Pod Cloud Car. I know, I know, most people think it’s lame and has a silly design and an even sillier color scheme, but those are the reasons I like it. Even among Star Wars ships, it’s unique, and I have 5 versions of it. The one I’m missing is the die-cast version from 1980-81. I would love to have one loose AND one on the card.
And yes, I NEED both.
Marvin says hi,
Email Jeff at email@example.com